Best Dry Bags

Updated August 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

78 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
157 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best dry bags

Last Updated August 2019

Nothing compares to the thrill of white water rafting or a fun day on the water with your family, but having your belongings soaked is a real downer. With a quality dry bag, you can pack everything you need and have it remain bone dry all day long.

Not all dry bags are created equal. Some do just what they say on the package, whereas others are prone to leaks or don't stand up to all conditions. How do you tell which dry bags will keep your items dry and which will leave them soggy? It can be difficult at first glance, which is why we have created this thorough guide.

Check out the list of our five favorite dry bags or read for more information to help you make your purchase.

Be careful not to overpack your dry bag, as stuffing it to its limit can weaken the stitching in some cases.

Key considerations

Material

You'll find dry bags made from a range of materials. Here we take a closer look at common dry bag materials and their pros and cons.

  • Vinyl: Vinyl dry bags can be made of one of several types of vinyl, but PVC is perhaps the most widely used. These bags are relatively thick and heavy, but they're highly durable. They're naturally waterproof and don't require any type of coating, which is good since coatings can wear down over time.

  • Nylon: Nylon dry bags are made from heavy duty nylon with a waterproof coating — usually silicone or polyurethane. They're lightweight and flexible, but they aren't as tough as vinyl dry bags.  

Size

Dry bag sizes are usually measured in liters. The smallest dry bags have capacities of two liters (or sometimes even less) and the largest options have huge capacities of more than 100 liters. The capacity you require depends on what you need to pack. If you're only heading out for a couple of hours and want to keep your phone and wallet dry, a compact two liter option will suffice. A 20 to 30 liter bag is ideal for day or overnight trips if you like to pack light, with enough space for food, water, and a change of clothes. Bigger sizes are great for multi-day trips or when you need to bring a large amount of gear with you. It's also worth looking at the exterior dimensions in addition to capacity to check that your chosen dry bag won't be too large for you to carry easily.

Waterproofing

Check the degree to which your chosen dry bag is waterproof. Some models are totally waterproof — they keep your items dry even when the bag is completely submerged for a few minutes. However, the majority of dry bags are merely water resistant, so they keep items dry when rained on, splashed, or momentarily submerged, though there may be some leakage in more extreme conditions. Before you buy, be certain the dry bag you're considering has an appropriate level of waterproofing to fit your requirements.

EXPERT TIP

Brightly colored dry bags are easy to spot, making them easier to find if you take a spill from your kayak or other vessel.


Staff  | BestReviews

Features

Closure type
The majority of dry bags either have a roll top or a zipper closure. With a roll top closure, you fold the top over three times and then secure it with a clip. It might not sound particularly high-tech, but it's an extremely effective way of keeping water from penetrating your dry bag. It also creates a carrying handle at the top of the bag when you clip each end together.

Dry bags with zipper seal closures often with extra flaps to help keep water out. Zipper seals are easier to use but they're not completely foolproof, and there aren't any additional layers of protection should something go wrong. You need to maintain proper lubrication on the zipper to keep it working correctly.
 

Carrying options
Some dry bags only have a carry handle at the top of the bag (created by the roll top closure). Others have either a single strap so you can wear them over one shoulder, or two straps so you can wear them like a backpack. If you'll be using your dry bag out on the water and only have a few paces to go between your car, your vessel, and back again, you won't need to worry too much about carrying options. However, if you'll be hiking with your dry bag or carrying it long distances, we'd recommend a two-strapped option.
 

Pockets
Opening and closing your dry bag can be a pain, so it's handy to have a couple of pockets for easier access. These pockets may or may not be as water-resistant as the main compartment of the bag, so it's wise to double check before you store anything in them that would be ruined by soaking.
 

D-ring
Some dry bags feature D-ring attachments. These are useful when you want to attach your dry bag to a boat or other vehicle. When canoeing or kayaking, some people use D-rings to attach their dry bags to a rope so they can pull the rope in to retrieve their bags if they capsize. D-rings are also useful for attaching items such as water bottles to your dry bag with a carabiner clip when you want to be able to access them easily.

DID YOU KNOW?

Dry bags with a transparent window let you see what's inside them at a glance, This is handy when you're going on a longer trip and taking several dry bags with you.

Dry bag prices

You can find some dry bags at bargain prices if you’re on a budget, but you do tend to get what you pay for. Inexpensive dry bags cost roughly $10 to $20, depending on the size. These are usually water-resistant rather than fully waterproof. Mid-range dry bags cost around $30 to $60. You can find some excellent models in this price range, including some extremely rugged options. Expensive dry bags cost between approximately $60 and $100. You'll find some extra-large models, plus high-end options with all the bells and whistles.

Tips

  • Check whether your chosen dry bag has taped seams. This stops water from leaking through, giving your items even more protection in exceptionally wet conditions.

  • Decide if you need a dry bag that floats. Some float for easier retrieval should you capsize or knock the bag overboard, which is handy if you'll be using it out on the water.

  • Pick a dry bag that's durable enough to meet your needs. If you're an avid outdoorsman and will be using your dry bag every weekend, it's worth spending a little more on a truly rugged bag that will stand up to regular heavy use.

  • Find out if you receive any extras with your dry bag. Some include accessories, such as waterproof fanny packs or phone holders.

EXPERT TIP

A dry bag is a must-have for protecting items that would be ruined by getting wet such as phones, camera equipment, or papers.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

While researching this piece, we came across several dry bags that are worth closer examination. We like the Relentless Recreation Dry Bag Backpack. It has easy-access pockets and can be carried like a backpack. If you want an affordable option, the MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag is a great choice and is available in a wide range of colors and sizes. Should you require multiple sizes, the WildPaces Super Value Set of 3 Waterproof Dry Bags includes a 2 liter, 5 liter, and 10 liter bag all for an extremely reasonable price. We're also big fans of the Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack, which is made of lightweight nylon with a PU coating, making it more flexible and packable than traditional dry bags.

You can also buy compact dry bags and waist pouches for protecting small items like phones and wallets.

FAQ

Q. Who are dry bags useful for?
A.
Although dry bags are often geared toward people who do water-based activities such as sailing or kayaking, they're also useful in other scenarios. They're great for taking on hikes or camping trips when it's raining or there's a chance of rain. You can even use them for commuting by bike or on foot to keep your belongings dry when the weather isn't on your side.
 

Q. How should I care for my dry bag to keep it in great condition?
A. 
Dry bags don't need a whole lot of maintenance, but we'd recommend leaving them to dry before storing them to avoid mildew and mold growing.
 

Q. Can you buy padded dry bags?
A.
The vast majority of dry bags aren't padded, but there are a small number of padded options on the market, which can help prevent damaging delicate items such as laptops or cameras.

The team that worked on this review
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Jacob
    Jacob
    Editorial Manager
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

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