Best Waterproof Backpacks in 2020 – Pack It In Dry!

A waterproof backpack or dry bag is an essential piece of gear for people who find their fun around the water. Whether you face a rainy hike in to your spot, or just need to carry your lunch, camera, and extra gear with you while you wade a stream, a good pack is an indispensable fishing tool.

There is a broad selection of waterproof backpacks on the market today, with prices and quality alike that run from high to low.

The first thing you need to know about before exploring this topic is fabric denier. This is a measure of material strength and durability that is universally used when evaluating outdoor textile gear, and we post the denier rating for every pack in this article. The next important thing is degree of waterproofness. We used the simple rating as published by the Waterproof Store.

9 Best Waterproof Backpacks – Comparisons

You will find that nearly all backpacks and drybags rate at a Class C – waterproof so tight they float or can handle quick submersions. With these two important bits of information in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best waterproof backpacks out there.

Sea To Summit is well-known for serious outdoor gear, and the Hydraulic Dry Pack is an expedition-grade waterproof backpack/haul sack. This pack comes in 35, 65, 90, and 120-liter sizes. When we got our hands on the 35-liter model, the first thought was “This is overkill for anything but Alaska bush plane trips.”

This is true! This bag is beyond tough and has a removable harness system for times when you need to haul the pack up a waterfall, throw it off the boat and swim in with it, or toss it out of the plane to cut weight for a short-field landing.

Made from 600 denier TPU laminated heavy duty waterproof fabric, this is one of the few waterproof packs that is PVC-free. The roll-top closure is made from non-wicking fabric and has a two-way locking system that combines a zip lock with a fold-over. This works together with welded seam construction to make the bag fully waterproof under extreme conditions.

The pack is streamlined like most true dry bags, but it does have a top carry handle and side loop attachment points. The harness is padded with EVA foam and is made for carrying real weight. The larger bags come with a padded waist belt while the 35 liter utilizes a webbing strap.

The really nice thing about Sea To Summit packs is their 7075-T6 anodized aluminum buckles. This is something that you just do not see every day. If you need the best, there is no question that this waterproof backpack is professional grade. 

The Flow is 35-liter hiker-friendly Sea To Summit pack that is built with many of the hard-core expedition features of the Hydraulic.

The Flow is made from the same waterproof, abrasion resistant, TPU laminated 420 denier nylon fabric that Sea To Summit uses for their Big River line of rafting dry bags, but it has the functions needed to support the day trip or overnight hiker.

The attention to detail on the Flow and its smaller cousins the 26-liter Rapid and 24-liter Carve is impressive. The pack features seam-sealed construction and a roll-top main chamber with a white interior that makes it easier to find things inside. An internal zippered stretch pocket keeps small items dry, and an external zippered pocket provides 2 liters of flat storage space.

The zipper quality looks good, but we notice it is a down-pull zipper which may come open under the bouncing forces put on a pack while walking. The shoulder strap/waist belt system is quick-drying and made for carrying serious weight in comfort, and the waist belt can be removed when not in use. Integral water bladder storage is located behind the harness.

The exterior of the pack has a variety of loops and attachment points, and side load-compression straps can be used to carry items as well. The 7075-T6 anodized aluminum buckles are bomb-proof and one of the nicest touches on the pack.

At just under 3 pounds for a 35-liter waterproof pack, this is about a lightweight as it gets. There is no question that the Flow ranks among the best waterproof backpacks for the money, and it would make an excellent fishing backpack.

The OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Sport Backpack is available in 20- and 30-liter capacities. The 30-liter model is 19.5 by 13.5 by 6.5 inches in a rectangular form and weighs in at 3.4 lbs.

This is on the heavy side for a small backpack, but can be explained by the use of 600 denier PVC-coated tarpaulin nylon in the construction.

The bag has a very sturdy rubbery feel to it, and with fully welded seams and a roll-top seal that can be used in a top or side buckle mode, it will certainly provide Class C water protection. The overall construction quality on this pack is very good considering the mid-range pricing. The harness system is ergonomically designed and reinforced with heavy-duty plastic.

That’s good overall, but we find that such reinforced straps can feel stiff and sometimes uncomfortable depending on the way they fit on particular body styles. They are certainly strong, and the lower strap attachments on this pack are also well-reinforced. The harness system features chest and waist straps along with a number of D-rings for hanging gear on.

A large mesh zippered front pocket with bungee webbing and two stretch mesh water bottle pockets provide outside storage. The Overboard is a well-made waterproof backpack that provides a lot of storage and a good feature set for a reasonable price.

The Rockagator RG25 is a tough 40-liter backpack/dry bag made for wet abuse, but it comes with more features than most specialized waterproof packs.

The 600 denier waterproof nylon material is extremely strong; in fact it is similar to the material used to make heavy duty truck tarps, and all connection points on the pack are reinforced with 1000 denier material.

Rockagator markets the backpack as quick submersion waterproof (Class 3). All seams are welded and taped and the closure system is a triple fold-over dry-bag style. The only weak point for full submersion is the front pouch zipper, and one minor criticism of this pack is the lack of a rain flap over that zipper, but users should understand that only the main dry bag section of the pack gives full protection. Pack accordingly and your gear will be fine.

The Rockagator measures about 17 by 10 inches when empty, and weighs 3 pounds. The straps are rated to 20 kg, and there is a top rubber-reinforced carry handle. There are nylon loop attachment points on the top and front of the bag, D-rings on the shoulder straps, and an exterior bungee for external item carry.

The interior features a removable laptop pouch, a zipper pocket for small items, and an interior loop strip to secure items to the side of the bag. The only real weak points we found on this pack were the lack of a waist belt and the questionable strength of the mesh material used for the side water bottle pockets. Otherwise, the Rockagator RG25 ranks as a top choice among waterproof backpacks.

The BackSak Waterproof Backpack fits the classic dry bag profile and is ideal for activities that will involve more time on water than land.

This 19 by 12 by 6 inch pack has the triple-fold buckle-down top closure found on the dry bags used by professional river rafters, and this Class 3-rated bag looks like it can stay wet all day with no leakage.

Choose it for kayaking, rafting, canyoneering, or trips that involve major river crossings. The 500 Denier PVC material has a tough, rubbery feel to it, and all seams and attachment points are reinforced and welded. The straps are wide and padded to give comfort while hauling the bag’s 35-liter load capacity, and while it lacks a waist belt, it does have a padded mesh back support panel and chest strap.

The BackSak has an external zippered pocket as well as an internal one inside the waterproof main compartment. We did not care for the zippers used as they have they extremely fine teeth that tend to not last long. That said, coarse-toothed zippers do not provide as much water tightness, so there is a trade off in that aspect.

Another thing experienced backpackers will notice about the external zipper is that it opens downward, making it vulnerable to pulling open under the force of jolts and bounces on the trail. These are small details on an otherwise good bag. Note that this bag has no external attachment points other than D-rings on the closure straps.

For the intended function of this pack, we liked the sleek form factor as it makes the bag easy to stow under the seat of a canoe or airplane. The Backsak is a great choice for heavy on-water use and it comes at a nice price point as well.

Phantom Aquatics is a wetsuit and dive accessory company that produces this entry-level priced waterproof backpack. It is a 25-liter bag that measures 18 x 11 x 2 inches and weighs in at 2.8 pounds.

We suspect that the weight savings come from the use of a lower denier PVC fabric on the tub portion of the pack, which may compromise durability over time.

However, the price level and general form factor reveal that this pack is intended for lighter-duty use as a water-resistant backback or gear bag rather than in extreme, professional-level applications. We liked the dual-closure roll-top system that features the standard dry-bag side straps and a top strap that makes a good carry handle. No external pockets or other penetration points along with welded seams ensure that the bag will certainly meet the intended Class 3 rating.

The shoulder straps are well-padded, and there is a padded lumber support panel as well as a removable light-duty waist strap. A zig-zagbungy cord and a large piece of webbing that runs over the top of the bag to a Velcro attachment point offer some options for external carry of light items, and there is a large zippered internal pocket.

The rectangular form of this bag makes for easier internal access than what you find with the traditional tube-shaped dry bag packs. In our view, this is what gives the Phantom Aquatics bag good potential as a fishing pack as most tackle boxes are of a similar shape.

The two negatives we found with this backpack are the somewhat bulky outline that may not fit smaller users, and potential issues with seam quality as the reinforcing does not look strong enough. That said, the Walrus does come with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty, and it is a lot of backpack for a little money.

This low-priced 30-liter waterproof backpack has a basic drybag design with a dual-lock roll closure system that seals well under short immersion conditions.

Construction is 500 denier rubberized PVC tarpaulin material, and it feels very tough and durable to the touch. As always with this type of backpack, the quality of the seam welding makes all of the difference, and it looks pretty good on the Vitchelo Dry Bag Backpack.

The bag has a relatively small 20 by 11 by 3 inch rectangular profile that will make it easy to pack and stow. The shoulder straps are wide and ergonomically shaped, and there is a webbing chest strap but overall quality here looks to be typical daypack level. There are no external pockets other than the side water bottle holders, which are made of rather flimsy mesh.

There is a zigzag bungee cord that would be suitable for stuffing a jacket under. The backpack does come with a clear phone storage case that is on a handy detachable lanyard. Our overall impression of this pack is that it will work well when utilized as a basic dry bag, and it comes at an affordable price, but the bag’s ability to handle long distance carry and extended abuse may be questionable.

The Chaos Ready Kenai waterproof backpack is a small, day pack-sized bag that is available at the low end of the price range.

This bag is made from 500 denier PVC tarpaulin material, making it tough enough for all but the most extreme use while retaining a soft, flexible feel. The main storage compartment has a 22-liter capacity in a 12 by 24 inch form, and gives 100% percent Class 3 waterproofing.

As with all waterproof dry-bag style packs, proper closure is required to prevent water permeation, and the Chaos Ready Kenai employs the triple-fold over and buckle method that has been proven to work. Welded seams add strength and complete the water-proofing equation. The main complaint we had with the Kenai is the total lack of outside attachment points.

The pack has the standard mesh water bottle pockets and a front Velcro-closed non-waterproof pouch, but nothing other than that. We also found the shoulder straps to be a bit narrow and the padded sections too short. The pack also has no waist belt.

However, the use profile of this pack leans toward light-duty day trips to the woods or the beach, and not heavy load carrying. For these purposes, in consideration of the overall build quality and functionality of the Kenai, we think it gives good value for the money in its price category.

Don’t let the name on this waterproof backpack fool you – it is not by any means a camping backpack. It is actually just a dry bag with shoulder straps and a duffel bag handle, and that plus the incredibly low price is exactly what we liked about this bag.

Dead simple and dirt cheap, it is made of 500 denier PVC material that feels bulletproof, with heavy reinforcing patches at all attachment points and double-lapped welded seams.

With a simple roll and buckle closure and no pockets or zippers, there is no way for water to enter and when closed properly, this bag might even hold up to extended submersion. This is the bag you need for keeping that extra pair of waders or set of warm clothing behind the seat of your truck or in the trunk of your car.

Or just keep the bag itself in the vehicle for unplanned throw-and-go missions when you decide to hit another hole that is a little farther back in the woods. It is also excellent for protecting your car seats from wet gear on the way home. This waterproof backpack is so cheap that it is easy to have a couple on hand so you can outfit a buddy when needed.

For its price and purpose, the only downsides we see with this pack are the strong, rubbery smell that will take a while to wear off, and the tendency to mildew if the bag is not turned inside out and dried properly after use. We recommend that every home have a couple of these useful bags around for any wet emergency.

We hope you enjoyed this review of waterproof backpacks across the price range. There truly is something for everyone available on the market today, and the new materials promise great durability along with effective waterproofing qualities. Now it’s up to you as the end user to evaluate your situation and needs and choose the waterproof backpack that will work best for you.