Are you looking for a dry bag for your next trip? Then you have come to the right place. We will be investigating and analyzing various dry bags and criteria to help you find your best dry bag. We used similar means when we found our favorites as well.
When should you have a dry bag?
I tend to have at least one on nearly every trip! Especially a small or medium one for my very sensitive electronics or documents. Weather is unpredictable and having one around in case of rain or inclement weather has saved myself problems on more than one occasion.
What is a dry bag?
Dry bags are essentially waterproof bags designed to keep water from entering to protect any sensitive material within the bag. Actually, you can even flip that around and use the bag to keep things from leaking into your bag as well.
Dry bags were originally created for use during water-sports such as Kayaking, canoeing, fishing, etc. These bags developed from the need of participants to carry material dryly under tough conditions. That’s why generally these bags are designed in mind for attaching and using on various watercrafts. However, the bags have far greater use than just for that. Backpackers and travelers have found value in using dry bags too for frequent travel with electronics for instance.
Dry bags come in various materials, sizes, attachment types, construction. There are small dry bags that make for carrying phones and cards to larger dry bags for clothes and other bulkier items. There are even dry duffel bags that can be great for longer journeys. If you don’t need these features, a packing cube or stuff sack may be a better option.
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Product Comparison Chart
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When looking to purchase a dry bag there are many different considerations to take into account. Below is the various criteria that you may want to consider before purchasing the right bag for you.
Dry bags come in a huge variety of sizes from extra small to quite large in fact. Generally, sizes are labeled by the internal liter storage of the bags. The small ones are great for use with cellphones, wallets and other small items. The larger ones are great for longer trips where you may need to carry lots of items such as clothes or food.
Having a variety of sizes is very useful as well to both help segment off your various items as well as using them for various trips. I tend to have several dry bags in various sizes that I use for different trips. You might think to get just one large bag but you’ll often find that this is a problem on smaller trips or for usage with smaller items.
Remember that the bag has to be folded over at least three times when testing the size with your items.
There are generally two types of closures available for dry bags. The zipper seal and the roll-top.
The zipper seal bags have a large zipper with reinforcements to seal out the water. Often these will have an additional overhanging flap to find extra protection. Some larger bags such as waterproof duffel bags may have a closure such as this.
The other form is the roll-top bags. Most of the dry bags have this method where you will roll the top of the bag about 3 times and then clip it closed. By roll the bag and clipping it this seals the internals from any contact with the water.
Dry Bags are available in different materials. All of the materials tend to be reinforced and coated to provide durability and waterproofing when used. However, there are some trade-offs depending on which material you use. Most typically you will find the following two materials.
Nylon tends to be a big lighter but also a bit more flexible. This is often used for smaller dry bags where you can sacrifice some durability since there will be less pressure on the seams of the bag. Also, these types of bags are more susceptible to punctures than the stiffer vinyl bags.
Vinyl is one of the most used materials for dry bags. These provide good quality durability and construction. However, these bags also tend to be heavier and less flexible than the nylon bags. If you are looking for larger bags that will stand up to more abuse, vinyl is probably the way to go.
I know you expect your dry bag to be perfectly waterproof right? In actuality, dry bags are not meant to be submerged under water for great depths or extended periods of time. They are great for boat trips and some of them are more resistant than others. For most travel, the bags will be good, but if you have specialized needs, you will have to find ones that are rated for heavier water needs.
Generally many of the larger dry bags come with the inclusion of a strap for carrying. Some of the larger ones may even come with two straps. Quite a few of the smaller bags, however, don’t come with included straps. If straps are important to you for your needs, you will need to factor that in when deciding on the perfect dry bags.
Ring Attachments (D-Rings)
Generally, most of the dry sacks include one of these “D-Rings” on the end of the strap. Some of these are made of metal and some plastic. Construction of these are important as well since you don’t want one breaking. These Rings are used to link multiple bags together as well as aid in connection of the bag to your raft, kayak, or even your backpack.
Is brand Important?
I think Brand is probably the least important of the various different criteria. However, I tend to go with brands that I’ve used before and know to be good quality. While Brand name doesn’t always determine quality, quality is often associated with the good brand names. Here you will find various brands that offer great quality in the dry bag field. However being open to trying new brands may allow you to find great value in dry bags that otherwise are overlooked.
Other Uses for dry bags
Now while dry bags were created with one purpose and one industry in mind they can, in fact, be useful for various other things as well. This way you might find you will be bringing your dry bag with you on more trips!
For short trips where you might be carrying everything in a backpack or in a tight bag, I’ve used the dry bag as a toiletry bag as well. The reason? It is great when you have small liquids in the bag that you don’t want to leak out onto other items. The lightweight bags also go flat which is often better than a traditional toiletry bag.
These bags are great for storing your wet clothes after going to the beach. I’ll usually toss my swim trunks in here before putting it in my bag to keep the rest of my bag dry and clean (often from the extra sand from the trunks). Also great for putting your electronics in while you are swimming so you can use it for both to protect your electronics and to store your wet items.
Dirty Clothes Bag
When I’m traveling I tend to also travel light. Having one of the larger, lighter dry bags around make for great bags for the dirty, wet, or smelly clothes that inevitably accumulate on travel. It helps protect your clean clothes from these in between time to wash. Also great if you end up inevitably with some damp clothes after washing as well while backpacking.
These bags do create a very airtight seal. This is great if you need a flotation device while boating as you can fill these with air and use them to float on until you get to safety. Definitely useful in a pinch.
I’ve used dry bags before while camping to have around for putting out a campfire when necessary. It beats having to carry a heavier bucket or to use another water container that is already filled with potable water. The medium size dry bags make a great bucket
Dry bags are basically the waterproof version of the stuff-sack. These are great for segmenting out items you need in your bag even if you don’t need it for the waterproof quality at that moment. For instance, I use these often to store cables and other small items that I want to keep together in one location in my bag.
Dry Bags can be filled with some clothes or even a bit of air and can be used as a camp pillow or a pillow while on trains or other public transportation. While I generally use a stuff sack for this, dry bags can the do the same thing but often better (since you can even use air).
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After purchasing your dry bag. Be sure to test it out to make sure the one you got does not have any defects Defects in a dry bag could cause items to not be protected.
To test, partially fill the bag with water and seal it. Remember the bag needs to be folded at least 3 times for a good seal.
Be sure to turn the bag upside down and in various different orientations. Then proceed to squeeze bag in various areas to see if there is any leakage. If there are any issues be sure to return or exchange the bag right away!
Best Dry Bag Product Reviews
Looking at some of the best available dry bags among various different model, sizes, and types. Which is your most used bag?
SealLine Baja Bags
One of our personal favorite dry bags. SealLine makes some of the best dry bags on the market and they are often the ones I go to when I need something new. The Baja Bags are great in that they have solid construction and are well known for the quality bags they produce.
The Baja Line is created from durable Vinyl and provide excellent water protection. They range in size from 5L to 55L so they certainly have something that will match your needs. Also available in several great colors too.
Personally I don’t think you can go wrong here. If you want good durability to weight this is a good option.
[amazon asin=B01MRBMF2T&text=Click here for prices and more information]
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Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack
Sea To Summit is another one of my favorite brands too as I have purchased both Dry Sacks and backpack covers from them. The Lightweight sack is lighter than many of the other dry sacks due its use of nylon.
These sacks range in size from 1 Liter to 35 Liters. I find these great when you need a lighter dry sack for backpacking or other travel. The lie flat when not in use and take up minimal space even when filled. Overall a great compromise for those who want something that will pack light and easy.
Also comes in a variety of colors.
[amazon asin=B001Q3KKK0&text=Click here for prices and more information]
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Earth Pak -Waterproof Dry Bag
Available in sizes from 10L to 30L the Earth Pak makes a great choice for people who need great quality for a reasonable price. One of my favorite features of this bag is that it comes with an included strap even for the smaller 10L bags which is not the case with many of the other manufacturers.
The extra thick PVC material really does do a good job protecting it from rough conditions and rough handling. Under most conditions it will stand up to wear and tear. The larger bags have about the same of a good day pack if you need to extra size.
Additionally for the price they are tossing in an included waterproof phone case! This is great for those of us who need a waterproof case for our phone too that we often find ourselves needing to use in questionable places.
[amazon asin=B01GZCUCOU&text=Click here for prices and more information]
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Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack
If you are looking for waterproof bags that are super-light weight than perhaps the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack is right for you. Made from a lightweight but durable Ultra-Sil Nylon, these bags are the ultimate in lightweight material. The bag closes like most dry sacks with a roll-top and buckle. The buckles are sturdy and rather well constructed.
Overall though I would use these bags from occasions when you don’t need the ultimate in durability. They are great for urban backpacking, and day trips where you need to stuff electronics or other sensitive goods dry. These are also great for storing liquids that you don’t want to leak out onto other items in your bag!
I would be wary though about using this for any really tough travel. I haven’t personally seen issues with them leaking or puncturing but then again I have only used these models in urban or lighter travel.
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Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sacks
This is certainly a more specialized bag for those who need a compression sack. Why would you need a compression sack? Generally for things like clothes or sleeping bags that have a lot of air and that by compressing them you can fit them into a smaller area.
This bag is a great replacement for compression sacks that come with your camping sleeping bags. Particularly if you have a down sleeping bag, you need a compression sack to get it as small as possible for transport. Additionally, since down bags are not good when they are wet, this sack will go a long way to protecting your sleeping back when it is not in use! Although if it is already wet, can’t help you there.
The material is a bit more durable than the Sea to Summit Ultra Sil. Of note though this bag is NOT waterproof, only water resistant.
Overall get this bag if you have a need for it and as a good replacement for other compression sacks you might own.B00HS3AVPQ
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Osprey UltraLight 12 Dry Sack
The bags right now come in 4 Sizes: 3L, 12L, 20L, and 30L which should give you options for a large variety of different uses. The 3L bag is best used for small electronics and other small items while the larger ones can hold clothes or bigger electronic devices.
The material is very lightweight, using a 40D Nylon fabric however it has good waterproofing and a fairly durable construction. The bag has a more boxy shape which makes it sometimes easier to use when packing in luggage. It includes a well placed sturdy D-Ring as well for attachments and overall works well for many different environments.
While this bag would not replace one of the very heavy duty bags, it is a great option for those in the market for one of the lighter nylon bags.
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Outdoor Research Durable Dry Sack
Outdoor research is a solid brand in the market of a bag for various different needs. The Durable Dry Sack does a very good job of balancing durability with weight and construction.
Made from a durable nylon the bag is a bit more sturdy than some of the other light nylon bags such as the Osprey or Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil lines. However like those bags, while I’m confident in its construction, I would not use this for very hard or long trips where I’ll be away in nature. I find these work best in more urban or regular travel where you need waterproof material but you don’t need the extra durability that adventure sports would require.
The bag does come with an attached D-Ring that is made of sturdy plastic. However, even the larger bags do not come with an included strap, so those while full is certainly more difficult.
The bag comes in sizes ranging from 20L to 55L so they are on the medium to extra large sizes.
Also of note is that the Durable Dry Sack line also had some models that are available in a compression sack format if you are looking for those types of models.
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Aqua Quest White Water Duffel
For those people who are looking for a bag that is really big and also waterproof. Going with a Duffel Dry Bag might be the way to go for longer water trips or trips in areas that get a lot of precipitation.
This bags offer 50, 75, 100 liters which is certainly enough for many types of travel. This is bigger than most of the backpacking packs you would consider taking with you on travel.
The bag is also made for comfort with an included padded shoulder strap. The bag also has the availability of 6 D-Rings which you can use to attach other bags or to attach a shoulder strap of your own.
While the bag is rather large, the bag itself actually comes in at a reasonable weight of only 2.2 lbs.
For price, to performance, to protection it is a good model if you are looking for something in this size range. Note that the bag is good at water protection but it won’t protect your bag from complete submersion.
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So do you have any other bags you recommend? Or ones that you want us to review? Drop us a comment or an email as we’d love to hear from you!
Be sure to check out some of our other Packing Advice.
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