With fully sealed seams to ensure that not a drop of water gets in, the best dry bags aren’t just waterproof, they’re rugged and hardy enough to withstand whatever you throw at them. They’re typically made of high-density materials that can take a beating, and if the fabric isn’t naturally waterproof like PVC, they’ll be coated for a splash-proof finish.
Dry bags can take the form of duffles, backpacks, and roll-top bags that will hold anything from your wallet and keys to weeks’ worth of gear. Their capacity is typically indicated in liters, but if the metric system is not your forte, here’s a quick breakdown of what size dry bag you might need:
- Small dry bags: Ranging in size from 1 to 9 liters, these are perfect for holding onto only the essentials or keeping lots of smaller items organized within your pack. Pro tip: Pick up a few different colors to avoid confusion. A 2-liter bag will offer enough room for your phone, wallet, and keys (and maybe a few snacks) while a 5-liter bag — generally the most popular size dry bag — can carry those must-haves along with extras like a camera or first aid kit.
- Medium dry bags: Around 10 to 20 liters, this dry bag is sized just right for a change of clothes or a DSLR, plus food for one or two people — and it’ll make a good day pack for shorter excursions from base camp. Shoulder straps come highly recommended at this capacity.
- Large dry bags: From 20 to 30 liters and beyond — move into backpack and duffle territory. They’ll hold all your gear and a change of clothes, possibly with room to spare for a sleeping bag. Not only are shoulder straps suggested, but sternum and hips straps will also go a long way towards distributing that weight. Some duffles have convertible straps that can be worn on your shoulders, too.
Important note: While all dry bags are designed to keep your valuables protected from rain and the occasional dip, not all are equipped to be fully submerged for long periods of time. You’ll see some dry bags advertised as being merely splash-proof, while others promise more complete waterproofness and submersibility. Of course, if you’re using a roll-top bag, a lot comes down to how well you’re able to roll it to keep water out.
No matter what kind of adventure you’re headed out on, these are the best dry bags to try now.
1. The Best Overall: A Dry Bag That Scaled Mount Everest
As one of the reigning favorites on Outdoor Gear Lab and Wirecutter’s top pick, the Sea To Summit dry bag gets its name (and its bragging rights) from weathering a successful attempt to scale Mount Everest. Today, it's beloved by pros and amateurs alike for high durability and excellent waterproofing at a very accessible price point. The 420-Denier nylon features TPU lamination and double-stitched seams that are reinforced with tape seals for a thoroughly waterproof build. According to the brand, it offers protection for paddle use but you should avoid full water submersion.
Little details are what sets this dry bag apart. The proprietary roll-top features extra stiffening for a better seal and has a quick-release buckle for convenience, while the buckles are designed to be repaired easily with a Phillips screwdriver. An oval shape makes the bag less likely to roll, and the lining is left bright white for high visibility when you're rummaging for a granola bar.
A Helpful Review: "These are great dry bags. The material is thick enough to be durable without making the bags stiff, heavy, inflexible or bulky to store when empty. These are my go to bags for kayaking. They are really well made, durable, and the hardware is top quality too. [...] Strapped to the hull or inside a hatch of my kayak - I never worry about my stuff or give these bags another thought. These are quality bags and are definitely worth paying more for. [...]”
- Available colors: 4
- Available sizes: 3 — 65 liters
2. The Worthy Alternative: An Amazon Fan-Favorite That Comes With A Phone Case
With 14,000 Amazon ratings and counting, the Earth Pak dry bag is an option well worth considering if you'd rather spend a little less without sacrificing protection. This pick is made from thick, waterproof 500-Denier PVC with a roll-top closure and D-rings for securing extra gear or strapping it down (although there’s no mention of whether the seams are fully sealed). In terms of just how waterproof this pick is, the brand advises using it for kayaking, boating, or other water activities but doesn’t go so far as to say it’s fully submersible.
The smaller sizes include an adjustable shoulder strap with swivel hooks to prevent twisting, while larger capacities feature shoulder straps (and the largest one even has a sternum strap). Included with every bag is an IPX8 waterproof phone case that will hold devices up to 6.5 inches for submersible protection where it matters most.
A Helpful Review: "[...]Its extremely durable, it got dropped, drug in the sand and shells and still looks great. It folds up and compacts very nicely as well, and I tucked a chamge of clothes, odds and ends and sleeping items in it. Feel off the boat once, no issues getting wet... The shoulder straps are a nice touch as well when packmuleing stuff to the campsite... they are also very comfterable. Would I recommed this and buy it again...hell yes!! The price is just right as well! [...]”
- Available colors: 8
- Available sizes: 10 —55 liters
3. The Best On A Budget: A Cheap Set Of Dry Bags For Organizing Your Pack
These affordable dry bags are no slouch when it comes to protecting your stuff. The roll-top dry bags have double-stitched tape-sealed seams (much like the Sea To Summit pick above), although the material is less heavy-duty. Here you’ll find a lightweight cotton-rayon blend that’s coated with polyurethane for a waterproof finish. Although fans cautioned that these were better for protecting or organizing gear than for "a dunk in the lake," several noted they did keep stuff dry in the event of accidental drops. For just $10 you get a set of three bags, in 2-, 4-, and 8-liter capacities, that are great for keeping everything organized and dry.
A Helpful Review: "Thinner than some of the other dry bags out there but for the price, they're great! If you're going to use them a LOT or really beat them up, I'd probably recommend getting something a little thicker/more sturdy but for regular camping and normal use, these should last a few seasons easily.”
- Available colors: 3 per set
- Available sizes: 3 per set (2, 4, and 8 liters)
4. The Best Duffle: A Submersible Dry Bag That Holds It *All*
YETI is already known for hard-wearing coolers and thermoses, so it's no surprise they make a mean submersible dry bag as well. The Panga is made from high-density nylon laminated in TPU for a rugged finish, with fully sealed seams and a strong waterproof zipper that docks securely to create an airtight seal. Six lash points on the exterior are for attaching extra gear (or tying down tight) and the quick-drying straps are engineered to be carried in hand or worn like a backpack, with sturdy metal clips that can take a serious beating and allow you to reconfigure as needed. An EVA bottom provides a solid base and protective landing, while inside you'll find two mesh pockets for keeping valuables separate. In sizes all the way up to 100 liters,so you can go off the grid for weeks with this setup. In this case, you really do get what you pay for: "passed the submersion test with flying colors," one fan reported, and reviewers widely seconded that it was a quick return on investment that they trusted with their expensive equipment.
A Helpful Review: “Went on a boating trip on Santa Cruz Island off Ventura, Ca. Had to make and emergency trip home in the middle of the afternoon due to an incoming storm, and hit 8ft wind swell in a 24ft BW. The boat was over weighted and all the gear was at the bow to even out the weight. When we got back to harbor, everyone's gear had soaked through, except my bag, with all my photography and computer equipment intact.Surprisingly comfortable to carry as a backpack duffle, even with 80lbs of equipment inside. [...]”
- Available colors: 1
- Available sizes: 28 —100 liters
Also Nice: A Sturdy Dry Box That's Also A Cooler
For waterproof storage for food and more, the Engel dry box is a handy piece of gear to have in your arsenal. Built to be multifunctional, it doubles as a highly effective cooler (that can house 4.75-gallons), with thick walls and good insulation. The EVA gasket ensures not only a leakproof airtight seal but also traps in cold, with stainless steel front latches and self-stopping hinges for secure fastening and convenient lid placement that won't fly over the back when you open it up. There's a built-in handle, with an included shoulder strap, plus a small interior tray for organization.
A Helpful Review: "Awesome little cooler. Use it on job sites for my food and drinks. Has a great little dry storage spot for your phone or whatever else you don't want wet. Works great for all I use it for. Seals good and keeps stuff cold for quite a while. Very durable and holds up to the harsh conditions on a job site, planes, mud and in the back of the truck. Would definitely recommend this product to anybody that needs a small sized cooler or a decently sized lunch box for the job site or the boat. Five stars here.”
- Available colors: 5
- Available sizes: One size, 16.6 x 11 x 13 inches (Length x Width x Height)