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Kayak bags, canoe packs, ocean knapsacks (okay, we made that last one up)—whatever you’re doing out on the water, you owe it to your belongings to equip yourself with the best dry pack for the task at hand.
We’ve gone through recommendations for kayaking bags, and the best dry bag for failing, and devised a concise list to help you determine what’s going to work for you and your needs.
A good dry bag will prevent your valuables from drifting away, your clothes from getting wet, and be the very best companion you’ll have out on the water.
Let’s look at the top bags before we continue.
Our Reviews Of The Best Dry Bags
Earth Pak Waterproof Roll Top Dry Bag
In more ways than one, Aleader achieve the most comfortable boat shoes we’ve ever used.
These aren’t your traditional Sperry style boat shoes, because they’re built with a durable fabric exterior and mesh upper, which attributes to breathability throughout the day.
As the top rated boat shoes on our list, they give you the most dexterity and traction while you’re actually on the boat, but you might run into issues when you step off.
On sand, these work like a dream, but if you’re walking on a rocky beach you’re essentially going to be a magnet for small stones to get stuck in the outsole webbing.
If you look at the bottom of the shoes, the web-like series of holes helps with breathability and grip on wet surfaces, but is also very malleable when walking on hard surfaces.
Beware of curbs and jagged stoney edges when you’re walking around.
Aleader gives you the option of twenty different unique styles and colors to choose from, as well as a wide range of sizes.
To avoid irritation and chafing from the rage of the open waters rushing cross your feet, these are the most breathable water shoes for men.
ZBRO Waterproof Dry Bag
ZBRO hit the nail on the head here. This is basically the most inexpensive mixture between a kayaking, hiking, and sailing backpack that you’re ever going to get.
Even when you opt for the 40L model (which is the one that we reviewed), you’re still getting an excellent low price.
With that price, you’re getting ZBRO’s lifetime warranty with your purchase, backed by a dedicated customer service team.
Slide the supportive padded strap segments to where you need pressure relieved, and mitigate tension on your lower lumbar at the same time.
The exterior mesh lining is expandable, even when your backpack has met its full capacity.
Where most of these bags are just massive chambers, they do their job waterproofing and that’s good enough, but not for ZBRO.
Thy have the main chamber, but there’s also a removable pocket to store valuables and money in, which is small enough that it doesn’t impede upon the storage, it just adds organization.
It’s ultralight and fairly comfortable to carry, but it also has a few reflective strips located all around the bag, so if you were to drop this in the water, shining a light on it is going to catch your attention.
This bag has a durable layer of PVC on the exterior, with an in-between layer adding excellent buoyancy, and allowing this to float.
Original DrySak Waterproof Backpack
The one that started it all, the original DrySak helped to diversify the market and showcase what a real dry bag really needs.
Starting with the construction, they spared no expense by crafting this 20L backpack out of 500D PVC for ultimate durability.
Stress, scratches, damage and roaring water isn’t going to get through this thing.
You’ll get the same attention to detail and protective coating on the exterior splash-proof zipper pocket, which is designed to carry valuables or smaller items that you may need quick access to.
It’s not a large pocket, but it’s better than just having the one main chamber. When empty, this thing is super lightweight, keeping your total carry weight to an absolute minimum.
With a roll down closure and Duraflex hardware, it’s no wonder why the DrySak team included a limited lifetime warranty on this.
Whether you go with the 10L or 20L bag (or any of their products for that matter), DrySak’s customer service is there to answer any and all questions you may have, and help you out as much as possible to resolve any issues with your bag.
They have a very low chance of arriving with factory defects, but even if that were the case, it’ll be taken care of in no time.
Marchway Floating Waterproof Backpack
Marchway built the best dry bag for kayaking, hands down.
You enjoy sailing, but you have your water-related interests diversified between a few other activities. You can bring the Marchway bag on your boat, but it’s really going to shine out on the river.
Kayaking gets rough, and when the kayak capsizes (which it inevitably will at one point or another), Marchway’s tight four fold-over seal keeps everything nice and dry in your 40L capacity bag, even if it starts flowing downstream.
Thanks to the ripstop tarpaulin construction, rough waves and some crashing against the riverbank won’t damage it.
It comes in a dozen vibrant colors to help you see it at night, and spot it like a big sore pink thumb if it were to slip off your boat or kayak.
With a buoyant lining between the shell and internal compartment, this floats even with slightly higher mass objects on the inside.
Marchway’s bag won’t let a drop of water in, and it’s also easy to clean.
As one of the best-selling dry bags of all time, Marchway keeps their prices low regardless of what capacity size you choose to go with, so you can get the most amount of storage without having to hemorrhage a bunch of money.
If you need very high capacity, it’s actually cheaper to buy multiple Marchway floating backpacks than it is a single large bag.
Venterior Waterproof Pouch Pack
In the search for the best dry bag brand, Venterior kept popping up for their dependability, but they weren’t making full scale bags.
Still, we couldn’t ignore the usefulness of these simple pouches.
Made of soft PVC material, this two-pack of inexpensive cases is designed to hold onto a phone or ereader, perhaps a wallet and a watch, and fit inside of your dry bag for extra protection.
If you want to bring it solo, that’s okay too, because it has an IPX8 waterproof rating thanks to the triple zip-loc system that keeps everything bone dry.
The PVC is so soft you can actually operate your thermal-activated touchscreens on your devices right through it.
Despite this being a relatively small pouch, Venterior still wanted to put their money where their mouth is, which benefits you in the form of a two-year warranty on the seal.
Use the included nylon straps to secure this to anything that you’d like, and doubly ensure that your phone will be the last thing to tread water.
Dry Bags FAQ
What is Dry Bag Used for?
When you grab a versatile bag from the best dry bag brand, you can use it for just about anything, but the primary use of a dry bag is to accompany you during water sports, sailing, or any water-based activity to prevent moisture from damaging your personal belongings.
There are some things you need to bring along on your trip, and a dry bag keeps them protected.
Dry bags are used as miniature flotation devices for your personal belongings to prevent them from sinking or getting lost, and keeping them from getting waterlogged or damaged.
Dry bags are commonly brought on kayaking and canoeing trips to keep a change of dry clothes handy, and as a place to put your electronics so that they aren’t prone to breaking from full water immersion.
In the event that you go overboard (which happens sometimes), your dry bag will float and remain vibrant so you can spot it in the river and retrieve your items.
What Capacity do I Need?
When you go to select the right dry bag for you, it’s easy to get stuck in the money-saving mindset.
Smaller bags are going to cost less, because they use less materials, but there are plenty of people who get surprised when they get that bag in the mail and it’s not nearly as big as they thought it to be.
Dry bags are measured in how many liters they can hold. Four liters is closely equivalent to one gallon, so if you get a 20L bag, you essentially have the space of five gallons.
Picture a gallon of milk or water to get a mental picture, and think about the spatial size of it.
Is five gallons going to be enough for you? What are you bringing? How much space do you actually need for all that stuff?
Generally speaking, you will be bringing a change of clothes with you, small personal electronics, your wallet, personal identification, and a few toiletries with you.
Whether you’re going out on the sailboat or in a kayak, this is a fair estimation of the average items that people bring along on their trips.
All of that would fit inside a 20L backpack with little to no problem. But how many days will you be gone? Do you need extra clothes? A first-aid kit? Snacks and drinks? It all quickly adds up.
It’s recommended to start with a 40-55L backpack, and see if you’re going to need additional space from there. 40L is enough to sustain one person for about three days of food, water and clothes, as well as having space for their smaller personal possessions.
Are Zipper Closures Better?
Fold-over closures dominate dry bags, and for good reason: they produce a watertight seal with no chance of that faltering.
A zipper, even when treated, is prone to corrosion over a short period of time. If you submerged a dry bag that had a zipper closure, it’s not going to take more than a few hours for it to start deteriorating the metal, or at the very least eat away at the waterproof coating.
Zippers are usually used in waterproof backpacks, which are completely different from dry bags.
It’s actually one good way to know if you’re being sold a dry bag, or if a manufacturer is trying to push a product on you that doesn’t really suit your needs.
Zippers also have very little resistance against stress. If you’re kayaking or canoeing and your bag goes overboard, it’s going to fight against the current and be tossed around a bit.
All that pressure and force can either go up against a single layer of zipper, or a durable waterproof material that’s been folded over itself three times and buckled together.
We’re going to let you determine which one you think is best in that scenario.
Are Dry Bags Waterproof?
It all depends on the material and the buoyancy rating, but yes, generally all dry bags are designed to be waterproof.
If you compare the best general dry bag to the best dry bag for kayaking, you’ll see a difference in the denier rating of the material.
That’s because the denier rating is part of what determines the waterproofness of a dry bag.
Thanks to the solid bond of a high denier design, waterproof materials like nylon, polyester and PVC are able to achieve even better waterproof ratings than they could on their own.
The materials and construction method make these waterproof, but let’s not forget about the seal.
The roll down seal method you see on all of these dry bags uses the natural durability and toughness of the dry bag to create a watertight seal.
Without the seal, everything is pointless, which is why many of these roll down two, three, or sometimes four times to be absolutely certain that nothing is going to get through.
Do Dry Bags Float?
Dry bags are designed to keep the water out, and maintain the little ecosystem that you have going on with your personal belongings.
Dry bags are mostly designed to float.
Even when they’re not inflatable, the waterproof material plus the mass of the items it is carrying will create a strong buoyancy, which may have it bobbing around in the water like an actual buoy.
Some dry bag reviews list issues with buoyancy without understanding how it works. The mass of the components matters, for instance you could have a ton of lightweight clothes in your backpack that fills it up almost entirely, and it would float.
If you had a 10lb kettlebell in there, it’s going to sink, or at the very least have a very small amount of material sitting above the water.
The bag can only float in accordance with the amount of water that it is displacing, which is why it’s generally harder to sink bigger boats: there’s a lot of displaced water at work, and it keeps things in check.
Can Dry Bags be Submerged?
If you look at a bunch of different dry sack reviews, you’re going to see a few posts peppered in between positive ratings that say things like, “Cannot be submerged, did not work for me.”
The qualities and abilities of the bag itself are only stated for their intended use, and part of that intended use relies on the competence of the owner to seal the bag properly.
Dry bags can be submerged, if they have a high enough denier rating (more on that in a minute).
You’ll find high denier ratings on bags that are marketed to kayakers, because they run a much higher risk of capsizing and washing out in the river.
For that, they need a reliable, watertight bag that can take a few dunks in the river before it ends up on the riverbank.
You can submerge a dry bag, but not indefinitely. Provided that you made an adequate seal along the top, you’ll still have a few hours before water will eventually find its way into the interior.
Even when that happens, it may just be slightly moisture if the three layers of your bag are penetrated due to pressure and the exterior shell being soaked through as time goes on.
This is unlikely, but so is having your bag submerged for six or more hours.
Does Nylon or Polyester Dry Faster?
Most dry bags for boating come with either nylon or polyester, and it’s for good reason: they’re both similar in natural water resistance.
Polyester basically cannot absorb water, so all that needs to dry is light beads of water that cling to the fabric.
Nylon takes longer to dry, but will only absorb small amounts of water. If you put a nylon bag on after submersion or rainfall, it’s going to feel a little cold or damp, but not soak your back.
There’s another factor to consider apart from materials: danier rating. If you’ve ever seen a bag advertised as “500D polyester” or “500D nylon,” that’s because the D stands for denier, the tightness of the fabric weave.
The higher the denier rating, the stronger a product is. For example, most hats and socks come with a standard 30D-50D design.
You can imagine your socks getting soaked, you can imagine a hat getting drenched, so it’s not very difficult to have water penetrate.
A 500D rating is an extremely tight weave of the fabrics. If you go with something that’s naturally water resistant, like nylon and polyester, that attributes to the waterproofing. 500D isn’t the highest rating, though.
At this point, water may still penetrate the material (making anything watertight is a chore). That’s why most dry bags have an in-between layer that’s beneath the shell, and beyond the interior.
Even if the exterior gets slightly damp, it shouldn’t soak through all three layers of protection.
Dry Bags Last for Ages
Each of the dry bags we’ve listed here are designed to last for a long time, offering you peace of mind that your valuables and fragile goods won’t get lost to the deep blue.
Having a dry bag keeps you prepared for absolutely anything that comes your way: keep your identification in there, boating licenses, and anything else that you would need to salvage from the boat in order to verify yourself, and get back to enjoying your boating experiences.
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