Most bags — that includes the best outdoor backpacks and duffels — are useless when they decide to take an unscheduled dip in the nearest river. In the best-case scenario, you’ll spend an afternoon hang-drying your gear from every tree within 50 feet of your camp. In the worst-case scenario, you’ll ruin hundreds or potentially thousands of dollars of outdoor photography equipment. That’s why, for serious outings, it’s best to trust your gear to a legit, water-resistant or waterproof bag. Whether you’re planning a weeklong canyoneering trek or packing a bug-out bag for the end of the world, these dry bags, duffels, and backpacks are designed to handle your wettest, wildest, most extreme outdoor adventures.
YETI Panga 50
Yeti has long been synonymous with some of the world’s best coolers. The brand brings much of that same expertise to bear on the rock-solid Yeti Panga 50 dry bag. Like Yeti’s military-grade ice chests, this dry bag is rugged, durable, and damn-near bulletproof. It’s also completely submersible. Two mesh pockets keep your smallest essentials organized and easy to access. On the outside, long straps and six lash points allow for multiple handling opportunities, whether it’s thrown over your shoulder, worn like a backpack, or strapped to the deck of your kayak. The only downside? At nearly $300, it’s pricey.
Watershed Colorado Duffel Bag
Watershed’s Colorado duffel is a favorite among rafting guides and other hardcore outdoor adventurers. The streamlined form factor is as adept at hauling gear through a partially flooded slot canyon as on the rooftop of an SUV. The 75-liter capacity is spacious enough for one person’s equipment on a multiday trek. RF-welding bonds multiple layers of the fabric to ensure there are no weak points, while its patented ZipDry technology is relied on by U.S. Navy SEALs to keep their gear dry. Durable carry handles, multiple lash points, and compression straps all make the Colorado versatile and functional in the most extreme conditions.
Colfax Design Works Project T.O.A.D. Drybag
When you’re planning to venture far, far off-trail with no idea of the conditions you might be facing, you need a bag that can survive just about anything. Colfax Design Works’ Project T.O.A.D. (that’s Tactical Operations Amphibious Drybags collection) Drybag is over-engineered to mil-spec standards. It’s a military-grade bag for the everyman. Cordura fabric and airtight YKK Aquaseal zippers guarantee an IPx7 rating, making it 100% submersible in 1 meter of water for up to 30 minutes. The 40-liter size is capacious yet lightweight at just 1.7 pounds. It works well as a traditional duffel but easily converts to a backpack on the fly. An advanced webbing system provides for easy modular expansion. In the event your adventure really goes sideways, a locking buoyancy valve allows the bag to be inflated and used as a flotation device.
Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack (120 liter)
In Sea to Summit’s words, its Hydraulic Dry Pack is designed to “survive its own solo trip down Alaskan river rapids.” The 600D TPU-laminated fabric, non-wicking roll-top closure, and welded construction with permanently sealed seams mean it’ll tackle canyoneering and paddlesports with aplomb. What truly sets it apart is the UV-resistant, PVC-free fabric that’s purpose-built to survive extreme cold. We love that it’s available in jumbo-sized form factors up to 90 liters and even 120 liters — spacious enough to stow everything but your kayak.
NRS Heavy-Duty Bill’s Bag Dry Bag (110 liter)
NRS has set the standard for whitewater rafting gear for almost 50 years. For hard-charging rafting, paddling, and other extreme watersports adventures, it doesn’t get any better than the Heavy-Duty Bill’s Bag Dry Bag. At 110 liters, it’s big enough to carry just about everything you’ll need for a week on the water. As the name implies, it boasts a heavy-duty PVC construction with a double-reinforced bottom. Plus, unlike lesser bags, aluminum fasteners solve the problem of snapped plastic buckles along the way.
Filson Dry Backpack
There’s a lot to love about Filson. Its products are made in America and backed by a lifetime guarantee. Plus, the company has been around since before the Model T was a twinkle in Henry Ford’s eye. Like most things in their catalog, the Dry Backpack is simple, straightforward, and utilitarian. At 28 liters, it’s sized right as a day bag, ideal for carrying everything you need for quick, casual outings. The roll-top design is polyurethane-coated to keep your gear dry even with the bag fully submerged. The 840-denier nylon is also flexible and abrasion-resistant, so it’ll likely outlast you.
Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack
For minimalist travelers who prefer to go carry-on only (i.e., just one bag), it’s tough to quarantine damp items like swimsuits or sweaty socks from the rest of your clean luggage. Osprey’s Ultralight Dry Sack is a clever blend of packing cube and featherweight dry bag. At less than an ounce for the 3-liter and 6-liter capacities, it’s ideal protection for active travelers who want to ensure that their dirty laundry doesn’t comingle with their clean. In every size (up to 30 liters), this bag is affordable and packs down small enough that you’re likely to forget it’s there until you need it.
Matador Droplet Dry Bag
For anyone seeking a dry bag with maximum portability, Matador’s Droplet Wet Bag is designed to carry everywhere. At just 9 inches by 10.5 inches unfurled, it’s compact enough to clip to a keychain and forget about until you need it. The 3-liter capacity is ideal for impromptu trips to the beach or the gym when you need a place to stow wet, dirty, or otherwise funky clothes away from your other personal effects. For travelers, it can also serve as a way to quarantine potentially messy liquids from everything else in your carry-on luggage.
Outdoor Products 3-Pack All Purpose Dry Sack
The best waterproof dry bags are pricey, but, in our experience, you get what you pay for. If you’re after the most affordable option and brand-name isn’t a concern, however, Outdoor Products’ 3-Pack All-Purpose Dry Sack is worth a look. The lightweight, rip-stop material is polyurethane-coated and features a double-stitched, seam-sealed construction for reliable water resistance. The roll-top design leaves something to be desired, and the long-term durability isn’t on par with other dry bags on this list. But, for less than $10 for a three-pack, it’s hard to complain.
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