The best dry bags 2020, for all activities and budgets

Keep your gear safe and dry with our pick of the best dry bags, from tiny waterproof packs right up to mammoth storage sacks

best dry bags: Aqua Quest MARINER
(Image credit: Aqua Quest)

Looking for the best dry bag to keep your kit safe and dry? Read on. Travel isn't about 'finding yourself', it's about getting sand, dirt and water in your precious stuff and learning to live with that, right? Even checking-in a case at an airport risks it being left in a puddle/out in the rain while it waits its turn to be loaded in the cargo hold.

It doesn't have to be that way. Whether you're planning to spend time on the beach, on boats, surfing, fishing, cycling, kayaking or canoeing, trekking, camping, or anything else near rivers, oceans, beaches or deserts, there's only one way to protect your gear: a dry bag. 

Enter: the best dry bags for the outdoors. These picks will protect your belongings, keeping everything from your clothes to your action camera to your sleeping bag safe, whether you're facing water, sand, dust, humidity, or just a sloppy baggage handler. 

There are three things to think about when deciding which of the best dry bags to buy: size, material, and closure type. Size-wise, choose a high capacity backpack if you plan to go trekking or kayaking, though much smaller if you're cycling or just planning a jaunt to the beach/resort pool. For materials, you'll see a lot of vinyl, though sturdy nylon materials are now appearing that have a much soft, less industrial (and less shiny) look, while remaining waterproof. 

However, what most of the best dry bags have in common is a roll-top closure. Although you will also see sealed zippers, roll-tops that must be rolled three or four times before being sealed using clips is a common and highly effective way to keep out water. 

For those on a mission, our current top pick for the best dry bag is the SealLine Boundary Dry Pack, chosen for its huge capacity, certified waterproofing, and its ability to perform as an all-round travel bag for outdoor use. However, if you're after something cheaper, smaller, or with pockets, we've got options for you too. Check out our guide to the best dry bags of the year.

The best dry bags to buy right now

best dry bag: SealLine Boundary Dry Pack

(Image credit: SealLine)

1. SealLine Boundary Dry Pack

The best dry bag for general use

Specifications
Material: Vinyl-coated polyester
Closure: Roll-top
Volume: 35L, 65L, 115L
Reasons to buy
+Lateral pull straps for compression+Removable shoulder straps+Superb storage options
Reasons to avoid
-No inner pockets

If you're looking for a great basic all-rounder, the best dry bag for you is the SealLine boundary Dry Pack. There are three different sizes to choose from, ranging from a compact 35L right up to 115L. This tried-and-tested dry bag provides a watertight home for all of your outdoors kit. Compression straps are on hand to help you pack in even more gear, and to keep that DrySeal roll top closure sealed tight against any rain or incoming water. Welded seams keeps the wet stuff out.

Great for canoeing and canyoneering, the Boundary Dry bag is built to withstand rough and tumble, on and off the water.The padded, adjustable shoulder straps are removable, making this dry bag flexible to wear as a rucksack or not, depending or what you're doing. If you are lugging gear around, you'll benefit from the updated suspension system, sternum strap and webbing waist, designed to distribute weight better and lighten the load on your shoulders. 

best dry bag: Overboard Waterproof Dry Flat Bag

(Image credit: Overboard)

2. Overboard Waterproof Dry Flat Bag

The best small dry bag for protecting valuables

Specifications
Material: Nylon ripstop-PU coated fabric
Closure: Roll-top
Volume: 5L
Reasons to buy
+Floats if dropped in water+Removable shoulder strap+Folds-up to pocket size
Reasons to avoid
-Strictly for small items

Even if you're hauling a lot of gear on a kayak or a yacht, you're occasionally going to need easy access to your phone, camera, documents or hat. Cue the great value Overboard Dry Flat Bag, a handy – and hard to miss – ripstop nylon fabric bag that's as super-light as it is versatile. Folding to almost nothing when not in use, it's got a carabiner to clip to a belt or other bags or equipment, and when full it can be worn across the body thanks to a clip-on adjustable shoulder strap. 

Although it's designed for beach, boat, surf and scuba trips – and even floats if dropped on water – it also works well as a way of keeping your essential possessions 100% dry inside any regular day sack while on a hike. 

The best dry bags: Aqua Quest Mariner Waterproof Dry Bag

3. Aqua Quest Mariner Lightweight Dry Bag 10L+

The best budget dry bag

Specifications
Material: PVC fabric
Closure: Roll top
Volume: 10L, 20L, 30L
Reasons to buy
+Comfy backpack style straps+Easy-access roll top design
Reasons to avoid
-Side handle isn't robust enough-Overpacking weakens stitching

While it might not have the adjustability or balancing chest harness of the Sea to Summit Hydraulic Day Pack, the Aqua Quest Mariner is an admirable option if you're after something more akin to a waterproof backpack. For those days when the 35-litre capacity of our previous pick might be overkill, Aqua Quest's 10 and 20-litre options may be more fitting. There’s a duffel-like side handle to this dry bag as well as backpack-style shoulder straps. Their more portable size, as well as the versatile carry options, are just two reasons why the Mariner Lightweight should be on your radar.

best dry bag: Fjӓllrӓven Ulvo Rolltop 23

(Image credit: Fjӓllrӓven)

4. Fjӓllrӓven Ulvo Rolltop 23

The most stylish dry bag for urban travel

Specifications
Material: Waterproof ripstop Bergshell 400D 100% polyamide
Closure: Roll-top
Volume: 23L
Reasons to buy
+Padded pocket to protect a 15-inch laptop+Compression straps to squash-down+Loop for a bike light
Reasons to avoid
-Not for serious adventures

Here's something from Swedish brand Fjӓllrӓven for urban types who sometimes have to brave the outdoors – and specifically the rain – with tech in tow. A smart-looking daypack complete with a padded area for a 15-inch laptop, a zipped pocket and even pen holders inside, the Ulvo Rolltop 23's most obvious trick is its roll-top closure to keep out downpours. However, although we love its two outside pockets for storing a water bottle and/or umbrella, secret zipped pocket, and loop on the front for a bike light, the Ulvo Rolltop 23 is all about its waterproof, yet soft and smooth (and part-recycled) Bergshell fabric. At 23 litres the Ulvo Rolltop 23 isn't going to take much gear, but for anyone on an urban commute, a light hike or a cycle ride through bad weather it's one of the best-looking options we've seen. 

The best dry bags: Sea to Summit Big River Luggage organiser

5. Sea to Summit Big River 65L

A tough dry bag with space to spare

Specifications
Material: 420-denier waterproof ripstop nylon
Closure: Roll-top
Volume: 65L
Reasons to buy
+Incredibly hard-wearing+Range of size options
Reasons to avoid
-Needs careful packing to maximise space

If you want a dry bag that’ll swallow a whole heap of your weekend outdoor gear, take a look at the Big River sack, designed with a roll top and clip closure. The interior is white for enhanced visibility, and the tape-sealed seams are almost foolproof. This Sea to Summit dry bag offers a sizable 65-litre storage capacity and a shell of hard-as-nails 420D ripstop nylon to ensure no water gets in and to keep it safe from tears. 65 litres is the maximum capacity you can buy this best dry bags contender in, but the Big River comes in much small versions too, starting with a dinky three-litre version, which is ideal for housing small gadgets and your phone.

The best dry bags: Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack

6. Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack 35L

A highly durable waterproof pack for lighter loads

Specifications
Material: 420-denier nylon
Closure: Roll-top
Volume: 35L
Reasons to buy
+Solid construction+Comfortable shoulder straps
Reasons to avoid
-Waist strap loosens easily

With its backpack design, this hydraulic daypack from Sea to Summit seeks to offer one of the most comfortable carrying experiences out there. With proper adjustable shoulder straps and even a chest harness, it’s a neat case of 'dry bag meets hiking bag', making it ideal for long walks in the rain, or for stream crossings to a remote launch site for your paddle board. The Hydraulic Dry Pack features highly in our best dry bags buyer's guide because of its sturdy fabric and construction, load lifter design and sternum adjustments. That and the roll-top closure performs well as a defence against water infiltration.