Whether you’re kayaking, fishing, or just hanging out on a water platform chugging beers, chances are, you’ll want to bring some gear to the water. If you’re going to do that, you’ll need a bag that can actually handle being on the water, since there’s a good chance it’s going to get wet. Heck, there’s a good chance you’re going to drop it right on the water, so you’ll want a pack that can keep your gear dry when that happens.
While water-resistant backpacks can do a great job of keeping your gear dry, if you’re taking the pack into the water, you’ll want something that’s even more reinforced. Basically, you’ll want something that’s rated for full waterproofing. As in, you can cross a river and submerge your bag in the water without allowing even a single drop inside, as that’s the only way you can make sure all your gear stays completely dry. Granted, you’ll need to spend a little more for a really good waterproof backpack, but if you spend a lot of recreational time in the water, it’s really a worthy investment.
These are the best waterproof backpacks for your summer adventures.
Chaos Ready Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack
If you don’t want to spend a lot money, but want a good waterproof backpack all the same, then this 22L pack should see you through this summer. Yes, it’s really waterproof, with a shell made from 500 PVC tarpaulin that should keep out water with the best of them. While it’s designed to survive short submersion, it won’t be able to handle sustained use directly in water. That’s because it uses a rolltop buckled closure, which can keep water out for a short time but won’t hold up to continued immersion. Good news is, the bag is designed to float in water, so if you drop it at any point, it should pop right back to the surface, keeping the rolltop closure from failing. Granted, it won’t float if you pack it too heavy (you can’t expect it to float if you load it with weight plates), but filling it with standard fishing, paddling, and other recreational water gear should keep it buoyant enough that it should stay on the surface.
This updated version of Orvis’ 21L waterproof backpack combines watertight with construction with stylish looks that make it just as nice for use around the city as it is for taking to the waters. Of all the bags here, this is the one we wouldn’t mind using day to day. The shell is made from TPU-coated 500D nylon that should be downright impenetrable to water, while a YKK Flexseal zipper prevents water from coming in through the opening. Orvis isn’t touting it as fully submersible, although you should be able to drop it in water without any worries. Heck, you can cross the occasional river with the bag in tow and the shell-and-zipper should hold up enough to still keep your gear dry, so long as you don’t keep it on water for long, sustained periods. Features include a water-resistant zippered exterior pocket, a water-resistant padded back panel, padded shoulder straps, an adjustable sternum strap, and a padded bottom to protect your gear from impact.
This fully-submersible 29-liter pack has been in Patagonia’s lineup for a while, originally going under the name Stormsurge. There’s good reason for its longevity and a large part of it is the proven waterproofing, which will capably keep your gear safe, no matter what kind of water encounter you might have. With an IPX7 rating, this bag will keep its contents dry even when fully submerged, complete with a back panel and shoulder straps that are completely hydrophobic, so they will neither absorb nor retain water. If you want to use it for fishing, it’s great for that, as it comes with gear straps that can easily hold a fly rod, a net scabbard on the back panel, and even an internal organizer pocket (you can use it to hold tackle) that can be lashed to the exterior.
If you want a waterproof backpack, but demand eco-friendly sustainability as part of its integral construction, you’ll want to check out this 28L pack from Fishpond, as it’s made from 900D TPU Newstream fabric and coated nylon Cyclepond fabric, each of which are recycled materials made from plastic bottles and fishing nets, respectively. It combines those water-shrugging materials with a waterproof TRU Zip closure for the main compartment, making the interior impenetrable to water even when submerged. Other features include a water-resistant zippered exterior pocket (only the main compartment is fully waterproof), removable lumbar support, four -way back panel attachments, and Hypalon attachment points on shoulder straps.
Of course, YETI also makes bags that are just as overbuilt as their indestructible coolers. And just in case you’re not convinced of that by just looking at it, the darn thing will convince you as soon as you hold it, as the bag on its own already weighs a hefty 3.9 pounds. It combines a tried-and-true backpack design with full watertight submersible construction made up of a TPU-laminated high-density nylon shell and a fully-waterproof zipper that’s sealed so airtight it takes a little force to actually open and close. Suffice to say, this will keep your stuff dry with the best of them. Features include impressively rugged DryHaul straps, interior pockets for organization, multiple lash points, and plenty of MOLLE straps for attaching additional gear.
Cut in TPU-coated 840D nylon tarpaulin fabric, this bag offers serious durability and abrasion resistance while also keeping out water as effectively as the tarp you shelter under during inclement weather. To ensure full waterproofing, they combine that waterproof fabric with RF-welded seams, while all webbing and padding are stitched to an additional layer of the same 840D nylon material before being RF-welded to the main bag. Basically, everything here, from the shell and straps to the back panel and seams, should shrug off water. Oh yeah, the main opening is secured with a waterproof TIZIP zipper, while all exterior pockets get water-resistant Aquaguard zippers. On top of that, it’s one of the best-looking waterproof bags we’ve seen, with plenty of little details that, in our opinion, elevate it just that much higher than other products in the category.