Inclement weather is the one of the banes of the dedicated trekker. Nobody likes to be caught in a downpour, and wet weather threatens your precious gear. You also don’t want to take off your backpack when you have to wade through a river or stream. Bridging the gap between dry bags and backpacks, a good waterproof backpack comes in very handy. A good backpack will protect your valuable gear and belongings if a storm should hit, and it will allow you to cover wet terrain with peace of mind. In the following article we look at the best waterproof backpacks currently available.
The Suretex Hiking comes in either a 50 or 60L capacity; plenty of space for all your camping or ´hiking gear. It comes with the requisite gear straps and loops to attach your tent and sleeping bags, and there are two zipper pockets at the front and two mesh pockets on the side for additional gear. The Suretex also has a compartment for a water bladder.
We found the backpack comfortable to use: it comes with a metal frame, padded straps and ventilation system that allow air to circulate to your back. The bag can also be detached from the frame, allowing the bag to be cleaned more easily. The straps and waist belt have sufficient padding to ensure a comfortable carry even over long distances. The backpack itself is made of water resistant nylon, and it also comes with a polyester waterproof rain cover. Should there be any problems with your backpack, the Suretex comes with a three-month repair warranty.
The Earth Pak come in a square design, that is minimalistic and, in our opinion, quite fetching, and in a choice of five different colors. There are two sizes: 35 or 55L. There is a conveniently located larege zipper pocket on the front of the back that provides easy access to vital items, such as your ID or maps. There is also another pocket on the inside of the bag. The bag overall was comfortable enough, although not outstanding: there were mesh supports on the shoulder straps and the back has a padded support. We would have liked to see more ventilation for the back, but we did not find our back sweating eve after a few hours of hiking. One very nice addition was the waterproof phone case, so you do not have to worry about water damage to your phone.
There was no dedicated water bladder compartment, so you might be better off taking water bottles with this bag and although we really liked the minimalist design, there is a lack of loops for attaching equipment to the bag.
The Earth Pak is an ideal and nicely designed bag that would excel as a large day bag. Campers and jikers might be served with something like the Suretex Hiking.
The Aquaquest Stylin is a well-constructed bag that offers great durability. Made from 420 RipStop, this backpack boasts heat taped seams and double bar tacked stress points, along with a DWR coating. All of this jargon basically means that the back is extremely durable. There is a mesh panel to protect your back along with adjustable shoulder, hip and chest straps.
The bag has a pocket at the front which is water resistant. There is no dedicated water bladder compartment, but this pocket is large enough for you to store a bottle of water in it. We found that the bag sat quite high on the back; this might not be to everyone’s taste, but the weight distribution is useful if you are a cycler, since it makes for a more comfortable ride. Combined with its relative low weight, this makes the bag perfect for cyclists.
Aquaquest touts the Stylin as a great urban bag as well as a camping and trekking bag, but there are not any foam inserts of any kind inside the bag that would protect a laptop or other fragile equipment.
The Chaos Ready backpack one of the smaller bags in our review, with a capacilty of 22L. It is made from heavy duty PVC tarpaulin, which, although certainly rugged, made this bag a bit heavier than we would wish for its size. It supports a front pocket that features a fold down lid. It’s a nice design, but it does mean that this pocket, unlike the main container, is not waterproof. You should only place already waterproof items in this pocket. There are two side mesh pockets that function well enough, and the backpack also boasts a water bottle holder. We found it slightly awkward to use, given its positioning and size. The build quality on the bag is good: there are welded seams and comfortable padded shoulder straps.
The Chaos Ready is useful for those who need the benefits of a dry bag and also wish to keep their hands free. Its weight precludes it from functioning as a dry bag, and it doesn’t quite have the features expected of a dedicated backpack, but as a middle road between the two, it has its benefits.
The BackSak is an attractive and well made backpack. The backpack comes in seven different colors, and features welded seams, a padded back, and cushioned straps. The backpack was comfortable to wear, and although we personally prefer ventiliated backs, the padded back served us well and was reasonably comfortable. On the plus side, since the bag does not have an internal frame, you can fold It down flat, and store in it another suitcase for travel, should you wish.
There is an interior 6 x 8in pocket, which can separate your electronics from wet towels, and an outer pocket, which is splash proof. We appreciated that the bag came with D-rings on side that can be used to clip on water bottles and other accessories. We woud have liked to see a dedicated laptop sleeve inside the bag, but the interior pocket is a reasonable compromise.
The BackSak can be closed in one of two ways: you can either roll down the top and click the top clip which creates a handle that you can use to carry the bag, or you use the traditional method and use the side clips to close the top and adjust the fit. The 35L interior compartment is a good size and should meet most needs.
If you are a keen angler and in the market for a waterproof bag, you should have a look at the Umpqua Tongass backpack. It is made from a durable and waterproof 420D nylon fabric, which is welded to prevent moisture seeping into the bag. It features two roll-top closures to carry your gear, both of which were completely waterproof. The front compartment can also be detached, should you wish to travel a little lighter. The Tongass also comes with padding on the shoulder and belt straps along with a ventilated back panel, which greatly aids comfort. You can easily wear this backpack for many hours while waist deep in water.
This backpack is ideal for the serious fisher, and its durability and attention to detail is evident. The one drawback we would highlight is that unlike most of the other backpacks available, the Tongass does not use zips to close compartments but buckles. This does mean that it is slightly more difficult and takes more time to get in and out of your bag, but we have never seen a good fisher who is in a hurry.
The Sea to Sumit Rapid Drypack hit all the marks in our search for the perfect waterproof backpack. Made of TPU laminated 420D nylon, the bag is both waterproof and abrasion resistant. Along with its sealed seams the quality is first class, and this bag will be handle whatever punishment it meets out on the trail.
It comes with a large exterior zippered pocket, which is water resistant, as well as an internal pocket. We really liked that there is also a large top handle on the exterior of the bag for comfortable lifting of for strapping the bag when traveling. The bag is available in three colors (The black is slightly cheaper), but all of them have a white lined interior which helps with visibility and identification of items in low light. We found the bag to be comfortable to wear, thanks to its ventilated shoulder straps and padded back. At just 1.7 pounds for a 26L capacity, the Rapid hits a sweet spot for weight and capacity.
We would have liked more loops on the outside to attach accessories, but there is a compartment for a water bladder in the back.
Trekking doesn’t just have to involve the great outdoors. There’s a whole jungle in urban areas that needs to be negotiated daily, and if you are the type of person who has to have their laptop with you at all times, then the TImbuk2 Inspire may just be what you are looking for. Made from 630D Oxford Nylon, the Spire features a waterproof rolltop that will protect your laptop in the event of rainfall. It has a dedicated laptop compartment that can fit a 15in Macbook (or PC equivalent) and an iPad (or other tablet). There is a ventilated back panel that will make sure that your back will not sweat, even if you are packing all your computing gear. There’s a front zipped pocket where you can store your ID or headphones. There are also a couple of nice extras: there is an elasticized side pocket for a water bottle, and there is some chain webbing on the outside onto which you can attach bike locks or helmets.
The Spire was exclusively designed for Apple, but you can equally use your PC and peripherals with this bag. It comes in three shades, and it is a very nice waterproof backpack for those wishing to transport their computer and peripherals. We would have liked it to be slightly larger so that more books could have been stored along with the laptop, thereby making it the ideal student bag, but the Spire is nevertheless a very attractive option.
The DryCASE Masonboro is an extremely well built bag. We liked the quality of nearly all the bags we reviewed, but the DryCASE is probably the sturdiest of the lot. There is plenty of padding on the back and on the shoulder straps and we appreciated the webbing on the sides of the bag, which will allow you to attach carabiners for your other equipment.
The Bag comes with a novel purge valve for inflation and compression of the backpack. If you have not filled the bag, you can then compress it down to save space which is a very useful feature. Its main compartment fits 35L, which is enough for most uses. There is a bottle holder, but we found it to be too small, and suitable only for smaller bottles. There is a carry handle on the top front of the case and a zippered external pocket for storage of your goods.
Although very well built, we did find the Masonboro slightly uncomfortable after a few hours. Nevertheless we think this is still a very high quality waterproof backpack that is worthy of your attention.
The Vitchelo Drybag is a very cool looking 35L dry bag backpack. It is made from a double-stitiched non-rip fabric, has sealed seams and a reinforced vinyl bottom. One thing we loved about this backpack was its portability: it can be folded down takes up very little space when not in use, so transporting this around is very easy. There is also a carrying strap at the top, so you can lift the bag and carry it when needed. It also comes with a touch-enabled waterproof phone pouch to protect your phone. There are two mesh pockets on the side that are string tied. These functioned well but we did find them to be a little shallow. You can’t store a really large bottle of water in them for example. The bag is comfortable enough: it has padded shoulders and back that worked ok, but we felt there could have been a bit more padding to increase comfort. There are not any loops or any webbing on the outside of the bag for additional equipment to be added. This bag is very much catering for the avid water sports fan or all-weather cyclist. If you fit into any of these two categories then the Vitchelo Drybag would be an ideal choice for a waterproof backpack.