Dry bags have a simple purpose: to keep water out of the interior of the bag. They typically use heavy-duty waterproof material, such as vinyl, PVC, nylon, or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), to do so. Put any items that you don’t want to get wet or damaged, including your phone, tablet, laptop, headphones, charger, food, clothing, or any other vulnerable gear, into your dry bag for safekeeping.
Waterproof protection makes a dry bag handy to have around the pool, but dry bags may be more useful while camping or boating. Use them when traveling to prevent a spilled drink from damaging passports, boarding passes, tickets, and other important documents. Read about the top products below to learn more about choosing a dry bag to secure your items.
- BEST OVERALL: KastKing Dry Bags, 100% Waterproof Storage Bags
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag for Women Men
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag with Zippered Pocket
- BEST FOR CAMPING: Sea to Summit Event Compression Dry Sack
- BEST BACKPACK: Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack – Dry Bag
- BEST FOR PHONE: Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack
- BEST FOR BOATING: MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag
- BEST LARGE-CAPACITY: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag
- BEST DUFFEL: Earth Pak Waterproof Duffel Bag
- BEST VALUE: Fantye 5 Pack Waterproof Dry Sacks
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Dry Bag
Nothing spoils a trip faster than wet socks or a ruined phone. To avoid this and similar circumstances, choose a dry bag that’s not only water resistant but also an appropriate size with durable construction. So many dry bags are available that choosing one can quickly overwhelm the most determined shopper. When selecting the dry bag that’s right for you, first consider why you need one, followed by its size, fabrication, water resistance, storage, and ease of use.
One dry bag may suffice, but some excursions require two or more dry bags, each designed specifically for the activity. For instance, for a swimming or snorkeling trip, a standard dry bag won’t work; most dry bags cannot be fully submerged for extended periods.
Boating dry bags usually are more buoyant than standard dry bags, so if the boat capsizes or the bag is dropped, they float on the surface of the water. For camping, hiking, and climbing, consider a high-visibility dry bag that shows up clearly from a distance.
Size is determined by the capacity of the bag, which is usually measured in liters (L); sizes range from as small as 3L to more than 50L.
- 3L to 10L dry bags hold phones, wallets, small tablets, communication equipment, or even a compass.
- 10L to 30L dry bags, or medium, are good for cooking equipment, camp utensils, propane gas tanks, clothing, blankets, and other bulky gear.
- 30L and larger dry bags are the largest options available, and they often come in backpack or duffel bag form to pack more gear. Use them for first aid gear and emergency equipment, such as walkie-talkies or flares, to help ensure safety for everyone in the party.
Dry bags are typically made of vinyl, polyester, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), nylon, or TPU because these materials are tough and waterproof. Dry bag materials may be graded based on the density of the fibers, which is typically indicated with a number followed immediately by a “D.”
- Vinyl and polyester dry bags aren’t as strong as PVC, nylon, or TPU, but they can hold small personal items like a phone, wallet, or keys.
- PVC is the most durable material, so this type of bag may be better for boating or camping to protect the contents from abrasion damage as well as moisture.
- Nylon dry bags are lightweight, durable, and waterproof. High-density nylon bags are stronger and more resistant to water.
- TPU dry bags are rubbery and flexible, which makes them very durable and smooth. These bags offer a high level of water resistance, and some products can be submerged for an extended period of time with no damage to the contents of the bag.
Water resistance is the primary reason most people use a dry bag. Light materials like vinyl and polyester aren’t suitable for submerging or even floating alongside a swimmer or a boat. Instead, these bags are better suited to protect electronics and other sensitive gear from rain, sleet, and snow.
High-quality dry bags are buoyant so they can float to the top of the water to be retrieved. However, if held under the water too long, even these bags may leak. For the highest degree of water resistance, look for a product capable of extended submersion.
When empty, most dry bags can be stored easily because they fold into a compact shape. However, when full or partially full, they’re more difficult to store. Some dry bags have additional features, such as a D-ring or loops, to help secure the bag.
Use a D-ring or carabiner to attach the bag to a motorcycle, RV, or boat. Similarly, lashing loops work well on moving vehicles, but they can also hang a bag at a campsite to keep the contents off the ground away from roaming animals.
Ease of Use
Ensure that the dry bag is the right size for the intended application. Along with a simple opening system, consider products with carrying straps, lashing loops, and D-rings. A typical dry bag uses a roll-top closure system, but some products have a zippered top.
Our Top Picks
The products here were chosen for quality, price, customer satisfaction, and the considerations mentioned previously. Take a look at this list to find the best dry bag to keep your valuables safe and secure.
Ensure important items remain dry with this KastKing dry bag, which comes in 10L, 20L, and 30L sizes. The manufacturer offers personal customization and eight colors and patterns. The dry bag’s double overlap roll top and watertight seal help protect the contents. Even if dropped into a river or lake, the contents should stay safe and dry.
In an emergency, the bag can be used as a supplemental flotation device. Made from a tough, durable 500D PVC material that features fusion-welded seams, the bag has a carrying strap that can be slung over a shoulder or worn across the chest.
Save some money without sacrificing quality with this HEETA dry bag, which is transparent so the items inside are easy to see and and retrieve. To help keep important items safe, the bag has durable buckles. Use this dry bag when boating, rafting, or kayaking, but don’t submerge it for long periods.
The tough PVC material is naturally waterproof, but it also protects against abrasion damage. It comes in five sizes, including 5L, 10L, 20L, 30L, and 40L, and eight color options. It includes a waterproof phone case for added protection.
This Earth Pak dry bag, constructed with heavy-duty 500D PVC material, keeps out rain, snow, and sleet. It features a simple roll-top closure and a durable reinforced buckle.
Carry the dry bag over the shoulder or across the chest with the single shoulder strap design on the 10L and 20L bags or a double shoulder strap backpack design for the 30L and 40L dry bags. This product comes in six color options, and when completely sealed, it can float alongside a boat or a snorkeler to keep emergency items within reach.
Store bulky items in this Sea to Summit dry bag that comes in four sizes, including 6L, 10L, 14L, and 30L. The body and lid of the dry bag are made with durable 70D nylon. The base has a specialized design to keep out water while allowing air to move freely through the material. Users can compress the bag to a third of its original volume.
The dry bag has four long straps with reinforced stress points to help secure the contents of the bag and make it more compact. The double-stitched waterproof seams and roll-top closure ensure that water doesn’t leak into the bag from any angle.
This Chaos Ready dry backpack has two adjustable shoulder straps to spread the weight across your shoulders. The additional padding in the shoulder straps makes long hikes or climbs less strenuous, while its specialized tri-fold buckle system ensures contents stay safe.
The backpack is made of durable, flexible 500D PVC with welded seams to prevent water from leaking into the 22L main compartment. A small pocket on the front of the backpack resists moisture, but if dropped in the water, the pocket contents may get wet. However, the dry bag will float on top of the water to allow for retrieval.
With personal information, photos, and passwords to protect and preserve, smartphones contain the contents of a person’s life. When a standard smartphone falls into a river or lake, all that data can be lost forever, especially if not backed up. This Piscifun dry bag comes with an IPX8-certified waterproof phone case with a high-definition window that provides access to the device without exposing it to the risk of water damage.
The 500D PVC dry bag is rugged and flexible and has two padded shoulder straps that can be adjusted for a more comfortable fit. The dry bag features fully welded seams and a solid roll-top closure that forms a watertight seal. Choose between nine color options and five sizes, including 5L, 10L, 20L, 30L, and 40L.
This MARCHWAY dry bag is not only waterproof but it will also bob back up to the surface and float on top of the water if dropped. The dry bag is available in five sizes, including 5L, 10L, 20L, 30L, and 40L.
The small 5L and 10L sizes have a single detachable shoulder strap for crossbody or over-the-shoulder carrying. The 20L and 30L bags have two detachable straps, allowing the bag to be carried like a backpack. The 40L dry bag features two nondetachable straps, ensuring that the weight of the contents is properly supported over both shoulders. The 500D PVC material is tear-, rip-, and puncture-proof with welded seams and a roll-top closure.
The Sea to Summit dry bag comes in a range of sizes, including 3L, 5L, 8L, 13L, 20L, and 35L, but for weeklong trips, the 65L dry bag may be just the ticket. The large 65L capacity has an oval-shaped base that resists rolling so it won’t fall or roll off the boat.
This heavy-duty dry bag is made with abrasion-resistant 420D nylon fabric that’s coated in thermoplastic polyurethane for better water resistance. The roll-top closure and quick-release buckle are easy to use. Use its D-ring attachment points and strong lash loops to secure the bag to a vehicle. If dropped in the water, the dry bag will pop back up to float on the surface for retrieval.
Duffel bags may not be as compact as a backpack or shoulder bag, but they usually can handle larger loads more easily. This Earth Pak dry bag comes in either a 50L or 70L size and three different color options, including black, blue, and green. The commercial-grade PVC material keeps the contents protected, while a roll-top closure and thermo-welded seams ensure that water can’t leak into the bag.
Use the adjustable padded shoulder strap to carry this dry duffel bag over one shoulder or across the body. The outside of the bag features a large mesh pocket for items not susceptible to water damage. Inside the main compartment, two mesh pockets hold smaller items that could fall to the bottom of the bag.
Instead of trying to force everything into one big dry bag, this value pack from Fantye contains six dry bags, each in a different size, including 1.5L, 2.5L, 3L, 3.5L, 5L, and 8L. Small devices like phones, headphones, and batteries fit into the 1.5L or 2.5L bags, while bulky items, like clothing or bedding, can be packed in the 5L or 8L bags.
Each dry bag is made with thin polyester and coated with thermoplastic polyurethane to increase the fabric’s water resistance. The roll-top closures and tape-sealed seams help keep out water; however, these dry bags are best for rain, snow, and sleet. If you drop a bag into a lake or river, the contents probably will get wet.
The Advantages of Owning a Dry Bag
Dry bags offer many advantages, but the ability to keep items safe from water damage is their most beneficial feature. In fact, some dry bags can be fully submerged without risk to the items inside.
Dry bags are made with a variety of materials and can be as small as 1.5L or over 50L in capacity. Use a dry bag in an array of situations, including camping, hiking, climbing, jogging, biking, boating, swimming, rafting, flying, and kayaking.
Moreover, it’s easier to carry multiple items in a dry bag. The waterproofing provides the peace of mind in knowing that your items are safe, even in bad weather.
FAQs About Dry Bags
Keep reading to find answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about dry bags and how to use one on your next camping trip.
Q. What is a dry bag used for?
Dry bags are generally used to keep important or sensitive items safe from water damage.
Q. What are dry bags made of?
Dry bags are typically made of polyester, vinyl, PVC, nylon, or TPU.
Q. What size dry bag should I buy?
- Small dry bags less than 10L in size are often used for phones, headphones, keys, wallets, and other small items.
- 10L to 30L bags can be used for a small sleeping bag, clothes, or cooking gear, though a large sleeping bag may not fit.
- Dry bags larger than 30L are best for long trips or for packing more than one person’s clothing and gear.
Q. Can dry bags be submerged?
Some dry bags can be fully submerged for extended periods of time, though most are capable of only a quick dip. Other dry bags can’t be submerged at all.
Q. How do you carry a dry bag?
A dry bag can be carried over one shoulder, over both shoulders, across the chest, down by the side, or strapped around the waist. Most products typically have at least one shoulder strap. They also may have a second shoulder strap, a simple carrying handle, or a waist belt for additional support.