Looking for a dry bag to keep your gear dry and dirt-free on your next outdoor adventure?
This guide shares some tips on how to choose the Best Dry Bag to suit your needs. Whether you are looking for the Best Overall, Best Lightweight, Best Personal, Most Innovative or a Good General Use Dry Bag, we have put together a few pointers and key features on some of our favourites to help you make an informed choice.
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The Duc-Kit Pro Premium is best used as a lightweight all-rounder when you do not expect it to be submerged in water for too long. Stick your phone, camera, dry clothes and map in it for a day hike and do not be afraid to splash through that stream with your lightweight dry bag.
Waterproof / IP Rating
(Best Overall Dry Bag)
10L, 20L or 30L
500D Nylon-coated PVC tarpaulin
Waterproof/ IP66 rating
(Best Lightweight Dry Bag)
5L, 10L, 20L, 30L or 40L
Polyurethane coated nylon
21.8 x 15.2 x 2.5 cm
Waterproof / IPX8 rating
(Good General Use)
10L, 20L or 30L
This durable, heavy-duty, Premium Dry Bag is the winner of our Best Overall – Editor’s Choice award. Not only does the Duc-Kit Pro Premium score highly in all of the key features to consider when choosing a dry bag, it also comes with a lifetime guarantee and is built to last which gives it our seal of approval.
It is made from a heavy-duty PVC tarpaulin, sports high frequency welded seams, and carries an IP66 rating which means that the Duc-Kit Pro Premium dry bag has been rigorously tested and will keep your gear dry and dust free during all sorts of outdoor activities.
If you are looking for a durable, functional and practical dry bag to take on your next outdoor adventure then the Duc-Kit Pro Premium Dry Bag should be your pick. It is suited to a myriad of outdoor activities and will protect your gear from water, dust and dirt.
Coming in a considerable amount lighter than the competition means that the Unigear Dry Bag scores our Best Lightweight award.
It is made from durable industrial grade PVC and is completely waterproof, scratch, tear, and puncture resistant. The smaller dry bag comes with an adjustable sling shoulder strap, whilst the larger ones have removable padded shoulder straps and the 40L bag also features a top handle for extra portability.
The Unigear Dry Bag is best used as a lightweight all-rounder when you do not expect it to be submerged in water for too long. Stick your phone, camera, dry clothes and map in it for a day hike and do not be afraid to splash through that stream with your lightweight dry bag.
If all you need is to carry and protect your personal items such as phone, car keys and a trail map, then we recommend the Zacro Universal Pouch with waist strap, winner of the Best Personal Dry Bag award.
Zacro sells the pouch as two-pack: the blue pouch is slightly larger and has three zipper locks, whilst the black pouch is marginally smaller and features two zipper locks. An IPX8 rating will ensure that your phone or Ipad mini stays safe and dry, and an adjustable waist belt ensures that the pouch sits comfortably around your waist.
Zacro Universal Pouch is recommended if you are looking for a small and portable waterproof bag to protect your phone, camera, car keys and trail map on a short bike trail or afternoon canoe trip where there is no need to carry an entire bag with you.
The Lomo Dry Bag is a recommended Good General Use dry bag. It is styled as a rucksack and has fully adjustable shoulder straps as well as an adjustable chest strap and an adjustable waist strap.
For avid hikers, it is a great waterproof solution and even features twin ice axe/walking pole loops on the front. The roll top means that your gear will stay dry and it is made of durable PVC material with RF welded seams which ensure its longevity.
Lomo Dry Bag is great for keeping your gear dry in general use applications such as exploring a city or cycling to work. It will also work well in a hiking environment but does not have all the compartments and pockets that some hikers prefer.
The KastKing Dry Bag is the winner of our Most Innovative award as it sports a plastic see-through panel which makes it slightly different from the other dry bags in this review.
We found the opaque panel handy when trying to locate the one elusive item that inevitably ends up lost in the bottom as it means you can see what you are sifting through in the bag. We also like that the plastic panel is BPA free!
The KastKing Dry Bag is a good all-rounder with a nifty see-through panel that helps you to locate specific items in your gear. It is best suited to the campsite or for a quick walk to the beach where you do not have to carry it for a long period of time.
There are different features on a dry bag that make it more suited to certain types of activities than to others. Take a moment to consider what purpose you would like your dry bag to fulfil before making a purchase.
Are you camping, hiking, canoeing, boating, trail running, trail riding, going to the beach, exploring a city on foot, or looking for a good all-rounder that will protect your gear from water and dust as well as act as a pillow or cold drinks holder?
What size does it need to be? Do you need to be able to carry it on your back, over your shoulder, or hold a top handle as you would a shopping bag?
All of these are questions that you should ask yourself before making your purchase. Take a look at our buyer's guide below for some of the main features to consider when making your selection.
The material that your dry bag is made from will have an effect on its durability, flexibility and weight. Dry bags are generally made from one of two types of material, either vinyl or nylon, and are sometimes coated with a specific solution which adds to their waterproof or durability qualities.
Vinyl is heavy duty, highly durable, tear resistant and offers better long-term water submersion protection for your gear. Nylon offers better flexibility and is more lightweight. It is not quite as durable as vinyl and can only withstand shorter water submersion.
Except for the Unigear dry bag, all the dry bags in this review are made from vinyl based materials. This stands testament to their durability and longer-term submersion capabilities.
The Unigear dry bag true to its nylon fabrication is lightweight, has a good resistance to water spray but can only withstand shorter submersion times. The Duc-Kit Pro Premium dry bag is made from vinyl (PVC tarpaulin) and is coated in nylon, thereby combining the best of both.
By definition dry bags are waterproof but exactly how waterproof they generally depend on the material they are made from or the coating on the material.
For example, some dry bags are geared to withstand periods of submersion whilst others are designed to withstand degrees of water spray. As a general rule vinyl bags are better with submersion whilst nylon bags are spray resistant.
If a dry bag carries an IP rating this means that it has undergone testing to measure its waterproof and dust resistance capabilities and is accepted to be of a benchmarked standard.
The type of outdoor activity that you do will determine how you carry your dry bag. Most of the smaller bags come with a single shoulder sling strap, whilst the medium sized dry bags come with two detachable shoulder straps, and sometimes the larger dry bags even have padded shoulder straps and a chest and waist strap, as well as an extra top carry handle.
A single shoulder strap might be adequate to carry your camera, towel and some water down to the beach but if you are going on an overnight hike and are carrying a sleeping bag and some food supplies then two adjustable shoulder straps would be much more practical.
Dry bags often sport D-rings which are handy if you need to fasten them onto something else, for example, to secure your dry bag to your canoe with rope and carabiner so that it does not float away if your boat tips.
The size of dry bag you require is determined by your specific activity goals. Most manufacturers offer a 10L, 20L and 30L dry bag for standards, and smaller and larger sizes are offered on either side of those.
As a general guideline:
Roll top dry bags are generally considered to be more watertight and synonymous with the heavy duty bags. As the name suggests the dry bag is sealed by pressing together and then folding or rolling the fabric down at least three times to ensure that it is watertight. The ends then clip in together to form a handle of sorts.
Zip tops are less common than roll tops but are sometimes used on the lighter-weight dry bags as they allow quick access to the contents of the bag. The top seals together in a similar fashion to that of a ziplock bag.