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Tips for Choosing a Waterproof Backpack

Updated on September 28, 2011

Keep Your Gear Dry With a Waterproof Backpack

If you are into outdoor sports a waterproof backpack can be a necessity. These backpacks allow you to transport your equipment easily without worrying about rain or an accidental dunk in a river.

Some of these backpacks are large enough to accommodate tents, sleeping bags, and enough gear to see you through an extended backpacking trip, but others are compact enough to be perfect for an afternoon kayaking adventure. A waterproof backpack can be used for biking, hiking, fishing, kayaking, hunting, boating, and much, much more.

On this page you can find some tips on choosing one, find some popular backpacks from which to choose, and explore some links to related waterproof equipment.

Buying Tips

When buying a waterproof backpack, or any backpack for that matter, there are a few things to consider and compare before making your choice. Here are a few items to think about:

1. What you will be carrying
Your backpack will obviously need to be able to accommodate the equipment you want to carry. If you'll be backpacking for several days, you'll need a larger pack than for a day hike obviously. Most backpacks will indicate their dimensions as well as their capacity, generally in liters or cubic inches.

Of course related to this, you'll also want to consider how your equipment will be stored. For instance, if you're taking along small items that need to be kept separate, a smaller zippered pocket would be desirable. If you'll be toting along a laptop, a strap or sleeve will help assure it's safety. If you have items you need to access frequently, having outside pockets, or easy access back or top sections can make the task quicker and easier.

2. Longevity and Durability
Because you are buying these packs for outdoor use, they need to be rugged. No lightweight fabric will suffice. You need heavier fabric, preferably with a polyurethane coating or something similar. 400 Denier nylon or better is recommended. Reinforced stitching on the straps can help assure a long life too. Metal zippers will take more abuse and last longer, but of course, for lighter use, plastic can stand up to water and moisture well.

3. Comfort
For hikers and anyone else who will be carrying the backpack for many miles or many hours, comfort is critical. Adjustable straps, both shoulder and waist, can assure the right fit. Padding can help reduce chafing or cutting into your skin. A padded back can assure you won't be poked by equipment stored in your backpack. Some even provide lumbar support to make carrying the load easier.

A top carry handle makes it easier to lift and lower a load, and certainly makes handling the bag easier when it's not being carried.

4. Closure
Of course a waterproofed fabric is important but so is the closure of the bag. Most bags either offer a zipper closure (or some type of seal similar to that on freezer bag) or a roll top. With a roll top, the top of the bag is rolled down two or three times and then fastened with straps or something similar.


The Omni-Dry waterproof backpack is a roll-top dry bag with securely attached backpack straps for easy portage. It has a large capacity and measures 35" H x 16" W x 16" D. It features adjustable padded shoulder straps and heavy duty 3 roll closure. It's a great multi-purpose watersport bag.


Available here in red and yellow, the overboard waterproof backpack can hold 25 liters of gear. It's made with heavy duty fabric which resists punctures and is waterproof to 3 feet. It's a roll top style backpack with straps and features padded shoulder straps, a padded back/lumbar area, adjustable waist belt, a top carry handle, adjustable sternum strap, and outer elasticized bungee.

A Closer at the Overboard Waterproof Backpack

Watershed Animas

This durable backpack is made of 420-denier nylon fabric with a Polyurethane coated matte finish for durability and abrasion resistance. It has RF welded seams and a Zipdry seal (like a freezer bag) that keeps it water tight even at 300 feet. It measures 26" H x 15" W x 8" D and has a 54 liter/3300 cubic inch capacity.

It features removable, padded shoulder straps, a waist belt, and top lug handle. This backpack comes with a lifetime warranty.


The durable waterproof backpack is made with 600D waterproof nylon fabric with PVC coating. It offers 2 way closure, either roll top with side buckles to secure it or nylon touch fastener straps for top closure. It features a top carry handle, padded shoulder straps with lumbar support, an adjustable sternum strap, adjustable waist belt, a comfortable air-flow back panel, an exterior elasticized bungee, an internal zippered pocket, and 2 exterior elasticized side pockets.

Aqua-Quest Mariner

This waterproof backpack offers lots of storage but is less bulky than many other outdoor backpacks. It offers a 20 liter capacity for storing and transporting your gear, keeping it safe and dry. It offers a fully adjustable strap system assuring it can fit nearly anyone. It also features reflective straps and logo for added safety/visibility.

Grand Adventure

The Grand Adventure backpack offers a great deal of space and an affordable price. It measures 28" high and 16.5" wide. It has a 6048 cubic inch capacity (99 liters) and weighs 3 lbs. It's made of tough vinyl and has heavy duty, ergonomic, foam padded shoulder straps that have a single point of adjustment and a padded center grab handle.


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    • Peter Dickinson profile image

      Peter Dickinson 6 years ago from South East Asia

      I have been on the road backpacking for years now and to be honest, never even thought about a waterproof pack. I tend to keep my belongings in waterproof bags within my pack and cover the pack with a waterproof cover when it rains. A waterproof pack must be the way forward. I will have to give it serious thought. Thank you.

    • Susan52 profile image

      Susan Deppner 6 years ago

      I'm surprised at how reasonably priced these waterproof backpacks are. Great information and a nice selection!

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I really enjoy your review and useful tips from you. I want to have this one. Thanks for writing and sharing with us. Vote up!


    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 6 years ago from UK

      You come up with the most useful ideas :-)

    • agusfanani profile image

      agusfanani 6 years ago from Indonesia

      Globally popular bag is bag pack, I rarely leave home without my backpack. Thank you for this useful hub.

    • irenemaria profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      So useful. In Sweden we have a special plastic cover to put over the back packs when it is raining. This must be much easier!