Reviews You Can Rely On

The 7 Best Dry Bags of 2024

We've tested some of the best dry bags available from Yeti, Watershed, NRS, SealLine, and more to help keep your essentials dry, no matter the adventure
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Best Dry Bag Review
Credit: Sara James
By Sara James and Maggie Nichols  ⋅  May 6, 2024

The Best Dry Bags for 2024


Looking for a dry bag to keep your essentials safe in wet environments? We've purchased and tested over 30 unique bags in the last 5 years, with the best 15 in the following lineup. From leisurely paddles to deliberate submersions, we went out of our way to use and abuse each bag to learn which will keep your gear safe and dry. We scrutinized features, packed and unpacked our belongings, and evaluated how easy it is to find what you're looking for in a hurry. We carried these bags down trails, dragged them behind inner tubes, strapped them to SUPs, and stuffed them into kayak hatches, taking every opportunity to load them to their maximum capacity to assess portability and durability. Whether you're packing for a month-long river trip or an afternoon of paddle boarding, we've found the perfect dry bag for you and your wallet.

Keeping your precious items dry isn't the only important consideration when out on the water. You're definitely going to need a good life jacket to keep you safe (also known as a PFD), as well as a pair of the best sunglasses and a top-rated sun shirt to protect your eyes and skin from sun damage. We've got the scoop on all the best water gear for your aquatic adventures.

Editor's Note: We updated our dry bag review on May 6, 2024, to include more recommendations on products we like in our award winner section.

Top 15 Dry Bags - Test Results

Displaying 6 - 10 of 15
 
Awards Best Buy Award     
Price $39.95 at REI$108.46 at Backcountry$27.95 at REI$69.95 at REI$39.95 at Backcountry
Overall Score
80
77
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69
68
Star Rating
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Pros Easy to pack, translucent material, welded seamsDurable, waterproof material, easy to carry, welded seamsViewing window, replaceable buckleTranslucent, easy to pack, convenientReinforced base, multiple attachment points
Cons Not 100% watertight under pressure, can tear on sharp objectsHarness is very involved to remove, uncomfortable for long distances, too short to easily get three rolls inSeams taped instead of RF welded, not submersibleNot submersible, will not withstand abrasionsSeams taped not welded, carrying strap has to be purchased separately
Bottom Line Easy to compress and simple to close, this is a great choice for your day trip essentials and moreThis model is easy to carry though is a bit of a let-down when it comes to some feature usabilityEquipped with a viewing window and white interior, finding your gear is a breeze with this convenient bagAn ultra-lightweight, convenient pack of three great bags for adventurers who want to keep their gear organized and dryThis roll-top dry bag has great water resistance and won't rip easily when you stuff it into the back of your kayak
Rating Categories SealLine Discovery... SealLine Boundary Pack Sea to Summit Light... Sea to Summit Ultra... Sea to Summit Big R...
Waterproofness (50%) Sort Icon
8.5
8.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
Ease of Use (25%)
8.0
7.0
7.0
7.5
8.0
Quality of Construction (15%)
7.0
8.0
7.0
6.5
7.5
Features (10%)
7.0
7.5
7.0
5.5
6.5
Specs SealLine Discovery... SealLine Boundary Pack Sea to Summit Light... Sea to Summit Ultra... Sea to Summit Big R...
Weight 6.8 oz 43.2 oz 1.9 oz 1.0 oz (3L), 1.1 oz (5L), 1.4oz (8L) 8.2 oz
Tested Size (liters) 10L 35L 5L 3L, 5L and 8L 35L
Closure Type Dual strip roll-top Dual strip roll-top Roll-top Roll-top Roll-top
Attachment Points 1 plastic D-ring 2, double stiched fabric 1 plastic small D-ring and 1 fabric tag at bottom of bag. 0 4 fabric along spine , 1 plastic D-ring
Style Dual-strip fold down w/ purge valve Dual strip fold-top w/ removable backpack Roll-top Roll-top, 3-pack Roll-top
Material PVC free 12 oz polyurethane film body; 300D 18oz polyurethane-coated polyester bottom 1000D vinyl-coated polyester Clear TPU window, light reflecting white interior, 70D nylon fabric Ultrasil 30D nylon fabric with DWR fiinsh 420D heavy duty ripstop nylon


Best Overall Dry Bag


YETI Panga Backpack 28


95
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 10.0
  • Ease of Use 9.0
  • Quality of Construction 9.0
  • Features 9.0
Material: Laminated high-density nylon | Closure Type: HydroLok zipper
REASONS TO BUY
Fully watertight
Intensely durable
Quick to open and close
Easy to carry
REASONS TO AVOID
Rigid shape
Heavy

Yeti is well-known for its rugged and durable products, and the Panga Backpack 28 does not disappoint. It's constructed from thick, laminated, high-density nylon and closes via a sturdy, easy-to-use HydroLok zipper. The seams are RF welded, ensuring a practically bombproof construction that not only keeps water out but traps air in. This all but guarantees the dryness of even the most sensitive objects, like your expensive camera or laptop. The wide shoulder straps spread the load when carrying this portable back, and an internal laptop sleeve and mesh pouch help keep your items where they need to be. The Panga is at home whatever your adventure style — lashed to your canoe through rapids, strapped on your back in a snowstorm, or in the urban jungle.

Impenetrable to water even after an overnight soaking, this exceptionally durable and easy-to-carry design comes at a cost. The Panga Backpack 28 weighs 62.4 ounces when empty and costs an arm and a leg. However, these drawbacks are minor if you transport electronics in wet environments or simply value the versatility of one bag that can cover all your needs. If you are looking to carry lots of weight in hot conditions, your back may get sweaty, but rest assured this won't harm your precious cargo. Bottom line, if you are looking for a seriously waterproof, cover-all-your-bases backpack for your next adventure, this one is hard to beat. If you prefer a duffel-style bag, Yeti also makes the Panga Duffel with many of the same features and high-quality construction.

The YETI Panga Backpack 28 has integrated shoulder straps and an optional waist belt and chest strap.
Credit: Sara James

Best Bang for Your Buck


SealLine Discovery View


80
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 8.5
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Quality of Construction 7.0
  • Features 7.0
Material: 12oz PU body/300D 18oz PU-coated bottom | Closure Type: Dual strip roll-top
REASONS TO BUY
Purge valve for each compression
Translucency makes it easy to find things
Secure attachment point
Fully welded seams
REASONS TO AVOID
Easy to puncture
Not submersible for an extended time

If you're on a budget and just want to keep your essentials dry and easily accessible, the SealLine Discovery View is our first recommendation. It has a double-banded fold-down closure and a purge valve, enabling you to squeeze all the air out. The translucent non-PVC material makes identifying what's inside your bag a breeze, and it is also more durable than other options at a similar price. With fully welded seams and a durable buckle clip, the Discovery is designed for seriously wet day adventures without busting your wallet.

Under intense pressure (i.e., a direct hose), a few water droplets can seep into this bag via the purge valve. It is also important to take a few extra seconds to ensure your closing folds are wrinkle-free and that there are three of them if you want to ensure the bag is watertight when dragged through a lake. With this little bit of attention to detail, this small-capacity sack is seriously waterproof. We had the Discovery clipped to our SUP as we made our way through five miles of class 3-4 rapids, and our spare layers and notebook stayed dry inside. If the purge valve gives you cause for concern, consider the watertight Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag.

dry bag - this small sack is the perfect size for your day's essentials.
This small sack is the perfect size for your day's essentials.
Credit: Sara James

Best Ultralight Buy on a Budget


Osprey Ultralight Drysack


65
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 6.0
  • Ease of Use 8.0
  • Quality of Construction 6.0
  • Features 5.5
Material: 40D ripstop nylon | Closure Type: Roll-top
REASONS TO BUY
Ultralight
Simple and easy to use
Rectangular shape
REASONS TO AVOID
Not abrasion resistant
Best as part of a system

The Osprey Ultralight Drysack is a simple dry bag at a palatable price point. Made of very thin 40D ripstop nylon, this 20-liter sack weighs less than many with a quarter of the volume. Ultrathin sides allow light inside the rectangular-shaped bag, so you can more readily locate your belongings. The Ultralight lacks the extra features and frills of other options, but you won't need these with this bag stuffed inside another bag — which is how it's best used. The lack of features also keeps the weight low and the bag easy to use.

Of course, by utilizing such a thin fabric, the Ultralight is not built to withstand abrasion. Up against rocks, sand, or even years of heavy backpacking use, two of the four versions of this bag that we've tested developed tiny holes. Thanks to the ripstop pattern, the bag still retains an impressive level of water resistance, but a hole is a hole. If you want a dry bag you can strap to your kayak deck or drag to the beach, this one isn't quite up to the task. But if you're ready to upgrade your packing system for travel, backpacking, or camping, this modestly-priced ultralight dry bag is an excellent addition that we've enjoyed using for years of adventures. Others embarking on adventures with more turbulent waters will need a heavy-duty option like the rugged Watershed Colorado Duffel.

dry bag - this ultra lightweight model provides perfect protection for your...
This ultra lightweight model provides perfect protection for your sleeping bag or clothes inside your backpacking pack.
Credit: Sara James

Best on a Supertight Budget


Outdoor Products 3-Pack All Purpose


48
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 4.0
  • Ease of Use 7.0
  • Quality of Construction 4.0
  • Features 4.5
Material: 60% cotton/40% rayon PU-coated ripstop | Closure Type: Roll-top
REASONS TO BUY
Three bags for the price of one
No fuss
Lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Susceptible to abrasions
No attachment points
Taped seams may delaminate over time

The Outdoor Products 3-Pack offers excellent value for the money, giving you three dry bags for less than half of what most companies charge for one. The different sizes (2, 4, and 10-liter) are great for use during an afternoon trip on the lake or, better still, part of an organizational system within a larger bag.

The roll-top closure of these bags lacks any reinforcement and is not the most robust or watertight design. These light-duty bags failed when put under pressure with a hose and when left to soak in water for a prolonged period. The Outdoor Products bags are best used in a multi-bag system. Helpfully, since you'll have three bags, it is easy to double bag smaller items that especially need to stay dry. At less than the price of a meal at your favorite pub, this deal will help you keep your lunch dry on your next boating adventure. But for not much more, you could purchase the Osprey Ultralight Drysack, which offers better water protection and construction within the same price range.

dry bag - with 3 different size options, the outdoor product 3-pack can cover...
With 3 different size options, the Outdoor Product 3-pack can cover a lot of needs for hardly any cash.
Credit: Sara James

Best for Multi-Day Adventures


NRS Expedition DriDuffel


93
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 10.0
  • Ease of Use 9.5
  • Quality of Construction 8.0
  • Features 7.5
Material: 21oz TobaTex | Closure Type: TIZip Masterseal
REASONS TO BUY
Durable
Easily removable backpack harness
Large capacity
Simple to use metal clips
REASONS TO AVOID
Will leak under duress
Metal hooks are slower to use
Harder to stay organized

If you're headed out on big waters for a long adventure, the NRS Expedition DriDuffel has got you covered. The watertight and easy-to-use zipper provides a wide opening to this bag, enabling you to pack your winter sleeping bag, tripod, yoga mat, and ukulele without any issue. With four multi-point attachment strips, a detachable shoulder strap, and two wide handles, your friends will envy the ease with which you pack up your gear and secure it down for the next river day.

Unless you have a plan, the DriDuffel's large capacity (70 liters) and lack of compartments make it hard to keep organized. To maintain order, we like supplementing this bag with smaller stuff sacks. Thanks to multiple attachment points and versatile straps, a few carrying options are available; however, we wouldn't enjoy hauling this bag on our back for more than 15 minutes if fully loaded. However, we would compromise and carry this bag on international travel as it has many use cases. Another perk is the thick TobaTex construction with double-sewn and welded seams; this double-duty construction will keep your things dry through most aquatic misadventures. You may also like the rugged Panga Backpack 28, which is easier to carry and just as waterproof.

dry bag - there are multiple secure points to attach this bag to your craft...
There are multiple secure points to attach this bag to your craft, or attach things to the exterior.
Credit: Sara James

Best for Whitewater Adventures


Watershed Colorado Duffel


92
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 10.0
  • Ease of Use 7.5
  • Quality of Construction 10.0
  • Features 8.5
Material: PU-coated nylon | Closure Type: ZipDry
REASONS TO BUY
Fully submersible
Heavy-duty construction
Easy to pack and attach
REASONS TO AVOID
Uncomfortable to carry for long distances
No internal stash pockets
Can't return if you order with purge valve

You can expect your gear to stay dry no matter how rowdy the water gets with the Watershed Colorado Duffel. This bag is built with rugged performance in mind and is one of the few bags we tested that remained fully dry after a prolonged submersion. Its innovative ZipDry seal closure and classic duffel design make it perfect for overnight river trips. When you are ready to set up camp, unpacking is a breeze thanks to the wide mouth, and the comfortable neoprene grip makes hauling your gear to shore an easy task. Six well-placed heavy-duty Duraflex D-rings provide numerous options for attaching the Colorado to your craft, and its updated and refined durable material easily holds up to the wear and tear of regular use, no matter your water sport. We know many river lovers with Watershed bags that are still watertight after ten years of regular use.

Purging a bag before closing helps to reduce its bulk, and Watershed offers an optional additional purge valve that can help with this. At 75 liters, the Colorado Duffel is big for day trips and takes up quite a bit of space in a kayak or on a paddleboard. Watershed makes other smaller duffels if this is a concern. This bag is also expensive, though for the serious river adventurer, the Colorado Duffel is worth the investment, especially if you plan on doing multi-day trips or carrying expensive hydrophobic equipment like a camera or electronics. This model is the perfect bag for the diehard rivergoer and is one of our very top products in this review. If you like the duffel design but want to go smaller, the 50-liter YETI Panga Duffel 50 offers similar performance with ample attachment points, though it's slightly heavier.

dry bag - the watershed colorado duffel is now available in a new material...
The Watershed Colorado duffel is now available in a new material which reports to be even more durable. After 3 years of testing, we never had any problems with the old material but are excited for what this new development brings.
Credit: Sara James

Best for Kayak Touring


Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag


88
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Waterproofness 10.0
  • Ease of Use 6.0
  • Quality of Construction 9.0
  • Features 9.0
Material: PU-coated nylon | Closure Type: ZipDry
REASONS TO BUY
100% waterproof
Five attachment points
Additional attachment points to secure spare paddle or pump
See-through window
REASONS TO AVOID
Designed for very particular needs, not general purpose
Excess of features can feel cluttered

The Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag is designed specifically for the water-bound adventurer who likes to have everything readily accessible. With a handful of well-designed attachment points, the Aleutian can be secured to the deck of some kayaks, SUPs, or the thwart of a canoe. There are additional attachment points for your bilge pump or spare paddle, an adjustable mesh bag for your water bottle, and a bungee cord for further items you want to keep close at hand. The ZipDry closure is fully watertight and can be opened and closed easily to access your belongings.

If you're a minimalist, the many features attached to the Aleutian might make you feel flustered. We have witnessed many users opting to cut most of the external extras off this bag. If you plan on storing this bag in a kayak hatch, consider some of the other more streamlined options. But with RF-welded seams, Watershed's impenetrable ZipDry closure, and a tough coated nylon exterior, the Aleutian is dependable and may be a great choice for adventure enthusiasts, instructors, and guides. If you're looking for a simple dry bag without a ton of features, check out the Sea to Summit Lightweight View or the SealLine Discovery View, which both feature totally decent waterproofing and are more affordable.

dry bag - the aleutian is a great choice for keeping flares, first aid kits...
The Aleutian is a great choice for keeping flares, first aid kits and maps close at hand.
Credit: Sara James

Compare Products

select up to 5 products to compare
Score Product Price
95
YETI Panga Backpack 28
Best Overall Dry Bag
$300
Editors' Choice Award
93
NRS Expedition DriDuffel
Best for Multi-Day Adventures
$330
Top Pick Award
93
YETI Panga Duffel 50
$300
92
Watershed Colorado Duffel
Best for Whitewater Adventures
$269
Top Pick Award
88
Watershed Aleutian Deck Bag
Best for Kayak Touring
$189
Top Pick Award
80
SealLine Discovery View
Best Bang for Your Buck
$40
Best Buy Award
77
SealLine Boundary Pack
$155
75
Sea to Summit Lightweight View
$28
69
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Set of 3
$70
68
Sea to Summit Big River
$65
65
Osprey Ultralight Drysack
Best Ultralight Buy on a Budget
$28
Best Buy Award
63
Outdoor Research CarryOut
$32
63
NRS Bill's Bag
$180
50
Earth Pak Original
$28
48
Outdoor Products 3-Pack All Purpose
Best on a Supertight Budget
$15
Best Buy Award

dry bag - the bags were tested on a variety of crafts and lashed in multiple...
The bags were tested on a variety of crafts and lashed in multiple creative ways in order for us to tease out which were most suitable for particular activities.
Credit: Sara James

How We Test Dry Bags


For the last eight years, we have spent hours scouring the market for new and updated products, pinpointing the best and most promising dry bags to test. After purchasing the most exciting options, we spend months testing each product side-by-side. We examine every detail of their waterproofness by spraying them with a hose, submerging them in bodies of water, and dragging them behind boats. We pack them full and rummage around for specific items. We take them for afternoon outings, long-distance travels, and extended trips. We check the usability of their features and use them extensively to see how well they hold up. From backpacking to paddling to traveling, we put these bags through their paces to see which ones are right for what job. For more detailed information on our dry bag testing process, see our full How We Test article.

dry bag - all the bags got filled with paper towels and submerged in tubs of...
All the bags got filled with paper towels and submerged in tubs of water overnight. The following day we checked all the paper towels to see if there was any leakage and noted where that occurred.
Credit: Sara James

Our testing of dry bags is divided across four different metrics:
  • Waterproofness (50% of overall score weighting)
  • Ease of Use (25% weighting)
  • Quality of Construction (15% weighting)
  • Features (10% weighting)

Why Trust GearLab


This review is led by lifelong water sports enthusiasts Maggie Nichols and Sara James. Maggie has spent her summers and free time on and in the water since she was a small child. From canoeing across choppy Midwestern lakes to raging down Western whitewater, exploring quiet swamps, and journeying between islands, she is critical of the gear she brings with her and the need to keep it protected. Sara has also grown up in the water, from rafting on the big water rapids of the Nile and Zambezi to whitewater kayaking trips around Europe, the Himalayas, New Zealand, and the Western States. She has spent the last decade of summers working on the rivers in California, coaching, guiding, taking photos of commercial rafting trips, and putting all kinds of gear to the test. Whether she is skiing in the mountains, paddle boarding on rivers, or kayaking on lakes, she usually has a dry bag on hand with spare layers, a notebook, and a camera.

Getting serious about testing the limits of waterproofness.
Getting serious about testing the limits of waterproofness.
A whole bunch of bags hanging up to dry after a day of testing.
A whole bunch of bags hanging up to dry after a day of testing.
Dry bags inside dry bags inside dry bags.
Dry bags inside dry bags inside dry bags.

Analysis and Test Results


There's more to the performance of a dry bag than just how dry it keeps your belongings. We identified testing metrics designed to push each contender to the breaking point. All metrics are weighted according to their importance to the performance of a dry sack. By combining these weighted scores, each model ends up with a single comparable number indicating its overall performance. In what follows, we break down each metric and discuss which bags do best in specific areas and situations.


Value


As with any piece of gear, the cost will influence your willingness to buy it. Everyone needs something a little bit different to best suit their needs, and some products offer better performances for lower prices, making them high-value items.

The SealLine Discovery View is a seriously high-value item. It performs well across the board and costs a lot less than similarly high-performing models. The Sea to Summit Big River is another high-value dry bag. Its slightly more generic design is quite versatile, with high-quality protection and easy-to-use features. If you're searching for affordable organization and internal protection, the Osprey Ultralight Drysack offers quality water resistance and impressive packability inside your travel kit for a comparatively low price. Finally, the Outdoor Products 3-Pack is a very low-cost set of sacks with decent protection, great for many casual, non-technical uses.

dry bag - the big river has strong fabric and a reinforced base, all for a...
The Big River has strong fabric and a reinforced base, all for a great price.
Credit: Sara James

On the flip side, sometimes you need the best of the best and want to know if it's worth the investment. If you're trying to protect large, expensive electronics — like a laptop or a DSLR camera — the large capacity Yeti Panga Backpack 28 offers some of the best water protection around. Compatible with cube-based camera storage accessories, it is ready to make the ultimate adventure photography travel pack. The Watershed Colorado runs a close second, with its smaller cousin, the Ocoee, being popular amongst kayaking photographers worldwide. The padded liners you can purchase for these bags make them particularly convenient for protecting your most precious goods. When it comes to protecting thousands of dollars of sensitive equipment through harsh, wet conditions, the investment in these dry bags pays for itself.

dry bag - stay confident that the dry sack you're using is up to the challenge...
Stay confident that the dry sack you're using is up to the challenge of whatever adventure you have planned.
Credit: Sara James

Waterproofness


The primary purpose of all of these products is right in their name — to keep your stuff dry. Therefore, waterproofness is by far the most heavily weighted metric in this review, and the winners in this category took home the greater share of our awards. You might assume anything carrying the name “dry bag” is intended to keep your stuff 100% dry 100% of the time, but performance in this category varies widely. While some products are designed to keep water completely out, others are meant to be splashproof and aren't rated for prolonged submersion. All the contenders we tested protect contents against the mild splashes experienced riding in small watercraft, but to really dive deep into each model's waterproofness, we pushed them farther than most are meant to go. We used them for our favorite water sports (e.g., white water stand-up paddling boarding) and subjected them to specific tests designed to push their limits, including a 24-hour submersion test. Some products lived up to their name, while others didn't fare as well.


Both Yeti Panga bags, the Watershed Colorado, Watershed Aleutian, and NRS Expedition DriDuffel kept our stuff bone dry throughout all testing. The Panga Duffel seals with a HydroLok zipper that, even after years of use, is still as waterproof as it was when we bought it. The NRS DriDuffel uses a similar zipper system, which is new to their storage bags but has years of well-established use in their drysuit lineup. The Watershed Colorado Duffel and Aleutian Deck Bag feature a zip-top closure, similar to the plastic baggies in your kitchen drawer, but a hundred times more sturdy. The Colorado Duffel has an extra bit of security, as you can fold down the top and clip the sides to prevent the bag from being pulled open in extreme situations. If asked which dry sacks we'd comfortably entrust to float thousands of dollars of electronics down a river, these are the ones we'd recommend.

dry bag - the yeti panga zipper showed no signs of water penetration even when...
The Yeti Panga zipper showed no signs of water penetration even when stress-tested with a high-power garden hose.
Credit: Sara James

The SealLine Boundary Pack is also worth mentioning in this category. Made of super-thick, 1000D vinyl-coated polyester with welded seams, it's well-built and keeps moisture out via a double-banded fold-down closure system. It withstood a brief submersion with no leakage — only when dragged behind our kayak did a few droplets of water get in from the sides, wetting a corner of a towel the size of a credit card.

dry bag - it is essential that you get three tight folds into the closure in...
It is essential that you get three tight folds into the closure in order to keep the interior of the Boundary dry.
Credit: Sara James

The SealLine Discovery View also utilizes a double-banded closure system that performs significantly better than similar single-banded roll-down designs on many other bags. The purge valve let in some moisture when placed under direct high pressure (i.e., sprayed with a hose), and our paper towels showed some water had been able to infiltrate the bag.

dry bag - with a double-banded roll-down closure and welded seams, the...
With a double-banded roll-down closure and welded seams, the Discovery View is a reliable option if you don't expect extended submersions.
Credit: Sara James

Ultralight bags are generally not designed to be completely waterproof, but the Osprey Ultralight does a remarkable job of keeping stuff dry. While our contents got a bit moist after submerging and dragging this bag around a lake, that's not what ultralight bags like this one are made for. Instead, this bag provides a great added layer of protection if used inside another bag. It is one of our favorites for keeping necessary backpacking items dry, like down jackets and first aid kits.

dry bag - despite the lightweight material, the osprey ultralight faired...
Despite the lightweight material, the Osprey Ultralight faired surprisingly well in when left overnight in water.
Credit: Sara James

Although the Outdoor Products 3-Pack did not fare that well in this metric when the bags were tested individually (which is how we scored them), the opportunity to double or triple them up boosts their performance considerably. Having a backup system for any dry bag is a great idea, particularly when using less durable bags and when carrying important items like electronics or sleeping gear.

dry bag - the outdoor products 3-pack are a cheap option that will provide...
The Outdoor Products 3-Pack are a cheap option that will provide basic protection for your important items.
Credit: Sara James

Ease of Use


Whether you're in the middle of the river or bustling about camp packing and unpacking your gear, accessing your stuff should be facilitated, not hindered, by your carrying vessel. We set out to evaluate how easy it is to pack each dry bag, how quickly the stuff inside can be found while the product is in use, how each model carries from one location to another, and how well it can be secured to different water crafts.


The Yeti Panga Duffel, Yeti Panga Backpack, and NRS Expedition DriDuffel took top points in this metric. All have many attachment points to secure the bag to your craft or additional items to your bag. They are easy to open and quick to seal when needed. Due to the wide mouth opening, the Expedition DriDuffel is easier to pack, but the small mesh stash pockets in the Panga Duffel make it easier to locate important items like keys.

dry bag - the shoulder straps on the panga duffel are easy to secure and...
The shoulder straps on the Panga Duffel are easy to secure and detach. In addition, there are multiple attachment points on this bag, although testers noted it lacked a handle/lash point horizontally across the center panel.
Credit: Sara James

The Watershed Colorado and Watershed Aleutian excelled in this category, with well-placed D-rings and handles. When you lash these bags down, you can be confident they will not burst open if dragged through some waves. In addition, the ZipDry system is simple to open and close. The large mouth opening of the Colorado makes it easier to pack and to find what you're looking for without having to rip everything out. On the other hand, the feature-rich design of the Aleutian enables you to have a specific spot for all your equipment needs.

dry bag - the d-ring's on the watershed colorado stand out for how sturdy and...
The D-ring's on the Watershed Colorado stand out for how sturdy and well-placed they are. This is not a bag that will spring open on surprise, regardless of how the rapids may toss your boat around.
Credit: Sara James

Thanks to the viewing window on the Watershed Aleutian and Sea to Summit Lightweight View and the transparent material of the SealLine Discovery View, locating items is really straightforward. Often, just being able to see what was inside prevented us from having to unnecessarily open the bag to check we had packed our car keys, etc. Not only does this make life more straightforward, but it helps to prevent unnecessary exposure to the content of your bag.

dry bag - the view window on this bag is super helpful when you're out and...
The view window on this bag is super helpful when you're out and about.
Credit: Sara James

The Sea to Summit Big River and Osprey Ultralight do very well in this testing metric as well, with simple, straightforward designs. Neither has any additional straps for carrying, but both have a good shape and are easy to pack and close. The Big River has multiple attachment points, making it easy to secure. There is an optional carrying strap that can be purchased which we wish just came as standard. The white interior lining on the Big River brightens the inside of the bag so you can more easily see the contents and quickly locate the item you need. That said, any bag that's taller than it is wide is more challenging to root around in and pull out something hiding in the bottom, so organization is key.

dry bag - we love the white interior of the sea to summit big river, which...
We love the white interior of the Sea to Summit Big River, which makes it easier to see inside your bag and find exactly what you're looking for.
Credit: Sara James

The Yeti Panga Duffel, Yeti Panga Backpack, SealLine Boundary, and NRS Bill's Bag all boast convenient backpack straps. When heavily loaded, the Boundary pack is more comfortable to carry, thanks to its load-bearing waist belt (albeit a very basic non-padded one). The Bill's Bag carrying system is fully removable, enabling you to streamline the bag if you want to lash it to a watercraft.

dry bag - taking the backpack harness off the nrs bill's bag is a cinch with...
Taking the backpack harness off the NRS Bill's Bag is a cinch with these large, easy-to-use aluminum hooks.
Credit: Maggie Brandenburg

Quality of Construction


You can't expect your stuff to stay dry if it rips and tears, exposing your gear to the water. To excel at their job, these products need to be tough enough to hold up to the thrashings of your chosen adventure. We evaluated the (in)destructibility of the main compartment's material and the components of each model, such as clips and straps.


The Yeti Panga bags are made out of super-thick laminated high-density nylon. This material is built to handle rocks, tree branches, and river debris and can even stand up to the demands of international travel. The backpack straps on the Duffel are fixed with metal carabiner-type fasteners that are secured to two-ply webbing, providing confidence that the whole package will stay in one piece no matter what conditions your journey throws at you. The Panga Backpack is newer to our lineup but just as impressive, with sewn-in straps that can withstand heavy use and loads. The same zipper is used on both these bags, and it has faired well with the test of time. We've been using one of these for years now without a single issue or complaint about its durability.

dry bag - regardless of the environment, we were not worried about the yeti...
Regardless of the environment, we were not worried about the Yeti Panga Backpack, or its contents.
Credit: Sara James

The Colorado Duffel and Aleutian Deck Bag also offer outstanding durability. Their polyurethane-coated nylon is resistant to tears and scratches and has the advantage of a flexible and lightweight profile. The webbing is thick single-ply nylon, and the D-rings are made out of a beefy Duraflex polymer that puts other plastic rings to shame. Watershed has a well-established reputation for well-wearing bags; our testers have owned Watershed bags that are still watertight after eight years of frequent use. If you are using this bag in sandy environments or after extensive use, the seals on the Watershed bags can become more challenging to close. Treatment with the provided 303 Rubber Seal Protectant will help to keep the seal easy to open and close and reduce UV damage to the exterior.

dry bag - if you expect your bag to be frequently submerged, the watershed...
If you expect your bag to be frequently submerged, the Watershed bags (Colorado Duffel and Aleutian Deck Bag) are a reliable choice due to their waterproofness and durability.
Credit: Sara James


The Expedition DriDuffel is made out of intensely thick TobaTex, with beefy straps and aluminum clips designed to see you through the worst of whatever is ahead. Our DriDuffel took a 23-day trip down the Grand Canyon, an environment notorious for destroying dry bags. This pack was the envy of the party and returned home with no noticeable deterioration.

dry bag - the nrs expedition dri duffel is designed to withstand the heavy use...
The NRS Expedition Dri Duffel is designed to withstand the heavy use of overnight rafting trips.
Credit: Sara James

Features


Specific features are what make each model unique, and the manufacturers of these products have adorned them with various creative and sometimes subtle additions. We evaluated the functionality of each bag's features and kept track of the included lash points, straps, closure systems, and any other unique additions and attributes like see-through windows or purge valves. This metric is important to consider when trying to determine the perfect model for your specific needs.


The Watershed Aleutian has some of the most impressive bells and whistles in this category. Sporting a reliable and submersible ZipDry closure, this bag has five attachment points to secure it down and additional attachment points for your bilge pump or spare paddle. On the outside, there is a mesh bag that can be adjusted to secure a water bottle. The see-through window is designed to carry a map or other documents like permits that you may want readily accessible and watertight. Our other Watershed bag, the Colorado Duffel, also features the same ZipDry closure, the best watertight closure we've seen. Either of these bags can also be easily attached to a craft using one of the 4+ D-rings securely fastened to the exterior. For an extra cost, the Watershed duffel bags are available with a purge valve, which is particularly helpful if you get a larger size.

The attachment points on the Aleutian are designed to keep...
The attachment points on the Aleutian are designed to keep everything you might need at hand.
To open the Colorado Duffel, make a purposeful S-kink in the seal...
To open the Colorado Duffel, make a purposeful S-kink in the seal and then pull open with the tabs. TO close, squeeze out the air and simply pinch the seal shut making, sure the grooves interlock all the way.

Both Yeti Panga bags — duffel and backpack — also shine in this category. The closure system is also the most unique of any of the products we tested, and countless hours of testing has demonstrated it's up for the job. The Panga Backpack 28 has wide shoulder straps for comfortable carrying, an internal laptop sleeve, and a mesh compartment for those extra items you don't want rolling at the bottom of your bag.

dry bag - the wide shoulder straps and removable chest strap help to keep the...
The wide shoulder straps and removable chest strap help to keep the bag secure and comfortable on your back.
Credit: Sara James

If you are looking for a more streamlined design, the Panga Duffel has added versatility thanks to its removable backpack straps, and it also features two internal zippered mesh pockets for stashing small items. Both Panga bags stand out for their numerous lash points, which are made of double-stitched webbing for easy, secure attachment to any craft.

dry bag - the yeti is handy for photography work on the river as you can open...
The Yeti is handy for photography work on the river as you can open and close it in a flash, guaranteeing a watertight seal with little thought.
Credit: Sara James

The Sea to Summit Big River has a more common design but features four welded TPU lash patches and two plastic D-rings at the top. With such beefy lash points, you can be confident the Big River will stay attached — as long as your rigging skills are equally matched. The bag's lip is also reinforced to form a more complete seal when rolled and secured. One of our favorite features of this bag is the white interior, a detail that makes it much easier to see what you're looking for.

dry bag - the updated big river features robust fabric overall, an extra...
The updated Big River features robust fabric overall, an extra reinforced base panel and useful lashing tabs on the sides.
Credit: Sara James

The NRS Bill's Bag and SealLine Boundary both have comfortable backpack straps that can be removed when you don't need them. The Boundary has useful additional straps, like a sternum strap and webbing waist belt to help shoulder the load when you're transporting the bag from place to place. The Bill's Bag also has these features, but the sternum strap is oddly low. The Boundary's backpack harness is complicated to remove and reattach, with straps that must be unthreaded, and several straps and buckles remain on the bag after the harness is off. In contrast, the Bill's Bag's harness is easily removed by aluminum buckles, so it only takes a matter of seconds to turn your dry bag into a backpack.

dry bag - the boundary backpack provides more paddling but the backpack straps...
The Boundary backpack provides more paddling but the backpack straps are harder to remove than other models tested.
Credit: Sara James

The SealLine Discovery View is noteworthy for its compression abilities, using a one-way valve to allow the user to force air out of the bag. When you are tight on space and want to keep your gear dry, this is a handy bag to have on hand. When packing gear into the back of a whitewater kayak or the hatch of a touring kayak, we were grateful to have this feature on hand. This bag's translucent material aids in locating your items quickly.

dry bag - the discovery view's translucent 12oz polyurethane film body is less...
The Discovery View's translucent 12oz polyurethane film body is less durable than some of the other material finishes offered by SealLine, but for the right use-case this is a great bag.
Credit: Sara James

The Outdoor Products set is also neat because, for one of the lowest prices of any model we tested, you get not one but three dry bags. They're a little lacking in some other departments but are convenient for keeping small items contained within larger bags. The 2, 4, and 10-liter pouches allow you to choose what size you need that day, all for one minimal price. The more pricey Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Set of 3 also delivers three convenient bags of varying sizes, each equipped with replaceable buckles and an extra smooth finish, making them super easy to squeeze into those tight places in your backpack or kayak.

The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Set of 3 all use a simple roll top closure system.
Credit: Sara James

Finally, the Earth Pak Original has a single adjustable (unpadded) strap that makes it easy to carry to and from the beach hands-free. It also comes with a clear cell phone case, though it's too short for most of today's oversized smartphones. We tried both with the very tall LG V60 ThinQ and the bulky iPhone 12 Pro Max, and both were too tall to seal this little bag shut.

dry bag - whatever type of dry bag you are looking for, we have probably...
Whatever type of dry bag you are looking for, we have probably tested it out.
Credit: Sara James

Conclusion


From paddleboarding to whitewater expeditions, dry bags are essential to any water person's gear arsenal. Whether you are trying to protect expensive electronic equipment, need backpacking-specific gear, or just want to avoid waterlogged clothes for the drive home from the lake, this review covers the ins and outs of the best models on the market.

Sara James and Maggie Nichols