Best Waterproof Backpacks
What do you carry in your backpack on a typical day? Your phone, keys, wallet, maybe a kindle or a tablet, a snack? Really, none of these things is something that you would like to get wet. Whether it’s for long journeys, short hikes, or a short commute to work, a waterproof backpack is a great accessory to have. A waterproof backpack can save you from that unexpected afternoon downpour, or even from the splash of the puddle that that car drove too fast in while you were waiting to cross the street. Of course, everyone has their own opinion of which is the best and there are literally millions of choices on the market. To help point you the right direction, we have rounded up the top 10 best that are available today.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 12 hrs of research
Reflective trim and zipper
Plenty of color options
Great water and weather protection
Top Ten Waterproof Backpacks
1. Sak Gear BackSak
Reflective trim and zipper
Plenty of color options
Great water and weather protection
Can feel heavy when fully packed
No hip strap
Skog A Kust is a Swedish brand that produces high-quality products for outdoor adventures. The name of the brand is a combination of three Swedish words combined, Forest, Creek, and Coast. No matter what adventure you seek, this bag will fit right in. It is stylish enough to wear in the city and the backcountry.Read more
Made out of an incredibly durable 500 Denier PVC, this bag can hold up to just about anything. To make it even more waterproof, the seams are welded and then top rolls down to keep out rain or snow. Even though this material is tough, it still has a soft feel and is easy to fold. Skog A Kust claims that the bag can withstand a brief swim but should not be submerged for long periods of time. It should also be noted that the front exterior pocket is only splash-proof, not waterproof.
Unless you back this backpack full of rocks, this is a comfortable bag. The back of the bag is padded with EVA foam and the padded shoulder straps are adjustable. The entire bag weighs only 2.25 pounds and also has a sternum clip to take some of the weight off of your shoulders.
The BackSak is available in two different sizes. There is a 25-liter version that is ideal for short trips, people with small frames, or children. The 35-liter version is ideal for an over-packer, a long weekend, or a person with a larger frame.
This bag can be securely closed in two different ways. You can fold down the top and then insert the buckle pieces into their partner piece on the sides for a more traditional, compressed look, or you can roll down the top and attach the two buckle pieces together and form a handle. Either way, the bag is equally as waterproof.
As for pockets, there is one large exterior pocket, for easily accessible items, and an interior zippered pocket, along with mesh cubbies and a key clip. As mentioned, the exterior pocket is not fully waterproof. Additionally, there is a D-ring on each side of the bag to easily attach a water bottle or other gear.
This bag will keep your belongings safe, is easy to use, and is stylish. It is available in a wide range of colors and in two sizes. As long as you’re not looking for an underwater scuba diving companion, this bag is a great contender!
2. Overboard Pro-Sport
The air-flow design ensures proper ventilation
There is an integral zippered pocket to hold your keys and wallet
When you do not want to carry it on your back, there is an included top carry handle
Only 30 liters of capacity
Those looking for a super-lightweight waterproof backpack to be used for a short period will definitely want to look into the Pro-Sport from OverBoard. The capacity is very small compared to others, but that is only an issue depending on how you use it.Read more
With a fully welded seamless construction of PVC and 600D nylon fabric, this is truly waterproof and you can even set the backpack in a puddle and the water will not seep through.
Featuring padded shoulder straps and a padded back and lumbar system, you could not ask for more comfort. In addition, the back panel is designed in a way to maximize airflow.
This makes or breaks this pack as it is only designed to hold 20 liters. Thus, do not expect to fill a week’s worth of contents in this pack.
Included on the outside is a zippered mesh pocket perfect for accessories and hydration and an elasticized mesh pocket. Inside, there is an additional pocket with zipper closure.
While not loaded with color options, there are three to choose from including blue, yellow and black.
Again, if you can hold up with only 20 liters worth of space then you should jump all over this pack. The quality and makeup are truly top-notch and your contents will be safe inside at all times.
3. Chaos Ready
When need be, it is both easy to clean and store away
Comes with a 100 percent risk-free money-back guarantee
The main compartment is 100 percent waterproof and can be submerged in water
Puts a lot of strain on your back at full capacity
When Chaos Ready states that this is a waterproof backpack, they mean it is waterproof. This backpack holds up tremendously to torrential rain and water but also has enough capacity and extra compartments to be suitable for most activities.Read more
The Class 3 main compartment is 100 percent waterproof and will is also resistant to dust, sand, and dirt. It is suitable for quick submersion underwater and will float if safely dropped. Overall, it is constructed from heavy-duty 500 PVC with high-frequency welded seams.
To provide you with a superb amount of comfort, the shoulder straps are padded. Although, if you pack this as full as it can go the straps can begin to cause pain to your shoulders and body.
Even though there is not a ton of room in the interior, with only 22-liters of space, all contents will be sealed with the fold system.
There are mesh pockets on the side and a front pocket for easy access. However, it is worth noting that the front pocket is not 100 percent waterproof. Thus, it may be ideal to only place waterproof items inside if you plan on submerging the pack or are walking in the rain.
Thankfully, although gray is the only option, the lone color is ideal for anyone and will match essentially everything.
As far as using this for extended trips, you may want to look in a different direction. But, if you are looking for a backpack that will hold up perfectly to mother nature’s fits then this is undoubtedly the perfect choice.
4. Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25 Premium
Padded shoulder straps
Not the roomiest of bags
The Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25 Premium is your go-to if you are looking for an excellent sports bag that is waterproof. This bag will protect your belongings from water, dirt, and sand while keeping them organized.Read more
The Phantom Aquatics Walrus 25 Premium is a great bag for sports goers and commuters alike. It is durable and the construction of it makes it waterproof. It is 100 percent waterproof and comes with a roll-top to ensure that your belongings are fully secure and dry.
Not only is this bag highly functional for weather protection, but it is also very comfortable. It features padded shoulder straps and lumbar support. Not to mention, there is a lot of airflow and ventilation offered when you wear this bag, so you won't feel the heat of developing sweat on your lower or mid-back.
This bag can hold up to 25 liters. This would be an ideal bag for short trips or day hikes.
There is one large zippered pocket inside that roughly measures 7” wide and 10” deep. More pockets definitely would have been a plus, but in this case, you can create your own organization using packing cubes or ziplock bags.
As for the style, this bag is available in three different colors, including red, blue, and yellow. For safety, there are reflective patches on the backpack itself and the straps.
If you need a bag that is priced very reasonable, is durable, and is waterproof, this is a fantastic option. And it comes in various fun colors to boot.
5. Friendly Swede Dry Bag
It is backed up by the company’s lifetime warranty
It is constructed from ultra-tough PVC
Features reflective details for emergency situations
Due to stiffness, hard to close bag sometimes
Looking past the fact that it can be difficult to view and organize your contents in the main compartment, The Friendly Swede backpack offers terrific resistance to water with its ultra-tough PVC design.Read more
Indeed, an ultra-tough PVC and high-frequency glue welded seams provide a superb amount of protection to water. It even manages to keep your contents dry while running or hiking in the rain.
This pack is designed to be as steady and sturdy as possible to provide the most practical experience possible. In addition, it features a fully adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist strap to adapt for multiple people.
Not a bad capacity at all with a maximum output of 33 liters.
On the outside of the backpack, there are dual mesh pockets that provide a perfect location to store your hydration. Inside, as a bonus, there is also a separate padded sleeve that will adequately hold your laptop.
While there is only one color option, the dark gray is a nice touch for everyone.
It may not be the most impressive in terms of storage, but its waterproof capabilities more than makeup for it. Simply put, this pack is built to withstand all the fits of Mother Nature.
6. FE Active Waterproof
Can be used for a variety of activities such as boating, kayaking, surfing and fishing
Includes upgraded high-strength buckling for superior insulation
Constructed from eco-friendly PVC
No internal dividers
This is an absolutely perfect backpack for all kinds of activities. Given its rating, it is not without its flaws and shortcomings. However, for what it is, it is a terrific pack that will keep your contents safe from water damage. Though, a quick note, this bag comes in black, even though the photo looks like it is blue.Read more
Being carefully constructed with thick marine grade 5mm eco-friendly PVC and high-frequency weld stitching, FE Active built this pack to withstand against the most rugged outdoor activities. In rainstorms, it will also aid in preventing water from penetrating the pack.
Comfort is paramount here with both padded shoulder straps for pain relief and a mesh lining for a better amount of ventilation and airflow. Plus, there is also built-in padded support for your back to increase the comfort.
If you stuff this pack as full as it can go, you can expect around 30 liters of room.
For quick access to your key essentials or hydration packs, there is mesh netting on the sides. However, also included is a corded exterior that can hold equipment such as yoga mats and camping gear.
The lone color option, while it looks like blue, is in fact black. Black is not a bad color, but it does absorb heat from the sun and if you backpack on blistering hot days, this can quickly become a hindrance.
This is just another high-quality backpack, but one that may not necessarily take your breath away. Not that this is a bad thing as it accomplishes what it was set out to do with flying colors.
7. Mountain Hardwear Scrambler
Its simple design makes it easy to pack
The separate pocket for liquids is convenient
Side compression straps secure the load on your back
While the Mountain Hardwear does not have an enormous capacity, its waterproof design and an excellent amount of weight distribution more than makeup for it. For short trips or adventures, this is a suitable choice.Read more
Using Outdry, this backpack is able to utilize a one-piece construction to maintain a waterproof and breathable barrier. All the contents of the main compartment will be safe from the rain as it is 100 percent waterproof.
What really stands out here is the hardware suspension as this conforms the pack to fit perfectly on your back. This suspension will evenly distribute the weight in the pack to prevent a lopsided feel.
With a capacity size of 30 liters, this is ideal for short trips and over-night stays. For extended trips, the interior may not be large enough.
Conveniently integrated underneath the top pocket is a hydration sleeve for you to place any liquids that you have. In addition, there are also two deep side pockets that can hold any essentials that you want within arm’s reach.
The choice is yours from either a black, shark, dark compass, stone green or fresh bud color scheme.
For reliability and comfortability, the Scrambler is the way to go. Although the capacity may not be suitable for everyone, it should not take away from the sheer amount of brilliance in the design.
8. Outdoor Master Hiking
Includes a waterproof rain cover
Comes with OutdoorMaster’s six-month satisfaction warranty
There are external attachment points to hold outside equipment
Uncomfortable if you are tall
Some may wonder how the OutdoorMaster made a list of waterproof backpacks. Yes, the material itself is not waterproof but it does come included with a waterproof rain cover. As this is such a superb backpack, this makes for a great reason to include it.Read more
While the backpack is constructed from a durable and lightweight nylon fabric, the rain cover is what provides the waterproofness. When the rain is fast approaching, simply cover your pack with the cover and traverse along with no worries.
The lightweight materials aid in comfort and the padded adjustable shoulder straps provide a customizable fit. There is also enough mesh to provide a sufficient amount of air and breathability.
A liter capacity of 50 makes this an ideal choice for short and long trips alike.
Included directly on the backpack are a dedicated compartment for the included waterproof rain cover, excess room for all your equipment and a padded laptop compartment.
Every single person, both male, and female should find a color for them with choices for black and gray, blue and gray, green and gray, orange and gray, red and gray, and purple and gray.
One key design feature to note is that this ideally fits women and smaller men. While it still will work for taller people, it can be difficult to align the waist-belt with your hips. Past this, everything else will provide the utmost pleasure.
9. Vaschy Classic
Variety of styles
Some say seams are weak
This backpack will not only hold up against any water and keep your gear dry but also comes at a great price. This bag comes in a variety of styles to ensure that everyone can find the right one for them. If you are in the market for a waterproof backpack, this is definitely one to check out!Read more
To keep all your valuables dry, even in the rain, the material utilized is highly-resistant to water at low levels. If you are looking to submerge this bag in water than it will not hold up, but for daily use and downpours this is a great bag.
The straps on this bag are reinforced and padded to ensure they are comfortable. The straps are also adjustable to ensure you find the perfect fit for you.
This backpack is not as big as some of the others on the list but for a small day-trip its perfect. It is 17 liters.
This backpack is fairly basic in design but has a laptop pocket and an external front pocket for smaller gear.
A variety of color and style options are available.
This bag is best as a small commuter bag. With only 17 liters, it has enough space to hold your necessities and maybe a jacket. However, this wouldn't be an ideal choice for a long hike.
10. Timbuk2 Spire
Durable and waterproof
Great organizational design
Has extras like a bottle opener
Not too many pockets
This Timmbuk2 Spire is a commuter's best friend. If you hop on your bike to go to work and you are carrying your laptop, cellphone, or other electronics and it's drizzling out, this will be the go-to.Read more
This bag is made of a durable 63D Nylon Canvas that will keep your belongings protected from the rain, so no need to worry when you head out with precious belongings and you sense a drizzle brewing. Along with the waterproof material, your belongings are further protected at the top with a zipper and a waterproof roll-top.
To get the perfect fit, the Spire has outfitted this backpack with fully adjustable straps and a removable sternum strap. The back panel is also specially designed to create great ventilation.
This backpack is available in 30 liters. This is a versatile size that is great for a daypack or functional for a light packer as well.
This bag is notable in the fact that it was designed specifically for Apple, so the inside is custom fit for your Mac Book. It is also known for its organizational abilities.
If you are looking for a waterproof bag that will keep your Mac Book and iPad safe, as well as store other items safely from the rain, this is your bag.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The clear, number one aspect to analyze for waterproof backpacks is their waterproof capabilities. Just because a backpack is labeled or stated as waterproof, does not mean that every inch of it is indeed impervious to water. To start, make sure you are aware of how you plan to utilize the waterproofness of a backpack. For example, do you simply want your contents protected when it rains or do you want to literally submerge your pack in the water?
For some, they will be designed with water-resistant material to repel as much water as possible. In addition to this, they will include a waterproof rain cover. So, with the cover on, it is essentially waterproof. However, if you submerged it in water it may not necessarily prevent the contents inside from acquiring water damage. Of course, with backpacks constructed from ultra-tough PVC with high-frequency weld stitching, you could essentially get away with submerging it in water. This is because this type of PVC is both waterproof and weatherproof and serves as a barrier for water.
It goes without saying that comfort is an essential component when analyzing whether a backpack is sufficient or not. However, because backpacks can sometimes be used for longer periods and hold an immense amount of weight, they need to stay comfortable for extended periods of time. To do so, there are three key areas of comfort that backpacks need to nail. Firstly, there needs to be an ample amount of comfort around your shoulders; which comes from the shoulder straps.
Not only do they need to be padded properly but they also need to be adjustable. Without enough padding, the straps will begin to tear into your shoulders and provide discomfort. The same goes for adjustability as not everyone’s shoulder sizes are the same. Next, the suspension system needs to adequately distribute the weight of the backpack and the back needs to provide support. As most have multiple compartments, it can quickly become a hassle when one side is heavier than another. Also, padding on the back aids in relieving stress. Finally, there should be a decent amount of ventilation. Whether this is through mesh lining or airflow channels, your back needs to breathe.
How many days are you planning on using your backpack without the ability to refill or pack it? Once you answer this question you can then determine what capacity limit will suffice for you. Because if you never plan on backpacking for longer than a few days, you will never see the need for a massive amount of space. On the other hand, if you think for one second that you may be interested in week-long trips you may want to shoot for a higher capacity.
As you quickly noticed on this list, great waterproof backpacks are not reliant on their capacity. A 20-liter backpack could be much better than a 75-liter, it just depends on the design and craftsmanship. In general, you can take this into consideration. For backpacks that have 40 or fewer liters, they typically are best suited as daypacks. Anything from 40 to 65 liters would be suitable for weekend trips. Then, once you get in the 65 to 95 liters range you begin to discuss the backpacks that are ideal for week-long trips. As soon as you answer the question above, you will be able to determine an adequate size.
Outside of the main compartment, backpacks need to have additional storage options for you to utilize. If they do not, then there is no way to organize your equipment and you can’t keep essentials within arm’s reach. However, most backpacks will vary from one another in this department. But, for all of them, you need to analyze both the inside and the outside. For the inside, it is convenient when there are additional options for storage outside of the main compartment itself.
For example, this could include small pouches inside for your keys and wallet, zippered pockets inside for easy access to accessories, and sometimes even a separate padded laptop compartment. Now, for the outside, this is all about mesh and zippered pockets. Mesh pockets provide you with a convenient location for your hydration, as you will probably get thirsty on your trip. Other zippered pockets can then be a great location for snacks and any key essential items you have. Finally, with backpacks that come equipped with a waterproof rain cover, you will also sometimes see a dedicated compartment for the cover.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Keeping your contents protected from rain or water is important, but just because a seller claims their backpack is waterproof, every portion may not be, so do the additional research or go into a store and check out the backpack when you think you have found the one for you.
Sometimes we see the words water-resistant and waterproof and lump them together in the same category. However, this is dangerous. It is important to understand the difference and know in which environments your belongings will be safe. A water-resistant bag will hold up in light showers or intermittent rains. After an extended period of time, though, the water will eventually soak through. A water-repellent bag is stronger and the materials typically allow the water to pool on the outside without penetrating the bag. However, if submerged in water, you may just have a few seconds before you're in trouble. Lastly, a 100% waterproof bag will float when dropped in a body of water and usually features a roll-top closure.
Other Factors to Consider
Typically, when you discuss color with consumer products it all comes down to personal preference. But, as backpacks are generally designed to be used outdoors (excluding those designed for schooling), color comes into play in a different scenario. Sure, user-preference does come into play as you want to wear a backpack that you find visually appealing. However, more important may be the temperature.
Do you plan on utilizing the backpack in hotter weather? For example, hiking or backpacking in the middle of the summer? If so, you may not want a color that absorbs heat from the sun. Say, a pitch-black design. With a lighter color scheme, more heat will be reflected enhancing the comfort. But, carrying a black backpack could essentially be the same as carrying a big ball of fire. In colder climates, however, this will not be an issue.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: How do you wash a waterproof backpack?
Now that you know you should wash it, how exactly do you? First things first, you should avoid the machine washing it and place it in a dryer. However, even though it does take a little elbow grease, it is not too hard of a task to hand wash it. Note, this is an ideal guide for backpacks that you have not cleaned in months.
To start, make sure to empty all the contents of each compartment, inside and outside. To remove loose dirt and crumbs, gently vacuum the seals and cracks of the backpack. From there, wash your hip belt and shoulder straps with soap and water (you can remove them to make it easier). Using non-detergent soap, then fill an object (ideally a sink or bathtub) with lukewarm water and begin to wash the entire pack with a sponge being careful to be gentle with the mesh areas. To finally cap it off, drain the soapy water and refill it with cool water for thorough rinsing.
q: Is a backpack considered a personal item on airlines?
You never know what area of the world you are going to want to utilize your backpack. Maybe you want to go hiking or skiing in Colorado? If so, there is a high probability you will prefer traveling via airlines and if you do, you will need to bring along your backpack. But, on an airplane, is it considered carry-on luggage or a personal item? Unfortunately, the answer to this question is solely dependent on one factor and will vary from a backpack to a backpack.
Here is all you need to know, if the backpack will fit underneath the seat in front of you then it is considered a personal item. However, if it happens to be too large and does not adequately fit then it would qualify as carry-on luggage. Be sure to check with the airlines you are flying with to get an accurate measurement of their under-seat area. This will allow you to know beforehand to make your decision.
q: Where should the hip belt of a backpack sit?
Many people will improperly carry their backpack and the one area they always seem to get wrong is in the hips. The included hip belt of a backpack needs to go in a specific spot and there is a certain way to achieve it. Once you have put the backpack on, move the hip belt in a way where the padding is hugging the top of your hip bones. On your first try, it probably will not be in the right location so adjust the shoulder straps accordingly to either raise or lower the belt.
When you are confident it is sitting on top of your hip bones, fasten and secure the belt. However, ensure that you do not overtighten the belt as this will provide discomfort. When finished, the padding of the hip belt should extend slightly beyond the front point of your hipbones.
q: Can you backpack while pregnant?
The simple answer to this question is yes, but there are some limitations. No matter what, you should always console with your doctor to ensure that they do not recommend otherwise. If they give you the all-clear, then you are set to go. With this being said, backpacking can cause physical stress. In addition, as Dr. Rob Shire of Manhattan has explained, areas causing nervous stress on the spine can interfere with the development of the fetus. Because the nervous system controls all the life in the body, this can compromise the pregnancy. Plus, having the extra weight on your back can impact your delivery.
This is a situation where you should adhere to your doctor’s advice. They are the experts and they will be able to clarify to you if you can handle it.
q: Any additional tips for waterproofing?
As you have seen throughout the entirety of this list, not every compartment of every backpack is waterproof. But, each backpack has some areas of waterproofing. As such, you may deem it necessary to add a bit of waterproofing to the backpack. For inside protection, you could use Ziploc bags and waterproof containers. These would be beneficial for electronic devices, your wallet, and food and drinks. Or, everything else inside your pack that would be hindered by exposure to water.
Also, you can find some waterproof sprays for backpacks. Just as you can do so with waterproof garments, you can apply this to your backpack. Note, this will not ensure 100 percent waterproofness as water can still seep through the seams and zippers.