white dry bag on rocks

The 12 Best Dry Bags for Kayaking Reviewed 2020 (Protect Your Gear)

After the yak itself, a paddle, and personal flotation device, what is the most important piece of kit you’ll need when you’re kayaking?

It’s a dry bag.

Keeping your belongings from getting a soaking is essential when you’re on the water, whether you’re splashing about in a pond, tackling whitewater, or enjoying an overnight touring adventure.

And boy are you spoiled for choice with these products.

That’s why I’ve done the hard work and reviewed a selection of the best dry bags for kayaking, complete with a buyer’s guide to help you decide.

Don’t lose another phone to water damage – read on for valuable protection.

The 12 Best Dry Bags for Kayaking 2020

Note: Unless otherwise stated, I’ve compared the dry bags at 10-12 liters size option.

Osprey 1.5 Ultralight Dry Sack

Review: The US premium backpack company kicks us off with this lightweight dry sack that’s designed for protecting smaller items and saving space. With their trademark osprey motif, the bag has a roll top enclosure that assists in compressing items down inside.

The fabric and seams are protected with a waterproof coating, and it’s made from a durable 40 denier ripstop nylon. The rectangular shape has been designed for efficient packing, and it weighs just 20 grams.

Larger sizes are available in this Osprey range, but I’ve included the 1.5 liter as an option for smaller personal belongings and electronics.

Pros

  • World-class brand.
  • Premium construction.
  • Smart, efficient design.

Cons

  • Not as rugged as more heavy-duty dry bags.
  • A choice of colors would have been nice.

Takeaway

Probably the best manufacturer of backpacks in the world, Osprey’s take on a dry bag is no less impressive, functional, and well-made. They’re just all kinds of cool.

Heeta Waterproof Dry Bag

Review: Fully resistant to dirt, waterproof, and available in a great choice of colors, we have this lightweight, roll-top dry bag from HEETA.

Utilizing professional seamless technology, and made with a thick, wear resistant PVC, you can keep your belongings protected from the elements in a variety of sizes.

The bag is transparent, which can help you locate items that you’ve stuffed down to the bottom (a common problem with the design of most dry bags), and it comes with adjustable shoulder straps for carrying like a backpack.

Pros

  • Great price.
  • Durable hardware.
  • Double-sided PVC.
  • Versatile use.
  • Waterproof phone case included.

Cons

  • The see-through design might not be to everyone’s taste.

Takeaway

With a great selection of colors and sizes and offered at a budget-friendly price point, this is a solid dry bag option that won’t break the bank while compromising on quality.

Unigear Waterproof Dry Bag

Review: This Unigear dry bag is 100% waterproof, produced from a tough and durable 500 denier PVC, and like all good dry bags it can float.

The bag opens with a roll-top design, which features an extra-strong buckle clip to keep your valuables safe and protected from water, sand, dust, and dirt.

With fully welded seams made with high frequency technology, the bag is anti-rip and anti-tear, as well as being resistant to scratches and scrapes.

Perfectly suited for a variety of outdoor activities both on and off the water, you’ll never worry about your gear getting wet again.

Pros

  • Very highly rated.
  • Large choice of colors.
  • Lightweight.
  • Multiple sizes available.
  • Waterproof phone case included.

Cons

  • The phone case isn’t the best.

Takeaway

An efficient, well-designed dry bag that has garnered a lot of praise from water sports enthusiasts all over the world. Perfect for taking out on one of these awesome lake kayaks.

KastKing Dry Bags

Review: As an alternative to having the whole product see-through, KastKing have opted to incorporate a useful, innovative, fully transparent window on just one side of their bags.

It makes figuring out what you’ve actually buried in the bottom a breeze, while offering peace of mind to anyone concerned with having all their belongings constantly on display.

The double layer 500 denier PVC provides extra protection, and the water tight, roll-top offers the best-in-class waterproofing performance. It can also be used as a supplementary flotation device (but should never be used to replace a PFD).

Pros

  • Tough, durable, rugged construction.
  • Choice of funky designs.
  • Phone case included.
  • Easy carry.
  • Very highly rated.

Cons

  • It’s difficult to find fault with this one.

Takeaway

An ingenious idea adding the transparent window, this is a stylish and functional dry bag that appears to have won over a generous number of fans. The backpack color schemes are very eye-catching, too.

Earth Pak Roll Top Dry Bag

Review: Designed to last for years, the Earth Pak crew are assured that their dry bags are the best-in-class products out there, and when you look at the reviews – they might well have a claim to that crown.

Made with a tough and durable 500 denier PVC, it comes with a single strap to be carried over the shoulder or across the chest – whichever you prefer.

Available in a wide range of sizes, there’s an Earth Pak to suit everyone, and it’s perfect for outdoor treks, camping trips, and anything out on the water.

The included phone case is rated IPX8 certified as waterproof, which means it can be submerged in up to three feet without compromise.

Pros

  • Rugged, well-made bags.
  • Choice of bright colors.
  • Impressive ratings.
  • Versatile use.

Cons

  • None.

Takeaway

An easy-to-use, practical, and highly rated dry bag that will suit all kinds of outdoor activities. Take it out on one of these mind-blowing inflatable kayaks for your next adventure.

Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack

Review: The roll top design is a very popular style when it comes to dry bags – and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

This version is from Piscifun, made from the rugged 500 denier PVC you will have come to expect by now, and also coming with the additional waterproof phone case included.

Fully welded seams offer more protection than traditional sewn and taped versions, but where this particular dry bag differs is the fact that it incorporates a durable, outer-mesh pocket with bungee cord, which is perfect for storing extra gear that you don’t mind getting wet.

The compression straps keep things tight and tidy, and it’s available in slightly more muted colors than similar bags in this class.

Pros

  • Stylish, practical design.
  • Reinforced vinyl at stress points.
  • Reinforced bottom.
  • Super-strong carry handle.

Cons

  • I think the brand name is a bit weird – but that’s clutching at straws.

Takeaway

Another solid dry bag option with the useful addition of a mesh pocket with bungee straps on the outer layer. The muted colors are nice for those who prefer an alternative to the day-glow designs.

Skog Å Kust Dry Bag

Review: From the Swedish translated as “forest, creek, coast,” Skog Å Kust (or S.Å.K.) are an environmentally conscious brand that produces some world-class outdoor bags and gear with a focus on all-weather protection.

They’re also 100% vegan, and no animal products whatsoever are used in the manufacture of their full range. This is their version of the roll-top waterproof bag, made from 500 denier PVC, this time with the inclusion of a splash-proof outer pocket for quick access to your small essentials.

Available in a choice of size and funky color designs, the bag is rated IPX6, which means it can withstand powerful spraying of water and remain dry inside.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Eco-friendly company.
  • Comfortable, adjustable shoulder strap.
  • High-frequency welded seams.
  • Reflective safety strips for visibility.

Cons

  • None to speak of.

Takeaway

Sure, it’s a few bucks more, but this is one of the more waterproof bags in its class. A super-smart offering from an environmentally conscious company that specializes in weatherproof gear, with a Swedish name and based in Pennsylvania.

Sea to Summit Big River Dry Bag

Review: Australian company Sea to Summit needs little introduction when it comes to quality outdoor gear and equipment, and as their moniker suggests, covers everything from the water to the mountains.

While they specialize in professional-quality sleeping bags, this is one of their outstanding river dry bags, perfect for marrying to one of these versatile river kayaks.

Made from premium materials, the heavy duty, abrasion resistant TPU laminated nylon fabric can take a beating, while the hypalon roll-top enclosure is the same stuff that the very best inflatable fishing boats are made from.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • 10,000 mm hydrostatic head.
  • Super lightweight.
  • Premium hardware.
  • PVC-free.

Cons

  • Could have offered a wider choice of colors.
  • More expensive than similar designs.

Takeaway

If you’re not a fan of that PVC feel, then this is the bag for you. Probably the best waterproof dry bag for kayaking in the roll-top class, I don’t have enough space to add all the plus points. I’ll be picking one up soon.

Oak Creek Canyon Falls Backpack

Review: Now for something a little different, otherwise we would have been stuck on roll-top dry bags for the duration of the review.

This Oak Creek Outdoor Supply bag is a 30 liter backpack that has…a roll-top. Well, I guess that’s what it takes for waterproofing with this style of bag.

Featuring padded, adjustable shoulder straps, a sternum strap for weight distribution, and additional support for the back, it’s an easy-to-carry sack that is very comfortable to wear.

An external zipper, mesh side pockets, and bungee cord offer extra storage options, and the heavy-gauge PVC keeps everything nice and dry.

Pros

  • Versatile, multi-function use.
  • Very comfortable.
  • Roomy.
  • Reinforced roll-top buckle.

Cons

  • No choice of colors.
  • Not IP rated.

Takeaway

A quality waterproof backpack that makes a slight departure from the cylindrical roll-top designs, even if it’s still a roll-top itself.

The adjustable straps and back design make it a real winner on the comfort front. Try these fishing backpacks for more practical transport solutions.

Dagger On-Tap Duffel Dry Bag

Review: Manufacturing some of the best kayaks in the world and based out of South Carolina, Dagger has an impressive reputation for recreational, touring and whitewater craft.

This is the first of our duffel-style dry bags, a fully submersible product that has been made with 840 denier nylon with a TPU coating, ensuring it’s 100% PVC free.

The seams are fully welded for the ultimate in waterproofing performance, while the zipper has been reinforced to keep contents dry. Six compression straps allow space-saving and easy-access to the contents at the top, and grab handles offer multiple carry points for transportation.

Pros

  • World-class quality.
  • Premium materials.
  • Marine-grade aluminum D-rings.
  • Smart, stylish design.

Cons

  • Expensive.
  • Too large for sit-in kayaks.

Takeaway

A top-quality dry bag for longer trips, larger yaks, or group excursions. Dagger kayaks are on another level. But maybe I’m biased because I’ve got one.

Wilderness Systems Escape Duffle Bag

Review: Available in a 45 and 80 liter sizes, this tough and durable dry bag has a floating divider between the top and bottom compartments that provides a practical, waterproof barrier for flexible capacity in both areas.

Made under the same umbrella as Dagger, Wilderness Systems specialize more in touring kayaks and equipment.

As such, here you have a roomy bag for longer excursions, with RF welded seams, an extra-long zipper for easy access, and a heavy-duty, puncture resistant base that will stand the test of time.

Pros

  • Name to trust.
  • Removable shoulder strap and grab handles.
  • Inner mesh pockets for valuables.
  • Compression straps.

Cons

  • Very expensive.
  • Too large for sit-in kayaks.

Takeaway

Like the Dagger dry bag before it, these products are top-quality waterproof solutions for all your gear and valuables, but their price and size might put some people off for casual seafaring.

Yeti Panga Airtight Waterproof Bag

Review: Perhaps more famous for their world-class coolers, Yeti also produces a mean line in submersible bags, and as far as waterproofing your belongings goes, this is probably the best of the best.

This 100% dry duffel has been manufactured with premium materials to keep just about anything out, and to ensure your gear stays bone dry. Made from high-density nylon with a TPU coating, it’s built to withstand the rigors of water sports and outdoor adventure.

With the best possible hardware to take anything thrown at it, comfortable, dry-haul straps, reinforced zipper closure, and that trademark YETI stamp, this is a dry bag that takes dry bags to the next level.

Pros

  • Best in class.
  • Highly rated.
  • Can take a serious beating.
  • Airtight seal.

Cons

  • Exorbitantly expensive for what it is.

Takeaway

Anyone who has spent anytime researching outdoor gear and equipment will know that Yeti products don’t come cheap – but there’s a reason for that.

If you want your stuff to stay dry – buy this. It’s that simple. And check out this review for the best fishing coolers while you’re at it.

How to Choose the Best Dry Bag for Kayaking

Before making your purchase, you might need some extra pointers when it comes to selecting the right dry bag for your needs and before your next kayak adventure.

Read on for some helpful hints and tips, with an FAQ section in case for good measure.

white roll top dry bag and nature

Size

Apart from the duffel-style products at the higher-end of the price and quality scale, for the most part, dry bags come in a large variety of sizes.

From 1.5 liters all the way up to 65 liters, you should be able to find the perfect fit for you and your belongings.

However, bear in mind that not every brand will offer a full-size range, so you need to think about how much stuff you need to carry in relation to the length of your trip – before you make a dry bag choice.

To help you out, some products include a guide to what each size is roughly capable of holding.

But a 40 liter bag would be ideal for use for two people on these inflatable tandem kayaks, especially if one of your party likes to pack more stuff than they need…

Weight

Some bags weigh more than others, and by their very nature, dry bags can weigh a little more due to the heavy-duty, waterproof materials they are made from.

While this might be negligible for the most part, do take this into consideration when you’re purchasing, as once they’re loaded up it can make a difference.

If that’s a concern, look at the higher-end versions that have been manufactured from premium materials with a lightweight technology that can offer the same amount of waterproof protection without increasing the weight.

man in a blue kayak on lake

Material

And speaking of materials, dry bags are usually made from a rugged, durable PVC – around the 500 denier mark.

The ‘D’ number, represents how thick the material is. The higher this number, the thicker it will be.

There are alternatives to PVC, however, as not everyone likes the look, feel, and sometimes smell of the vinyl. TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) coated nylon is another, usually more expensive option.

Look out for bags with welded, heat-treated seams. Anything less is going to let water in.

IP Rating/Waterproofing

When it comes to how protective a material, product, or casing is, the only thing you need to be concerned with is its IP rating.

The Ingress Protection code, is a recognized standard of the degree of protection against any kind of intrusion, from water, dust, and accidental contact. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission.

Each number in the code corresponds to a level of protection offered. The first digit represents solid particle intrusion, while the second digit represents liquids. An ‘X’ means there is no data currently held.

So, for example, a dry bag rated IPX6, would mean there is no data for protection against sand or dust, but it can withstand powerful water jets.

Be aware that no bag is going to really be 100% waterproof. Unless stated otherwise, if it gets enough of soaking, or you submerge it for a period of time, it’s going to be compromised. Look at the IP code as a guideline for what it can withstand.

There are many places to find the full code online, but check the video below for a visual explanation.

Carrying Handles and Hardware

Dry bags come with a variety of different carrying options, from side handles, to shoulder straps, top handles to backpack-style configurations.

Some packs even give you the choice of how best to carry your gear, depending on what’s most comfortable for you.

Either way, keep a look out for the style you would prefer – and the quality of the hardware and attachments are also important – particularly if you’re going to be putting it through its paces.

Be aware of the quality of the attachments, particularly at the tension points where rips and breakages occur.

Additional D-rings and buckles will help tie the bag down in your craft, so keep in mind how and where you can secure the bag on the kayak, at least in the absence of a sealed touring compartment.

person sitting in kayak on calm water of river

Opening/Closing Design

You’ll no doubt have noticed that there is one, prominent design when it comes to waterproof dry bags.

The roll-top.

Unless you’re spending the big bucks, the main issue with keeping things dry in any bag isn’t going to be the materials – it’s going to be at the seams, and at the access points.

Unless you’re spending a small fortune on the premium gear, standard zippers and closures aren’t going to cut it, so the preferred option is to roll the bag down to seal it tightly.

Additional Features

At first glance, most of the dry bags are much of a muchness, that is to say they don’t really differ in design.

However, eagle-eyed readers will notice there are some additional features incorporated in one or two products in an attempt to set them apart from the competition.

Some dry bags are transparent, so you can locate your belongings without unpacking the whole thing. Others might have a single-window for the same purpose.

One or two have exterior storage compartments, such as mesh pockets, compression bungee webbing, or zippered sections to keep your important stuff handy.

Remember that these sections will not be waterproof, and only what you put inside the bag will be protected from the elements.

Color

While it might be an arbitrary factor to consider, choosing the right color bag can be very important to some people.

Particularly if you have a favorite sports team. Getting a bag in your rival’s colors would be disastrous.

But aside from looking nice, the color of a dry bag serves another function – being able to spot it in the water should it make an attempt to escape.

Alternatively, not being able to spot it might be preferred for some people, especially if you need to keep a low profile, and you’re also using one of these awesome kayak fishing rods.

In that case, a more muted or camouflage design might be a better option when you’re on a hunt.

Cost

The price range for dry bags doesn’t vary that much, at least until you reach the high-end products that can be fully submerged.

Then it goes crazy.

But for the most part, a decent dry bag isn’t going to cost you any more than $40 – and that’s for a larger pack.

You get what you pay for, however, and it’s worth spending a little more so you can be sure you’re getting the very best waterproofing quality.

white dry bag on rocks

FAQs

What is the best dry bag for kayaking?

That’s something of a subjective question, as it depends on what you need it for. In the review above, there’s no clear winner – they’re all quality bags suitable for a variety of outdoor activities.

The size of your kayak, weight capacity, length of trip, and what you need to carry – as well as the quality of the protection level of the product – will all factor into what makes the best waterproof bag for kayaking.

What is the best size dry bag for kayaking?

Again, that’s subjective. If you’re setting sail on one of these tandem fishing kayaks with two people and all the gear, then you’ll likely need a larger dry bag.

But the bigger bags are not going to be suitable for smaller yaks, like most of these lightweight kayaks, for example.

In the end, the best size for you will be down to the space you have and how much gear you wish to carry.

Who makes the best dry bags?

If you’re looking at the higher-end dry bags, brands like Yeti, Dagger, Sea to Summit, Osprey, and Wilderness Systems all manufacture some pretty top-drawer products in this department.

That’s not to say the lesser-known brands don’t have their place in the pecking order, and they have the advantage of being much more affordable.

Do dry bags float?

Providing they have air inside them and unless otherwise stated, yes, dry bags float.

This is only so you can locate and retrieve your belongings out of the water should they fall in, and they should never be relied upon as a flotation device.

However, in an emergency, they would certainly be better than nothing.

Try one of these practical kayak fishing PFDs instead. Of course, it helps if you like fishing.

Are dry bags waterproof?

Yes, they are. They have been specially designed to repel water and keep their contents dry.

Do remember that all dry bags will be compromised eventually.

If they are exposed to water for long periods of time or fully submerged to a certain depth, even the very best dry bags will suffer some degree of water seepage.

Check the IP number of a product (if it has one) for clarification of what it can handle.

How do I pack a dry bag?

Most dry bags have a roll-top opening, and as such, it can be a challenge to find your belongings when you’ve stuffed them to the bottom of the sack.

Watch this informative video below for tips and tricks on packing a dry bag as efficiently as possible.

What is a kayak float bag?

A kayak float bag shouldn’t be confused with a kayak dry bag.

Kayak float bags are designed to prevent water from entering your kayak, and are literally bags full of air that are placed in the stern or bow of the yak, or both.

They’re not necessary in most recreational kayaking situations, (particularly if you’re piloting a quality craft, or if you need the space for storage).

However, for extra peace of mind, if you’re tackling rougher conditions, or to simply minimize risk, they can be a sound investment.

But again, they’re filled with air, and not with your gear, so don’t get the two mixed up.

What should I carry in a kayak dry bag?

That’s entirely up to you.

Most people use it to store valuables, electronics, or anything they generally don’t want to get wet.

A change of clothes is a very good idea – if you have enough room. A drink, food, and snacks for longer days on the water is also highly recommended.

Camping gear, such as tents, sleeping bags, and stoves, etc, should also be packed for overnight trips – providing you’ve purchased the right size of dry bag, that is.

How many dry bags do I need for a kayak trip?

It depends on the length of the trip, how many people are undertaking the adventure, and how much stuff you want to bring along.

And don’t forget about the size and weight capacity of your kayak, too.

You always need less than you think, so there’s no need to pack everything but the kitchen sink.

Summary

Keeping your belongings and valuables protected from damage is important when you’re on the water, and choosing one of the best dry bags for kayaking is an ideal way to do just that.

As I’m currently in the market for such a thing myself, I’m going for the Sea to Summit bag, because I prefer a PVC alternative, and it’s just a top-quality bag all round.

Let me know which dry bag you would choose and why.

Stay safe out there, and happy kayaking!