One bit of wisdom about kayaking that’s incontrovertible is the fact that you and your stuff will most likely get wet. While it is almost as important as it is to wear a PFD while kayaking still, items like cell phones, paper money, and various electronics may need to be protected from the water, which is where kayak dry bags and cooler bags really shine. In this guide, we’re going to show you some of the best dry bags on the market.
Best Dry Bags for Kayaking Reviews
1. NRS TUFF Sacks (Top Pick)
- Comes in 5, 10, 15, 25, 35, 45, 55-liter capacities
- Comes in four colors
- Constructed of heavy-duty TobaTex material
The first product in our guide is a real standout because it comes in so many sizes – you’re simply going to have options, no matter the volume of your stuff. Available capacities range from five liters up to 55 liters. Kayaking bags like this are designed specifically to fit anywhere, but they are a great addition to a kayak that may have a hatch with a leaky gasket.
The Tuff Sack is crafted of a unique TobaTex material that is NRS’s proprietary material. They also welded the seams so that there’s no chance of seepage, so you can rely on the seaworthiness of this bag.
With four color options, it’s also relatively easy to accessorize your dry bag with your kayak. The available hues are red, white, green, and light blue. So, how does this seal? NRS uses another proprietary technology, called StormStrip, which incorporates plastic buckles to seal in your belongings. Finally, there are D-ring attachment points that you use to secure the bag to the body of your kayak.
- There is a wide variety of sizes to choose from.
- The TobaTex material is very durable and watertight thanks to the welded seams.
- It comes in four colors.
- The buckles could be slightly more durable.
- It could use some sewn-in handles or straps.
2. NRS 65L Bill’s Bag Dry Bags (Premium Pick)
- 65 liters
- Comes in three colors
- Uses the StormStrip closure system
Another NRS product, the Bill’s Bag kayak dry bag, incorporates some features that are notably missing from the Tuff Sack. For instance, several handle points and a pair of backpack-style straps on this NRS dry bag add a bit of utility for those situations where you need to carry the bag away from your boat. These straps are padded, which adds a lot of extra value for those that go on extended hikes during their kayaking trips. The backpack harness is also fully removable.
Similarly to the Tuff, the Bill’s Bag is crafted of the ultra-durable TobaTex, so you can expect a good level of durability while you’re out there paddling. The same StormStrip fastening system is available on this bag, which ensures a nice watertight closure while you’re on the water. The colors on offer are also pretty varied – the product comes in yellow, red, and blue. The yellow is relatively fluorescent and easy to see, the red is fairly standard, and the blue is a lighter shade that should also be easy to locate.
- This uses a fold-down variation of the StormStrip closure system.
- It’s made of the proprietary TobaTex material.
- There are aluminum fasteners on the compression straps that are lightweight and durable.
- This bag doesn’t have D-rings to secure the bag to your boat.
- It only comes in a 65-liter version.
3. Earth-Pak Dry Bag (Budget Pick)
- Comes in 10, 20, 30, 40, 55-liter capacities
- Comes in eight colors
- Crafted of 500-denier PVC
The first non-NRS product, the Earth-Pak, is an excellent choice for kayakers on a budget that don’t want to sacrifice quality for inexpensiveness. Like the Tuff Sack, the Earth-Pak comes in multiple sizes so that you can easily decide what you need. The available sizes include 10, 20, 30, 40, 55-liter capacities. It’s noteworthy that the bags with the higher capacities, which include the ones that are 30 liters and above, also come with a backpack-style strap with sternum support. This is very useful for hikers that are managing heavier packs during their kayaking trips.
Another standout feature of the Earth-Pak is the sheer number of colors that are available. Choices include orange, blue, black, forest green, light blue, red, white, and yellow. This makes it easy to accessorize other gear with your kayak. The material of the bag is 500-denier PVC, which is remarkably durable and watertight.
- This dry bag will float atop the water should it fall in.
- There are a wide variety of colors to choose from.
- Earth-Pak included a 6.5-inch waterproof phone case with any bag.
- Only the bags over 30-liters come with backpack-style shoulder straps.
- The buckles that secure the bag are made of plastic.
4. Sea to Summit 3 Pack Dry Bag (Best Package Deal)
- Comes in a set of one, two, and four-liter bags
- Each bag is a different color
- Each bag has D-ring attachment points
Unfortunately, bags don’t come in one-size-fits-all categories, so it’s useful to purchase a set of three so that you can customize your carrying capacity for the trip. This product, by Sea to Summit, has three bags that come in three sizes that include one, two, and four liters.
We particularly like the Hypalon roll-top closures on these; it’s pretty easy to protect your dry goods from water with these bags quickly. With that said, these shouldn’t be fully submerged, but a quick dip in the drink shouldn’t damage things like your cell phone or make any stored clothes wet. The base of these bags is also round, so they sit upright fairly easily.
The D-ring is positioned along the buckle, so it’s pretty easy to secure this bag to your kayak. While these could also use a strap, since these are relatively low-capacity bags, this shouldn’t be much of a deal-breaker for most people. Those packing for all-day trips will also love the fact that these bags have a white interior – this helps make what’s inside the bag more visible when you’re looking in.
- This is an excellent set for any kayaker that has varying carry needs.
- The polyurethane coating protects the nylon material and makes it waterproof.
- It has a 10,000mm hydrostatic head that makes it a very waterproof kayak bag.
- While the material is somewhat rugged, the PU-coated 70-denier nylon may wear out over time.
- The D-Rings and buckles are made of plastic.
5. Sea to Summit Deck Bag (Best Deck Fit)
- Comes as a 13-liter bag
- Available in blue and yellow colors
- Designed to sit atop your kayak deck so that gear is in easy reach
When you’re kayaking, your vessel may not always have a lot of storage capacity, and deck bags help supplement these kayaks so that you can keep your stuff safely and dryly stored. These bags are ideal for longer, narrower sit-on-top kayaks, and they also serve as a great counterbalancing solution for kayaks that may have heavier sterns.
This Sea to Summit product, which is the only deck bag in our guide, brings 13 liters of storage and an easy to use design that makes it ideal for kayaking trips. The bag is also fairly minimalist – it doesn’t rest far above the deck of your boat, so you won’t run the chance of adding extra drag as you paddle. It secures with both velcro and nylon straps, so there are a few ways to secure your stuff. At 13 liters, this bag will carry some extra light clothing, first aid kits, smart devices, or a water bottle with relative ease.
It’s critical to note that the main pack isn’t designed to be waterproof, thanks to a zipper that has a gap. Fortunately, the outer bag delivers a decent amount of waterproofing so that you can keep your materials nice and dry in most situations. It’s also worth noting that this bag won’t be great if it’s submerged, and there might be spaces for the water to get in around the seams.
- It has a low-profile design.
- There’s a fully waterproof internal stuff-sack.
- It’s made of abrasion and rip-resistant 420-denier, TPU-coated nylon.
- The bag can become bleached easily in the sun.
- Not every component is completely watertight.
6. Sea Line Black Canyon (Best Backpack Fit)
- Comes as a 65-liter bag
- Available in yellow
- Well-supported backpack system with a quality fit
If you’re going to be purchasing a larger kayaking dry bag with a capacity of over 20 liters, it should have a means in which to make carrying it more manageable. With the Sea Line Black Canyon Dry Pack, this is done by providing supportive straps that allow you to carry the bag like a backpack. In fact, the bag has a fully-featured suspension system that makes carrying whatever is in the 65-liter interior much easier. This suspension system includes a sternum strap and a hip belt.
Other features that help this product stand out are the light-colored interior, which helps increase visibility; the proprietary DrySeal technology, which guards the pack securely against water; and the 600-denier polyurethane-coated polyester construction, which makes this one tough pack. All straps and the hip belt are fully removable.
- The material on this bag is very durable.
- It has a full 65 liters of internal space.
- Side compression straps, a hip belt, and sternum straps make it easier to carry.
- Over time, the bottom of the bag, which isn’t bombproof PVC, can deteriorate.
7. Yeti Panga 50
- Comes as a 50-liter bag
- Available in storm gray
- Uses an EVA-molded bottom to prevent leaks and provide a durable base
The Yeti Panga is the only duffel-style dry bag that we’ll be covering in this guide, but it stands out as a comparable product. This bag is tough; it’s constructed of high-density nylon that has welded seams for complete waterproofing. As the name indicates, the Panga 50 is a 50-liter bag that has more than ample room for several dry items. To keep things protected from water, the Panga 50 uses Yeti’s HydroLok zipper, which will even allow the bag to be submerged with no problem.
Additionally, this bag can also be easily carried as a backpack since the straps are adjustable despite being a duffel. In fact, out of the kayaking bags we featured here, this may be the best for everyday use – it’s built like a tank, and it’s pretty comfortable during daily carry.
- The duffel handles convert to backpack straps.
- This is a very durable bag.
- It can be fully submerged without taking on water.
- It only comes in a storm gray coloration, which isn’t very visible on some water.
8. Machway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag
- Comes in 5, 10, 20, 30, 40-liter capacities
- There are 16 colors to choose from
- Machway provides a waterproof guarantee for the product
The final product in our guide, which is the Machway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag, is the dry bag that, by far, has the most color options. Overall, there are 16 colors to choose from, and most are bright enough to be easily seen on the water.
This is also a budget bag that has some good features for someone who is causally kayaking. For example, the bag is comprised of ripstop tarpaulin, which is very durable and water-repellant. Each seam is also welded so that there are no spaces for water to get in. Should the bag fall into the water, it will float so that you can easily retrieve it. As a roll-top product, you’ll have to roll it up and secure it with the fastener for true waterproofing, but this is done reasonably easily and quickly.
- It’s made of very lightweight fabric.
- This is a very inexpensive bag that’s ideal for casual kayaking.
- Higher capacity variations come with stronger strapping systems.
- If you’re looking for visibility, stay away from the blackish green, dark green, or grey color options.
- There are no products for kayakers in need of over a 40-liter capacity.
How to Choose the Best Waterproof Dry Bag for your Kayak
When you’re on the market for a dry bag, you’ll find that you’ll have several key decisions to make. Things like the capacity, how watertight the bag is, and the material are some things you’ll need to consider. To make things easier, we’ve created this guide to help you more easily make a purchase decision.
In almost all cases, the dry bag’s size is measured in liters so that you have a good idea of the carrying capacity of the product. Some of the more common sizes of dry bags will hold anywhere from 5 to 65 liters. Of course, the higher the capacity, the heavier the bag will be under load. For this reason, consider the handling system. For example, does the bag have straps? Will it need extra padding? Is there support for the sternum? All of these are very important questions that you’ll need to ask.
For many kayakers, a bag that has at least a 10-liter capacity will be preferable. Anything over this will allow you to carry dry clothes, electronics, and personal items with relative ease. If you’re going to be bringing extra items like first aid kits, consider an upgrade to a slightly larger bag.
There are several styles and shapes of kayak dry bags that you’ll need to think about as well. For example, are you going to be sitting the bag up from time to time? If so, then a bag with a round bottom will be useful. Additionally, what kind of carrying system does the bag have? Some dry bags, like our first product, don’t have any carrying system at all, so you’ll have to tuck them under an arm. This isn’t much of an issue with a relatively small bag, but the larger you go, the more unwieldy your experience will be.
For this reason, a good carrying strap will really make a difference. With one, you can simply sling the bag over a shoulder. With heavier products, you may need a backpack strapping system that’ll significantly reduce the strain of carrying the bag. As we mentioned above, some bags even have sternum, padding, and chest straps so that the weight is balanced more evenly, which is useful if you’re going to be taking a hike.
The best style and shape of a dry bag will depend significantly on the application and your own kayaking needs. Standard bags provide a good amount of storage, but their design can add drag to your boat if they jut out too much. This may not be an issue for recreational paddlers, but a nice deck dry bag may be a better choice for those looking for speed.
Kayaking, as an active sport, can undoubtedly put your gear through the wringer. Kayakers sometimes have to carry their vessels through rocky, shallow water, and this kind of use can damage flimsier kayaking gear. For this reason, durability in your dry bag is absolutely critical because the last thing you want is for your bag to lose its waterproofing because it scraped on a rock.
For this reason, look for tougher materials. One prime measurement to consider is denier. Denier is the unit of measurement that determines the thickness of certain textile materials like nylon. Effectively, the higher the denier, the tougher the material will be. Additionally, the coating of the material is also important. In many cases, polyurethane is used to create a watertight barrier for materials that aren’t water-repellent. This is done at the thread level, so the material is tough and prevents leaks.
Some manufacturers even produce their own proprietary materials that are made to be durable and watertight. Some to consider in this regard are TobaTex and Ultra-Sil, which are very high-performance materials.
Tougher materials will add a surprising amount of weight to your bag, so choose carefully. In most cases, these bags are designed to be carried even when not kayaking, so consider how heavy they will be during everyday carry. Also, as you might expect, larger bags under load will be heavier, so ensure a stable strap system is included with the product.
In many cases, dry bags are brightly colored. This is the case because these bags need to stand out should they be propelled overboard. These things tend to float, so once they are in the water, the bright colors will help you locate your bag before it floats out of your range.
What Kind of Kayaking Trip are You Going On?
This is probably one of the most important things to consider. If you’re going to be using a dry bag for longer trips, you may want to consider one with premium features. For example, if you’re an angler, someone that’s sea kayaking, or trekking over both land and water, then you may be going for hours or even days. If this is the case, you’ll definitely need a kayak dry bag that is more durable and has a higher level of waterproofing. On a trip like this, you’re more likely to rough water or rocks that can cause abrasions, so spend a little extra dough for quality.
Conversely, simple recreational paddling might not need much in the way of premium design. In this case, a bag that will protect your belongings from the occasional wave and will float should do the job admirably.
Kayaking is an amazing sport, and a good dry bag adds a degree of protection that ensures that your belongings are well-stored. Each of the products covered in our guide will help you keep your belongings nice and dry, and each employs quality materials so that they will survive years’ worth of kayak trips. Out of all of the dry bags that we reviewed, the top pick and the premium pick are great options to consider if you have the budget to spend a bit more. However, your needs may be different from mine, so make sure to compare all of the dry bags in this guide to find the one that is best for your kayaking trips.