I don’t think I have to tell you how gut-wrenching it is to pull your brand new iPhone out of the water, praying that it will work again after a long night in a bag of rice.
Guess what? It won’t.
No, that baby is toast. That’s why every river rats best friends is a great dry bag.
Quick Top 5 Dry Bags
Why Should I Use a Dry Bag?
Well, as I touched on earlier, if you’re going to take important things with you such as your phone, wallet, and snacks on your water adventures you need to keep them protected. The best dry bag will work to keep anything from getting inside: air, water, and even bugs.
It doesn’t matter if you plan on taking your paddle board around the lake for a couple of hours, or a 50-mile kayaking trip, you NEED to get a good dry bag to protect your stuff. Thankfully, they make them in a bunch of different sizes to fit anyone's needs.
The Different Types of Dry Bags & Do Dry Bags Float?
Typically, your dry bags are made from one of two materials: Vinyl or Nylon.
- Vinyl: The most durable material available, that is usually reserved for heavier gear.
- Nylon: A lighter, more flexible, material than vinyl, more durable as well. Most of your larger bags are made from nylon since because of its flexibility.
- Silnylon: Lighter and softer variation of nylon.
- PVC: This is the what the newest dry bags are made from. It’s a strong material, but the best part is that how well it floats.
- Closure Types
The seal on a dry bag is where all the magic happens. If you have a crappy seal, then it can’t keep that water out; it’s as simple as that. Your bag is going to be sealed one of two ways: a zipper or a roll top. With the former, think of a ziplock back. When it’s seal is pressed it keeps air and moisture from sneaking in. The ladder—a roll top—is the most effective method there is. It creates its seal by rolling over itself multiple times before snapping into place.
All you need is a bag that will protect your dang valuables from water. But you know manufacturers, always trying to do out each other allowing you to reap the rewards.
- Some bags you buy can float. I can’t tell you how important this is if your kayak capsizes and you lose all of your gear.
- Decompression valves allow you to push all of the air out of your bag to create a better seal.
- A lot of bags now come with thick padding to add extra protection for your electronics.
- It’s pretty common these days for a dry bag to come with shoulder straps.
Sizes range anywhere from just big enough to carry your phone all the way to enough stuff to last a weekend! Here are the most averages sizes:
- Five-liter: Just big enough to carry your phone and a little bit of food.
- 10-liter: Big enough to fit your dry clothes in for a weekend kayaking trip.
- 20-liter: These can store all of the stuff you need for a campsite: sleeping bag, multiple sets of clothing, and food.
- 30-liter: This huge bag can pretty much carry everything two people would need for a weekend by the lake.
Waterproof vs. Weather-Resistant Dry Bags
You need to be careful you don’t get tricked by a bag that says it’s weather-resistant. While both will protect your gear in the event of a rain storm, but a weather-resistant bag isn’t going to help you in the river.
So if you’re trying to get a dry bag to take with you while you’re paddle boarding, then you’ll need to stay away from weather-resistant bags since they aren’t meant to be fully submerged under water.
However, if you’re just looking for a bag to take with your fishing from the shore, then a weather-resistant bag will suit you just fine.
Important Dry Bag Tips and Tricks
- Make Sure the Bag Works!
When you get a new dry bag, you need to make sure it works as advertised before your trust all your stuff to it. To test it out, just fill up your bathtub with water and submerge your bag underwater for 20 seconds or so. If everything inside is still dry your bag should be good to go.
- It's Not a Treasure Chest!
You need to remember that even though they CAN be fully submerged, it’s only for a short period of time shallow depths. At certain depths, the pressure will cause the bags seals to give way to the water. That’s why, in my opinion, the best dry bags float.
The Best Dry Bag for Kayaking
The Earth Pak Dry Bag is a high-quality bag that you can trust to protect your phone, tablet, or laptop. Available in 4 different sizes (10L, 20L, 30L, and 40L) and six different colors, this dry bag can fit anyone's needs.
Made from thick and durable PVC, the Earth Pak will protect your gear no matter what you're doing. Both the 10L and 20L—which are big enough to hold your phone and a small amount of food—come with a shoulder strap vs. the 30L and 40L that come with two padded shoulder straps.
The roll top designs works to keep air and moisture out without having to worry about a zipper failing. Most important of all, it floats! This is just one of the many reasons it's the best waterproof dry bag.
Making it ideal to take with you on your SUP or Kayak. Heck, you can even let it float alongside you while you’re tubing down the river!
- It floats in the water
- Roll top design
- The straps in the two larger models are padded
- Since it’s PVC, if you pack it too tightly you can deform the bag.
The Adventure Lion Waterproof Bag is made from a .5mm thick Polymer, instead of the more traditional materials. This makes it strong, but also very lightweight, flexible, and soft. You can get it in either 5L, 10L, 20L, or 40L to fit your needs.
The larger two sizes come with dual straps converting the bag into a backpack, perfect for longer trips where you need to store more gear. The Adventure Lion floats too; you can even fill it with ice and drinks to making it a lightweight cooler that floats along SUP! It has a roll top and an awesome Lion one the front!
- Available in a smaller 5L size
- Roll top design
- Made from lightweight, strong, and flexible polymer
- The straps aren’t padded
The SealLine Baja Dry Bag is a long time favorite of river rats. Made from a thick heavy duty scrim-reinforced vinyl, these bags are made to last. You can buy the Baja in six different sizes from 5L all the way to a whopping 55L!
It has a roll top design and a D-ring so you can strap it down to your kayak or paddle board without having to worry about it floating off if you capsize. Keeping water out, the Baja works great.
However, they took a minimalistic approach that made the bag devoid of features. For instance, there are no straps no matter what size you buy, and since they only put in one D-ring, you can’t even add one yourself. Even though it is extremely high quality, out of all our dry bag reviews, it has the least bells and whistles.
- Available in sizes all the way up to 55L
- Thick vinyl will protect your gear from abrasions
- Made in the USA
- No straps at all
This dry bag is made from 500-denier polyester with a vinyl coat to make it waterproof. This offers a unique feel compared to other waterproof bags that’s more lightweight and comfortable than most.
While the SealLine may be without features, this one is loaded with them: Adjustable strap, splash-proof quick access pocket, and reflective trim so it’s easy to spot at night. About the quick access pocket, it’s only splash-proof so don’t put your phone or anything like that in it.
Instead, it's meant for your keys or ID. Only made in two sizes, 10L and 20L, but in six different colors.
- Loaded with features: quick access pocket, reflective trim
- Adjustable strap
- Will float with you in water
- Non-padded strap
- Only made in two different sizes
The Odyssey Waterproof Bag is made from a PVC Tarpaulin making it extremely durable. The bag has a roll-top design to keep water out and is designed to float. It’s also UV protected and temperature resistant which is HUGE when you're out on the water in 100° heat for hours at a time.
It’s only available in two sizes. However, both sizes do come with a shoulder strap. And it does come with a waterproof phone case too, although I recommend you put your phone in the phone case and then in the bag instead of trusting it by itself.
- UV and temperature protected
- Will float in water
- Bonus phone case
- Only available in two different sizes making it very limited
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