Dry bags are one of the kayaker’s most convenient and useful gear items whether you’re on the water for a couple of hours, a full day or a multi-day trip.
A dry bag, as its name implies, keeps things dry. When your chosen activity is on the water, that’s important! Dry bags come in different sizes, materials and styles. We will dive deeper into them, what’s out there and how you can use them.
Materials Dry Bags are Made With
A couple of different materials and coatings are used in making waterproof and water-resistant dry bags:
- PVC/Vinyl—is a naturally waterproof material used in many dry bags of all sizes and styles. These are the most durable, the most watertight but also the heaviest. If you’ll be portaging quite a bit, consider using a combo of vinyl and the lightweight nylon bags when you can. Vinyl dry bags usually come in various solid colors, but can also be clear, which can be handy to keep your packing organized.
- Nylon—Dry bags made from lightweight nylon use a waterproof coating. Combined with taped seams it can still be mostly waterproof, although look at the fine print. Dry bags made from nylon are very lightweight and easy to pack. Be careful with sharp objects, so you don’t puncture a hole through it.
When choosing the colors of your dry bags, consider high-viz colors if you’ll be out on the water or camping. You don’t want your bag to blend in with the surrounding environment too much, as it can be left behind.
Some dry bags will float, especially if they’re not filled to the top, a handy benefit in the unfortunate event that it ends up in the water.
How do Dry Bags Close
Most dry bags close through a roll-top and D-ring system. When filling them with gear, be sure to leave enough room to roll the top down at least three times to ensure water tightness. This is approximately 3 inches that you will need, so you can get a nice tight seal.
Some dry bags compress to save space—great for storing clothing, sleeping bags and other soft items. Some dry bags use a zipper closure, especially duffels. When doing your research, be sure that the zipper is fully also watertight if you plan to pack it on a paddle board or other spot where it’s exposed. Some dry bags have zippered side pockets that aren’t watertight. Be sure to read the fine print so you know what you are buying.
What are the Dry Bag Sizes and Uses
Dry bags come in all sizes from 2-liter to 110-liter and more. A set of smaller waterproof dry bags (5 to 35 liter) work well for combining gear and apparel inside a larger pack. Or you can go with a large watertight backpack for traveling, kayaking, and camping.
Smaller bags are great for storing small items like your keys and ID, a First Aid kit, sunglasses, and snacks for the day. Larger bags are great for clothing, extra shoes, and general gear. A dry bag works great as a food bag, whatever you need to keep dry, there are a variety of sizes of dry bags to allow customize as you need.
Dry Bag Manufacturers
There are many companies worldwide that make dry bags. If your town has a sporting, boating, or local paddle sports retailer you can go check out the different sizes and brands they carry. This will give you a first-hand to feel the material, see how big each size really is and how heavy each one will be to carry.
Here are some dry bag manufacturers you can check out:
Earth Pak—Makes a half-dozen different styles of vinyl dry bags and backpacks that each include a waterproof phone case. We put our savings into one small order of 700 bags. Now, as a small business, we’ve sold hundreds of thousands of bags that are being used across all 7 continents – and we’re just getting started.
Dry Case—Small dry bags from 1.5 to 10 liters plus 20-35 liter backpacks suitable for day packs or multi-day waterproof packs. Completely waterproof dry bags, backpacks, and electronics that allow the world’s outdoor enthusiasts to work as hard and play as hard as we do. The deck 10 liter dry bag is a 100% waterproof dry bag featuring a two-way purge Valve that can be used to inflate, compress, or drain the bag. DryCASE is one of the leading waterproof backpack brands. We strive to keep your gear dry through, especially in wet environments.
NRS—From small nylon bags to oversize vinyl packs. Their 110-liter Bill’s Bag is perfect for a personal Kayak, Canoe pack. From top-loading bags that will hold the kitchen sink, to lightweight designs for the smallest of kayak hatches, we’ve got the dry bags you need for your next on-the-water adventure.
Sea to Summit—A wide variety of sizes, materials and uses. They’re very well known for their dry bags and sacks, including a couple models of compression dry sacks. LIFETIME GUARANTEE. Shop lighter, better performing outdoor gear for every adventure, from high-altitude backpacking expeditions to family car camping.
Seal Line—Offers a couple sets of clear dry bags for easy organization, plus a few sets of colored bags. They also sell a vinyl dry bag repair kit. Sealine Dry Bags provide the finest, most packable waterproof gear protection for adventures in any weather, anywhere on earth. Our waterproof dry bags were made to meet the most demanding standards of gear protection. Whether you’re paddling on the lake or on a kayaking adventure, SealLine keeps gear dry. Limited Lifetime Warranty.
Skog A Kust— Skog A Kust selling a wide range of Designer Waterproof Bags, Camping and Hiking and Kayaking. Extra colorful options, even beyond the standard solid colors. Dry bags, day packs and backpacks. Skog Å Kust DrySåk Waterproof Floating Dry Bag with Exterior Zippered Pocket for Kayaking, Rafting, Boating, Swimming, Camping, and Hiking
Ultra Dry Adventurer— The ultimate dry bag combo Each dry bag comes with waterproof phone case.
- DRY BAGS TO KEEP YOUR STUFF DRY
- Ultra Dry Adventurer offer waterproof bags, cases, and backpacks for all your outdoor adventures. Their 10-liter dry bag is your perfect traveling companion – ideal for keeping your personal belongings safe from harm on your adventures. It is fantastic for traveling, water sports, kayaking, canoeing, boating, white water rafting, skiing, snowboarding and a lifetime of rugged adventures. Each bag is made from Pure Grade 7.5mm thick waterproof polymer.
- The ultimate dry bag combo
- Ultra Dry Adventurer new 10-litre waterproof bags now come with a waterproof mobile phone case, compatible with all modern smartphones. This is the perfect combination for any adventurer wanting the peace of mind that their gear is safe and completely dry. This convenient bag and case combo is all made from premium materials and will remain functional and durable throughout your travels, proving to be a convenient and functional that will protect your gear without being a burden to carry.
Unigear— The Unigear Floating Waterproof Dry Bag 5L/10L/20L/30L/40L, Rolltop Sack keeps gear dry when camping, hiking, swimming, kayaking, rafting, and fishing. Each dry bag comes with a waterproof phone case. Lots of color choices. Lightweight and durable · Waterproof and keep everything dry
- Made of impermeable material with roll-top closure, it protects from water splashes or brief immersion.
- High-density and thick PVC material to be puncture- and aging-resistant.
- Duraflex buckle and the metal lock can take long-term use, and reinforced joints make it tough-as-rocks.
- Quick dry fabric and foam on the back and shoulder strap to provide comfortable carrying, and adjustable chest strap added stability and security.
- The internal compartment suits 15.6 laptops and provides extra organization to keep valuables safe and dry.
- They integrated separate wet compartments. External lash points make you quick lash and go, giving you more convenience.
Watershed—Of special note for paddlers are the backpacks and kayak bags. They use a military-grade waterproof fabric. Imagine the heaviest duty freezer bag you’ve ever seen — and then multiple that strength by 100. Our airtight ZipDry® closure has been tested to over 300 feet submersion without leakage
- 5 times the Abrasion Resistance of PVC. We start with 420 denier Cordura® nylon ripstop fabric, which is UV and chemical resistant, and then coat it with multiple layers of polyurethane for added endurance. Your drybag will never crack, fade, or lose its flexibility.
- Stitch-free, fused seams for durability.Instead of simply stitching seams together, we weld them together with high pressure and radio waves. Overlapping multiple seams at once and bonding them into a single piece of material, our bags have durability built into every thread.