Which is the Best Waterproof Backpack?


If you are looking for a waterproof backpack then you are at a point where you feel you need one and that you will benefit from using one. Usually, the first question people ask is which is the best waterproof backpack as you naturally want to make sure you are spending your hard earned money on something which is going to last.

What you will find is that there is not a single answer to that question as determining which is the best waterproof backpack will depend on a few factors. The main factors to consider are the activity you are participating in, the severity of the expected weather conditions, the length of time you will be using it and last but not least, the budget you have.

Best Waterproof Backpack

The Main Features of Waterproof Backpacks & What to Look For

Where to Start

Interestingly, the starting point for most people is their budget. I completely understand this and I have shopped this way many times in the past. However, I changed that habit a few years back as I found that I was restricting myself and my choices because something didn’t fit into what I thought I should be paying for my gear. So even though my objective was to get the best gear for my activity what I was actually doing was looking at what can I get for $20 or $30 etc.

The reality is that my original thought and objective of which is the best gear was the right way to go about it and that would lead me to what I might have to pay to get it. Now, this isn’t some rambling that’s designed to get you to spend as much as possible on a waterproof backpack – you will see from our waterproof backpack reviews that there are some great value waterproof backpacks. Value is the key word here, getting good value is about getting the best price for the right gear that you need.

You will see we have reviewed waterproof backpacks across a wide range of prices and budgets. These vary from less well known brands (with great customer reviews) to the more well-known brands such as Patagonia and North Face. Below is a table of contents to help you navigate to the reviews and information you want. We have also included some additional information such as the key features to look for in the best waterproof backpacks the activities you will be using them in.


Waterproof Backpack Key Features

Padded Straps

Trust us when we say you will need one with padded straps. Once you have wearing a backpack for a while you understand why you need straps which are padded. The padding will stop the straps from digging into you and causing you discomfort, which is the last thing you want.

Breathable Straps

Breathable straps create ventilation by allowing air to flow and circulate around your shoulder area which reduces sweating. It also allows the straps to dry quicker when they get wet. Sometimes this is an under estimated feature of a waterproof backpack and it might be something you decide you don’t need but it’s definitely something to consider.

Padded Back

As with padded straps, a padded back is all about comfort and making sure that nothing is digging into you. Although how you pack your backpack will help, the padding is something which ensures it’s not an issue in the first place.

One Handed Strap or Handle

Some waterproof backpacks come with a handle which enables you to carry it with one hand. Quite often it is the large waterproof backpacks that have the handle and it is useful for when you need to just quickly pick it up or if you need to carry it a short distance. It might not be a breaker but it’s a useful feature to have depending on how you will be using your backpack.

Corded Exterior

These are usually bungee type cords which normally cover the majority of the surface at the rear of the backpack. A corded exterior is great for storing wet clothing or anything else that you either can’t fit in or don’t want in the main compartment. It’s also handy for storing some of the gear you may need to carry but it doesn’t matter if it gets wet.

Netted Sides

Mesh netting is quite often on the side of the backpack and are great for storing easy to access items like water bottles and snacks. It’s something that might not be on your list of must haves but you will find they are very handy when you have them.

Chest Strap

Chest straps ensure a safe and secure fitting of your waterproof backpack which means that, in the event that you are caught off guard, your backpack will stay in place. This means you don’t have to worry about losing it. This feature is more useful for certain kinds of activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding and climbing. If you are walking then this may not be a feature you need.

The Difference between Waterproof, Water Repellent and Water Resistant 

Water Resistant -  Has the ability to resist the penetration of water to a degree but not completely. This is considered the basic level of water protection for your backpack. This means that due to the materials used, or a coating which is applied at the materials at the manufacturing stage, it is more difficult for water water to get inside your bag. Generally you can expect this to give you protection from light rain showers.

Water Repellent - not easily penetrated by water, mainly due to being treated with a surface coating to improve it's effectiveness. This coating can be on the inside, the outside or sometimes on both and is a form of thin-film nantechnology. It is an improvement on water resistant and this will give you better protection but not as much as waterproof.

Waterproof - your backpack is impervious to water (water cannot penetrate it). Sometimes you will see this advertised as 100% waterproof but it all means the same. The material will stop water from penetrating the backpack and therefore keep your gear dry. This offers protection form heavy rainfall, falling in rivers and even if your backpack pack is completely submerged in water. Because of this they are also airtight.

As you will want to ensure your gear is definitely and that the backpack will perform how it should, we recommend reading reviews as this is how they have performed in the real world, rather than just accepting what the manufacturer says.

Types of Waterproof  Backpack Material

In the modern world we live in, manufacturers are always looking at ways to improve waterproof material and are therefore designing new materials every year. That being said you will find that current waterproof backpacks will be made from one of 2 types of material, Nylon or Vinyl.

The majority will be made from Nylon and although as standard it isn't a waterproof material, it is given a waterproof coating before it is used to construct the backpack. Silicone is the most common chemical used for the coating but you can also find that some are laminated with a thin plastic. Nylon is available in different thread counts, the higher the thread count the better quality the Nylon e.g. 600D is better quality than 500D.

Vinyl, or PVC as you will see it described, is quite often used in smaller bags. In some cases you will find it used in lower quality bags. A great upside with Vinyl is that it is quite easy to patch them up in the event that they tear - quite handy if this happens when you are on a trek or out on the water.



Best Waterproof Backpacks


We have already established that the best waterproof backpacks are not necessarily the cheapest backpacks. We have also established that you need to look at where, and how, you will be using it and therefore what features you will need.

Value, value, value is where your focus needs to be as getting the best waterproof backpack for you and your activity while getting it at the best price is exactly how you will get good value.

No matter what you buy, getting the right one will save you money in the long term.

I have listed the top waterproof backpacks available and you will find these cover a range of budgets.

As with everything we recommend, we have also based our findings on actually customer feedback and reviews as we know from experience that this is the true test of any backpack.


Our Choice of the Best Waterproof Backpacks


The Sak Gear 35L Backpack is made from 500D PVC with high frequency welded seams which makes it 100% waterproof.

For your comfort it has a padded back and adjustable cushioned straps and and adjustable sternum strap. AS you would expect from a backpack of this quality, it has D-Rings so you can clip your gear to it for easy access.

It has a rather large interior pocket which we have found to be ideal for storing phones, cameras and other valuable. There is also an exterior pocket which allows you easy access to some of you items but be warned that this is splash proof (which we know is usually the case with external pockets.

One of the features we also like is the reflective patch and reflective trim as this helps you be seen in the dark but also means you can see your bag in the event it should end up in the water (which in my experience it will)

The FE Active Waterproof Backpack is made from tested and certified environmentally safe PVC.

The high frequency welded stitching which will handle the most rugged outdoor activities you can think of. Weighing in at less than 2lbs, it is one of the lightest 30 liter backpacks you will find.

We found the mesh lining in  the padded shoulder straps gave us better air flow which helped keep us cooler while the padded back support ensured it was comfortable without sacrificing the stability.

The high strength buckles also do a great job at keeping it in place, no matter how vigorously you move.

You will not be short on storage with mesh side netting for small accessories or drinking bottles and the corded exterior to hold larger items which is grea

We found this to be a great all round backpack as it performs well in the majority of sports. It is definitely built to last and therefore can be used on a daily basis and in all weather conditions.

The Vitchelo 30L Waterproof Backpack is from a well known, and respected, brand. They continue to receive excellent feedback for all their products.

This really is an excellent waterproof backpack. It is made from rip-stop tarpaulin which can withstand the pressure of strong rapids and torrential downpours. The welded seams ensure that you won't experience any leaks or splits.

We found this 30 liter bag to be very spacious and we had no problem packing enough gear to last us for our trip.

We also found that, even when we had it full to capacity, it still was able to float when dropped in the water.

The netted slots and corded exterior provided additional storage options. Breathable shoulder straps will make your are comfortable and a one handed carry strap is goof for when you may only want to carry it for a short distance.

It comes with a lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.

 

The Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack is part of their premium dry bag collection and we think it shows.

Available as 35 liter and 55 liter options so you have the flexibility to buy one which really suits your needs or even buy both as that gives you the ultimate flexibility.

The reinforced shoulder straps do a great job at providing both comfort and stability while we found the sternum buckle helped relieve the pressure on our shoulders - it also makes it more comfortable when you are carrying heavier loads.

The comfort continues with the padded back support which also adds to the breathability of the backpack.

Easy access storage is also covered as it has a large splash proof pocket on the front which enables you to keep items close at hand while the interior pocket allows you keep smaller items where you can get them and also well protected from the elements.

As an added bonus you also get a waterproof phone case and although we would normally say that this isn't a deal breaker, this is made to the same Earth Pak standard you expect and is fully submersible.

The Relentless Recreation 30L Waterproof Backpack is one of the most versatile you will find as it caters for just about any outdoor activity, whether that be on the water or not.

With a 30 Liter capacity you will find that you can fit in everything you need for your trip while the mesh outer pockets are great for holding your water bottle and keeping it in easy reach.

We found the carry comfort to be very good with an adjustable chest strap and breathable shoulder straps, particularly beneficial on those warmer days. The carry handle made it easy to carry at the times you don't want or need it on your shoulders.

Don't let the lightweight design fool you as it is also durable and reliable. Made from industrial grade 500 Denier Polyvinyl Tarpaulin with high frequency welding, it is both lightweight and rugged.

An outer pocket with a window means you can use your cell phone without the need to get it out and potentially expose it to the element. This pocket is splash proof rather than waterproof which is standard on these types of bags.

For peace of mind, this comes with a 100% guarantee. That means they have confidence in the product.

The Friendly Swede 33L Backpack is made from heavy duty industrial grade 500D Polyvinyl Tarpaulin which makes it stand up to even the harshest weather conditions.

What we like about this bag is some of the extra bits you get with it. It has an easy access emergency whistle and you will find a padded laptop sleeve pocket which is useful for those that need the benefits of the protection against the weather while also needing to stay connected to the world.

Additional storage is provided by way of not one but two outer mesh pockets and an easy-access outer pocket which, although not 100% waterproof, is certainly a handy and functional addition.

To keep it in place while ensuring you are comfortable it has fully adjustable ergonomic shoulder straps, chest straps and waist straps.

Showing you that they have confidence in their products, this comes with a lifetime warranty. We like that.

The Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack has a main compartment with a 22L capacity which is water, and air, tight.

As with all the bags in this range we found it fine for quick submersions and that it also floats well when dropped in the water.

Made from heavy duty PVC combined with high frequency welding on the seams gives it high durability while also remaining flexible to be comfortable.

Two mesh pockets, one on either side, and an easy to access front pocket gives you additional storage for those items you want to keep within easy reach. Obviously you will see the pattern emerging that these types of external pockets are not 100% waterproof which is standard.

EASY TO USE: Tightly sealed fold system keeps large 22 Liter main compartment water and air tight.

Offered with a money back guarantee and a lifetime warranty. True belief in their bags.

The OUTXE PVC Free 100% Waterproof Backpack benefits from a 2 part closure system which enables it to be fully submersible and still keep all of your gear dry.

A ziplock seal and the traditional roll top closing system combine to make this happen.

Made from heavy duty 420D TPU which is environmentally friendly, FDA certified, PVC free and BPA free. It has fully welded seams.

It comes with adjustable shoulder straps which are also detachable and boasts a reflective stripe to help you get seen.

The large front mesh pocket and 2 smaller side mesh pockets add extra storage while also allowing you quick and easy access to some of gear you store here.

An inner zipped pocket is ideal for storing important documents or small electronic items.

You will not be disappointed with this bag.

The Cor Surf is a roll top closure 100% waterproof backpack which is available in 2 sizes.

It includes a padded laptop sleeve for those who just can't leave their laptop behind.

A ergonomic back panel gives additional comfort and breathability which works well, especially on the longer trips.

Reflective patches on the shoulder straps and on the front of the bag will help you get seen at night.