Ranking The 10 Best Waterproof Backpacks of 2020


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There’s nothing like an unexpected downpour or dip in a lake to ruin an otherwise great day outdoors. This is especially true if your phone, wallet, or keys join you for a swim. A great waterproof backpack will give you peace of mind so you can enjoy the day and not worry about the health and safety of sensitive belongings.

A waterproof backpack goes one step further than a traditional dry bag. It also gives you the convenience of carrying supplies on your back and keeping your hands free. Our list of the 10 Best Waterproof Backpacks will give you plenty of excellent options to choose from. You should also be sure to read through our Buyer’s Guide to learn more about the important factors to consider when selecting a waterproof backpack.

1. Chaos Ready

best waterproof backpack - chaos ready

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The Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack is Class 3 Waterproof (2) to protect your belongings against quick submersion and water damage from rain. It will also float on top of the water if dropped, which makes it perfect for whitewater kayaking, boating, and fishing expeditions.

This pack is made with 500D PVC Tarpaulin material that’s highly durable but also remains flexible for comfort. Two mesh pockets on the sides of the pack give you space to store water bottles and other small items. Additionally, the bag seals using Chaos Ready’s unique tri-fold buckle system, which keeping the back watertight but also allows for quick and easy access when you need items.

2. Earth Pak

best waterproof backpack - earth pak

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This waterproof backpack is built for kayaking, boating, or fishing adventures. It is made from 500-Denier (1) PVC material and features a large main compartment with a roll-top closure and a single reinforced strip that stops water from entering the top of the bag.

The Earth Pak comes in two sizes: 35-liters and 55-liters. It comes with a large, splash-proof zippered front pocket for storage of small items like keys and wallets. It also boasts padded back support, shoulder straps, and sternum buckle. Perhaps best of all, it comes with an IPX8 waterproof phone case.

 

3. Timbuk2 Spire

best waterproof backpack - timbuk2 spire

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Ideal as a daypack in urban environments, this waterproof backpack is specifically designed for compatibility with Apple products. It’s made primarily of canvas material and contains a laptop compartment that fits up to 15” MacBooks and also has space for an iPad in a separate pocket.

The Timbuk2 Spire features a waterproof roll-top closure with a hidden back zip access. The pack’s custom-fit strap design provides a truer, more comfortable fit and the integrated, ventilated back panel gives your back the space it needs to breathe and cool throughout the day.

4. Sak Gear BackSak

best waterproof backpack - backsak

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The Sak Gear BackSak is designed to keep your valuables dry and protected during a variety of outdoor sports and activities. It is made from heavy-duty 500-Denier PVC material with welded, watertight seams and a roll-down top.

This pack offers two simple closure methods. First, you can roll down the top three times and then buckle the top clip to create an instant handle. Second, you can use the side clips to adjust for a snug, compressed fit. Either way, it’ll be waterproof and padded back support keeps it comfortable throughout the day.

5. FE Active

best waterproof backpack - fe active

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Designed with the environment in mind, the FE Active Waterproof Backpack utilizes only environmentally safe PVC that has been tested and certified. It’s a useful pack for paddle boarding, rafting, surfing, camping, and much more.

This waterproof backpack is crafted with thick, marine-grade, 5-millimeter, eco-friendly PVC tarpaulin with high frequency welded stitching. This pack also boasts padded shoulder straps with mesh lining for better airflow and padded back support for added comfort.

6. Cougar OUTDOOR ‘Waterman’

best waterproof backpack - cougar outdoor waterman

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The Cougar OUTDOOR ‘Waterman’ is made for wading through rivers, swimming from boat to beach, or an unexpected splash overboard. It contains leak-proof, DRY-LOCK technology that keeps your clothes, towels, and valuables safe, clean, and dry.

This waterproof backpack is made of heavy-duty reinforced PVC vinyl with high frequency welded seams and oversize nylon clasps. It boasts a total capacity of 40-liters, which means you can load it down for a full day of boating, kayaking, sailing, or any other water activity of your choice.

7. Phantom Aquatics Walrus

best waterproof backpack - phantom aquatics walrus

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This roll-top waterproof backpack is designed to protect its contents from more than just water. It’ll keep your valuables safe from dust, sand, and dirt with its unique high frequency welded construction. It also floats effectively if unexpectedly dropped in water.

The Phantom Aquatics Walrus features a two-way sealing system with padded shoulder straps and additional lumbar support. The pack also contains a comfortable back panel with airflow design and elasticated front webbing to secure external items safely and effectively. Lastly, super reflective patches on the front and on the shoulder straps provide increased visibility in low light settings.

8. Friendly Swede

best waterproof backpack - friendly swede

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Grab this waterproof backpack before heading out for your next hiking, skiing, or motorbike trip. Or keep it around the house for your daily commute if you live in a rainy area. Either way, this pack’s industrial grade 500-Denier polyvinyl tarpaulin will keep your belongings safe and dry.

The Friendly Swede waterproof backpack features reflective patches and an easy-to-access emergency survival whistle for your safety. It also contains two spacious mesh pockets for water bottles or Thermoses. Finally, it includes an internal, padded laptop sleeve that fits computers up to 14.5” x 11.4”.

9. Mountain Hardwear Scrambler

best waterproof backpack - mountain hardwear scrambler

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The Mountain Hardwear Scrambler has been extensively rain-room tested and features a guaranteed watertight main compartment through the brand’s patented OutDry construction. It’s a great pack for rock climbing, hiking, backpacking, backcountry skiing, and much more.

This waterproof backpack features HardWave Suspension that conforms to the curvature of your back to distribute weight evenly and ensure a more comfortable fit. The pack’s rope strap under the top pocket gives you a great place to secure climbing ropes and its side compression straps keep any size load stable.

10. Overboard Pro-Sport

best waterproof backpack - overboard pro-sport

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This Class 3 waterproof backpack can literally sit in a puddle all day without any water soaking through, which makes it a great option for rafting, kayaking, and paddleboarding. It is made from PVC coated, 600-Denier nylon with a fully welded seamless construction.

The Overboard Pro-Sport offers a large outer mesh pocket and a top carry handle, as well as a large front mesh zip pocket. The pack’s comfortable back panel with airflow design, padded shoulder straps, and lumbar support all work together to guarantee a comfortable fit.

Buyer’s Guide

Choosing a waterproof backpack can be tough because there are some out there that claim to be waterproof when they are really only ‘water-resistant’ or ‘water-repellent’. This Buyer’s Guide will aim to help you simplify your selection by focusing on three important considerations when buying a waterproof backpack.

Intended Use

This is the number one factor when it comes to buying any backpack. What are the primary activities you plan to use it for? Whitewater rafting, for example, most certainly requires a more durable waterproof backpack than a few hours of paddle boarding on a perfectly calm lake or river.

Additionally, if you’re going to use your waterproof backpack for travel purposes, think about whether it might be beneficial to have any anti-theft devices included. Hidden pockets or a locking main compartment will come in handy when traveling on public transportation in busy, foreign cities.

Durability

Some waterproof backpacks are designed for urban environments in which rain can be frequent and sometimes heavy, but the likelihood of encountering sharp objects is minimal. In this case, an incredibly thick and durable backpack might not be necessary.

However, when you begin to take your waterproof backpack down thundering rapids, through breaking surf, up steep mountain pitches, and around sharp fishing hooks, you’re going to need a pack that withstands the rigors of your adventures. When choosing a waterproof backpack, you won’t go wrong paying a little more for a pack that you know will last for years.

Types of Waterproofing

There are several classes of waterproofing, ranging from Class 1 to Class 5. Class 1 waterproof backpacks are “water resistant for light rain or light splash applications.” This means that water could permeate the pack during prolonged exposure, heavy top-down watering, submersion, or other forceful water pressure applications.

Class 5 waterproof backpacks are “waterproof and submersible to depths greater than 12 feet.” This means they are suitable for underwater sports and some of their common applications include scuba diving, snorkeling, search and rescue, and white water rafting.

Most likely, you’re searching for a backpack that falls somewhere in the middle to high-end of the waterproofing spectrum. As such, it’s important to be able to distinguish between packs that will truly be “waterproof” and those that only offer “water resistance.”

Frequently Asked Questions

Diving into the technical specifications of backpacks can quickly become confusing. There are many abbreviations, acronyms, and units of measurement that apply to backpacks that aren’t used in our daily lives. This Frequently Asked Questions section will help you learn more about some of the most commonly used terms in backpack construction.

Can you explain denier?

Sure! A “denier” is a unit of measure for the linear mass density of fibers or the mass in grams per 9000 meters of said fiber. When applied to backpacks and put to general use, a higher denier count translates to thicker, more resistant material.

What does ‘PVC’ stand for?

‘PVC’ stands for polyvinyl chloride. In terms of backpacks, it most commonly refers to a waterproof-friendly polyester fabric that is strong and durable.

What is the definition of ‘Class 3 Waterproof’?

A Class 3 waterproof backpack is “waterproof so tight it floats or can handle quick submersions.” That said, it is generally known that Class 3 waterproof products can still be permeated by prolonged submersions, submersions greater than 3 feet in depth, and other high water pressure applications.

What is ‘high frequency welded construction’?

High frequency welded construction is a specific manufacturing process that is also sometimes known as dielectric sealing. This process uses electromagnetic energy and pressure to weld and permanently bond thermoplastic, vinyl, and coated fabrics to create a dimensional product.

What is ‘tarpaulin’ and why is it used in so many of these packs?

‘Tarpaulin’ is defined as “heavy-duty waterproof cloth, originally of tarred canvas.” Traditional tarps were actually made of canvas, which is not 100% waterproof. However, modern tarps come in two varieties: polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tarpaulin and polyethylene tarpaulin (also known as “polytarp”). Both of these materials are waterproof, abrasion-resistant, and resistant to oils, acids, greases, and mildew. All of this makes them great fabrics to be used in waterproof backpacks.

Why is the ‘roll-top closure’ so popular?

Oh, you noticed?! The roll-top closure is one of the most common ways to secure items in a waterproof backpack. It has a number of benefits, including eliminating the number of zippers, reducing the number of straps, offering a wider range of use, providing a larger top opening, enhancing top compression, and reducing manufacturing expenses.

What is the proper way to seal a waterproof backpack?

For most of the packs above, you’ll be working with a roll-top closure. Generally, the best method for sealing these packs will be to roll the top at least three times before securing the buckles or straps. However, each backpack is different and you should be sure to consult the pack’s original manufacturer for detailed instructions on how to seal the pack properly.

Summary

A quality waterproof backpack will take a headache out of bringing a phone, camera, or other valuables on water excursions. These days, we want to capture the beauty all around us, and a waterproof backpack will help you bring the items along so you can do just that. We hope you have enjoyed this article and found the information we provided useful. We wish you the best of luck in selecting the waterproof backpack that suits your needs.

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