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Stay Dry: Tips and Tricks For Using Dry Bags In Any Weather

We love adventure, but with adventure comes some wild weather and locations, many of which are not dry. This is why we recommend outdoor enthusiasts have a dry bag or dry sack available because staying dry is critical to comfort. We have had many a dry bag over the years and today will be sharing some of our tips and tricks about them.

So what is a dry bag, and what should you look for when shopping for one? Let’s dive in and see.

What Is a Dry Bag?

A dry bag, similar to a dry sack, is a flexible bag made from waterproof materials. The purpose of these bags is to protect your gear or equipment from getting wet. This is especially helpful if you’re planning to enjoy aquatic activities like kayaking, canoeing, rafting, or stand-up paddle boarding. However, they’re great for activities of all kinds, including those that don’t involve water.

Most are nylon, which is incredibly flexible. However, manufacturers coat the material with a water-repellent coating like silicone to increase the material’s resistance to water.

Keep your hiking and camping gear dry with a dry bag.

Are Dry Bags and Dry Sacks the Same Thing?

Dry bags and dry sacks are relatively similar but are unique in their own ways. Both typically use similar materials and construction processes. However, dry bags often have carrying straps to make it easier to carry them. Dry sacks generally don’t have those carrying straps and must go inside a backpack or other travel bag. Which bag is right for you will depend on your needs and how you plan to use your bag.

What Do You Put in a Dry Bag?

They can store anything you’ll need during your adventures that you don’t want to get wet. This typically means equipment, food, or clothing. However, if you plan to bring electronics like cameras, cell phones, or GPS devices, you’ll want to store them in a dry bag or dry sack.

These bags have a single opening at the top for accessing items inside. As a result, you’ll want to think through how you pack your bag. Always place items you’ll use the least at the bottom and those you’ll use more frequently at the top.

Pro Tip: Going on a one-day hiking trip? Check out these 10 Best Daypacks: Lightweight Hiking Packs for Your Essentials.

Dry bags next to ocean
Whether you’re planning on doing water activities or may encounter bad weather, a dry bag can keep your stuff safe and dry.

Type of Dry Bags

There are a couple of options worth considering if you’re shopping for a dry bag. Let’s look at the two most common types of dry bags and why you might want to consider them.

Roll-Down Top

A roll-down top is one of the most common and effective types. These bags roll several times and then use a buckling system to close the bag. This system provides multiple layers of protection to keep water out of your bag. Rolling up the bag eliminates excess materials and makes it easier to store or carry with you no matter what adventures you’re enjoying.

Ziplock Seal

The second most common type uses a ziplock-style seal. You place the items you want to protect into the bag and then press the two sides together. This allows you to quickly and easily seal and unseal your bag to access your items. 

However, these can be tricky as it’s hard to detect whether you’ve completely sealed the bag. If the seal is not entirely closed, water can penetrate the bag and get to any items you’re trying to protect.

Woman hiking with camping gear
Consider whether you will be using your dry bag for single-day use or long-term adventures when deciding which one is best for you.

Tips For Using Dry Bags

Only Fill Bags 3/4 Full

Roll-down dry bags need enough space to be rolled down from the top. If you overfill the bag the space left for the sealing may be small or inadequate. If there is pressure on the top seal it is more likely to fail and leak on you.

Leave Some Air In Bag If You Want To Be Sure It Floats

Most manufacturers tell you to squeeze extra air out of bags, but if using them around deep water we like to leave extra air in the bag. Extra air makes the bag a bit bigger, but gives it a better chance to float if it gets dropped. It is usually far easier to retrieve and find a floating bag.

Caution of Sharp Objects

While some bags are very tough, sharp objects can still be a hazard. We have seen more than one failure of a dry bag because something sharp in it wore its way through the side. Any piercing in the dry bag will compromise its purpose.

Double Bag Valubles or Electronics

Dry bags are not a guarantee not to leak so we always recommend double bagging especially valuable items that would get ruined if they got wet. This would include papers, electronics, and matches. There are plenty of smaller bags or cases that can act as a second line of defense for these items should the main bag leak.

Second bag for cell phone
using a second small bag for your phone or other things that could get damaged by water is a great idea

Things to Consider When Shopping for a Dry Bag

When shopping for a dry bag, there are several things you should consider. This helps ensure you get a bag that does the job you need it to do, which reduces the chances of you experiencing buyer’s remorse.

How You’ll Use It

Before you add a dry bag or dry sack to your shopping cart, consider how you’ll use them. The type of adventures you plan to enjoy will determine which bag is best for you. Whether you plan to hike or kayak, the bag you choose will likely be different.

A kayaker doesn’t need to worry nearly as much about their dry bag having backpack-style straps since they’ll carry it in their kayak when using it. However, if you use your dry bag while hiking, you want it to be as easy as possible to carry it and any of your gear.

Size

One of the easiest mistakes to make when shopping for a dry bag is buying the wrong size. You need to think through all the gear you plan to bring with you and want to keep dry. If not, you could be wasting your money by purchasing a dry sack or bag that’s too small. 

Unless you’re worried about space, it’s typically better to err on the side of caution by purchasing a larger dry bag than necessary. 

Materials

The two most common materials used are nylon and vinyl, with nylon typically being the superior choice. Like bed sheets, nylon comes in a variety of thread counts. The higher the thread count, the better the quality of the nylon.

Vinyl is a more budget-friendly material and is typically the go-to choice for clear bags or those with see-through windows. Vinyl is easier to repair should you accidentally rip or tear it. If you’re new to dry bags, this is a great place to start.

Water beading on dry bag material
Dry bag materials differ greatly from fabric to rubbers

Extra Features

Some dry bags feature extra features that make them more appealing. Others come with velcro to reduce the chances of the bag accidentally coming open. This ensures your stuff stays as dry as possible during your adventures.

In addition, some listings will come with additional ones made specifically for electronic devices like phones or tablets. These are typically clear bags that make it easy to see and use your device during your adventures without taking them out of the bag and leaving them unprotected.

Pro Tip: Ditch these 10 Overrated Camping Gear Items That You Really Don’t Need.

dry bag on rock by river
Most dry bags will float if they fall into the water.

6 of the Best Dry Bags Worth Buying

You don’t want to trust your gear and important items with just any dry bag. You want to know that your belongings are safe and protected from water or other elements. Let’s look at six of the best ones worth buying.

1. NRS Tough Sack

My favorite all-around bag is the NRS tough sack. While not the most featured bag NRS is a well-known name in the dry bag space and builds a reliable tough bag. Sizes come from 5 liters to 55 liters. These bags are very popular with kayakers and river rafting crews who depend on dry bags that get wet regularly.

NRS Tuff Sack Dry Bag - Waterproof Storage Bag
  • The heavy-duty PVC-Free TobaTex material combined with welded...
  • Designed in a variety of sizes, the Tuff Sack can fit everything...
  • Exclusive to NRS, the StormStrip closure system coupled with...

2. HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag with Phone Case

HEETA’s waterproof dry bag comes in five different sizes and 11 colors. There are 5-liter, 10-liter, 20-liter, 30-liter, and 40-liter bags available. There’s one for just about every style and use, and it’s 0.02-inch thick PVC material. 

With this backpack-style, you can carry over one or two shoulders to help disperse the load and make it as comfortable as possible. The included phone case is an added benefit as it protects your phone during exciting adventures.

Sale
HEETA Waterproof Dry Bag for Women Men, Roll Top...
  • Waterproof - Use professional seamless technology. Our dry bag...
  • Durable - Made by 0.02 in (0.6 mm) thick wear-resistant PVC...
  • Multifunctional - Adjustable Shoulder Straps & Handle for...

3. Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag Roll Top

This dry bag from Earth Pak features a roll-top closure with a snap and only weighs 0.85 pounds. Sizes range from 10 liters to 55 liters that come in eight different colors. A single-shoulder strap makes it easy to carry. 

It’s made from 500D PVC material, so your gear is safe and can withstand tough and rugged environments. In addition, this bag comes with an IPX8 waterproof case for phones up to 6.5 inches.

Sale
Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag - Roll Top Waterproof...
  • RELIABLE PROTECTION: We believe our earth pak dry bags are the...
  • SHOULDER STRAP: 10L & 20L dry bags come with a 24-42 Inch single...
  • IPX8 CERTIFIED WATERPROOF PHONE CASE: We have included our IPX8...
Earth Pak Official Review

4. Frelaxy Dry Sack 3-Pack

Sometimes, you need more than one dry sack, which is where these dry sacks from Frelaxy come in handy. These are perfect for hiking, backpacking, kayaking, and many other adventures. They’re of a high-quality 210T tear-resistant polyester material and come in several sizes – 3-liter, 5-liter, 10-liter, 15-liter, and 20-liter options. 

One feature that many users like is that the base of these bags is rectangular, allowing you to use as much space as possible.

Sale
Frelaxy Dry Bag 3-Pack/5-Pack, Ultralight Dry...
  • Keep Your Gear Organized:A set of 5 ultralight Dry Sacks in...
  • Stay Dry on your Adventure:Pro-grade WATERPROOF Polyester with...
  • ULTRALIGHT & DURABLE:Made of 210T high-quality Tear Resistant...
Frelaxy Compression Sack Review | Water-Resistant & Ultralight Sleeping Bag

5. Piscifun Dry Bag, Waterproof Floating Backpack

The Piscifun dry bag uses a vinyl material made from 500D PVC. These bags come in nine different colors and five sizes ranging from 10 liters to 40 liters. The adjustable double shoulder straps are sturdy and help ensure these bags are comfortable to carry. 

With reinforced seams, durable buckles, and exquisite craftsmanship, this is one option you don’t want to overlook. It’s best for hiking, rafting, and fishing. However, almost any outdoor activity can be made better with this dry bag.

Sale
Piscifun Dry Bag, Waterproof Floating Backpack...
  • Polyvinyl Chloride
  • 【Durable and Heavy Duty】 Piscifun waterproof back pack is...
  • 【Sealed and IPX8 Waterproof Phone Case】 The backpack comes...
Piscifun Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack 5L 10L 20L 30L 40L Floating Dry Backpack with Waterproo Reviews

6. Gonex Extra Large Waterproof Dry Duffel Bag

Sometimes, your adventures require a tremendous amount of gear with you. That’s where these extra large dry duffel bags from Gonex come in. 

These come in black, gray, and greenish blue and have 40-liter, 60-liter, and 80-liter options. Now you have plenty of space to bring just about anything! The PVC material ensures it’s waterproof, snowproof, and can withstand just about anything you throw at it. 

Gonex 80L Extra Large Waterproof Duffle Travel Dry...
  • 【Highly Waterproof】Gonex MILITARY DUFFLE BAG is made of...
  • 【Scientific Design】This waterproof duffel bag comes with a...
  • 【Three Carrying Ways】Equipped with straps on both sides for...
Gonex Extra Large Waterproof Duffle Travel Dry Duffel Bag Review | Heavy Duty Bag

Do Dry Bags Float?

The air trapped inside the dry bag provides it with some floating abilities. The amount of time it will float will greatly depend on its density and volume. Should it fall into the water, it will likely float long enough for you to rescue it. 

However, you shouldn’t count on it to serve as a floatation device during an emergency.

Are Dry Bags Worth It?

Whether you want to protect your items from water or other elements, a dry bag is worth it. No matter why you purchase one, you’ll likely find many more opportunities to use it. They’re incredibly versatile bags that can come in handy outside your everyday adventures. 

Make sure you consider all the information we’ve shared before purchasing to get the right one for you and your needs.

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About Cait Morton

Co-Founder, Logistics Queen, Business & Content Manager, and Animal Lover

An Upper Peninsula of Michigan native (aka a Yooper), Caitlin is the organization, big-picture, and content strategy queen of our operation. She keeps everything orderly and on track.

With a background in Business Management, she supports and helps channel Tom’s technical prowess into the helpful content our readers and viewers expect. That’s not to say you won’t find her turning wrenches and talking shop – RV life is a team effort. She keeps the business and the blog moving forward with a variety of topics and resources for our audience.

Believe it or not, she is rather camera shy, though she co-hosts the Mortons’ personal videos and The RVers TV show.

Caitlin’s passion lies in outdoor recreation and with animals. Some of her favorite things to do are hiking, biking, and getting out on the water via kayak, SUP, or boat.

She also loves the RV life due to the fact that you can bring your pets along. Sharing information about safely recreating outdoors with your whole family – pets included! – is very important to her. Because of this, Caitlin spearheaded the launch of HypePets in 2023.

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