Whether you’re walking home from work, riding your bike up the side of a mountain, or going fishing out at the lake, protecting all your gear is of the utmost importance.
When rain or snow starts to come down, you must be able to keep all your gear dry.
Either that, or you’ll end up with a broken laptop, damp clothes, or soaked camera equipment.
Protecting your gear from the wet elements requires a solid waterproof backpack, hopefully one that can withstand the harshness of adventure while also remaining comfortable enough to wear without dragging you down.
It’s easy to find the wrong bag if you don’t take the right things into consideration.
This is why we’ve compiled a list of the best waterproof backpacks for adventurers and commuters alike.
The Top 10
Best Waterproof Backpacks
Our #1 Pick - Earth Pak Heavy-Duty Roll Top
Earth Pak has created one of the best waterproof backpacks around. It’s the perfect choice for all kinds of adventuring including kayaking, hiking, boating, or river rafting, as it is able to withstand conditions beyond the extremes.
The Earth Pak Heavy Duty Roll Top comes in two different sizes (35 Liter or 55 Liter), meaning you can find the size that fits you best. This backpack is made with ultra-durable 500D PVC construction and is 100% waterproof. The included waterproof phone case can also be completely submerged in the water while keeping your contents dry. As for comfort, you get an ergonomical back panel that is padded for added support.
The mesh shoulder straps are reinforced, yet also breathable to reduce chafing. For evenly distributing your weight, you get a handy little sternum buckle. You can definitely make use of the splash proof front pocket for smaller items, as well as the additional small pocket on the inside. For overnighters, we recommend the 35L version.
#2 Sea To Summit Hydraulic
Sea to Summit is a backpack company that has made quite a name for themselves in the past couple of years. A lot of their success has to do with the experience of the owners who have spent time in the past climbing Mount Everest. The bag is made with completely waterproof 600D material that is TPU laminated. This means that not only will it stand up to the wildest of rainstorms, but also to possible punctures. No more worrying about your gear staying dry! You even get welded straps for extra strength, meaning you can carry around heavy stuff as well.
In terms of comfort, Sea to Summit didn’t skimp out. You get a combination of EVA foam in the shoulder straps, as well as a breathable air-mesh to reduce the risk of chafing. The entire bag system is completely adjustable as well, allowing you to tighten or loosen your pack with ease. Also, the straps are uniquely removable, making it perfect for storing away in tight situations. The bag comes in an array of sizes starting at 35 liters and moving all the way up to 120 liters, meaning you have some insane versatility. Whatever kind of trip you’re taking, the Hydraulic will be there for you!
#3 Nomatic Checkpoint
Nomatic is a bit of an underdog in the backpack game, as they’ve used crowdfunding to create what might be the best waterproof backpack for travel. The best thing about the backpack is that it is designed to fit at the legal line for TSA checkpoint. It comes with many unique features that you may have never seen before. The bag is essentially a big box that is made to maximize space, allowing you to pack all of your gear in for longer trips. Nomatic takes pride in the tough, waterproof tarpaulin material that will last you through the most extreme types of weather.
In terms of comfort, you get some nice padded shoulder straps. In terms of the design, we love how simple they have kept it. You get a ton of black triangles along the back of the bag and the Nomatic logo placed down at the bottom. As for storage, there are many spaces to place your gear. There are hidden zippers on the inside for extra security, a large laptop pocket in the back, and an even bigger front pocket for things like clothes or camera gear. If you’re looking for a large bag for longer trips, look no further than the Nomatic Checkpoint.
#4 Sak Gear BackSak
Sak Gear is a company that is so confident in their brand that they’ll allow you to return your pack free of charge if you don’t like it. You probably won’t have to though, as it’s built to withstand the toughest of conditions. It’s made with a 500D PVC material with welded seams, making it completely waterproof. This means you can use it in pretty much any type of weather or activity. It comes with padded back support that makes carrying the pack comfortable, as well as adjustable, padded shoulder straps. The sternum clip is placed on to make carrying the backpack more stable.
The backpack comes in one 35 liter size, making it excellent for an overnight bag, or a larger day bag. Inside, you’ll find 2 separate pockets: one exterior pocket that is splash proof, perfect for smaller items like keys, wallets, or phones, as well as a large interior waterproof pocket that is great for larger items like laptops. There are also included D-rings for clipping your water bottle on. The Sak Gear waterproof backpack is for anyone, and comes in a variety of colors so that you can pick one to fit with your style.
Best Waterproof Backpack For Laptops
#1 Best For Laptops - Timbuk2 Spire Backpack
Anyone who needs a solid waterproof backpack to carry their laptop around in should 100% check out the Timbuk2 Spire Backpack. It’s probably one of the best waterproof backpacks for school, and is great for everything from casual travel and commuting to full-on adventure protection, thanks to the dedicated, padded laptop sleeve.The backpack has been strategically designed to fit macbooks, which Apple lovers will go nuts for. The main compartment is essentially made for a 15” macbook pro.
The backpack is made of a canvas fabric with waterproof TPU and has a removable sternum strap, interior, aluminum hardware, a ventilated back panel for breathability, and an on-strap bottle opener for those surprise brews. The roll top closure adds a bit more volume to the backpack by allowing it to expand. This means that you can fit more in this small pack than you might think. In terms of additional storage, you get a variety of smaller zip pockets so that you can organize your small pieces of gear like your phone, pens, wallet, etc. The unique daisy chains present on the outer portion of the bag are excellent for clipping on other pieces of gear like your bike helmet or water bottle.
#2 The Friendly Swede Waterproof Backpack
The Friendly Swede is an underdog company that is slowly gaining a good reputation in the world of waterproof backpacks. The construction on this bag is pretty much one-of-a-kind. You get a 500D polyvinyl tarpaulin that helps to keep all of your gear completely dry. It’s also incredibly durable, protecting your gear from not only the rain, but also from things that might puncture the bag. The seams are glued shut for serious element protection and the roll down top has a tight buckle design that gives you a serious seal.
The Friendly Swede added some friendly comfort on this bag, as you get an array of adjustable straps for your shoulders, waist, and chest. You can even adjust the height where the backpack rides on your back. This will make sure that you can get the best stability when you’re facing wilder terrain. The straps have a unique little whistle built in as well, perfect for the slight chance you lose your group on your adventure. It comes in a 33 liter option, perfect for smaller day trips, though is far large enough to carry a laptop comfortably. There are a few extra pockets onboard including two mesh pockets on the sides for water bottles, an external pocket with a flap for quick-access items, and a few internal pockets for smaller and bigger items.
#3 Aqua Quest Stylin’
Whether you need a solid overnight waterproof back for taking into the country, or a casual waterproof backpack for taking to school and work, the Aqua Quest Stylin’ is the right bag for any occasion. This 30 liter backpack is made with a roll top closure and tough, waterproof zippers that help to keep every instance of moisture out. You can be sure that your laptop will remain safe. It’s constructed out of a puncture-resistant 420D ripstop fabric and laminated with TPU. It features heat taped seams, double bar tacked stress points, and DWR coating. They really went all the way to make sure this bag was strong.
All of this and the bag is just under 2 pounds, making it easy to carry around wherever you are. In terms of storage, there is a large, internal pocket for laptops or tablets, as well as a splash-resistant pocket in the front that is perfect for quick-access gear. The external mesh gear is perfect for storing wet items, as it keeps things completely separate from your other gear. The shoulder straps are made with comfortable padding, and are completely adjustable alongside the chest and hip straps. Thanks to the padded, air-mesh back panel, you don’t have to worry about getting sweaty on the back either.
Best Day-Pack Waterproof Backpacks
Our #1 Day-Pack: FE Active Daypack
FE Active is one of the best lightweight backpacks for athletes, and it is also completely waterproof, allowing you to train in almost any kind of weather conditions. The backpack utilizes military grade 5mm PVC tarpaulin so that it can handle any kind of outdoor activity without getting puncture. The welded stitching on the seams allows it to work with weather conditions as they change too. There are padded shoulder straps to give you a bit of added comfort, as well as mesh technology on the straps and back to help make it a bit more breathable. They’ve also added on chest straps for extra support.
For those who need small day packs, the 30 liter design is absolutely perfect. You have netted side pockets to help you store your water bottle or any other small pieces of gear that you need to keep quick access to. Thanks to the corded design on the exterior, you also have the ability to store things like yoga mats or skateboards. All in all, if you’re an athlete and you need a bag to compliment your fast-paced life, the FE Active Daypack is perfect.
#2 Chaos Ready Roll-Top
Chaos Ready is like Sak Gear in that they offer full refunds to anyone who doesn’t like their bags. This just goes to show how confident they are in their roll top backpack. We’re not surprised though, as the heavy duty 500 PVC tarpaulin material is incredibly strong, ready to take on the most rugged of adventures. There are high frequency welded seams that help to keep out everything from water to dust to sand and beyond. It even floats, meaning if you go overboard, you won’t have to dive down to retrieve it.
In terms of comfort, the bag conforms to the shape of your back really nicely. It also has shoulder straps that are padded for added carry support. It’s the best small waterproof backpack out there, making it perfect for small trips thanks to the 22 liter design, so don’t expect to bring anything bulky along with you. Chaos Ready is pretty understanding when it comes to quick access, which is why they have included a front access pocket, as well as two mesh side pockets for storing water bottles.
#3 Vitchelo 30L
Vitchelo is the company for the avid outdoorsman, as their products help to make being outdoors a lot more fun and practical. Their 30 liter waterproof dry backpack holds to their core values. The welded seams are incredibly strong, ensuring that none of your stuff will get wet. It utilizes a ripstop tarpaulin material that floats, even when the bag is at full capacity! This means you can use your backpack as a flotation device if you end up going overboard, making it perfect for rafting or kayaking. The straps and back pads are nice and comfortable, as well as breathable thanks to the mesh material. Even when you’re carrying heavier items it won’t bother you.
There are many additional pockets in this bag including two side pockets for water bottles, an elastic pocket for storing your phone, and a large internal pocket for larger pieces of gear. It comes in just one design: a bright yellow and black. This makes it perfect for hiking in the wild, as you know that you will always remain seen.
Waterproof Vs. Water Resistant
Many people believe that waterproof and water-resistant are the same thing, as they sound pretty similar. The thing is, that is far from the truth, and there is actually a very prominent difference between the two.
Water resistant bags can withstand short bursts of light rain and splashes, though if left in the rain or water for a while, will eventually absorb it.
They are typically made in larger designs with more compartments than waterproof bags.
Waterproof backpacks, on the other hand, are great for people who constantly find themselves traveling in the rain or in wet environments.
They will help to keep your contents completely dry whether you are hiking through nasty rainstorms or crossing through running rivers.
This gives you the ability to bring gear with you that you would otherwise never think twice about bringing, including computers and camera equipment.
How To Choose The Best Waterproof Backpack
Listed below are the 7 criteria you will want to consider to selecting your next backpack.
The first thing that you need to consider is how much time you will need to use your backpack in one trip? Answering this question will allow you to decide the capacity that you need. If you’re never going to go on a few-day backpacking trip, there is no reason for you to get a waterproof backpack with a ton of space on the inside. On the other hand, if week-long trips are in your near future, having a bag with a higher capacity is a must.
Let it be known though that capacity does not play role in the quality of a backpack, and a 20 liter bag can be just as great as a 120 liter bag. That being said, anything under 35 liters is perfect for use as a daypack, anything between 35 liters and 65 liters will work for weekends, and anything above that will work for week-long trips in the wild.
Storage and Pockets
Hopefully the backpack that you choose isn’t just one big black hole to throw all your gear into. You’re going to want multiple pockets to keep things organized. If not, you’ll have a lot of trouble finding the gear that you need quickly. Many of the backpacks on our list vary though, some having 2-3 internal pockets, some having 1 large laptop pocket and 1 small pocket, and some even having external mesh pockets. You must take note of both the interior and exterior of a backpack when it comes to storage.
You might want to consider a backpack that has a small compartment for personal items like a phone, wallet, or keys. You may want a large padded slip pocket for your laptop or tablet. You may even want some small mesh pockets or a cord system on the outside to store or clip your water bottle.
Color is a complete preferential sort of quality that comes down to the person. Because each person will use these for different things though, it is worth considering getting the right color for your personal use. If you plan on using the backpack in hotter environments, you may want to consider forgetting about any that absorb heat. For this, darker colors are not ideal, such as black or dark blue. That being said, darker backpacks far sleeker and less conspicuous, giving you a more modern and minimalistic type of look.
On the other hand, lighter backpacks will help to reflect heat, making them more comfortable to wear in the summer. They are also better for those who are spending a lot of time in the wilderness, as they’ll keep you visible in case you get into a dangerous situation.
Generally, waterproof backpacks are more expensive than regular backpacks because they are made with the ability to keep your contents dry and protected. Essentially, they work as a major upgrade. That being said, there are a variety of backpacks on the market in different price ranges, so you don’t have to break the bank to get one that is solid. Lower-priced waterproof backpacks range between $30 and $50, and will come with less of the fun features that $100+ bags come with.
A good waterproof backpack should not only be safe from water, but also from abrasions and punctures. The last thing you need is for a big branch to poke a hole in your waterproof backpack, rendering it useless. The materials that you will likely find in waterproof backpacks include nylon or polyester with TPU coating or PVC tarpaulin. You can go with any of these materials, as they are all extremely tough and puncture-resistant.
You also want to check out the seams as well. RF welded seams are easily the best out there, as they are made with electromagnetic energy. This helps to create an incredibly tight bond between the different sections of the backpack. Quality seams will keep your content dry and are just as important as the waterproofing material, if not more.
Consider the fact that you might be wearing your waterproof backpack for long periods of time, meaning you’ll want to find one that has added some comfortable features onboard. A comfortable backpack can absolutely make or break an adventure. You’ll be far happier if you can adjust your backpack to get a comfortable position.
One thing you should 100% look for are padded shoulder straps. These will help as you begin carrying heavier items with you. You might even want to get a padded back that is made with a breathable mesh material. This will help to keep you from sweating when you’re carrying your backpack on long hikes or bike rides. The more straps, the better. Look for backpacks with adjustable shoulder straps, chest straps, and waist straps, especially if you’re hiking. A comfortable backpack should conform well to the shape of your body and not ride to high or low on your back.
A bag that is lighter in weight will ALWAYS be more comfortable to carry on your bag all other variables fixed. You’ll likely find that waterproof backpacks are heavier than traditional backpacks, as that is just the nature of waterproof material. That being said, there are still many waterproof backpacks that are incredibly lightweight. It’s pretty simple, the lighter the backpack, the easier it will be to carry, especially on longer trips.
When To Use a Waterproof Backpack
Waterproof backpacks are great for a variety of different situations. Whether you know that you are getting into a wet environment or not, waterproof backpacks are solid, all-around ways to pack your gear and take it with you safely.
Waterproof backpacks are perfect for those who are venturing in wet environments, exploring the wilderness, or even commuting in the rain. I take my waterproof backpack with me everywhere, from going surfing to walking down to the coffee shop by my house. It’s especially great for storing my laptop safely.
A waterproof backpack helps to give you peace of mind in case of the unexpected rain. It rids the need to constantly check your gear to make sure that it’s dry. Most waterproof backpacks even allow you to sit them in water without worrying about any water getting in. We recommend you get a waterproof backpack if you do any of the following things:
Commute in rainy environments
Live or travel in where the weather is not predictable
Kayak, boat, or river raft
Perform in any ocean sports like surfing or snorkeling
Go to school or work with gear
How Do I Clean My Waterproof Backpack?
Many people don’t know that you can wash a waterproof backpack. It’s probably one of the best ways to ensure that the waterproof material stays on longer. When a waterproof backpack gets dirty, small particles of dust and dirt eventually absorb into the bag, tearing the waterproof membrane apart. That being said, you should be sure not to wash TOO often, as that can also ruin your backpack.
That all being said, we would not recommend washing your backpack in the washing machine, as that could ruin it too. All you really need is a soft towel and some warm water with soap. Dry wipe your bag to make sure that there aren’t any dirt particles onboard and shake it out to get any small particles out from the inside. If not, you’ll just end up scrubbing dirt all over the bag. Fill a large bucket (or your bathtub) with hot water and mix in a little bit of soft dish soap. Please don’t use regular detergent, as it can totally ruin the waterproofing.
Wash and rinse your bag, making sure that all of the soap is off. Hang it outside to air dry. Don’t place it in the dryer.
Where Should A Backpack Hip Belt Sit?
You’d be surprised how many people have no idea how to wear backpacks, especially those with larger backpacks. Most people will just strap their shoulders and hip belt on without ever adjusting it, meaning the straps aren’t really doing their jobs. The biggest point of a hib belt is to give you added support and take the weight off your shoulders. Strapping it across your stomach completely defeats the purpose.
To properly buckle your hip belt, find your hip bone. Typically, your hip bone rests where your pants rest. Put the bag on your shoulder and get the shoulder straps situated correctly. If you need some help, try resting the bag on a flat surface while you buckle up your hip belt. You can then secure it tightly to give you that added support.
How To Patch a Waterproof Backpack?
If you find that your waterproof backpack has a puncture in it, you can do one of two things. You can either throw it away and buy a new one with your disposable income, or you can patch it up. Patching is easy if you know how to do it properly. Most backpacks utilize iron on patches for repairs, though you have to be very careful not to get them too hot, as you can easily melt the fabric, making the puncture even worse.
Always bring a bit of duct tape with you on adventures, as you can use it to quickly seal up punctures before you get back to the repair station. When you get home, buy a nylon patch kit. They’re fairly inexpensive and are the best solutions for punctures and rips. Nylon is flexible, puncture-proof, and watertight, allowing you to use your waterproof backpack as if it were new. Follow the instructions of the kit carefully, as they are all different.
Final Thoughts - Which Should You Get?
Waterproof backpacks are excellent for both the expected and unexpected times in life. Mother Nature may be beautiful, but she can quickly have a wrath like no other, leaving you and your gear soaked if you aren’t prepared. We hope that looking into our best waterproof backpacks article has helped you in finding the best one for your needs!
Overall, we have to go with the Earth Pak as our favorite waterproof backpack. From the heavy-duty roll top design, to the comfortable padding, to the spacious interior, it provides just about everything you would need in a waterproof backpack at an affordable price.
Always do your research when buying waterproof gear and stay dry out there!