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Backpacks

Best Waterproof Backpacks

by , January 26, 2016

Protection from the elements is an important consideration when choosing a bag. After all, who wants to deal with disintegrating documents, wet tech, or a soaking jacket if it can be avoided? However, the degree of protection varies across bags, so deciding how waterproof your backpack should be will depend on your needs.

Water-resistant bags

If a bag is water-resistant, it should handle a short and light shower or splash from a passing car just fine. Leave it in the rain or snow too long though and water will get in sooner or later. If you commute for instance by car, bus or train (or even a short bike ride), or can access shelter fairly quickly if a downpour threatens, a water-resistant bag will likely get the job done.

Waterproof bags

Waterproof bags take heavy downpours in their stride, can handle hours of hiking in the rain with ease, and even a short dunk in water (for instance if they fall into a river during watersport activities). They can’t be immersed for a long time, but will keep your gear dry during the likes of long bike rides in the rain, spray from boat trips and unfavorable weather during your travels.

100% Waterproof bags

As the name suggests, 100% waterproof bags are completely waterproof. These bags are great for water-based activities (particularly long or demanding ones such as white-water rafting) and outdoor trips where you need the contents (such as bedding for a camping trip) to remain dry no matter what the weather is like. These bags will handle extended submersion and should float so you can easily retrieve them in the event they go overboard or are dropped accidentally in water. They’re also great for keeping out dust, sand and dirt.

Below we’ve rounded up some of the best waterproof backpacks for work and play. A lot of bags claim to be waterproof when they aren’t. Rest assured these are waterproof or 100% waterproof…

Aqua Quest Himal Backpack (US $45.99)

Aqua Quest Himal Backpack

This lightweight 20L pack comes in at just 1.15 lbs/525 g, with a 100% waterproof main compartment and a splash-resistant pocket on the front. Plus it can also be folded into its own front pocket for easy storage.

Great for: a 100% waterproof and lightweight backpack you don’t have to sink your hard-earned savings into…

Aqua Quest Stylin 30L Backpack (US$ 69.99-79.99)

Aqua Quest Styling 30L

Equally ready for the morning commute or an adventurous weekend, this 100% waterproof 30L pack will take torrential downpours and temporary submersion in its stride. The pack is constructed out of 420D ripstop fabric, with heat taped seams and a DWR coating. The roll-top main compartment offers waterproof storage for your gear, while a splash-resistant front pocket and front sleeve pocket keep quick-access items within easy reach.

Great for: protecting gear against the elements in a streamlined design that works in urban and outdoor environments alike…

SealLine Boundary Dry Pack (US$ 99.95-129.95)

SealLine Boundary Dry Pack

The waterproof Boundary Dry Pack offers a rugged vinyl construction with a rolltop closure and RF-welded seams. The bag comes in a choice of sizes, from 35L to 115L, to suit a range of carry loads. In addition to its durable build, the pack also includes a removable suspension system for comfortable carrying on the go and compact storage when not in use.

Great for: protecting gear during water-based activities and boat trips, while offering easy portability and compact storage…

Overboard Pro-Sports Waterproof Backpack (US $113.15-118.54)

Overboard Pro-Sports Waterproof Backpack

Fully submersible, this 30L pack features a high frequency welded construction and durable PVC tarpaulin that will withstand light showers and watersports alike. Additional features such as a whistle buckle, reflective detailing and three exterior pockets (with a further interior pocket) add to the functionality.

Great for: a 100% waterproof pack that floats and can handle demanding water-based activities, with extra details that make it useful for everyday use too…

Ortlieb Velocity Backpack (from US $132.25)

Ortlieb Velocity

An attachment for a helmet or bike light, an abrasion-resistant base, a carry handle and an interior pocket for keeping small items in order are just a few of the handy features offered by this roll-top pack.

Great for: accommodating a bulky helmet or other awkwardly-shaped items on the exterior, while providing flexible roll-top construction for varied loads in the main compartment…

SealLine Urban Waterproof Backpack (US$ 149.95-169.95)

SealLine Urban Waterproof Backpack

No need to stress the drizzles or the downpours with this pack thanks to RF-welded construction and a PVC-free 600D PU-coated polyester that keeps water at bay. The QuickClip™ closure enables one-handed access to the main compartment, while external attachment points and a weatherproof pocket keep frequently-accessed or awkwardly-shaped items in check. The pack also handles quick sumbersions and floats on water.

Great for: anyone after a sleek and durable design that comes in a choice of colorways and sizes (17L and 37L) to suit personal preferences.

Chrome Excursion Rolltop 37 Backpack (US $160)

Chrome Excursion Rolltop 37 Backpack

Full of features and rocking plenty of street style, this 100% waterproof companion is great for a day in the city and can extend to your travels too. Interior pockets and a laptop sleeve for up to a 15″ MacBook Pro provide internal organization, while Hypalon MOLLE straps provide options for exterior organization.

Great for: a backpack that balances urban-friendly styling with a versatile 100% waterproof design that can handle both your work tools and travel gear with ease.

Sea to Summit Rapid 26L Drypack (US$ 169.95-196.21)

Sea to Summit Rapid 26L Drypack

Ready for water-based activities, the rain-drenched daily commute, hiking and more, this 26L roll-top includes a removable waist belt and a white interior for better visibility of the contents. In addition, organization is dished up courtesy of stretch side pockets and internal and exterior zipped pockets.

Great for: if you need a versatile waterproof pack that can handle a variety of uses in urban and outdoor settings…

Finisterre x Ortlieb Waterproof Rucksack (£135; ~US$ 190)

Finisterre Waterproof Rucksack

Finisterre teamed up with Ortlieb to create this functional and flexible 20L pack with its waterproof high frequency welded construction, PU-coated nylon and roll-top closure. An exterior non-waterproof pocket provides storage for quick-access items, while interior pockets take care of valuables and a tablet or notebook.

Great for: a durable and waterproof bag in a size that works well for everyday use, with the flexibility to accommodate different loads thanks to the roll-top closure…

Timbuk2 Especial Primo Waterproof Backpack (US$ 139)

Timbuk2 Especial Primo Waterproof Backpack

A welded and waterproof ripstop construction, exterior pockets for frequently accessed items, plus reflective detailing for enhanced visibility will keep your gear safe from the elements and at the ready, while also keeping you safe on the go.

Great for: use as a cycling backpack or when you’re on foot and want the benefits of enhanced visibility and dry storage for your daily carry…

Velo Transit Edge 30 Backpack (US $209.95)

Velo Transit Edge 30 Backpack

Whether you’re walking or cycling, this pack comfortably delivers your gear safe and dry to its destination thanks to its 100% waterproof sonic-welded liner and a Storm Shield which protects the exterior pockets (making the top zippered pocket 100% waterproof), folds away when not in use and provides extra visibility when it is. A variety of pockets also ensures easy access to frequently used items.

Great for: the daily commute, with plenty of pockets for your work tools and EDC and different sizes to suit different users…

Patagonia Stormfront Backpack (US$ 299)

Patagonia Stormfront Backpack

Designed with anglers in mind but adaptable to a range of other uses, the Stormfront’s 100% waterproof PU-coated 800D nylon exterior and 100% waterproof main zipper ensure any sogginess is restricted to yourself and not your gear. Exterior rod tube holders can also accommodate a variety of other items, and the exterior water-resistant pocket is a handy stash spot for quick-access items.

Great for: anglers who want a 100% waterproof fishing pack, as well as anyone who needs to carry long or awkwardly-shaped loads…

Arc’teryx LEAF DryPack 70 (US$ 1080)

Arc'teryx LEAF DryPack 70

The 100% waterproof DryPack 70 was designed specifically for Maritime Special Operations, and as such is packed full of features to conquer demanding situations. A rotating Load Transfer™ Disc for stabilizing loads, GridLock™ shoulder straps for a customized fit, a white interior for improved visibility, an oral inflation valve, quick-release buckles, compression straps, and dependable construction featuring a rugged urethane-coated 725D Cordura all play their part in helping you tackle challenging carry environments.

Great for: this is definitely a niche pack, for someone who wants the best of the best, with military toughness, superior construction and excellent comfort in a reliable 100% waterproof pack…

 

  • Oliver Nissen

    Arc’teryx appear to have discontinued their attractive looking Alpha FL waterproof packs. Anyone happen to know why?

    • Oliver Nissen

      And you’re overlooking Exped’s Cloudburst day packs!

      • TeamCarryology

        Oh nice, @oliver_nissen:disqus, have you used it personally? Tell us about it.

        • Oliver Nissen

          No, but I’ve poked my nose in them quite a bit in store. I’m working on making my own packs now, so can’t justify purchasing anything. Exped’s packs (and the others you feature above) haven’t half the sex appeal of the Alpha FL. Now that’s a pack that I could find excuses to buy!

          The Alpha FL is a thick TPU rip-stop nylon, with sewn and seam-taped construction, while the Exped uses a very light 70D taffeta nylon with a more superficial PU coating – likewise stitched and seam taped. Arc’teryx have gone with a really bomber seam tape that stands a bit proud, while Exped have gone with a much thinner tape which is thus much lower profile. When it comes to light PU coated fabrics, the more common mode of tape failure is peeling, not puncturing, but with TPUs I’m not so sure – (of course I’m just trying to second guess if that’d be why Arc’teryx have pulled it!)

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