If you go hiking, walking, travelling, or even commuting when there’s a chance of rain, you should consider investing in a good quality waterproof backpack.
And if your outdoor activities include kayaking, caving, or canyoneering, a dry bag is essential for safely storing and transporting your gear.
In this article, we review the best waterproof backpacks and drybags in Australia and discuss the key things you should keep an eye out for when making your selection.
Best for the city: Kathmandu Amphi Urban Pack
Pros: Looks great, great features, reasonably priced
Cons: Less suited to adventure activities
Why we chose it: The Amphi Urban Pack is a great choice for people who want a backpack that can handle any situation but still looks great.
It’s created from seven recycled plastic bottles and has an IPX4 water-resistant rating, so it can handle rain, sprays and splashes with ease.
The bag comes with a laptop sleeve and quick-release magnetic clips to make it simple to get your gear out quickly when you need it. The compressible roll-top closure makes it easy to store your gear in one place without having to worry about things falling out of the bag.
The back panel is moulded for comfort and has ergonomic shoulder straps that allow for easy carrying.
Best for adventures: Sea to Summit Rapid Drypack
Pros: Withstands extensive wear and tear as well as water, removable waist strap and top handle for when it’s not on your back, padded straps for extra shoulder comfort
Cons: Roll-top closure can sag if the pack is not completely full, read the instruction manual for how to fold the top closed for 100% waterproof effectiveness
Why we chose it: This hardy pack is completely waterproof, spacious enough for all your gear, and comes in blue and yellow colour choices. The universal (one-size) pack and shoulder harness size are surprisingly comfortable and compact enough to fit in small boat bellies and SUPs.
The main chamber is top-loading and with a roll-top closure. Once that’s sealed, it keeps the interior desert dry. If you don’t have time to scratch around for items at the bottom, there’s a zippered pocket compartment for easy-find essentials. The pack also has mesh pockets on the sides for water bottles and a roomy exterior zipper compartment.
Best Value: Chaos Ready Waterproof Backpack
Pros: Durable, heavy-duty materials, mesh pockets for storage and easy-access items, floats, waterproof, and comes with a lifetime guarantee
Cons: Bag bottom sags which makes it fall over from upright
Why we chose it: This dry bag with backpack capabilities is 100% waterproof. You can throw the worst Melbourne downpour at it or travel in a tropical monsoon, and your electronics will be protected. The Chaos Ready floats, which makes it doubly effective against accidental drops in water.
The high-quality tarpaulin material keeps the bag lightweight and foldable; it’s this compactness that makes it easy to transport and pack. Don’t expect any perforations on this bag, it’s durable and flexible enough to withstand the roughest treatment on the road.
Best all-rounder: Caribee Trident Waterproof Backpack
Pros: Quick-release side buckles for the roll top, back system includes padded air mesh, utility loops and front zip pocket
Cons: Only comes in black, interior colour makes it hard to locate items
Why we chose it: It’s easy to see why travellers love the highly functional and versatile Caribee. It ticks all the dry bag boxes with its TPU-Nylon and heat-welded seams. The roll-top opening is easy to fold shut; the padded shoulder straps, sternum strap + back supports make this dry bag backpack super comfortable to carry.
Any adventure becomes more enjoyable when there’s no fear of losing your gear: this includes water damage. In the long run, it’s easier to buy a high-quality waterproof dry bag backpack like the Caribee Trident, than it is to buy waterproof electronics and accessories.
Best dry bag: Sea to Summit Big River Dry Sack
Pros: White interior makes things easier to find, lightweight, budget-friendly
Cons: May leak under extended submersion, no straps for easy handling and carry on.
Why we chose it: The Big River Dry Bag is a classically designed, old school dry bag that’s perfect for both recreational and advanced watersports. The Big River keeps your gear nice and dry; it’s manufactured from a material that repels water and the seams are taped, not welded.
Under prolonged submersion, this bag may allow a small amount of water inside. However, it’s budget-friendly and durable enough to handle regular use.
Upgrade pick: Patagonia Stormfront Pack
Pros: Removable shoulder straps, can be used with the Patagonia vest for easy front pocket access, breathable
Cons: High price, limited colour options
Why we chose it: The Patagonia Stormfront has removable straps that are designed to slot into their convertible vest, but works equally well as a stand-alone item. It’s extremely lightweight, with a mesh lining at the back of the pack that separates the straps.
The 3D mesh permits air to flow across your neck and back, and this allows your shoulders to dry while your pack remains impermeable. It’s this breathability, along with the removable straps that turn the Stormfront into a dry bag, and makes this a stand out waterproof luggage choice.
Waterproof Backpack Buying Guide
Consider what activities you like doing and where you’ll be going before buying a waterproof backpack or dry bag, along with the following considerations:
Water Resistant, Water-Repellent, Or Waterproof
Water-resistant materials are alright for light rain showers when cycling to work. They are usually made out of nylon or high-grade polyester. The water-resistant fabric stops rain from penetrating, but rain will soak through over time.
Water-repellent packs are ideal for when you plan on spending more time outdoors in contact with water.
They are constructed out of a textile fabric containing Polyurethane, Durable Water Repellency, or coated with TPU. These additives ensure the water puddles on top don’t soak through.
The pack zippers will also be waterproof and the seams taped.
If you expect significant water exposure, stick to buying waterproof packs and bags. They are airtight so they float in water and include heavy-duty zippers and welded seams. This is your best bet for protecting expensive devices and cameras.
Some styles can convert from a backpack to a dry bag with detachable straps.
RELATED: The Best Carry-on Backpack
Key features to look for are a hip belt, chest strap, padded back panel, and padded straps.
One of the main factors that will define your purchase is what kind of budget you have. You can find decent waterproof backpacks and dry bags for under $50, and some outstanding ones for over the $100 price point.
You know what you need to carry with you, but remember you might also pick up a few things along the way. If you’re in the market for a commuters daypack, you may need enough space for work stuff and a padded laptop sleeve to store your device safely.
If you plan on using your pack for camping or watersports, check that every part of the bag is waterproof, and not just the main section – every exterior compartment should ideally be waterproof as well.
Obviously, dark colours don’t show the dirt and bright, light colours are easier to see. If you are travelling in hot climates, it can be a good idea to stay away from dark colours. These attract and absorb the heat which is bad news for electronics.