The Best Waterproof Backpacks (Review & Buying Guide) in 2021
Keeping your stuff organized and safe while on the move is important, and a waterproof backpack will do just that
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BY William Irvin Lewis / LAST UPDATED ON November 7, 2020
Let’s talk about backpacks—the utilitarian carry-all used by millions around the world. But better than just a backpack is a waterproof backpack. One could argue that there is no point in having a backpack that isn’t waterproof. Who doesn’t want that extra level of protection in harsh weather conditions? For many of us, we carry some of the most cherished and essential items in our backpack, from wallets to passports, laptops, books, important documents, clothing, and much more.
As a result, a good quality waterproof backpack is an essential accessory for many of us. Whether we are hiking, camping, going to school, commuting to work, or going to the gym, we need a dependable and durable backpack to hold our stuff. We have compiled a list of some of our favorite options on the market to help you narrow down your search for the ideal waterproof backpack.
The Shrradoo Travel Laptop Backpack offers all the space, features, and comfort one could want in a backpack. Overall, it easily comes out ahead of most of the market.
- Has many features usually reserved for more expensive backpacks
- Is an excellent all-rounder that can excel at almost any task normally given to a backpack
- Depending on the color selected, it’s not a professional-looking backpack
- Not as water-resistant as other backpacks, and thus not as all-weather friendly
While much simpler than a regular backpack, the Marchway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag is an incredibly tough container that will keep your items safe.
- Capable of keeping its contents safe even in extreme environments
- Extremely simple and durable design
- Naturally buoyant when closed correctly
- Lacks the compartments and refinements of more expensive packs
- Rugged and tough, but overly simple for multitasking
- Only best at a narrow range of tasks
A premium backpack with premium design and materials, the Matein Travel Laptop Backpack carries your stuff with dignity. This pack is feature-rich and heavy on style.
- Sleek and professional design, aided by well-crafted textures in the materials
- Built with comfort in mind, including helping to keep your back from sweating
- High cost compared to other backpacks
- Not completely waterproof when compared to more hardcore dry bags for camping
- More useful in town than in the wilderness
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
Benefits of Waterproof Backpacks
- Protection of your important travel items. Many of the essential pieces of gear often brought along when traveling are electronic, none of which play well with water. For this reason, a water-resistant or waterproof backpack can be an extremely important tool for travelers, especially those who walk outside to their destination.
- Practical personal transportation of gear. It is all too easy for important items to get damaged in the hustle and bustle of getting where you need to be. Keeping all your stuff in one very portable package makes a lot of sense, both for the sake of logistics and the sake of safety.
- Storage space for camping. When out camping, many little things can easily become a mess or lost entirely in a tent. A backpack can act as a portable dresser of sorts in these situations, housing much of what you may need, big or small.
- "Go-package" capability. A Go-package, or a single item with everything in it for a specific situation, can be useful in many cases. Whether your particular application will have you rushing out for an emergency, work, or fun, a backpack makes an ideal container for everything you might need at a moment’s notice.
- Easy and practical organization of gear and items. One of the best things about backpacks is that they often have great subdivisions in their interior space for all kinds of items. This allows them to easily organize large numbers of disparate pieces of equipment, from pens to power banks to laptops.
Types of Waterproof Backpacks
All backpacks offer some very basic protection from the elements by default. This protection is mostly just down to the backpack contents being in a closed container built from somewhat sturdy materials, not because of any specific engineering. While it is much better than an open-top container or just leaving things out in the open, basic backpacks will easily get soaked through in anything more than a drizzling rain. While these backpacks are not very protective, they do tend to be cheap.
Water-resistant backpacks are essentially standard backpacks meant to keep your stuff safe even when walking through moderate rain. They are built specifically to handle some amount of water and keep their contents dry even when the weather is dousing the person wearing the backpack and everything around them. The design elements that make these backpacks water-resistant include more sturdy closure mechanisms and coatings applied to the fabric. It should be said that water-resistant is very different from waterproof, and these backpacks cannot handle being immersed in water.
Truly waterproof backpacks are generally called drybags, and they are often used for activities like rafting, kayaking, and camping. While standard backpacks carry many internal and external pocks and harnesses for all kinds of gear and situations, drybags tend to be extremely simple. This simplicity is made up of their extreme durability and completely waterproof nature, with their high-performance seals and multi-layer exteriors making them immune to soaking, tearing, and puncturing.
Shrradoo is a brand that makes high-quality backpacks for impressively low prices. These packs are as stylish as they are utilitarian and feature enormous storage space and a litany of different pockets and straps to hold just about anything securely. One of its most popular backpacks is the Travel Laptop Backpack.
Marchway provides an array of highly regarded and highly durable outdoor equipment, from chairs to cots to pillows. It creates some of the toughest drybags on the market, essentially backpacks that can keep their contents safe and dry even if the bag gets knocked out of a kayak and floats miles downstream. The Marchway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag is an excellent example.
The Ronyes brand specializes in offering exceedingly trendy backpacks that also hold up under intense use. Style is ubiquitous in the Ronyes lineup, exemplified by the Ronyes Waterproof School Backpack, but so is quality. These backpacks are meant to last and will soldier on through everyday life rigors and, in some cases, quite a bit more.
Based in Houston, Texas, Vitchelo is a versatile company dedicated to personal care. It has products to support that care, whether it happens in the bathroom or by getting out into nature. Among its many impressive high-quality products are backpacks that include anti-theft and waterproof features, among them being the Vitchelo 30L Waterproof Dry Bag Backpack.
Waterproof Backpack Pricing
- Under $20: Most backpacks under 20 dollars lack in quality, but a select few are at least as good as any other. Make sure to check the reviews to see if you are actually getting a bargain.
- $20 to $30: Most quality backpacks find themselves in this range. While backpacks that will fall apart are rarely seen at these prices, it should be said that spending any more is seldom useful.
- $30 and up: While there are worthwhile options for backpacks over $30—especially for those that include waterproofing—they are generally for specialized purposes and not just standard travel.
One of the most important aspects of any backpack is how much it can carry. This is measured by the backpack’s internal volume, generally in liters. Large standard backpacks can easily carry upwards of 30 liters internally, and if you need to have even more room, some backpacks offer more than 40 liters of internal space. For most, this much room is significant overkill.
The actual practical usefulness of a backpack depends on what you use it for, but for most, it would include tasks such as transporting a laptop and books. Backpacks with more internal and external pockets, USB hookups, and other features can be much more useful to you, depending on your use case for it.
Waterproof backpacks feature special materials and high-strength seals to keep water out. These components keep the items inside dry and safe, which is more than can be said for what most backpacks do to their contents in heavy rain. Drybags offer extreme levels of protection, and can be counted on to keep what’s placed inside safe in circumstances that might tear a normal backpack apart.
- Laptop Storage. Many backpacks specialize in laptop storage, with a specific compartment tailored to safely housing a precious portable computer. In most cases, particular laptop sizes will be best suited to a specific backpack. While most backpacks can easily accommodate a range of laptops, it is best to find a backpack that perfectly fits your laptop's size.
- Water Resistance. If you want protection from rain for the items inside your backpack, do not expect just any backpack to be able to handle a downpour. Make sure to look up just how water-resistant the backpack you’re looking at is, and reviews of how it has held up in the rain for other people. If you plan on putting valuables in your backpack, like a laptop, you should know in advance how it will handle getting wet.
- External Storage. While the inside of a backpack is the main consideration, the pouches, pockets, and straps on the exterior can prove just as useful. If you plan on moving quickly from one place to another without opening and closing your backpack constantly, a pack with the right mix of external storage will be better for you than a simpler all-internal backpack.
- Aesthetics. A backpack's looks may seem somewhat trivial compared to the actual practicality it can provide, but in a professional setting, having a backpack that is more mature looking might pay dividends. If one is in college and planning on joining the workforce soon, this is something to consider. The color and texture of the exterior matter as much as the backpack's design, in this case.
Best Waterproof Backpack Reviews and Recommendations 2021
- Don’t pick a backpack solely on its volume, as you have to carry all that weight with you. Match your chosen backpack with how much you can comfortably carry.
- When traveling, some locks to keep your backpack secure could be an almost lifesaving purchase.
- The comfort of a backpack is almost as important as how much it can carry. Consider the ventilation of the backpacks you’re evaluating, as a sweaty back when traveling is a good thing to avoid if possible.
Q: What backpacks are waterproof?
Standard backpacks that are water-resistant will say so in their description, but make sure to read the reviews of a backpack to ensure its level of protection is suitable for you.
Q: What is the best waterproof backpack?
Drybags are the most waterproof backpacks there are, but more conventional water-resistant backpacks like the Ronyes Waterproof School Backpack are best suited for most people.
Q: Are all backpacks waterproof?
No, and it should be said that in heavy enough rain, even water-resistant backpacks may allow some water inside. Truly waterproof backpacks do exist but generally come at a premium.
Q: How much is the cheapest waterproof backpack?
The Marchway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag is a good example of a cheap and completely waterproof backpack, at under $20.
Waterproof backpacks are very useful, and while the SHRRADOO Travel Laptop Backpack is great for when water isn’t an immediate concern, the low-cost Marchway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag will be sure to protect everything inside it even under extreme conditions.