Whatever you’re bringing on the water—whether extra clothes for a day trip or camping gear for an overnighter—dry bags are a must. They do exactly what the name implies, sealing your stuff in a waterproof bag that can withstand full submersion. There are several different types on the market, so select one suitable for both your craft and the type of paddling and packing you’ll be doing. Here’s how to get started.
Dry Sacks vs. Dry Bags
A dry sack is an ultralight type of dry bag that’s waterproof, but designed to go inside another pack or bag, with the outer bag providing abrasion resistance. A dry bag is designed to be waterproof on its own, as well as heavy-duty enough to withstand abrasion—like from the floor of a boat—without the need for an additional bag. Choose dry sacks, which are less expensive and lighter, if you have an outer bag they’re going in, such as a backpack or duffel; choose dry bags for stand-alone water protection.
Consider Your Craft
Get a dry bag that’s appropriate for the type of craft you’re in. Sea kayak dry bags are smaller and often tapered to fit inside small storage hatches, while dry bags for rafts and canoes can be larger. For kayak hatches, check fit with a loaded dry bag. Tip: No matter your craft, get bags of several different sizes to fit different items—especially those that need to be kept accessible.
Materials and Construction
Dry bags are almost always made with coated vinyl, nylon, or PVC. Vinyl is often used for smaller dry bags. Nylon is often used for larger dry bags for its durability, and it’s coated for waterproofness and abrasion resistance. PVC is a waterproof, plastic polymer, which also works well but is not as supple. All dry bags have seams. They’re either stitched and taped or seam-sealed, glued, or welded. Welded seams (sealed with pressure and heat) work best as there are no stitch holes and the bond is more durable than glue or tape.