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Best Waterproof Backpacks And Hip Packs in 2023

Woman carrying one of the best waterproof backpacks in the rain

Water. It comprises 90% of our body weight, is the giver of life, washes our bodies, baptises our babies and nourishes the very plant life we put on our plates. In certain circumstances, however, it’s also a mighty pain in the posterior. Ever spent a long trek eagerly awaiting that moment when you could whip out your fresh socks only to find them sodden by intrusive rainstuff? We feel your pain, dear CooloftheWilder! That pain, however, is largely avoidable. H20 is remarkable stuff. It has ways of evading the protection of even the best rain jackets and backpack rain covers and sometimes even manages to permeate the ‘impermeable’ waterproof materials so boastfully highlighted by our backpacks’ producers.

We at Cool of the Wild, however, got a bit tired of soaked socks, soggy sandwiches and nights spent in involuntarily waterbed-like sleeping bags. We said ‘no’ to H20 and a big almighty ‘yes’ to finding the best waterproof backpack for all your outdoor adventures. Here’s a sneaky peek at our top 10 waterproof backpack choices and a couple of waterproof hip packs too. But for more information on you can skip down to a review of each backpack.

Summary of the best waterproof backpacks in 2023

Disclaimer: We use affiliate links and may receive a small commission on purchases.

ProductBest useCapacityWaterpoofnessCost
Stubble & Co Roll TopCommuting and wet weather adventures20lStormproof$$$
GOT BAG 4 Ocean RucksackCommuting and wet weather adventures23lStormproof$$
Matador Freerain 22 Waterproof Backpack
Water or land-based day adventures22lShort submersions$$$
Earth Pak Summit Dry Pack Backpack
Hauling and storing gear on water based journeys55lFull submersion
Sea To Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack
Hauling and storing gear on water based journeys35,65, 90 and 120 litresFull submersion$$$$
SealLine Black Canyon Boundary PackHauling and storing gear on water based journeys35,70 and 115 litresFull submersion$$$
Aquapa Toccoa Wet & DrybagWater or land-based day adventures28lShort submersions$$
Ortlieb Velocity BackpackWater or land-based day adventures20lStormproof$$
Sea To Summit Flow DrypackHiking in wet conditions35lStormproof$$$$
OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Vis BackpackWater or land-based day adventures30LShort submersions$$
Overboard Pro-Light Waist PackCycling, hiking, watersports2LStormproof$
SealLine Seal Pak Hip PackCycling, hiking, watersports4LFull submersion$$

The 10 best waterproof backpacks for all your outdoor adventures

Stubble Roll Top

Stubble & Co Roll Top

Eco-conscious: Made from recycled materials in a carbon zero warehouse

In 2020, eco-friendly waterproof backpacks were few and far between; we only managed to find the below GOT BAG. However, new to the Stubble & Co line in 2021 is The Roll Top – a stylish and robust backpack that is also waterproof. Though it’s not designed for full submersion during extreme water-based adventures, the waterproof materials, sealed seams and roll top access make it very well suited to land-based missions through sideways rain in all seasons. In fact, it’s the perfect waterproof backpack for cycle commuting, whatever the weather.

The features include side bottle pockets, a laptop sleeve, a small zippered front pocket, internal mesh pocket, adjustable shoulder and chest straps, and a 20 litre capacity in the main compartment. It’s also finished with a very hand G clip to fasten the roll top, and reflective strips on the base.

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Easy to use G clip
  • Made from eco-conscious fabrics

Cons

  • No waist strap

Find the latest price at:
Stubble & Co


Got Bag 4 Ocean Rucksack
Close ups of Got bag

GOT BAG 4 Ocean Rucksack

Eco-conscious: Made from recycled ocean plastics and coated with bio PU

Another rare find on the more eco-friendly waterproof backpacks front is the GOT BAG 4 Ocean Rucksack. Each 23 litre bag is made from 3.5kg of plastic that is recovered from our oceans. Plus, to ensure maximum waterproofness, the fabric has a Bio-PU coating that is kinder to the environment than PFC-based treatments. It’s not the kind of waterproof backpack that you’d go swimming with, but it is 100% waterproof keeping your stuff dry in stormy and wet conditions. Its simple design features a flexible roll top, an external zippered pocket and side compression straps. Additionally, it houses a removable 15” laptop case making it an ideal commuter backpack and bridging the gap between wet weather adventures and everyday life superbly.

Pros

  • Comes with a 2 year warranty
  • Made from sustainable fabrics
  • Can house a removable laptop case

Cons

  • Not as robust as other options for water-based adventures
  • Pricey for its size

Find the latest price at:
GOT BAG


Matador waterproof backpack

Matador Freerain 22 Waterproof Backpack

With the ability to pack down into a miniscule hand-sized package of only 3.75 x 3.75 x 5.75in / 9.5 x 9.5 x 14.6cm, this ultra lightweight and waterproof backpack is a superbly versatile addition to your outdoor gear stash. It has plenty of features that put it right up there with some of the best daypacks for hiking (minus some padding and support). These include a zippered front pocket, stretchy mesh side pockets, side compression straps and gear loops. It even has a removable waist belt, adjustable sternum strap and load lifters to improve comfort and fit.

But crucially, and despite the lightweight nature of this daypack, the Matador Freerain also steps up to outdoor life when it comes to waterproofness. The sealed seams, robic nylon fabric and roll top closure make the main compartment fully waterproof even when dunked in water for a short time. It strolls through rainy days on the trail and makes for a highly convenient companion on SUP and canoe trips. I enjoy using it the most as a packable backpack on cycle touring trips.

Pros

  • Packs down super small
  • Incredibly lightweight (10.6oz / 300g)
  • Highly waterproof
  • Lots of features as a daypack

Cons

  • Not as bombproof as other options
  • Pricey

Find the latest price at:
Matador


Earthpak Summit Dry Pack
Earthpack details

Earth Pak Summit Dry Pack Backpack

The 55 litre Earth Pak Summit Dry Pack Backpack is a slightly smaller, less gnarly version of the SealLine Boundary. Made from 500D PVC, it lacks the burly, robustness of the Boundary and as such, isn’t ideal for more extreme uses such as multi-day rafting. That said, the inside of the pack was completely dry after a dunk test. It has a much more basic shoulder strap system than the Boundary, which provides good levels of comfort for lighter loads (including a sternum strap and waist belt) but lacks the adjustability to deal with heavy weights.

Where the Earth Pak falls short in terms of durability and comfort, it comes out with flying colours when it comes to storage options. Firstly, the Earth Pak features two super useful internal pockets. One is zippered and the other is a mesh pouch. Both are designed to hold small items. There’s also a key clip next to the internal pockets. A really nice feature that none of the other dry bags I’ve used has.

Additionally, there’s an external zippered pocket that is splash-proof and ideal for storing things you need to access easily like suncream, sunglasses and a waterproof camera. There are also a couple of gear loops on the back of the pack, as well as a reflective strip for nighttime cycling missions.

Finally, the roll top closure can be secured either at the top or at the sides to compress the backpack. And, like the Boundary, there is a top compression strap to further cinch everything in.

Pros

  • Really useful storage options
  • Good value
  • Versatile
  • Bigger than it looks or feels

Cons

  • Shoulder straps and back panel lack comfort

Find the latest price at:
Amazon | Earth Pak


Sea To Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack

Sea To Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack

Eco-conscious: PVC-free

On our hunt for the supremely waterproof pack we came across something which is not only that but just might be bombproof too! The awesome S2S Hydraulic Dry Pack is a highly versatile, tough, durable, comfortable and superbly functional beast of a pack that will keep your gear and goodies dry even in the event of a biblical flood. At 35l, you might not be able to squeeze in as many animals as old Noah did his ark, but the hydro comes in 65, 90 and 120l sizes too, so you can at least take a few of your furry friends along with you. And they’ll be dry. Very dry.

The S2S Hydraulic Dry Pack is made of tough 600D laminated fabric and features a welded construction to avoid water sneaking in through any seams. The padding on the shoulders and back is ample and the waist belt removable, meaning wherever you go, you’ll go in comfort (even with two penguins in there).

Pros

  • Heavy duty 600d laminated fabric
  • Comfy waist strap
  • User-friendly harness and strap system
  • Weighs just over a kilo
  • Best for canyoning, kayaking and canoeing; comfortable enough for dayhikes

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Penguins not included

Find the latest price on:
Sea to Summit | REI | Backcountry


SealLine Black Canyon Boundary Pack
Boundary waterproof backpack

SealLine Black Canyon Boundary Pack

Eco-conscious: PVC-free

Reasonably lightweight, durable and not quite as pricey as the S2S Hydraulic Dry bag, the Black Canyon offers stiff competition to its rivals in the fully dunkable dry bag category. It also comes with one winningly standout feature in particular – it’s bloody huge! At 115 litres, the capacity of the SL Black Canyon is the largest in our review and enough to throw in a few water-fearing family members should you wish. What’s more, this frankly enormous sack is entirely PVC-free, so it provides an environmentally-friendlier option for the eco conscious adventurer. While comparable to the Acquapac, S2S Hydraulic and Umpqua Tongass (below) in terms of comfort and waterproofing, if space is what you’re looking for, this is your guy/gal!

Pros

  • Huge! 115l capacity
  • Very light given its capacity
  • Cheaper than the S2S Hydraulic
  • Can deal with a dunking
  • Best for kayaking and canoeing but maybe a bit large for canyoning

Cons

  • Not quite as hard-wearing or durable as the S2S Hydraulic or Umpqua Tongass
  • Pricey

Find the latest price on:
REI | Backcountry


Aquapac 28L Toccoa Wet & Drybag
Aquapac backpack details

Aquapac 28L Toccoa Wet and Drybag

The Aquapac Toccoa is an all round excellent and versatile waterproof backpack that is as at home on the river or under a waterfall as it is trekking through heavy rainfall. It has more padding and greater capacity than the Ortlieb Velocity, and more waterproofness that the S2S Flow. It also competes fiercely with the Overboard ProVis in almost all areas other than the lack of internal pockets where the ProVis has the upper hand. The Toccoa makes up for this with two highly useful side mesh pockets and daisy chain loops to clip gear onto the outside of the pack. Additionally, the roll top seals either at the top or the sides of the bag which further adds to its versatility. This is a super comfortable, durable and fully submersible day pack that is highly stable when carried in higher energy situations.

For more detailed information on the Aqaupac Toccoa, read our full review.

Pros

  • Super comfortable
  • Bombproof
  • Versatile for land and water-based adventures
  • Can deal with short dunks
  • Good value

Cons

  • No internal pocket
  • Only available in 28 litre capacity

Find the latest price on:
Amazon


Ortlieb Velocity Backpack

Ortlieb Velocity 20L Backpack

For a versatile, light-load day-pack with excellent waterproofing capabilities, the Ortlieb Velocity offers a tidy, well-made alternative to its bigger brethren. At 20l, this little pack is lacking in the capacity stakes and the multiple rolls required to fasten the velcro top closure can shave off a further few inches of storage. That said, the Velocity makes up for its diminutive proportions and relatively large price tag with very durable materials, a detachable waist belt and a useful inner pocket for keeping smaller bits and bobs separate. A decent option for the minimalist-minded, but all-in-all comes up just short of small pack competitor the Aquapac Toccoa in almost all specs and features (including size!).

Pros

  • Well made
  • Rear foam padding helps ventilation
  • Handy removable inner pocket
  • Detachable waist belt
  • Best for day-hikes, cycling trips and short sea, river or lake outings

Cons

  • Not a great deal of padding – can be uncomfortable with heavy loads
  • Only 20l and, hence, fairly pricey for its size
  • Quite heavy for its size (1kg/2.2lbs)
  • Not ‘waterproof’ enough to withstand submersion (but good enough in heavy rainshowers)

Find the latest price on:
REI | Alpine Trek


Sea To Summit Flow 35L Drypack

Sea To Summit Flow 35L Drypack

Eco-conscious: PVC-free

For hikers or multi-sport adventurers seeking something that is hugely versatile, the S2S Flow just might be the pack you’re looking for. Boasting the comfort, compartmentalised storage and overall functionality of a standard hiking pack and the waterproofing capacity of a canoeing pack, this is a true all-rounder that is at home in any environment. While not as sea or lake-worthy as its S2S cousin the Hydraulic Dry Bag, the S2S Flow has you covered for just about everything else you could get up to, barring a complete dunking. Far superior in terms of versatility and comfort to all other items in our review and offers a bit more storage space than the similarly versatile Aquapac Toccoa. Pity about the price tag…

Pros

  • Possibly the most waterproof hiking pack you’ll find
  • Very well made
  • White interior for increased visibility
  • Hydration sleeve
  • More compartments than other items in our review
  • Very comfortable
  • Lighter than competitor the Umpqua Tongass
  • Best for…a bit of everything!

Cons

  • Verrrrrry pricey
  • Just a touch heavy (1.2kg)
  • Better options available for ‘full-submersion’ activities

Find the latest price on:
Sea to Summit | Alpine Trek | Amazon


overboard-pro-vis-waterproof-backpack-20-litres-side-ob1157hvo
Overboard-Classic waterproof backpackDetails

OverBoard Waterproof Pro-Vis Backpack(20l)

While the OverBoard Pro-Vis is a touch on the skimpy side capacity-wise, it does a lot of things rather well. It’s very well-made, featuring a welded construction, high-vis and durable PVC, compression straps, reinforced side and bottom panels, good padding and a few handy pockets inside and out for organizing your gear. It offers less storage than the other budget options in our list and is similar in terms of waterproofing, but has the advantage of ergonomic, padded straps. These offer plenty of cushioning and a ventilated back panel as good as any you’ll find on a mid-range, out-and-out hiking pack. Compared to other low-capacity packs such as the Ortlieb velocity, the Overboard offers a more comfortable carry. For a bit more space and superior waterproofing, the Aquapac Toccoa is a better bet.

Pros

  • Reasonably light (0.95kg)
  • High vis
  • Ventilated back panel
  • Reinforced sides and base
  • D-rings and bungee webbing for external attachments
  • Comfortable: good padding on back and shoulder straps
  • All-rounder

Cons

  • Low capacity – 20l (30l available)
  • Suitable only for short submersions

Find the latest price on:
Drybags | Amazon


Hip pack alternatives to waterproof backpacks

https://coolofthewild.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/SealLine-Seal-Pak-Hip-Pack.jpgOverboard hip pack details

Overboard Pro-Light Waist Pack

Waterproof rating: IP66

Though the Overboard Pro-Light Waist Pack only has a 2 litre capacity, it is actually a highly useful and versatile little dry pack in a variety of different scenarios. A few things I’ve used it for so far include: carrying my camera and a snack on rainy walks, storing essentials (sunglasses, suncream, camera) when paddle boarding, and carrying a repair kit, phone and snacks on bike rides. I’ve also tried it out with a phone and some gloves in on a short run, however it bounced around too much to be suitable for anything long distanced.

To further add to its usefulness, it features a zippered pocket to help organise your stuff, a foldaway water bottle holder (that’s great for walking if you don’t want to carry a daypack), and a fairly comfortable padded waist belt that is also adjustable to fit. Additionally, the roll top can be buckled either at the top or down at the sides to compress the pack down.

Its waterproofness doesn’t quite match that of the larger SealLine Hip Pack; it took on quite a bit of water in the dunk test so I always put my phone inside an additional waterproof case when paddle boarding. It also came out a little below par when left outside for a couple of days in intermittent rain and dew. Its contents came out slightly on the damp side, but not wet. That said, it is only designed to withstand a quick submersion (IP66). The tough TPU fabric with welded seams make this a highly durable pack and makes up for its shortcomings in the waterproof department. Overall, it’s one of the more versatile dry bags I’ve used, which I’ve been pleasantly surprised about.

Pros

  • Highly versatile
  • Welded seams
  • PVC-free
  • Comfortable
  • Has fold out water bottle holder

Cons

  • Not fully submersible
  • Padded waist doesn’t dry super quickly

Find the latest price at:
Drybags.co.uk


SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack
SealLine Hip Pak details

SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack

Waterproof rating: Not rated, but equivalent of IP66

Like the Overboard Waist Pack, the SealLine Seal Pak Hip Pack is a highly versatile dry bag that’s ideal for short adventures in bad weather or on the water. Its larger capacity of 4 litres makes it more useful than the Overboard in certain scenarios when you need to carry a little extra gear (hiking and biking in changeable conditions or over longer distances etc).

This lightweight pack (179g / 6.3oz) is designed to withstands quick submersions and will float if dropped in the water. However, its contents, impressively, came out dry in the dunk test. It should be noted that the zippered pocket on the front is only splash proof and lets water in when submerged.

This is one of the more stylish dry bags I’ve tested making it a great option for traveling and everyday use in inclement conditions. Plus, it scores yet more brownie points on the tough cookie front, boasting welded seams and constructed from 250D polyurethane-coated polyester/nylon blend. It also adopts the same closing roll top as the Overboard Waist Pack, securing at top as well as the sides for extra compression.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Lightweight
  • Welded seams
  • Stylish
  • Adjustable and removable waist belt
  • Side compression buckles
  • PVC-free
  • Water resistant zippered pocket

Cons

  • No padding on the waist belt

Find the latest price at:
REI | SealLine Gear


What makes a great waterproof backpack?

Waterproofness

This no-brainer merits inclusion merely because there are, it seems, varying levels of how waterproof a pack can be. While some packs are able to withstand complete submersion on a kayaking, canyoning or canoeing trip, others are only waterproof as regards the stuff that falls from the sky – and in varying quantities at that. Knowing what level of waterproofing you need will simplify the selection process and help make sure you aren’t spending too much or otherwise getting something unsuitable for your outdoor adventures’ wetness levels. For canyoning, for example, you’ll probably need something 100% waterproof. For canoeing or kayaking, the same is true only if you happen to do a lot of rolls or are prone to involuntary capsizing. For hiking, cycling and other sports on dryish land, on the other hand, you can probably get away with something not fully submersion-proof.*

*Unless you live in the Pacific Northwest. Or Scotland.

Comfort

As with any backpack, waterproof or not, you want yours to be comfortable on your back. Essential to comfort are the padding on the pack’s strap and back, the load distribution (how evenly the weight is shared across your shoulders, back and waist), and other features such as ventilation panels and a chest strap.

Weight and size

The less your bag weighs, the more gear you can potentially carry or the lighter the load on your back…always a bonus! Be sure to check your pack doesn’t lose too much in the way of capacity if it features a roll-top closure system. Some packs offer both this and an alternative closing option such as side clips, meaning you can vary the capacity to suit your load.

Best use/versatility and functionality

Certain packs excel in or are custom made for certain activities. While a kayaking pack might serve you relatively well on a wet hiking trip, it will likely lack many of the features you’d look for in an out-and-out trail pack such as multiple compartments, added comfort from padding, better load distribution, hydration bladder compatibility and lightweight materials.
Conversely, a decent waterproof hiking or cycling pack might just not be waterproof enough for seaborne adventures, m’hearties, so going for something of the PVC, moulded material, seamless, submersion-proof variety will serve you better!


Features of the best waterproof backpacks

  • Dry bag mesh pocket

    Mesh pockets

    For storing wet gear, water bottles, and flip flops, mesh pockets are a common feature on waterproof backpacks.

  • Dry bag zip pocket

    Zippered pockets

    These are handy for accessing small gear without opening the main compartment. Internal zippered pockets are also useful for organising your gear.

  • Dry bag roll top

    Roll-tops

    Roll-top backpacks offer greater water protection for your kit as well as versatility. Most roll-top backpacks are secured with buckles on either the side of the pack or together at the top which creates a large carry handle or extra attachment point.

  • Dry bag gear loops

    Gear loops

    Access bits and pieces, such as a waterproof first aid kit or a waterproof camera, without getting the rest of your kit wet. The best waterproof backpacks are made with gear loops. These can also double as attachment points for securing the backpack.

  • Dry bag D ring

    D-rings

    Sturdy D-rings let you attach a carabiner clip and secure the backpack to a paddleboard, kayak, or canoe.

  • Dry bag backpack straps

    Shoulder Straps

    Straps on waterproof backpacks should be made from quick-drying fabrics. Some have a webbed design which allows them to shed water and dry even faster. The straps on waterproof backpacks are typically less padded than the straps on regular backpacks.

  • Backpack sternum strap

    Waist and chest straps

    Most dry bags are fitted with a simple waist strap that keeps the bag from bouncing. Larger packs should have a more comfortable waist strap as well as a chest strap.

  • Dry bag compression straps

    Compression straps

    These are usually found on the sides of the pack. They clinch down the roll-top but, to minimise gear movement, some have additional horizontal compression straps.

  • Dry bag reflective strip

    High-visibility strips

    Another useful feature if you like to get out before sunrise or after sunset. The more are high-visibility strips the backpack has, the more visible you’ll be to passing cars or other adventurers.

  • Dry bag carry handle

    Haul handle

    A really useful feature for moving your bags from place to place. They’re also handy for pulling bags out of storage holes or out of other bags.

  • Bungee cords on dry bag

    Bungee attachments

    Bungee cords on the back of the backpack give you quick access to larger items, like your helmet or wet suit shoes.


Different uses of waterproof backpacks

Although waterproof backpacks are suitable for any outdoor activity where you’re likely to get wet, some have specific features that make them better for certain activities.

Below we’ve listed the most important features to look for in a waterproof backpack according to its use:

Kayaking and canoeing

  • Roll top
  • D-ring
  • Compression straps (if you have a kayak with small storage hatches)
  • Mesh pockets – for water bottles and storing wet gear
  • Shoulder, waist, and chest straps are less important as you probably won’t need to carry the
    backpack very far.

Paddle boarding

  • Waterproof rating – should keep your kit dry if submerged
  • D-rings – for attaching the backpack to your paddleboard
  • Gear loops – for securing a mask and snorkel or waterproof camera
  • Mesh pockets – for water bottles, reef-safe sunscreen, or wet gear

Hiking

  • Larger storage capacity – 25 litres or above
  • Comfortable shoulder strap – should be more padded than other types of waterproof backpacks
  • Waist and chest straps – for spreading the weight of the pack
  • Zippered pocket on the waist strap (useful but not essential)
  • Mesh side pockets for water bottles
  • Bungee cords – for a top layer or rain poncho
  • Gear loops

Cycling

  • Light loop attachment
  • High-visibility strips – especially if you will use the backpack for road cycling or commuting
  • Bungee cords or a big mesh pocket – for storing your helmet

Canyoning

  • Waterproof rating – should be able to manage short submerges
  • Extra durable fabric – whilst canyoning it’s very likely to get scratched and scraped on rocks
  • Roll top
  • Compression straps – to keep your gear from moving inside the pack and making it more compact, this is useful in canyons with very narrow sections
  • Zippered pockets
  • A large mesh pocket of bungee cords – for taking your wet clothes home

Skiing and snowboarding

  • Comfortable shoulder straps
  • Waist strap
  • Bungee cords – for your helmet and ski goggles
  • High-visibility strips

Keeping your gear (or penguins and family members) dry while out in the elements is a big deal and a tricky business. Whatever you plan on getting up to and whatever your budget, however, we’re sure in the above list of waterproof wonders you’ll find something suitable for your upcoming adventures!

Happy (and dry) adventuring!

About the author

Joey is based in Cornwall, UK, and runs Cool of the Wild. She can’t get enough of being outdoors – whether that’s lounging around the campfire cooking up a feast, hitting the trail in her running shoes, or attempting to conquer the waves on her surfboard – she lives for it. Camping is what she loves to do the most, but has also spent many hours clinging to the side of a rock face, cycling about the place, cruising the ski-slopes on her snowboard, and hiking small mountains and big hills.

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