Why You Should Get A Waterproof Backpack For Your Travel Adventures
Let's face it. Unless you're headed out for a jaunt in your favorite desert, one of the biggest challenges you're going to deal with in the outdoors is water. Whether it's the river, the lake, the rain, the hail, the snow, or the ocean, you'll inevitably find yourself in a situation in which the stuff you want to stay dry is getting wet.
If you're just out for a day at the beach, this isn't such a big deal. If it's been 45 and raining for days on end and you're passing the time by inventing some creative new ways to curse your creator, it's a big deal.
The good news is that, with a waterproof backpack, you don't have to worry about your gear getting wet. We're here to tell you about some key aspects of waterproof backpacks, how to choose the best one, and what to look for. Later on, we'll review eight of the top waterproof backpacks available.
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Why should I get a waterproof backpack in the first place?
Backpacks are great for carrying whatever you need with you, like a camera or a laptop. Either in the city or on the ocean, water happens, and it only takes one storm or splash to ruin your electronic devices forever.
Waterproof backpacks will give you piece of mind. Especially out on scuba or snorkeling trips, you never know what the ocean and weather are going to be like. The ride out might not have been super wavy, but that can change on the return journey.
How exactly does a backpack keep the water out?
Most (if not all) fabric waterproof packs and bags work the same way. Some kind of plastic will run along the circumference of the pack's main opening. Buckles attach on the left and right side. When you want to close it, simply stick the opening closed and roll down the fabric at least three times.
When you have rolled it all the way down, the buckles on either side are clipped either to each other or to other buckles along the side of the pack.
As you might guess, this is not a perfect method, and if you do not secure the pack properly, water will still be able to get in. Make sure you read the pack's instructions carefully before closing. These steps will often be included along the top plastic rim of the pack.
What material should I look for?
When it comes to waterproof material, there is a big distinction to draw. Some materials have such a dense weave that they are naturally waterproof on their own. Others have been coated with a material that makes them waterproof.
There are three kinds of fabric used in the waterproof packs reviewed in this article: 500D PVC, 420D ripstop nylon, or unrated ripstop fabric. Bear with us here. Some waterproof things are made of PVC 500 gsm, or 500 grams per square meter. According to DIY Marquees, this is not PVC 500D, but some manufacturers would have you believe so.
D stands for Denier. It measures the linear density of a fabric as the mass in grams over 9000 meters. Silk has a rating of roughly 1 Denier. 500D means five-hundred times the density of silk.
To rank the three fabrics mentioned above in terms of waterproof-ness from most to least, they go 500D PVC, 420D ripstop nylon, then unrated ripstop nylon. If the fabric is unrated ripstop nylon, you should not submerge it fully, your belongings inside will get wet. These packs are more water-resistant than waterproof.
On a final note, all of these backpacks are coated in something that helps them keep their waterproof-ness. Eventually, this coating will deteriorate, especially if lots of abrasion occurs or if you leave it out in the sun all day for long periods of time.
What's the difference between waterproof and water-resistant?
Waterproof, according to Taylor Welden at Carryology means "the bag can be submerged completely underwater for long periods of time, and there won't be one single drop of water that enters the interior."
No roll-top waterproof bag is 100% waterproof. If it goes through a rapid or is submerged in deep water for long periods of time, the water is going to get in. Because they are "waterproof," however, they also hold air inside, meaning they'll float. Under normal circumstances, you should be able to snag your bag before it goes under.
Water resistant is much more ambiguous. If you're thinking literally, even the thinnest fabric has some degree of water resistance. When it comes to backpacks, however, it usually means something from 'will keep things dry in a drizzle' to 'can be dunked in water and quickly removed.'
Always try to find the denier rating. If that is not available, you might want to test out the water resistance before use.
What size should I go for?
It can be difficult to figure out exactly how big a 30 liter pack is. The packs reviewed in this article range between 25 and 40 liters. In basic terms, that's the average range of a backpack you would bring to school.
Each of these packs are intended for either short trips or day use. If you're looking for something to take on an extended trip, you should check out some packs more in the 50 to 90 liter range.
What does 'Welded Seams' mean?
When you're waterproofing fabric, the greatest weakness is the seams. They cannot be merely sewn together; they need some extra protection.
If the bag in question is made of PVC, a thermoplastic, the seams can be heated and they will melt into each other.
Regarding nylon or other fabrics, however, this option is not possible. They must instead be taped or covered with some waterproof material.
Are the zippered pockets waterproof too?
The short answer is no. Not all zippers are created equally, but if they are totally submerged in water, they will still let some water in.
As a result, the external pockets of a waterproof backpack are merely water resistant.
Don't keep your electronic devices inside them unless you're only expecting some splashing or rain.
These waterproof backpacks should suit your needs.
Now that you know what's up with waterproof backpacks, check out the following reviews to figure out which one is right for you.
This pack is simple in design, with a 35 liter capacity. There's a sleeve that runs along the back for your laptop and an outside water resistant pocket. Padded back support, shoulder straps, and a sternum strap make this pack relatively comfortable.
With 500D PVC and welded seams, the manufacturer claims this pack is 100% waterproof. They do not, however, ensure protection if it is submerged completely for long durations.
A great feature of this pack is that you can close it one of two ways. Either roll the top down all the way and clip the buckles against the side. Or, if you're carrying a load that exceeds the basic frame, you can clip the two top clips together in a loop.
Reflective strips along the pack's exterior help you find the pack at night either at your site or in the water. If you're biking with it, motorists will be able to catch your reflection in their headlights.
- It's fairly waterproof
- Reflective strips
- Two methods for closing the top
- We've seen more comfortable packs before
The COR backpack is a lot like the BackSak model. It has a laptop sleeve, a splash-protected exterior pocket closed by a zipper, some reflective strips, and it's made out of 500D PVC.
You can also either clip the rolled top to itself or to the sides. In shape, it is a little shorter and stouter, which may be good or bad depending on your body type.
While the BackSak was 35 liters, the COR comes in 25 and 40 liter sizes. Another plus is that this pack is fairly comfortable.
The back padding has space for ventilation, padded shoulder straps, a sternum strap, and a waistband.
- Good waterproofing
- Fairly comfortable
- two ways of clipping the rolled top
- comes in two sizes
- Not the greatest shape for some bodies.
This pack has great padding along the shoulder straps, upper back, and lumbar region.
Along with a waist band and sternum strap, the shoulder straps have an upper and lower adjustment, giving this pack just about everything you would want in terms of comfort and adjustability.
At 25 liters, this pack is on the small side. Its seams have a "unique 'High Frequency' welded construction two way sealing system.
We think this just means they apply heat on the inside and outside. The company does not provide the type of fabric they use, which may be suspicious.
It does, however, look like PVC. There's also a stretchy weave on the outside for attaching extra stuff.
- very comfortable
- reflective strips
- comes in lots of colors
- small size
However, the smaller size makes it the perfect day pack for any scuba diving boat trip.
The Aqua Quest has a taller, pleasing design somewhat like the BackSak. At 1.4 lbs, it's also very light. Like all other products so far, it is rated 100% waterproof and will hold up to a quick dunking. This pack has no side clips for the roll-top clips, you have to clip either end to each other.
The fabric used, however is 420D ripstop with a waterproof coating and TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) lamination, and heated taping along the seams. This backpack may call itself 100% waterproof, but it's not as waterproof as the others.
On one side you'll find a water bottle holder, on the other you'll see a splashguard pocket. Back support and shoulder straps are padded, as is the hip belt—a feature we have not yet seen in this review. At 30 liters, Aqua Quest's waterproof backpack is not bad at all.
- padded hip belt
- water bottle holder
- not as waterproof but still a great protection for your adventures.
This Aqua Quest pack is the same size as the Sport and about a half pound heavier. It has similar padding and the same 420D ripstop fabric coated in DWR and laminated with TPU. You know the deal there. Also like the Sport, you can't clip the rolled top to the sides.
It doesn't have the side pockets of the Sport, and yet it costs more. We are not sure why. Some may find it looks cooler, but it's generally the same backpack without the side pockets.
On the plus side, it does have side compression straps. Compression straps are great for getting your pack right and tight on your back, especially if it's not completely full or has contents that tend to slide around. The straps will help keep you balanced.
- compression straps
- padded hip belt, pretty comfy
- looks really cool
- no side pockets
- seems identical to the Sport
With the Outdoor Foundry model, we're back to that 500D PVC and welded seams. You'll be able to dunk this pack with no stress involved, or you can empty it out, do up the top, and use it as a floaty.
The pack has top and bottom shoulder strap adjustments and a decently padded back support system. In terms of pockets, this pack totally wins.
It has two side water bottle holders, an exterior zippered pocket, tons of interior pockets, a laptop sleeve, and a bungie weave on the outside for showing off your carabiners.
At 35 liters, this pack is a pretty good choice. It is a little on the heavy side—3.3 lbs.
- lots of pockets
- solid waterproof fabric
- good adjustability
- slightly heavy but solid waterpoof
- only comes in sky blue
The Chaos model is much closer to an urban style book bag compared to the other backpacks mentioned.
Don't let the appearance fool you, its 500D PVC fabric and welded seams will keep things as high and dry as the best of the packs in this article.
It has two mesh side pockets and a zippered pocket on the front. At 22 liters, this is the smallest pack so far. Its shoulder straps are also pretty inferior compared to most others.
At less than one pound, it's the most lightweight so far.
- solid, waterproof fabric
- easy access pockets
- heavy duty material
- not the right choice when you need a lot of space
For our final backpack weh have Rockagator RG-25. The latest generation has a removable laptop sleeve, an internal zip pouch, and two full length carabiner straps.
This pack has some beefy back support with top and bottom adjustments for the shoulder straps and a hip belt.
It also comes with two mesh water bottle holders and a bungie weave. Like the Phantom Aquatics backpack, Rockagator does not provide the material they used, though it is rated at 100% waterproof and can be submerged for a time.
With 40 liters of capacity, this pack should get you where you need to go.
- it's big
- lots of stuff on the outside to strap other stuff to
- comfy and adjustable
- we couldn´t find any