Last Updated on 27/08/2023
What are the Best Dry Bags for Kayaking?
In this guide to the best dry bags for kayaking, we look at 5 of the most waterproof dry bags and compare how they perform out on the water. Whether you are paddling in the ocean or a river, these kayaking dry bags will keep all your gear dry and pack neatly into the bulkhead of your raft.
Kayaking dry bags are basically hiking dry bags made from much tougher and more waterproof material. This is because most dry bags are not designed to be submerged, whereas dry bags for kayaking need to be able 100% waterproof and airtight.
When you are kayaking or canoeing in waves or white water, there is always a chance of you flipping the raft or water getting in. It is fairly common for a small pool of water to build up in the boat from your paddle. This can lead to your gear sitting in a pool of water for hours on end. Even if it is never fully submerged, there is the risk of your gear getting wet without proper dry bags.
If your kayak has a watertight bulkhead or you are using a barrel, then you have an extra level of protection but for most kayakers, you want your dry bags to be totally reliable underwater regardless of this fact.
Unlike hiking dry bags, the weight of kayaking dry sacks is not of as much importance as the durability and waterproofing of the material and closure. You will often see much thicker nylon being used with thick waterproof coatings to provide waterproof HH ratings of 10,000 mm and above. This does add to the weight and pack size, but when you aren’t carrying it on your back, this isn’t such a big deal.
Here are our most highly recommended dry bags for kayaking and canoeing:
5 Best Kayaking Dry Bags
NRS Tuff Sack Dry Bag
- CAPACITY: 5L, 10L, 15L, 25L, 35L, 45L, 55L
- MATERIAL: PVC-Free TobaTex
The NRS Tuff Sack Dry Bag is one of the only PVC-free options on the list, but don’t let that put you off as the TobaTex is 100% totally waterproof and used by kayakers around the world. NRS describes TobaTex as a “new material that gives the same performance as traditional PVC, without the plasticizers that have been said to be harmful if they leach out of the material.” It is very heavy-duty and designed not to damage easily, which makes it ideal for dragging in and out of your kayak. Check out the video below to see what I mean.
It comes in 7 size options. However, I find that two 25L dry bags sit side by side nicely in my kayak and are what I would recommend for most items. You can also get it in 4 colors, including clear, which is especially useful for seeing what is inside your bag and locating items quickly without emptying the whole bag. The exclusive StormStrip rolltop closure is especially reliable, and one of the reasons so many kayakers choose this dry bag.
Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag
- CAPACITY: 10L, 20L, 30L, 40L, 55L
- MATERIAL: 500D PVC
The Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag is one of the best-selling PVC dry bags because it has a solid reputation for being 100% waterproof, is reasonably priced, and includes a waterproof phone case. You can choose between 8 color options; however, if you want the clear version, you only have 10L and 20L options.
It is available in 5 sizes. However, I find that the 20L and 30L dry bags are best for kayaks and canoes as they will stuff into narrow spaces and can be laid side by side. I also think that smaller bags are better for organizing your gear so that you can keep clothes separate from food, for example. The dimensions (L x W x H) of the different dry bags at full capacity are: 10L: 8″ x 8″ x 15″, 20L: 9.5″ x 9.5″ x 17″, 30L: 9.5″ x 9.5″ x 19″, and 40L: 11″ x 11″ x 20″.
The Earth Pak Dry Bag can be used for all outdoor recreation but is used for kayaking because of its reliability when submerged in water. They are designed to last for years and have excellent customer service if you have any issues at all.
KastKing Cyclone Seal Dry Bag
- CAPACITY: 5L, 10L, 20L, 30L
- MATERIAL: 500D PVC
The KastKing Cyclone Seal Dry Bag copies the Earth Pak in that it includes a shoulder strap and waterproof valuables case, but it also features a front pocket. I can’t tell you how useful this little zip front pocket is for keeping things like your keys, wallet, and phone both safe and easy to access when needed. The welded seams ensure that they will always stay waterproof even after years of abuse and won’t peel back as taped seams do.
The KastKing Cyclone Seal Dry Bag is only available in 4 sizes and six color options, but this is fine for kayaking. Using the 20L or 30L dry bags allows you to stuff them into the bulkhead of your kayak or pack them side by side on a canoe without sacrificing balance. The heavy-duty, thick PVC material is rugged and designed for boating use, which means it won’t damage easily and can withstand submersion in saltwater.
Ruluti 60L Large Professional Waterproof Bag
- CAPACITY: 60L
- MATERIAL: 500D PVC netted sandwich cloth
The Ruluti 60L Large Professional Waterproof Bag is designed for kayaking, boating, and swimming as well as any other outdoor use you may need. It is especially useful for open water kayaking as it has the ability to be inflated and used as a float in case of an emergency. The inflation nozzle also allows you to remove any unwanted air as you compress it down for storage. Along with the heavy-duty carry handle and shoulder straps, the Ruluti dry bag has some amazingly user-friendly features for kayaking and canoeing.
It is available in 4 color options and just one size of 60 liters which is very big and may not be suitable for smaller rafts. It works well in a kayak as it can be stored horizontally for balance and simplicity. The 500D PVC is 100% waterproof and holds air like a balloon when needed so that it will float when submerged. This works especially well as a backpack which makes transporting gear to and from your raft so much easier.
SealLine Blocker PurgeAir Dry Sack
- CAPACITY: 5L, 10L, 15L, 20L, 30L
- MATERIAL: 70D polyurethane-coated nylon
The SealLine Blocker PurgeAir Dry Sack is the most lightweight option in this guide and is not quite as waterproof or durable as PVC or TobaTex used by NRS. It is still 100% waterproof, but you may have to treat it with a little more care than a PVC dry bag, and don’t expect it to last as long. That being said, I still love this dry bag for kayaking because it is super flexible and easy to use.
The SealLine Blocker PurgeAir Dry Sack comes in 5 size variations and two color options, orange and black. It has fully welded seams for total water protection and has a wrinkle-free folding strip to ensure a tight seal every time. The dry bag is incredibly lightweight, and the largest size (30L) bag only weighs 3.4 oz for more weight adverse kayaks.
My favorite feature about this best dry bag for kayaking is the AirPurge valve which will allow air inside to be compressed out without letting any air back in. This makes it incredibly compact and packing-friendly.
What to Look for In a Kayaking Dry Bag
To get the best dry bag for kayaking, there are some key things you should look out for to ensure you keep your gear dry.
This is really what sets boating and kayak dry bags apart from lightweight backpacking dry sacks, and the thicker, the better most of the time. This is why PVC is such a reliable material to choose for your waterproof kayak bags. PU-coated nylon is also incredibly waterproof when kept in good condition; however, if the PU coating starts to delaminate after years of use, it will lose much of its waterproofing.
There are also PVC-free options that are just as strong but safer for storing food.
I generally advise my kayak students that multiple dry sacks between 20-30 liters will make life much easier than one large 60-liter sack. For starters, they are easier to pack into the nooks and crannies of a kayak, and secondly, they make organizing your gear much easier. It is good to have a variety of sizes for different things, and I even use a 1-liter dry sack to keep a roll of toilet tissue in.
Along with the capacity of your dry bag, you need to consider its size of it, especially if you plan to keep it in the hatch of your kayak. With many sports kayak hatches being only 5 – 6 inches in diameter, a smaller dry bag will make packing it so much easier. You may want to measure the width of your kayak before buying any dry bags to try and calculate what size will work best.
Some dry bags for kayaking are tapered in shape so that you can stuff the right into the end of the bow or stern. They seem to have all been out of stock this year, so we didn’t include them in this guide, but they are great for boating. Other dry bags for kayaking and paddleboarding have a flat bottom so that they can sit on top of your raft and be strapped down. For no-fuss packing and the most options available, the standard rectangular bag is your best bet.
This is especially important for dry bags that are likely to be fully submerged in water, and you should always look for welded seams and not taped seams. Welded seams are bonded using heat to join two pieces of material without using any extra tape or pieces. This creates a 100% water-tight seal that won’t leak or come loose under pressure.
The closures on dry bags are generally very similar. However, some brands do pay special attention to this area. A rigid strap is used along the top to create a wrinkle-free fold in the fabric that can then be rolled up multiple times to increase waterproofing. Anything more than 3-4 folds will be sufficient to keep the seal tight even when submerged in water. This roll-top closure also creates a natural handle to carry and secure it with.
Are Kayaking Dry Bags Waterproof?
If you want to know if a drybag is fully waterproof or just water-resistant, there are two things you should check for as a basic rule for beginners. Is it made of PVC, and are the seams welded? If the answer to both those questions is yes, then you can trust that your dry bag will be waterproof. There are drybags made of other materials that are also 100% waterproof, but PVC is a tried and tested industry standard that works well for all kinds of boating, kayaking, and canoeing.
Is PVC 100% Waterproof?
500D PVC is 100% waterproof and durable against abrasions and full submersion in water. There are thinner drybags available that weigh less and are more flexible than PVC, but none are as reliable as PVC.
How to Store Bags on An Inflatable Kayak?
When trying to store dry bags on an inflatable kayak, the key thing to adjust is where that sits and how it affects your balance or center of gravity. Usually, I like to use equal numbers of smaller dry bags at both the bow and stern of my kayak to create a more stable ride.
How to Seal a Dry Bag?
Getting a good seal on your dry bag is important to ensure its waterproofness, and while it isn’t hard to do, there is a simple technique to follow. Here is a video to show you the proper practice.
I hope you found this guide to the Best Dry Bags for Kayaking useful and you have found the bag you need to keep your gear dry while kayaking.