Last Updated on 27/08/2023
How to Find the Best Dry Bags for Hiking
You may or may not have already seen our mega-list of over 48 different dry bags, but in this article, we will be specifically focussing on what makes the best dry bags for hiking. In addition, you will learn about the most lightweight hiking dry sacks and waterproof pack liners that will make any backpack waterproof.
Why do you need a waterproof sack when hiking? Hiking dry bags are basically waterproof sacks that you can keep various bits of kit dry and organized inside your backpack. They typically have no pockets and a roll-top closure which is wider at the top to make access easier.
Dry sacks for hikers don’t need to be overly rugged or thick, as your backpack will protect them, and they are not intended for submersion. Of course, some people prefer a more rugged bag, even if it does add an ounce or two more, but the best dry bags for hiking are always very lightweight and far more durable than they look.
Coming in all different shapes and sizes, the easiest way to get started with dry bags is to buy multiple sizes and colors. This will help you organize your rucksack and allow you to use different combinations with different hiking backpacks.
It can be hard to decide which to buy with literally hundreds to choose from. We aim to make that decision a little easier for you by rounding up all the best dry bags for hiking and sharing them with you. We avoid kayaking dry storage to focus on lightweight and compact options.
Top 10 Best Dry Bags for Hiking
Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack
- SIZES: 1.5 / 3 / 6 / 12 / 20 / 30 liters
- WEIGHT: 18 / 20 / 30 / 40 / 48 g
- MATERIAL: 40D Siliconised Ripstop Nylon
The Osprey UltraLight Dry Sack is only a couple of grams heavier than the lightest dry sack on this list, but it is a firm favorite because of the slightly tougher 40D nylon. Perfect for day hikes and longer backpacking trips, too, these sacks come in a variety of small sizes, which are ideal for waterproofing and organizing your small items.
Another great feature of the Osprey Ultralight dry sack is that it is rectangular-shaped for really efficient packing, and it can stand upright without falling over. The 1.5-liter dry bag is the perfect size to hold a roll of toilet tissue which, as we all know, may come in handy at some point. This was a fairly easy top pick as it is just such a good backpacking and hiking dry bag.VIEW ON OSPREY
Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack
- SIZES: 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 / 13 / 20 / 35 liters
- WEIGHT: 20 / 23 / 26 / 30 / 40 / 50 / 65 g
- MATERIAL: Siliconized 30D Ultra-Sil nylon
The Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Dry Sack is one of the best dry bags for hiking due to its weight and durability. Like most S2S dry bags, the Ultra-SIL comes in 7 sizes and is ideal for keeping small items organized and your clothing dry. The material is super thin but tough and a bit stretchy, which is great for staying lightweight without being too fragile.
The high-strength ripstop Cordura nylon has incredible tear resistance to weight ratio that makes it perfect for dry bags. In addition, the silicon coating on the outside keeps the bag extra waterproof, while the PU coating on the inside does the same but also allows the seams to be tape sealed.VIEW ON SEA TO SUMMIT
Exped Waterproof Pack Liner UL
- SIZES: 30 / 50 liters
- WEIGHT: 41 / 70 g
- MATERIAL: 15 D Ripstop Taffeta Nylon, silicone/PU coated
The Exped Waterproof Pack Liner UL is a great dry sack to line the entire main compartment of your hiking rucksack. If you would rather have one large sack over various small ones, then this might be the choice for you. It has a 1,500 mm HH rating, so not built for submersion and isn’t the thickest material, but it will keep your gear dry inside your backpack in the driving rain.
The seams are all hot-air taped for longevity, and this dry sack comes with a 5-year warranty. Exped has a massive variety of waterproof packs on their website, but we like the simplicity of this two-size line that will fit into any backpack without adding much weight.
Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack
- SIZES: 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 / 13 / 20 / 35 liters
- WEIGHT: 37 / 50 / 59 / – / 95 / 133 / 165 g
- MATERIAL: 70D Nylon with Polyurethane waterproof coating
The Sea to Summit Lightweight Dry Sack is ideal for the hiking enthusiast who isn’t counting every gram in their backpack but still wants something tough. The 70 D nylon is rugged and lightweight, with a taped seam construction to keep it watertight. The Hydrostatic Head rating is 10,000 mm, making it more than adequate for day hikes and even brief submersion.
The Lightweight Drysack is the cheapest of the Sea to Sumit bags on this list but only by a fraction. If you aren’t bothered about a tiny amount of extra weight, this is a great bag as it is still very light but slightly more hard-wearing.VIEW ON SEA TO SUMMIT
Skog Å Kust LiteSåk 2.0 Waterproof Ultralight Dry Bag
- SIZES: 1.5 / 5 / 10 / 20 / 40 liters
- WEIGHT: 28 / 56 / 70 / 87 / 120 / 200 g
- MATERIAL: 70-D ripstop nylon coated with silicone
The LiteSåk 2.0 is a popular mid-weight dry sack for hiking that has gained a reputation for being tough and lightweight. The 70 D nylon is rugged and abrasion-proof, with a silicone coating for amazing waterproofing (IPX-6). Designed for backpacking but great for hiking, this dry sack comes with a handy storage sack and an aluminum carabiner so you can store and attach it in numerous ways.
The LiteSåk 2.0 rugged dry bag is hard-wearing and well-made, even with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer defects. It folds down to the size of a deck of cards when not in use and comes in handy on a hike when it rains.
Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Nano Dry Sack
- SIZES: 1 / 2 / 4 / 8 / 13 / 20 / 35 liters
- WEIGHT: 13 / 16 / 19 / 24 / 28 / 36 / 46 g
- MATERIAL: Siliconized, Ultra-Sil Nano 15D Nylon
The Sea to Summit Ultra-SIL Nano Dry Sack is the most lightweight dry bag series available today, beating the nearest competition by only a few grams but still very impressive. The super thin and featherweight 15 D siliconized nylon is coated with silicone for waterproofing and has a hydrostatic head of 1,200 mm.
If you are a backpacker or long-distance walker, you will realize how important it is to save weight wherever possible, and this is the hiking dry sack to do that with. Likewise, all the top outdoor athletes use it to keep things dry and segregated on expeditions while adding the least weight possible.VIEW ON SEA TO SUMMIT
Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sack
- SIZES: 10 / 15 / 20 / 35 / 55 liters
- WEIGHT: 40 / 46 / 50 / 70 / 84 g
- MATERIAL: 40D ripstop with PU coating
The Outdoor Research Ultralight Dry Sacks come in medium to large sizes and are among the lightest dry sacks for hiking available. They are made with ripstop 40 D polyester with a PU coating, making them tough but maybe less waterproof than the dry sacks that are also siliconized.
Outdoor Research is a brand known for making hardwearing outdoor gear, so it is no surprise that we like these bags for their strength-to-weight ratio. The buckle closure can always be trusted to stay shut and has an attachment loop in case you want to hang it on the outside of your rucksack. When the weights and sizes of different branded dry sacks are very similar, it comes down to personal preference, but several of my friends rate this option quite highly.VIEW ON OUTDOOR RESEARCH
Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack
- SIZES: 3 / 5 / 8 / 13 / 20 / 35 / 65 liters
- WEIGHT: 42 / 48 / 58 / 69 / 86 / 112 / 148 g
- MATERIAL: 70D Nylon body, eVent fabric base
The Sea to Summit eVac Dry Sack is a ligh5tweight dry sack that has excellent compressing capabilities without the use of a valve. It uses 70 D nylon with a PU coating for the sides, which is lightweight, durable, and has a waterproof rating of 10,000mm. The oval-shaped base is made from a 40 D nylon face fabric with eVent material that is tough, waterproof, and air permeable.
Because of this material, you can stuff this dry sack with clothing and then compress it right down and seal it for compact storage. This hiking dry bag is ideal for down/feather or other insulated jackets that you need to keep dry when not in use. For the most part, this waterproof sack works like any other, with the only difference being a small sacrifice of fabric thickness on the base to add a lot more breathability.VIEW ON SEA TO SUMMIT
Aqua Quest Rogue Dry Bag
- SIZES: 10 / 20 / 30 liters
- WEIGHT: 130 / 165 / 240 g
- MATERIAL: 70D Ripstop Nylon with TPU lamination
The Aqua Quest Rogue Dry Bag features rugged 70 dernier nylon with TPU lamination and heat-taped seams for impressive durability. It is designed to be used daily and is built to last years in both urban environments and the wilderness, and it is one of the few dry bags available in camo.
Available in just three sizes, these are useful for hiking daypacks and keeping clothes and valuables dry even in driving rain. Far tougher than the ultralight options above, the Aqua Quest Rogue can be used on its own and is ideal for people who are hard on their gear. If you don’t mind carrying extra weight in exchange for a tougher dry pack, this is a good choice.
Exped Crush Drybag
- SIZES: 3XS / 2XS / XS / Small
- WEIGHT: 45 / 54 / 67 / 110 g
- MATERIAL: PU coated 70 D Taffeta nylon, 4 mm EVA Closed Cell Foam
Unlike normal dry sacks, the Exped Crush Drybag is lined with a 4 mm EVA padding to offer extra protection for your most valuable items and technology. Available in small sizes only, the Crush dry bag is intended to keep things like phones and digital cameras dry and undamaged inside your bag.
The thick padding adds shock and dust resistance without adding too much weight, and even the biggest size only weighs 11 grams, which isn’t bad for a waterproof camera case. I often use my Crush bag to keep my wallet, and car keys safe as the lining protects the bag from the inside, so the keys don’t pierce the bag.
How to Choose the Best Dry Bag for Hiking
Everybody’s needs are different for hiking gear, so here is a brief rundown of how the different dry bag specifications can affect performance.
Most outdoor fabrics come with a denier rating abbreviated to the letter D in most cases. Denier is a universal measurement unit used to describe the thickness of individual fiber threads or filaments when producing textiles. Material with a high denier rating will be thicker and more durable, whereas fabric woven with a low denier rating will be lighter and more flexible.
All waterproof dry bags for hiking will have some durable water repellent (DWR) coating on the outside. If they are quality made, they will also have taped seams on the inside or, even better, heat-sealed seams. Most dry bags also have some coating on the inside. The most popular choices/combinations are polyurethane (PU) and silicone polymer (silnylon), which can achieve the same result.
Suppose you are a long-distance hiker or backpacker where every single gram counts, then you will be naturally drawn to the most lightweight dry bag for hiking. As mentioned before, the lower the denier rating, the thinner it will be, but with the lightest dry sacks, you sacrifice some durability. However, for most day hikers, the difference between carrying an extra couple of ounces will not make the least bit of difference, and so a good value dry bag will do the job.
We recommend getting a variety of different sizes to keep certain items separate and compartmentalized inside your backpack. For example, small dry sacks are great for valuable electronics, toilet rolls, and food, whereas larger dry sacks are ideal for clothing (wet or dry) and especially down jackets. If you are looking for more of a full hiking pack liner, then you should match the dry bag to the size of your main rucksack compartment.
This is a big one for people who are notoriously hard on their gear, which happens to be most hikers. Generally, the tougher the material, the thicker and heavier it will be, and so again, you have to balance this out for its intended use. Ripstop nylon is the most common fabric woven in such a way that makes it very tough and abrasion-resistant.
Most hiking dry sacks will use a plastic buckle with their rolltop closure; however, some are smaller than others and may be less robust. If you need hardwearing outdoor gear, always check the Amazon reviews to see if reoccurring faults are happening.
What Material Are the Best Hiking Dry Bags Made From?
The materials used to make the best dry bags for trekking are often very lightweight and thin to keep pack weight down. Unlike the thick vinyl waterproof bags you see on the decks of boats, lightweight dry bags for hiking are designed to sit inside a protective backpack. Even so, they are more than durable enough to last a very long time.
The most common material used is ripstop nylon woven using a special reinforcing technique with an interwoven crosshatch pattern. This makes the material resistant to rips and tears so that if the fabric does get punctured, the tear won’t spread.
The waterproof coating on hiking drybags is typically a PU coating or Siliconized coating and often with both for extra protection. The seams are sealed using waterproof tape or heat once all the stitches are in for all-around waterproofing.
Why Do Hikers Use Dry Bags?
Hikers are a special bread of people who aren’t phased by a ‘bit of rain’ and will stop at nothing to get out on the trails at the weekend. For the most part, hikers normally come prepared with all the necessary waterproof clothing and gear to stay dry. To stay ready for different weather, most hikers also carry backpacks to keep their gear in and some snacks and water.
The last thing you want is your dry clothes, food, and valuables to get wet on a hike. You can get waterproof backpacks which are great for keeping the rain out but not very functional for everyday use. You can get backpack rain covers, but they are only good to a certain extent and can be a nightmare in strong wind. This leaves you with your best option, which means you can
The Problem with Waterproof Bag Covers
When it rains, most hikers will whip out their waterproofs and pull their hood up as well as use a waterproof bag cover like the Osprey Ultralight Raincover if they have one. These waterproof bag covers are better than nothing for light rain or brief downpours, but there are three issues we have encountered on numerous occasions:
- Water still gets down the back of your bag when it runs off your hood and down your back which can soak through into your belongings.
- When the wind picks up, unless you have an adjustable fitting bag cover that you can really tighten up or attach at all corners, you will most likely have to stop every 2 minutes from putting it back on. It is either that or holding the bag cover on with both hands behind your back while you walk, which is no fun and makes sure you get cold hands.
When it comes to having peace of mind that the equipment in your backpack will stay dry, there is nothing better than a hiking dry bag or, even better, a couple of them.
Thanks for reading all the way to the end of our article on the best dry bags for hiking, be sure to like our Facebook page to stay in touch.