OUTDOORS

Best Waterproof Hiking Backpack: For a Better Hike Even When it Pours

backpack on a wooden bridge
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

You enjoy hiking. And, perhaps, you are packing to start on your next hike and you wonder if a waterproof backpack would eliminate the need to tuck away your electronics in separate sealed Ziplocs to protect them from the occasional yet unavoidable downpour you may have to face in the middle of your hike. The best waterproof hiking backpack has certain features that make it functional and comfortable.

This article will explore those little features that make a suitable waterproof backpack for hiking. Read on to know more about these and also about how a few popular backpacks have fared with most customers.

Is investing in a waterproof backpack that important?

I would say so. More so, with the extensive use of electronic devices in day to day life today. And when you go on a hike, you would perhaps be carrying more than just your phone to keep dry.

Apart from a laptop, an iPad, and a smartphone, you may have a camera, a GPS, and other electronic devices, some of which cost a lot, which cannot tolerate being even a little wet in the inevitable case of a downpour. And then if you are on a multiple-day hike, you may be carrying sleep gear, clothes, etc., which are best kept dry for a comfortable trip.

backpacker on trail with rocks

A waterproof backpack will make carrying all these things and keep them dry easier and less stressful. A good bag would be one that has enough space to fit in all your required stuff and at the same time be comfortable to carry. And, ofcourse, at the right price.

A Few Features that make a good Waterproof Backpackfor Hiking

Let’s take a look at a few features that matter most in a waterproof backpack suited for hiking.

Capacity

It is not always the best idea to go for a backpack with the maximum capacity. You need not purchase a 70L backpack if you are able to fit all your stuff in a 30L one for most of your trips. Go for a backpack only as big as you need – neither too small nor too large for your needs.

backpacking backpack

A simple guide to the capacity you require based on the usual length of your hiking trips can be seen in the table below.

1 – 3 nights30 – 50 L
3 – 5 nights50 – 70 L
More than 5 nightsMore than 70 L

Weight

Backpacks are one of the things that would put a weight on your shoulders. So, it is of utmost importance to go for one that is not too heavy for you. Cutting off a few ounces from your backpack can contribute to a lighter overall weight for you.

hiker with big backpack

Waterproof and/or rain cover

There are completely waterproof bags that will keep your things dry even when they are completely submerged in water. There are water-resistant bags too that will take the brunt of light rain and water splashes but are not entirely waterproof. Decide according to your requirements, whether you want a completely waterproof bag or you can do well without submerging your bag in water.

Backpack rain cover

A few backpacks also provide a separate rain cover, which you can use to prevent the penetration of moisture through zippers, drawstring closures, and other openings.

Straps and back panels

The quality of shoulder straps should be high enough to allow you to comfortably carry your backpack for long hours. Thick and padded straps help distribute the weight evenly and thus, prevent sore shoulders and back. The presence of additional chest straps and hip straps adds to the supportive construction of the backpack. A padded back panel also helps to cushion the back.

Hiker man with backpack crossing a river

In addition to being supportive, the straps should be breathable too to prevent discomfort due to theaccumulation of sweat. A well-ventilatedmesh back panel also helps by reducing the feeling of warmth due to the waterproof nature of your backpack.

Compartments and pockets

A backpack suitable for you should have an adequate number of pockets that are spacious enough to house your belongings. A few internal pockets always help as do padded flaps for laptops and iPads.

Easily accessible mesh pockets on the exterior for keeping handy items like water bottles are also a welcome feature. A hydration compartment is another helpful feature for most hikers who use water bladders.

Cost

It goes without saying that you would like to choose the best backpack for the budget you have designated towards this purchase. This article talks about popular bags available at reasonable prices.

Reviews

Now that we have an idea of what features to look for, let us go ahead and discuss the features of a few popular backpacks and dry packsand see which ones have been liked by customers for what features.

SEA TO SUMMIT RAPID DRYPACK

Sea to Summit Rapid backpack 

Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz.

Dimensions: 21.5” x 11.5” x 6.5”

Specific Features: 26L, 420D nylon, Thermoplastic urethane(TPU) laminated, fully sealed seams, 7075 aircraft alloy buckles, Ltop handles, detachable waist straps, mesh side pockets, top loading roll-top main chamber, waterproof, abrasion resistant.

Best Use: An ideal and sleek backpack useful for water-sports and also for hiking, climbing, and other purposes

The Sea to Summit Rapid backpack has been built for use in wet conditions like in water-sports, in rain, and in snow. It is equally suitable for use in hiking, biking, climbing, and camping because of its sleek and functional design.

The Rapid is made up of 420 denier nylon that makes it amoderately lightweight and comfortable backpack. Sealed seams and TPU laminate make this dry pack completely waterproof. It is capable of keeping its contents bone dry even in heavy downpours and when it is submerged in water. The backpack features perforated shoulder straps and an ergonomic back panel for comfort while carrying it.

The interior of the main compartment is made of white fabric to make it easier to view things. 7075 aircraft alloy buckles are highly durable. The bag comes with useful internal pockets, stretchable side mesh pockets, a good size external front pocket, and an easily accessible hydration compartment. A few more external attachment points rather than just one would have been better. The back panel and shoulder straps take a little while to dry.

Related: Take a look at similar Sea to Summit DryPack, the Carve 24 L DryPack, featuring multiple Hypalon loops for better attachment.

Check the price on Amazon

PHANTOM 25 by AQUATICS

Walrus 25 by Phantom Aquatics

Weight: 2 lb. 15 oz.

Dimensions: 18” x 11” x 2”

Specific Features: 25L, fully waterproof, roll-top, dust-resistant, two-way sealing, padded shoulder straps, ventilated and supportive back panel, reflective patches on front and shoulder straps, floats in water

Best Use: Not for very heavy duty use, but great for moderate use for hiking in the rain, mountain biking, etc.

The Walrus 25 by Phantom Aquatics  is a 25L waterproof backpack that can keep your belongings completely dry when it gets wet. Its straps, one around the chest and the other around the lower stomach, help to get a great and comfortable fit, quite unlike most dry bags.

It has one large main compartment and a small internal pocket. This may be just what you require. If you need more internal pockets, this may be a minor drawback. Though a little small, this bag can hold many items, enough for a few days’ trip. It also has a top handle for carrying it.

Use the top roll feature of this bag – fill it with all your belongings, roll the top and secure it with the buckles and straps, and it would keep everything dry. The bag is designed to float when in water. To prevent your electronic items from getting wet due to condensation, pack an absorbent towel at the bottom of the bag.

Customers have had great experiences of keeping electronic devices and other items completely dry after swimming, biking in rainy conditions, and hiking in rainforests. A few customers have however reported small tears in the bag after moderate use. So, this one may not last very long if you are not lucky, but it promises to give a comfortable use till it lasts. This dry bag comes in a variety of colors like red, yellow, black, and others.

Related: For a smaller waterproof camping backpack, check out the 10 L Phantom Aquatics waterproof camping bag.

Check the price on Amazon

SKORCH ORIGINAL WATERPROOF BACKPACK

SKORCH Original waterproof dry bag

Weight:2 lb.

Dimensions: 24” x 10”

Specific Features: 30L, UPVC material for durability, wipe clean, comfortable fit for men and women, padded shoulder straps

Best Use: Can be used for hiking, swimming, skiing, canoeing, cycling, etc. to keep things dry in light rain and splashes. Not meant to be submerged completely, though.

The SKORCH Original waterproof dry bag is spacious enough to pack myriad things in it. It has a capacity of 30L, but it is not heavy and is easy to carry. Its padded shoulder straps make it comfortable to carry even when it is completely full.

It is designed in a way that it is comfortable for both men and women. It has one large compartment and no little pockets, though. The waterproof covering helps to clean it with just a wipe. It comes in beautiful colors of turquoise and white, quite suited for summer trips to the beach and summer hikes.

This bag floats when it goes overboard. The bag is made of high quality 500D UPVC, which makes it durable and waterproof. It would keep your things dry in rain and splashes.It is not intended to be entirely submerged for long periods, though. So, it is a great bag for a reasonable price if you use it for light hiking.

Related: If you are looking for different sizes, see the SKORCH waterproof 10L dry bag or the SKORCH 40L waterproof dry bag.

Check the price on Amazon

DIAMOND CANDY WATERPROOF BACKPACK

Diamond Candy waterproof backpack

Weight:2.43 lb.

Dimensions: 19.5” x 12.5” x 6”

Specific Features: 40L, air cushion gasket, back panel, waterproof seams, lining, many pockets, zinc alloy resin zippers, rain cover

Best Use: Great for hiking; use the rain cover when required

The Diamond Candy waterproof backpack has a capacity of 40L, which is a lot of space for hiking trips.

It has a large internal compartment for organizing your stuff, and it has a lot of internal pockets including a padded laptop slot. It has two good sized external pockets.

The zippers are made of durable zinc alloy resin and can be trusted in any condition. It is designed to be unisex and will fit men and women comfortably. The bag also comes with a rain cover. The straps tighten up and loosen up securely and easily. The shoulder straps are nicely padded, so they are comfortable. They are breathable and prevent the formation of sweat.

You’ll find a built-in whistle in the chest straps. Built in mesh pockets in the stomach straps are extremely useful to keep handy little things. The straps and back panel provide good support. Overall, a great backpack to use for hiking. Choose from lovely colors like red, black, green, blue, and yellow.

Check the price on Amazon

CVLIFE MILITARY RUCKSACK

CVLIFE Military Rucksack

Weight: 3.85 lb.

Dimensions:19.7”x 13” x 8.7”

Specific Features: 50L, 600D nylon, 3 removable ‘molle’ pouches, bite valve hole within Velcro cover, adjustable shoulder straps, chest straps, waist belt, carry strap, hydration compartment

Best Use: Outdoor activities like camping, trekking, and hiking

The CVLIFE Military Rucksack is an extremely comfortable bag, and with a capacity of 50L, it can hold a ton of things. It has many functional pockets including a hydration compartment. It is made of a high quality 600D Military nylon, which makes this bag very durable.

The zippers are also of a high quality and can be trusted for long use. You can unbuckle and detach the side pockets if you do not intend to use them on your trip. The same goes for the front pocket, which you can instead use as an over the shoulder bag. It comes with comfortable padded shoulder straps, chest straps, and waist straps which help to securely wear the bag.

A few customers have found the shoulder straps to be a little short; so it may not be very useful if you are very large. Overall, this is a durable, useful, and customizable backpack to own if you are looking for a huge one at a very reasonable price.

Related: If you need a smaller such backpack, take a look at the CVLIFE 30L tactical backpack and the CVLIFE 3D 40L backpack.

Check the price on Amazon

ROTHCO MEDIUM TRANSPORT BAG

Rothco Medium Transport Bag

 

Weight: 2.9 lb.

Dimensions: 17” x 10” x9”

Specific Features: around 30L, 600D polyester, molle compatible, waterproof PU lining, 3 exterior compartments, padded straps and back panel, hydration compartment

Best Use: A daypack that is intended to be used on short trips and on a daily basis.

The Rothco Medium Transport Bag has a capacity of around 30L. This is a small bag with great padded and adjustable shoulder straps, sternum straps, and hip straps.

For its reasonable price, this bag is quite durable because of its tough 600D polyester make. The bag holds well in all weather. It provides molle spacings, though not perfect, for the ability to attach external compartments. It features a huge main compartment with a pouch. It also has a hydration compartment which can easily fit a 2 to 3 l hydration bladder. Its seams are not double stitched, but it should hold up well if it is not over-stuffed.

The zippers are durable and of good quality. The bag is of the perfect size to be used for a day. It is flexible enough to be used as a lightweight bag and also can be expanded with attachments. It cannot be used for long 3-day trips and it is not intended for such trips too. This backpack will serve you well if you want a durable pack to use for day trips. The bag is available in a variety of colors including great camo prints.

Related: If you want a larger size, consider Rothco Large Transport Bag. For a similar waterproof daypack, take a look at the Rothco Nylon waterproof day pack.

Check the price on Amazon

ARCENCIEL Military WATERPROOF BACKPACK

ArcEnCiel Military Waterproof Backpack

Weight: 4.4 lb.

Dimensions: 18.9” x 26.8” x 14.6”

Specific Features: 70 – 85 L adjustable, Military 1000D nylon, adjustable shoulder, chest, and waist straps, molle compatible, rain cover.

Best Use: A large high qualitybackpack for hiking, camping, and other outdoor activities, especially if you have loads of gear to carry with you.

The ArcEnCiel Military Waterproof Backpack has an adjustable capacity ranging from 70L to 85L. It has two lines of zippers on both sides to achieve this adjustment. Open the zippers and your bag will have a huge capacity of 85L, enough to fit in loads of stuff for your long hiking trips.

In addition to its huge main compartment, the bag is molle compatible, with molle belts not only on the front but also on both sides, so you can attach more external compartments as per your requirements.

The main compartment has a drawstring type of closure, which is easy to open and close. The bag features a padded back panel and thick, padded and breathable shoulder straps, waist straps, and chest straps. Its enormous space is enough to even stuff your sleeping bags and pillows in it. Pack this bag tightly to prevent its weight hurting your shoulders.

For its size, the bag looks sleek.Although waterproof, the top closure style may be a bit of a problem when exposed to a lot of rain. It comes with a rain cover, and you should be good to go if you use it. Apart from that, the backpack seems to attract a lot of good reviews for its huge size and good build. All of this at a reasonable price of under $70. Choose from black, brown or a couple of camouflage prints.

Related: Consider the 40L ArcEnCiel Military Backpack for a smaller waterproof bag.

Check the price on Amazon

Choose the ideal waterproof backpack

As seen in this article, there are many features in waterproof backpacks that determine which one is ideal for your needs.

If you tend to hike in areas that are affected by severe rain or are looking for a completely waterproof backpack that can be safely submerged in water, look no further than the Sea to Summit Rapid 26L dry pack. Go for the Walrus 25 if you want one for moderate use or the SKORCH original for a comfortably fitting backpack that endures light rain and splashes.

If you are looking for a small backpack to be used on a day-to-day basis or for day trips, the Rothco Medium Transport day pack would be a good choice. If the number of pockets is your main concern, the Diamond Candy backpack is worth considering. For a multiple day trip lasting for a week or more, go for the spacious ArcEnCiel Military backpack.

What do you think about the backpacks discussed here? Have you come to a conclusion as to which one you would like to own? Do you have any experiences with one of these? Are there any other features you are particularly looking for? Do share your thoughts in the comments!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.