Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (2024)

Last updated on March 5th, 2024.

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Leonard Schoenberger

Founder at The Wading List

Leonard Schoenberger is the founder and editor of The Wading List and has appeared as an industry at conferences such as the Outdoor Media Summit. He has fished all his life and is particularly interested in checking out new fly fishing gear. His goal is to offer his readers all the information they need to make a good purchase they will enjoy. Learn more about Leonard.

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Waterproof backpacks can be an essential piece of gear when out in the wild. The best waterproof backpacks keep your gear dry no matter the conditions.

If you want the quick road and get the best waterproof backpack out there, go for the Filson Dry Backpack – here’s why.

Table of Contents:

How to Choose the Best Product

Best Waterproof Roll-Top Backpacks

Best Submersible Waterproof Backpacks

Conclusion on the Best Waterproof Backpacks

FAQs

Disclaimer:All products in this guide are independently researched by our team. We only recommend products we believe in and never get paid for the reviews. Learn more about our review processhere.

Our Top Picks:

1. Filson Dry Backpack

2. Simms Dry Creek Rolltop Backpack

3. Patagonia Disperser Roll-Top Pack 40L

4. Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack

5. Rains Rolltop Rucksack

6. Ortlieb Atrack

7. Filson Backpack Dry Bag

8. Yeti Panga Backpack 28

9. Simms Dry Creek Z

10. Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible

11. Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L

How to Choose the Best Waterproof Backpack

Not all waterproof backpacks are created equal. As fly fishermen we know a thing or two about waterproof backpacks. Many backpacks claim to be waterproof but in reality there are only two types of backpacks that are really waterproof and not just water-resistant.

The first of these two are so-called waterproof rolltop backpacks. They are made from an entirely waterproof fabric and are closed by rolling the top so no water can get inside. Then there are so-called submersible waterproof backpacks. They provide the utmost in protection from the elements since they feature waterproof zippers. As the name suggests, they can be fully submerged unter water and will still keep everything on the inside dry.

In this review we want to give you our favourite options from each category. Waterproof backpacks, and especially submersible ones, are more expensive than normal (water-resistant) backpacks. Since the technology behind these waterproof backpacks is more elaborate (especially the zippers) there is a reason for that. From our experience you should make no compromises when it comes to keeping your gear dry. Especially if you are going to remote places, the least thing you need is your gear to not hold up to your expectations.

Disclaimer: We source, test and review the best products in the market for you. We only recommend products we use ourselves. If you end up buying a product from one of the merchants, we might earn a commission at no extra cost for you.

Best Waterproof Roll-Top Backpacks

In this first part of the review we want to take a look at waterproof roll-top backpacks. As mentioned above they close by rolling up the top and securing it with a buckle. These waterproof backpacks are a little less expensive than the submersible ones. They will keep your gear dry unless you plan on submerging your backpack. (If that’s the case check our favourites further down).

Filson Dry Backpack

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (5)

DIMENSIONS: 20″H x 12 ½”W x 6 ½”D; CAPACITY: 28L

Why we picked it: The Filson Dry Backpack (read our full review here) is one of our favourites for its clean and minimal look. Yet, at the same time it offers 100% waterproofness due to its PU-coated 840-denier nylon. The Filson is incredibly durable and one of the only roll-top backpack that is fully submersible. For their Filson Dry Backpack, the company uses a stitching technique that is applied for white-water rafting gear, making sure the backpack lives up to its promises no matter the conditions.

On the backside the Filson Dry Backpack features a breathable pack panel and very comfortable padded shoulder straps ensuring all-day comfort. We liked the fact that this backpack is equipped with D-rings so you attach extra gear such as a GPS or water bottle. A sternum strap makes weight distribution easy. The Filson Dry Backpack features a small mesh pocket on the outside (not waterproof) and one for your essentials on the inside.

My verdict: The Filson Dry Backpack has all the features you’re looking for in a waterproof backpack. Plus, it looks great no matter whether you’re out in the wild or walking around town.

PROS:

  • Fantastic built quality made for the harshest environment
  • Small outside pocket (not waterproof) provides easy access to essentials
  • Fully submersible

CONS:

  • A few more options to attach additional gear would be great

GET IT AT FILSON

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT MOOSEJAW

Simms Dry Creek Rolltop Backpack

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (6)

SPECS: Made from 300D Polyester Ripstop. Comes in one size and three colors. Capacity: 30L. Weight: 31 oz.

Why we picked it: Montana-based manufacturer Simms produces some of the greatest outdoor gear in the world of fishing. They know a thing or two about producing waterproof gear (take a look at their waders). Their brand new Dry Creek Rolltop Backpack (read our in-depth review here) is an excellent choice if you are looking for a tough waterproof backpack (non-submersible).

The Simms Dry Creek Rolltop Backpack comes in two colors and has been boiled down to the essentials. On the inside it features a mesh-pocket for easy storage organisation. The small outside pocket can hold essential gear that you need quick access to, such as car keys. The shoulder straps are now cushioned quite similarly to the Filson and also provide good comfort. The waistband ensures a tight fit. Simms also added a water bottle pocket on each side (which can also serves as rod holders). A D-ring allows for the attachment of a fly fishing net.

My verdict: The Simms Dry Creek is a highly versatile product since it features two bottle holders (one on each side) and multiple attachment options across the bag. Plus, it comes with very comfortable shoulder straps.

PROS:

  • Multiple pocket options on the side allow you to bring a water bottle or a canSmall outside pocket (not waterproof) provides easy access to essentials
  • Multiple attachment options for additional gear
  • Comfortable shoulder straps

CONS:

  • Not ideal for smaller people since this backpack is fairly large

GET IT AT SIMMS

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT AT TROUTS FLY FISHING

Patagonia Disperser Roll-Top Pack 40L

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (7)

DIMENSIONS: 1171 g (2 lbs 9.3 oz) 23″H x 13″W x 12″D – CAPACITY: 45L (2746 cu in)

Why we picked it: The Patagonia Disperser Roll-Top Pack 40L is the right choice for you if you are looking for a big rolltop waterproof backpack (capacity 45L) and the utmost in versatility. It features the same easy-to-roll mechanism like the two previous backpacks. On the inside the Patagonia Disperser Roll-Top Pack 40L features one small mesh pocket for essentials. Other than that all your gear goes into the big main compartment.

On the outside the Patagonia Disperser Roll-Top Pack 40L offers great versatility. Two web loops allow for the attachment of a fly rod or other gear. The external lashing can hold a rain jacket for example. The Patagonia Disperser Roll-Top Pack 40L is made from 800-denier 100% nylon that is fully waterproof (non-submersible).

My verdict: If you’re looking for a highly durable, waterproof backpack without any fuss, look no further than the Patagonia Disperser Rolltop.

PROS:

  • Most sturdy material of all backpacks in this test
  • Rod tube attachment option on the side is a plus
  • Plenty of possibilities to attach additional pieces of gear

CONS:

  • Rolltop-closure is not the best on the market

GET IT AT PATAGONIA

GET IT AT BACKCOUNTRY

GET IT AT ALS

Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Backpack

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (8)

DIMENSIONS: 35L: 28″H x 13″W, 8″D / 65L: 33.5″H x 14″W x 10″ D – CAPACITY: 35L/65L/90L/120L

Why we picked it: The Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack is another solid option. It comes in four sizes (35L, 65L, 90L and 120L) and three colors. It’s made from a very durable fully waterproof (10,000 mm hydrostatic) PVC free fabric that closes with a rolltop and buckle. This bag is not submersible since water can technically seep in through the rolltop closure although we didn’t have that happen during our tests.

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack comes equipped with very comfortable shoulder straps. A sternum strap and a wide waist strap (in the 35L version that we tested) ensure a tight fit and provide wearing comfort all day long.

My verdict: The Sea to Summit Hydraulic Dry Pack is the right choice if you want to combine ample storage with an excellent shoulder strap system.

PROS:

  • Highly adjustable shoulder strap system with waist belt
  • Fits long items easily due to its shape

CONS:

  • Like the Simms, a fairly large bag not ideally suited for shorter people

GET IT AT SEATOSUMMIT

GET IT ON AMAZON

Rains Rolltop Rucksack

Now here’s a waterproof backpack that is a little different than the others in this review since it has not been designed with a focus on fly fishermen: the Rains Rolltop Rucksack (read our in-depth review here). I still think it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a versatile, waterproof backpack that you can use around town (since it features a laptop sleeve) but also for occasional fishing outings.

Sure, the Rains is not as sturdy as the ones from Filson, Patagonia or Simms but its waterproofness is quite solid. Be careful though with the laptop sleeve: it’s a handy feature but it’s also a weak spot when it starts pouring. The front zipper for the small outside pocket is highly water-resistant but not waterproof. The Rains comes in a wide variety of colors.

PROS:

  • Stylish and ideal for multipurpose use around town as well
  • Easy access of outside pocket and laptop sleeve

CONS:

  • Fabric is not as sturdy as the ones on the Filson, Patagonia or Simms.
  • Laptop sleeve comes in handy but is a weak spot in terms of waterproofness

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT RAINS

Best Waterproof Backpacks Submersible

Now that you have a good overview of some of the best roll-top waterproof backpacks out there, we want to give you our favourites of some of the best submersible backpacks on the market. As mentioned before these backpacks provide the utmost in waterproofness. They all feature waterproof zippers that allow you to fully submerge your backpack without getting the gear inside wet.

The reliability is a crucial aspect here. Imagine you’re carrying some expensive camera equipment. The least thing you can afford is for water to get inside your backpack. The best submersible backpacks on the market are made by brands that know a thing or two about durability of products. One thing to keep in mind: since these waterproof zippers are expensive and high tech, these submersible backpacks most often feature only one big zipper that opens and closes the main compartment. Some products in this review feature further pockets inside, some others have pockets on the outside to hold essentials. These pockets outside the main compartment are not waterproof. Let’s take a look now at some of the best submersible backpacks on the market in 2024.

Ortlieb Atrack

The Ortlieb Atrack (read our in-depth review here) is a the ultimate allrounder when it comes to waterproof backpacks. It’s not only fully waterproof, submersible but also boats incredible accessibility since it opens and closes with a big TIZIP zipper along the “inside” where the bag meets your back. In real life this means that your gear is much more easily accessible.

The Atrack also shines when it comes to internal and external organisation (if features a multitude of zippered pockets) and the extremely comfortable padded shoulder and waist straps. Elastic mesh fabric bottle holders can also be used as rod tube holders. The Atrack comes in three sizes (25L, 35L and 45L) and three colors. If you want the utmost in accessibility and versatility there’s no way around the Atrack.

PROS:

  • Most versatile waterproof and fully submersible backpack since it opens and closes like a bag
  • Excellent comfort in terms of shoulder and waist straps

CONS:

  • Features some zippered outside pockets on the waist belt but a pocket on the outside of the pack would be a nice addition

GET IT AT ORTLIEB

GET IT AT BACKCOUNTRY

GET IT AT AEROSTICH

Filson Backpack Dry Bag

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (13)

DIMENSIONS: 18-3/4”H x 10-1/4”W x 8-1/4”D – CAPACITY: 28L

Why we picked it: The Filson Backpack Dry Bag (read our in-depth review here) is the right choice for you if you are looking for a waterproof fully submersible backpack that still offers a high degree of versatility. The centred, clear zippered pocket comes in handy, for example if you want to carry a fishing license that you can show without taking it out of the pocket. The zippered pocket on the side can hold a small water bottle. Both of these outside pockets are not waterproof.

The Filson Backpack Dry Bag’s main compartment is protected by a TIZIP® zipper (the same as the Patagonia one). On the inside you find a mesh pocket for easy organisation. The top grab handle allows for easy carrying of the backpack if it’s not on your shoulders. The adjustable hip belt is removable.

My verdict: The Filson Backpack Dry Bag combines extreme waterproofness with neat little features like the front see-through pockets for a fishing license or a permit.

PROS:

  • Highly versatile pocket options
  • See through pocket is a plus for licenses, etc.

CONS:

  • Shape is a little bulky

GET IT AT FILSON

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT AT SPORTIQUE

Yeti Panga Backpack 28

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (14)

DIMENSIONS: 20″H x 12.5″W x 7″D – Weight: 3.9lbs – CAPACITY: 28L

Why we picked it: American manufacturer YETI has made a name for itself in recent years for producing some of the best outdoor gear on the market, most of all coolers. Their lineup also features some high-end waterproof gear such as the Yeti Panga Backpack 28 (read our full review here). This fully submersible backpack is incredibly durable and incredibly simple.

The Yeti Panga Backpack 28 features sturdy handles on both sides and on top making it a joy to carry no matter the situation. The Hydrolok™ zipper makes sure no water can enter the main compartment. On the inside it features a mesh pocket for your essentials and a sleeve to hold a laptop for example. Removable chest and waist straps provide great flexibility. YETI calls their shell “Thickskin” – for a reason – it feels like the skin of an elephant. If you are looking for the utmost in durability and abrasion resistance you can’t go wrong with the Yeti Panga Backpack 28.

My verdict: If you’re looking for that extra bit in bomb-proofness, there’s no way around the YETI Panga. You can through any environment at it, it will withstand the test.

PROS:

  • Most sturdy submersible backpack on the market
  • Plenty of options to attach extra gear across the front

CONS:

  • A waist belt would be a nice feature

GET IT AT YETI

GET IT ON AMAZON

GET IT ON REI

Simms Dry Creek Z Fishing Backpack

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (15)

SPECS: Main Shell: 420D Nylon Double Ripstop with TPU coating. Weight: 35.45 oz. Capacity: 25L.

Why we picked it: The Simms Dry Creek Z Fishing Backpack has been completely reworked for the season. It’s fully submersible since it features a Tru Zip™ zipper that keeps everything inside the main compartment dry. The zippered exterior pocket holds your essential but is not waterproof. A D-ring on the front side allows for the attachment of additional gear.

Since the Simms Dry Creek Z Fishing Backpack was built with the fly fisher in mind, it has some nice little features such as a centred net holster to comfortably hold your fly fishing net. Pockets on the side of the Simms Dry Creek Z Fishing Backpack can hold a fly rod or a beverage for long days on the water.

My verdict: Looking for the ultimate combination of lightweight and full submergibility? Then make sure to check out the the Simms Dry Creek Z.

PROS:

  • The most flexible fabric of all submersible backpacks tested for our review
  • Great pocket system

CONS:

  • Shoulder straps could use a little more padding

GET IT AT SIMMS

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT AT TROUTS FLY FISHING

Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (16)

DIMENSIONS: 21″H x 12″W x 9″D – WEIGHT: 2.8lbs – CAPACITY: 28L

Why we picked it: The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack is made from Fishpond’s ultra durable 1680d TPU recycled nylon. The super sturdy TIZIP closure ensure your gear stays dry no matter what. The gear straps (included) allow for the attachment of extra gear on either side of the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack. On the outside it features a small zippered pocket for quick access (not waterproof).

A daisy chain and D-ring on the front panel of the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack offer even more possibilities to attach gear. On the inside it features a zippered pocket and a clear stash pocket. Just like its rolltop brother, the Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible Backpack is compatible with other Fishpond gear.

My verdict: The Fishpond Thunderhead Submersible combines an incredible degree of waterproofness with neat features like the rod tube holder straps and a quick access zippered pocket for quick access (not waterproof).

PROS:

  • Like its rolltop counterpart, the Fishpond sets the standard for versatility
  • Extremely sturdy

CONS:

  • A little on the bulkier side

GET IT AT REEL FLY ROD

GET IT AT TRIDENT

GET IT ON AMAZON

Patagonia Guidewater Backpack Waterproof 29L

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (17)

Why we picked it: The Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L (Read our in-depth review here) has been in the market for years (has been renamed Guidewater now, was the Stormsurge before) and proven its durability over and over again. It comes in black and blue and features a TIZIP® zipper that has an excellent reputation for providing 100% waterproofness.

The main compartment can hold a 15″ laptop or your camera equipment. Padded shoulder straps and a removable waist belt provide great comfort. On the outside the Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L features two gear straps to attach a fly rod or some other gear. On top of that you can attach more gear using the external lashing options. A new feature of the reworked backpack is the internal organizer pocket that can also be attached to the external lash points. A neat, little feature.

DIMENSIONS: 960 g (2 lbs 2 oz) – 21″H x 13.5″W x 9″D – CAPACITY: 29L (1770 cu in)

My verdict: If you’re a purist, make sure to check out the Patagonia Guidewater. It’s a fully submersible waterproof backpack that features the essentials to make it a great fly fishing backpack such as the rod tube holder.

PROS:

  • Most minimalistic submersible backpack
  • Very thought-through attachment options

CONS:

  • Waist belt for extra support when fully loaded would be neat

GET IT AT PATAGONIA

GET IT AT REEL FLY ROD

GET IT AT VAIL VALLEY ANGLERS

When a Waterproof Backpack Makes Sense

As you can see from our review, there are many options out there if you are looking for a backpack that’s waterproof. The decision you have to make is whether you (just) want a waterproof one or a backpack that is even fully submersible. No matter what you opt for, the products reviewed above all stand up to our own expectations and will make sure your gear stays dry no matter the weather situation.

Our Expertise

Why you should trust us: Leonard Schoenberger and his team have tried and tested hundreds of rods, reels and other fly fishing gear over the years. We always express our honest opinions about a product to help you make a solid purchase decision. We never get paid for reviews and are proud of keeping our editorial independence. Our focus is on bringing you the latest in gear so you can have a great time at the water. Thanks for being a reader ofThe Wading List.

FAQ

Do I need a backpack that’s waterproof?

A waterproof rucksack is essential if you want to keep your gear dry no matter the conditions. Complete waterproofness is crucial when you are bringing expensive gear such as a camera. If you want the utmost in waterproofness, you should go for a fully waterproof, submersible backpack.

Are waterproof backpacks really waterproof?

A waterproof one is 100% waterproof. Be careful though with water resistant backpacks which are not fully waterproof. From our experience it is best to pick a waterproof rolltop backpack or a fully submersible waterproof backpack.

What makes a backpack waterproof?

A backpack is considered waterproof if it’s made from a material that prevents water from penetrating, like treated nylon or PVC, and if it has sealed or taped seams to prevent water from seeping in. It’s also important for a waterproof backpack to have a secure closure system to keep water out, such as a roll-top or a watertight zipper.

Is there a difference between water-resistant and waterproof backpacks?

Yes, there is a significant difference. A water-resistant backpack can withstand light rain or moisture, but it may not hold up in heavier rain or if it’s submerged in water. A waterproof backpack, on the other hand, is designed to provide protection even in heavy rain and can often be briefly submerged without water getting into the main compartments.

What are some top brands for waterproof backpacks?

Some of the top brands for waterproof backpacks include Patagonia, The North Face, Sea to Summit, Ortlieb, and Yeti. These brands are known for their quality, durability, and commitment to keeping your belongings dry.

Can a waterproof backpack be used for hiking and other outdoor activities?

Absolutely! Many waterproof backpacks are specifically designed for outdoor activities like hiking, camping, and kayaking. They’re built to withstand harsh weather conditions and keep your gear dry.

How can I take care of my waterproof backpack?

To maintain the waterproof integrity of your backpack, clean it with a damp cloth instead of immersing it in water. If it has a special coating, avoid harsh detergents or cleaners that could damage this. Always let your backpack dry thoroughly before storing it to prevent mildew.

Does a waterproof backpack also protect against other elements like dust or sand?

Yes, in many cases, a waterproof backpack also provides excellent protection against dust, sand, and other elements. However, it’s best to check the specific features of the backpack you’re interested in to ensure it meets your needs.

What are the key features I should look for in a waterproof backpack?

Key features to look for in a waterproof backpack include the material (should be durable and water repellent), the type of closure (roll-top or watertight zippers are common), and the presence of sealed or taped seams. Additional features might include comfort (padded straps, back panel), the number and arrangement of pockets and compartments, and the overall size and weight of the backpack.

Best Waterproof Backpack: Top 11 of 2024 - Ultimate Buyer's Guide (2024)
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