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13 Best Dry Bags for Adventurers (Waterproof Bags for Galapagos and Amazon Treks)

Posted in: Product Reviews, Resources & Gear

Trying to find the best waterproof dry bag? In this post, you’ll learn how to choose the best dry bag for your adventure. Plus our picks for the best dry bags – including waterproof barrel roll-top, large barrel, backpacks, phone and camera dry bags. You’ll need a quality bag to keep your gear safe while traveling between islands in the Galapagos and hiking the trails in the Amazon rainforest.

Best dry bags

Best Dry Bags for Galapagos and Amazon Adventures

Many people only get one chance to visit the Galapagos Islands and tour the Amazon jungle area. Whether you head there for the first time or the 100th time, you need the right protection for your belongings.

On our Galapagos trips, we traveled many times between islands by speed boat. This means that our gear traveled from the hotel to dock (often on a pickup truck), then sat on the dock, and then on an open backed boat. Even when it didn’t rain, it was exposed to lots of moisture. We traveled with one dry bag and a couple of standard luggage bags.

When on a Galapagos or Amazon tour, I recommend that you travel with at least one dry bag – for your electronics and important documents (like identification and passports).

Dry bags are great for adventures because they keep everything inside completely dry. You can use one to store your clothing and anything else you need on your trip, including a laptop, clean clothes, and emergency supplies. With the best dry bags for adventure trips, you can even keep your phone and other electronics safe from the water.

This is a pretty comprehensive guide. If you don’t want to read the full article and just want the best dry bag, here it is:


Best Premium Dry Bag: Yeti Panga Backpack

This backpack by Yeti is our pick for the best dry bag. Here’s why: it is fully waterproof, airtight and submersible. That means it’ll keep your gear clean and dry – from rain, humidity, and an upset kayak.

Check current price on Amazon

And because it is a backpack, it’s easier to travel with on trails and buses. It isn’t cheap – but neither is camera gear and replacement passports. If you want to keep your gear safe from the elements, you should check out this bag.


Best Budget Dry Bag: Earth Pak

If you don’t require a submersible proof dry bag (or don’t have the budget), this bag is a great option. It is waterproof, comes in 4 sizes and 6 colors.

Check current price on Amazon

The two largest sizes have backpack straps for hiking and they all come with an additional waterproof phone case. It boasts an almost perfect customer rating. And you’ll be surprised at how inexpensive it is. Definitely worth a look.

best small dry bag

A simple dry bag is probably all you’ll need when visiting the beaches in Ecuador.

How to Choose the Right Dry Bag: 5 Factors

Before you start shopping for a dry bag and planning your next Amazon adventure, you need to make sure that you know how to pick the best dry bag. Some of the factors you should consider include both the material used in the bag and its overall capacity.

  1. Waterproof: PVC is a common material used in these bags because it is either waterproof or water-resistant. A waterproof bag is one that will keep its contents completely dry when submerged in water such as a river or stream. Bags that are water-resistant can keep some of the water from getting inside. Some companies also refer to water-resistant bags as “splash proof”.
  2. Capacity: When it comes to capacity, bigger is not necessarily better. A larger bag has much more space for your belongings but will also weigh more when empty. Heavy bags can wear on your back and shoulders, especially on adventure trips where you might not have the chance to sit down and take a break. The smallest bags have a capacity of just five liters. Some of the larger bags can hold 30 to 40 liters up to 100 liters.
  3. Submersible: You’ll also want to look at how submersible a bag really is in terms of how deep it can go and how long it can stay in the water. With a submersible dry bag, you can avoid some of the hassles usually associated with Amazon trips. If your boat tips over or you drop it in the river, it will keep the electronics and other valuable items inside safe. Submersible bags are usually more expensive than splash proof bags are but can save you some worries.
  4. Straps and Handles: Most campers and other adventure enthusiasts also look at the straps on dry bags. Larger bags have both adjustable shoulder straps and carrying handles. The carrying handles let you transport the bag in one hand, while the shoulder straps let you throw it on your back before you head out. Some of the best bags have handles that are both padded and reinforced. The reinforced stitching keeps the straps from separating from the bag, while the padding stops the straps from rubbing uncomfortably against or digging into your skin.
  5. Other Features: Before buying a dry bag, you need to make sure that you consider all the other features too. If you plan on spending a lot of time on your feet and hiking around the Amazon River, you need one with an ergonomic design. Some models have extra padding on the panel that rubs against your back. You may want one that lets you access pockets without taking off the bag first. No matter what you will take on your adventure, you need to make sure the dry bag has enough space for your belongings in its central compartment and all interior and exterior pockets too.
types of dry bags

If you like kayaking, you should check out Tortuga Bay on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. (Photo above is not from Tortuga Bay.)  

7 Types of Dry Bags

  1. Barrel Roll-Top Dry Bags: Barrel roll-top dry bags are among the more popular and best dry bags. They have top edges that you can roll down, which forms a seal between your belongings and the area around the bag. Roll-top bags usually have a single shoulder strap as well as a carrying handle, though smaller models may only have a small carrying handle.
  2. PVC Dry Bags: PVC dry bags are also popular because this material does such a good job of resisting water and is easy to clean. If you get home from the Galapagos and find stains on your bag, you can spot clean them with a little soap and water.
  3. Backpack Dry Bag: Those who enjoy hiking on their Galapagos adventures may prefer a backpack dry bag to one of the other models. These bags look like standard backpacks and feature adjustable straps that usually have some extra padding. Some also come with optional accessory bags for your phone or laptop too.
  4. Kayak Dry Bags: Kayak dry bags are either waterproof or water-resistant and will usually float on the water. These bags also have D-rings that help you attach the bag to the side of your kayak before getting in the water.
  5. Lightweight Dry Bags: For camping and day hikes in the Amazon, you might prefer a lightweight dry bag. These bags won’t take up a lot of space and can easily fit into your luggage. The space inside lets you take bottles of water, snacks and other things you might need on your hike.
  6. Phone Dry Bag: Dry bags designed for phones are much smaller in size and only have enough interior space for your phone. Most have a clear window on the front that lets you view your phone at all times. You can press down on this window to turn your phone on and off and to access all your features. The window even lets you take photos while keeping your phone safe. Many of these are submersible.
  7. Camera Dry Bag: DSLR cameras are quite expensive, but you can protect your investment with a camera dry bag. Some of these bags allow you to use your camera and any lenses you bring, but others come with a dedicated lens that you use on your camera. The dry bags have clear areas and windows that let you view your camera’s screen and access its features. Some bags let you completely submerge your camera in the Amazon River without damaging it.
best dry bag for hiking

Barrel Roll-Top Dry Bags (3 Options)

Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag

  • Brand: Earth Pak
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Barrel roll-top
  • Size: 10 to 40 liters
  • Material: 500D PVC
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: Not officially, although some users have had success.
  • Other Features: Universal waterproof phone case, sealed seams, adjustable shoulder strap
  • Ideal for: Water sports
  • Pros: Floats on the water, small pocket for keeping items dry
  • Cons: Doesn’t let you access the touchscreen on your phone

Earth Pak makes one of the best floating dry bags, which you can submerge in the water and watch as it floats back up to the surface. Available in several colors, all the shades of this bag are bright to help you find it in the water.

It has a side pocket that is splashproof and comes with a small case for a cell phone or another electronic device. Thanks to the shoulder strap, you can carry the bag over your shoulder or strap it to your chest.

It also has sealed seams that create a waterproof barrier and D-rings for attaching the bag to your boat.

MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag

  • Brand: MARCHWAY
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Barrel roll-top
  • Size: 5 to 40 liters
  • Material: Tarpaulin PVC
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: No. Some users have had success for short periods of time.
  • Other Features: Brightly colored, lightweight, sealed seams
  • Ideal for: Kayaking and other water sports
  • Pros: Floats on any type of water, closes easily
  • Cons: Not waterproof if fully submerged

Though you cannot completely submerge this MARCHWAY bag, you can use it while boating on the Amazon River because it floats on the water.

It comes in multiple sizes that can hold between five and 40 liters and is also available in multiple colors. Made from a tarpaulin material, it also has sealed seams to keep water out of the bag.

You can easily roll down the top of the bag and use the built-in zipper to keep the bag tightly closed. It also features an adjustable shoulder strap that lets you wear and use the bag on your upper body or over your shoulder.

BFULL Waterproof Dry Bag

  • Brand: BFULL
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Barrel roll-top
  • Size: 5 to 40 liters
  • Material: Composite materials
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: Not listed as submersible, but advertised as an emergency life buoy.
  • Other Features: Two exterior pockets, water-resistant at 20,000mm
  • Ideal for: Outdoor adventure enthusiasts
  • Pros: Functions as a life buoy, easy to clean
  • Cons: Smaller sizes lack a shoulder strap

It has reinforced stitching on the seams to keep the bag from breaking and a small window that lets you check on the contents inside. This bag is waterproof and features two pockets for storing breakable items and important documents.

With this BFULL dry bag, you can get help during an emergency because it also functions as a lifebuoy. Once you remove your items, you can use the bag as support to float on the water. Though it comes in both smaller and larger sizes, the smaller bags lack the shoulder strap that you use to carry the bag on your body.

Best waterproof dry bag

Large Barrel Dry Bags (3 Options)

YETI Panga Airtight Dry Bag

  • Brand: YETI
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Large barrel
  • Size: 100 liters
  • Material: Nylon and laminated materials
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: Yes
  • Other Features: Durable hardware, removable straps, waterproof and airtight
  • Ideal for: All types of adventures
  • Pros: Waterproof and airtight design, one of the largest dry bags available
  • Cons: Too expensive for all budgets

YETI makes this large dry bag for adventure enthusiasts who want the ultimate in protection when on the water. The zipper on the outside forms an airtight and waterproof seal on the bag, and all the metal hardware is durable enough for daily use.

Made from laminate and nylon materials, this bag is so strong that you can literally drag it across the ground without it ripping. It has straps that dry quickly and feel comfortable in your hands.

This bag weighs less than seven pounds when empty and has all the space that you need for the things you need in the Galapagos.

COR Waterproof Duffel Bag

  • Brand: COR
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Large barrel
  • Size: 60 liters
  • Material: Rip stop
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: No
  • Other Features: Compression straps, pockets on the inside and out
  • Ideal for: Camping, boating
  • Pros: Secures to protect your belongings, resistant to most forms of water
  • Cons: Not completely waterproof

COR makes a dry bag that does a good job of keeping your items safe while boating and on the water. Though the company claims that it’s waterproof, some users found that their clothing and other items were damp when they checked them later. So while it might not be 100% waterproof, it’s lower cost might make this the right bag for some settings.

It has four compression straps that help you pull air out of the bag to keep it waterproof and padded straps with reinforced stitching.

A small zippered pocket inside the bag is just the right safe for health and beauty products, while the outside of the bag features a larger water-resistant pocket with a zippered top.

Earth Pak Waterproof Duffel Bag

  • Brand: Earth Pak
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Large barrel
  • Size: 50 to 70 liters
  • Material: Not listed
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: No
  • Other Features: Buckle system, D-rings, multiple storage pockets
  • Ideal for: Camping, adventure sports
  • Pros: Easy to carry, comes in several colors
  • Cons: Will not keep your belongings safe when fully submerged

Available in both 50 and 70 liter sizes and in several colors, this Earth Pak dry bag lets you pick options that match your preferences and trips.

The commercial and PVC materials used in its construction can stand up to all types of adventures. You can carry the bag via the two small handles on the top or with the adjustable shoulder strap, which you can also remove.

The large compartment in the middle of the bag has a reinforced bottom, but you’ll also find smaller pockets on both the inside and out. It also has four metal D-rings designed for attaching the bag to boats and other vehicles.

best dry bag

Backpack Dry Bags (3 Options)

YETI Panga Waterproof Backpack

  • Brand: YETI
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Backpack
  • Size: 28 liters
  • Material: Nylon and laminate materials
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: Yes
  • Other Features: Mesh pockets, durable hardware, interior pockets
  • Ideal for: Camping, boating
  • Pros: Completely waterproof and submersible, thick outer shell
  • Cons: Quite expensive

YETI makes a number of great waterproof bags that include this Panga backpack that can hold 28 liters. The backpack design makes it easy to carry, and it has tons of space inside due to a large compartment with some reinforced stitching on the bottom.

Made from a laminate material and some nylon, it is resistant to scratches and other damage. It has both adjustable shoulder straps for added comfort and a top carrying handle.

This bag also features multiple storage pockets that you can access on the inside without fully unzipping the top. The main zipper is water-resistant and forms an airtight and waterproof seal.

Unigear Waterproof Backpack

  • Brand: Unigear
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Backpack
  • Size: 35 liters
  • Material: PVC
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: No
  • Other Features: Three closure options, detachable laptop bag, zippered exterior pockets
  • Ideal for: Daily use and hiking.
  • Pros: Functions as a barrel bag and backpack, suitable for using every day
  • Cons: Much larger than you might expect

With three closure methods and ways to use it, this Unigear backpack can go everywhere you do. You can use it for your daily commute but also when swimming or camping.

It even has a fast mode for those days when you want to quickly get going around the Galapagos. This 100% waterproof bag uses PVC materials and has a PVC film on the top that adds to its water protection.

Each of the three zippered pockets on the outside can hold your phone and other items to keep them safe from the water, but there is also a mesh pocket that can hold bottles and drinks.

Earth Pak Waterproof Backpack

  • Brand: Earth Pak
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Backpack
  • Size: 35 to 55 liters
  • Material: PVC
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: No
  • Other Features: Reflective design, ergonomic panel, waterproof phone case
  • Ideal for: Adventure sports and trips
  • Pros: Keeps you comfortable when hiking and spending time outside, protects phones and other valuables
  • Cons: Not durable enough for all types of trips

From hiking and camping to rafting and surfing, this Earth Pak backpack can handle all types of adventures. It has a MOLLE system that is similar to those found on military bags and D-rings for attaching it for added security.

The included waterproof case fits most cell phones and has a strap for carrying it on your neck. Once you fill the bag, you can fold down the top and secure it to keep all items safe from water and other elements.

With a splash proof zippered pocket on the outside and several small compartments, the bag has room for all your belongings.

best beach dry bag

Don’t forget to weigh your luggage before heading to the airport. You’ll hit your max weight faster than you might think. Here’s our guide to choosing the best luggage scale for travel.

Phone and Camera Dry Bags (4 Options)

YETI Hopper Sidekick Dry

  • Brand: YETI
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Phone bag
  • Size: 11.75 by 7-1/8 by 3.75 inches
  • Material: DryHide
  • Straps: No
  • Submersible: No
  • Other Features: Magnetic closure, reinforced seams
  • Ideal for: Those with a Yeti Hopper cooler, but works well as a stand alone product.
  • Pros: Suitable for most accessories, keeps products safe and dry
  • Cons: Works best if you have the cooler

Those who own a Hopper cooler from YETI will appreciate this Sidekick bag that can hold most of their accessories. It has Velcro closures across the back that make it easy to attach the bag to your cooler before camping or boating.

The magnetic closures on the top of the bag form a watertight seal but are easy to open when you need to remove something from inside. This small bag can hold your phone, keys and other small items.

JOTO Universal Waterproof Phone Dry Bag

  • Brand: JOTO
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Phone bag
  • Size: Fits 100 by 170mm phones
  • Material: Certified waterproof materials
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: Yes
  • Other Features: Waterproof certified at depths of up to 100 feet, clear touch screen window
  • Ideal for: Camping, boating
  • Pros: Gives you full access to your phone, blocks out snow, water and sand
  • Cons: May develop some fog on the touchscreen window.

Whether you love the sand and the ocean or the dirt and the snow, you can keep your phone safe with this JOTO phone dry bag.

The snap system lets you open the case and insert your phone before snapping the case shut. That snap forms a waterproof barrier between the phone and the water.

Safe for use at depths of up to 100 feet, this dry bag has a large clear window on the front that lets you use the touchscreen on your phone. It also has a handy carrying strap that you can wear around your neck to keep your phone on hand.

To keep the inside from fogging up, drop a couple of these in with your phone. Here’s more about how to keep fog from forming inside the bag.

YETI SideKick Waterproof Portable Bag

  • Brand: YETI
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Phone bag
  • Size: 9 by 1.5 by 5.5 inches
  • Material: DryHide fabric
  • Straps: No
  • Submersible: No
  • Other Features: Zippered top, water-resistant exterior
  • Ideal for: Use with the YETI Hopper cooler
  • Pros: Holds most small objects such as keys and phones, fits onto the side of the Hopper cooler
  • Cons: May be too small for your needs

If you have a Hopper cooler from YETI, you can use the company’s phone bag to keep your phone and other small belongings safe. It has Velcro straps on the back that make attaching it your cooler easy.

Made from a DryHide fabric, the bag also has a water-resistant zipper across the top. This small bag lets you keep your hunting or fishing license in a convenient place and also keep track of your keys and phone.

Though it is not submersible, it is waterproof and can keep those items safe as you float down the river. The fabric used on this bag also dries quickly.

DiCAPac Pro DSLR Camera Waterproof Case

  • Brand: DiCAPac
  • Price: Check current price on Amazon
  • Type of dry bag: Camera dry bag
  • Size: Lenses of 2 to 5.9 inches
  • Material: Polycarbonate and other materials
  • Straps: Yes
  • Submersible: Yes
  • Other Features: Polycarbonate lens, UV protection
  • Ideal for: Swimmers and campers
  • Pros: Provides full access to your camera, keeps devices safe from water damage
  • Cons: Does not fit all cameras

You can feel confident taking your DSLR camera down the Amazon with this dry camera bag. It has a polycarbonate lens that captures images from dozens of feet away and a clear exterior that lets you easily reach and use all the buttons on your camera.

Though it has a universal design, this bag works best with larger cameras and requires that you remove your original lens before using it.

It fits cameras that use a lens of between two and 5.9 inches and is submersible at depths of up to 16 feet. You can attach the best dry bag for cameras via the small straps on the front too.

Here’s more about choosing the best camera for travel.

Best dry bag kayaking

Common Questions about Dry Bags

What are dry bags used for?

Anyone who spends a large amount of time outside can benefit from a dry bag. This includes those who love adventure sports such as camping and surfing and those who like hiking. The bags do a good job of keeping their contents safe as you play in the rain or in/on the water.

Do dry bags work?

Though dry bags do an effective job, how well they work will depend on factors such as the seams and material used. While some are completely waterproof and will stop any type of moisture from getting through, others are only resistant to water and will not stay dry when fully submerged in the water.

best dry bag for stand up paddleboarding

Can dry bags be submerged?

The answer to this question will depend heavily on the type of bag that you choose. When picking a submersible dry bag, you can look at how long it can remain in the water and the depth at which it will keep your belongings safe.

Though some bags will block out all water when dropped into the lake or ocean, others will only work on the water that splashes over the side of the boat or the rain that falls from the sky. YETI makes some of the best submersible dry bags that I’ve seen.

Do dry bags float?

If you spend a lot of time boating and around the water, you may want to consider a floating dry bag. These are a little different from other types of bags because they feature an edge or top that you can roll down and over to form an airtight seal.

Instead of sinking to the bottom of the water, the air inside will cause the bag to float to the surface and remain there. Some of these bags even double as a floating device during an emergency.

do dry bags float

How do you remove mildew and mold from a dry bag?

Dry bags can develop problems with mold and mildew, especially if you leave one sitting out after it gets wet.

The best way to remove that mold and mildew is with a little salt and lemon juice. You’ll mix equal amounts of those ingredients and dab the mixture on the spots that you see. Distilled white vinegar also works quite well.

Some bags are machine washable too, which means that you can toss one in the washing machine with your favorite laundry soap and fabric softener to remove both stains and odors. Here’s more from Outside Magazine.

How do you repair a dry bag?

A dry bag repair kit comes with everything necessary to repair a damaged bag. These kits include both patches and an adhesive sealant. If you don’t have the original kit, this transparent patch kit should do the trick.

You’ll need to pick a patch that closely matches the color of the bag and cut the patch to the right size for the hole or tear.

After making sure that the bag is clean, you can apply the sealant to the surface and then place the patch on top. You will also need to rub the surface of the patch to remove any air bubbles and to make sure that it bonds with both the bag and the adhesive.

If you want an easy and convenient way to repair a rip, you can also use a small piece of waterproof tape. The tape will keep the bag sealed until you can get a repair kit.

What are welded seams?

As you look at dry bags, you’ll find that some feature welded seams. This is a process that manufacturers use to seal the seams on the bag to block water from getting through.

If you hold those bags in your hands, you might notice that the seams feel almost like plastic to the touch. Other manufacturers use reinforced stitching that keeps the bags from breaking and can help with the waterproof qualities of the bags.

best waterproof bags

Your Turn

 

Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

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