The Ultimate Guide to Waterproof Dry Bags
Dry bags are a must-have piece of gear for any outdoor adventurer. While they are simple, easy to use, you’ll find there are many different styles, sizes, materials, and features that go into them. I hope to guide you through the decision-making process with this ultimate guide to waterproof dry bags. Let’s get started!
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What’s a Waterproof Dry Bag?
As the name implies, their primary job is to keep any piece of outdoor gear dry. The bag is a flexible container, typically with a roll-top closure. Roll-top Dry Bags provide a Watertight enclosure by the way they are secured. Instead of a Zip-top or zipper type of closing mechanism, the bag is secured by rolling down or dog-earing the top at least three times, them clipping the buckles together.
We will go over other ways of securing a dry bag, but the most reliable ones are closed with a roll-top seal. The reason Mountaineers prefer this over a zipper and zip-top closing style is that a rolling top is virtually indestructible.
Two pieces of fabric being pressed together won’t wear out like a waterproof zipper. It will perform the same in a cold environment (unlike a zipper) and can easily be closed with gloves on.
Who Uses Dry Bags & What Are They For
Waterproof dry bags are one of the most common items for many outdoor activities. It’s easy to see why, over the years, many people have adopted them.
Backpackers: Wanting to separate valuable gear keeping it clean and dry. Have multiple smaller dry bags of different colors help keep them organized.
Water Sports: It’s ubiquitous to find a large waterproof dry bag on a Kayak or Canoe. Waterproof backpacks are used for paddleboarding or SUP for short. Large dry bags are also routinely used for rafting as well.
Camping: Dry bags are used to keep wet gear separate from dry clothes. Small dry bags can hold electronics, keeping them safe from water and dust.
Alternative Uses: Using them as a pillow, gathering water, a bear bag, and a boat anchor.
These are just some of the uses for people that need to protect their equipment.
Different Closing Dry Bag Styles
Closing roll-top dry bags is recommended, but let’s look at other ways of closing them. Let’s compare the zip-top and zipper closing bags to the roll-top.
Zip-Top or Ziploc Closing Dry Bag
This type of bag is excellent for smaller, lighter items that fit nicely in the small pockets of a backpack. I keep a few Ziploc bags whenever I go hiking to keep my toiletries clean. The problem with this closing mechanism is when you have larger, more substantial items.
With heavier gear rolling around in a Ziploc bag, the top can easily blow out. If you close a Ziploc bag with air in it, a small amount of pressure will pop the bag right open. A roll-top dry bag won’t do this. If enough force is applied to a roll-top style bag, the seams will blow out before the top will.
Cold weather will make the zip-top stiff and hard to close. While they will be fine in most temperatures the cold weather will affect the performance.
Freegrace sells a dry bag that has a zip-top combined with a roll-top. While this isn’t necessary or really adds any extra protection, they claim it’s for added security. They also note that in cold weather, the zip-top won’t perform well, and oil needs to be applied before closing the bag.
Waterproof Zipper Dry Bags
A true waterproof zipper will not leak, but the problem is many so-called “Waterproof Zippers” are merely water-resistant. This kind of zipper will let water leak in if they are exposed in the rain or dropped in water long enough. Bag manufacturers do this to save on costs because true waterproof zippers are expensive.