Have you ever gone to load your kayak by yourself, only to find that it's…
Wherever you go kayaking, it is important to take the essentials with you on your journey. On short, leisurely paddles, the essentials might only consist of your phone, wallet, drinks bottle and some sunscreen.
On longer, multi-day expeditions across backcountry and rugged terrain, your list of essentials could include camping gear, stoves, food supplies, and spare clothes.
No matter what the circumstances are, however, you will need to keep your belongings safe and dry whilst out on the water.
This is where dry bags come in. Dry bags are possibly the most important piece of kit that any paddler can buy, because they keep all the rest of your kit in good, working order.
Your dry bag should be small enough to fit in (or on) your kayak, lightweight enough to be easily portable, and strong enough to protect the items it holds.
Choosing the right one for your needs will drastically improve your kayaking experience, and luckily there are a wide range of fantastic options available to buy online.
In this article, we list our 5 top kayaking dry bag picks and also explain exactly what you should look out for when making your choice.
OUR TOP PICK
First up, we have this fabulous dry bag by Earth Pak, which is available in 8 fun and funky color options. This dry bag is also available in 5 different sizes, so you can opt for the exact shape, weight, and dimensions that suit your needs.
The bag has a roll top design that keeps the main chamber airtight, water resistant and secure. The buckle clip is robust and won’t snap or break with wear, and the fastening forms a convenient handle that you can lift and grip the bag with easily.
The two smallest sizes have a single detachable strap for easy, over the shoulder carrying, whereas the larger sizes have two fully attached backpack straps to help you distribute the load more evenly.
We love the see-through, plastic phone case that comes with this dry bag. You can store your phone inside the well sealed compartment and still use the touchscreen!
The case is big enough to hold even the largest smartphones, and provides you will peace of mind whilst you are out on the water.
- Large clear phone case
- 500D PVC material
- Available in 10L, 20L, 30L,40L and 55L sizes
- Single strap on 10 and 20 liter bags
- Backpack straps on 30, 40, and 55 liter bags
- Not the most waterproof
Wow, this Marchway floating dry bag is available in 18 different colors, meaning that you are sure to be able to pick one that stands out.
You won’t risk leaving your dry bag on the shore with these bright and vibrant options, nor will you risk getting your dry bag confused with someone else's!
There are also 5 different size options available, so you can choose a bag that has the exact capacity and dimensions for your specific needs.
The smaller sizes come with a single strap that can be slung over your shoulder for convenient carrying, whilst the larger sizes come with padded backpack straps to protect your back and shoulders.
The straps are all detachable except for the 40 liter model, which has fully attached straps for extra security and strength.
These bags are made from double sided pvc which has a high tenacity polyester mesh inter layer.
This layer makes the bag more robust and hard wearing, and also forms a barrier that prevents water from seeping through.
Best of all, these dry bags float on water once they have been rolled and buckled, so you can attach them to the back of your kayak and let them drag along behind you. This saves valuable space on board.
- Roll top closure
- 5L and 10L single detachable strap
- 20L and 30L double detachable straps
- 40L double non-detachable straps
- 500D Ripstop tarpaulin material
- Welded seams
- Sizes are reduced once the top has been rolled
We love this sealed dry bag by KastKing because it is made from 100% nylon that has been treated with abrasion resistant coating and is highly waterproof.
The spider buckle is seriously robust and will not wear or become fatigued even after extensive use. And the roll top design is space saving and airtight.
Best of all, this dry bag has a zippered front pocket which makes storing your valuables really convenient.
You can access small items quickly without having to open up the main chamber, and it comes with a clear smartphone carry case to protect your electronics whilst you are out on the water.
This dry bag looks awesome, and comes with an adjustable over the shoulder strap so that you can sling it on your back when you are hiking.
It also has a small handle that makes gripping and lifting the bag effortless, so even if it rolls into the well of your kayak, you are able to reach in and get hold of it easily.
- 5L, 10L, 20L and 30L sizes available
- 100% nylon
- Resilient spider buckle
- Welded seams
- Not many color options available
This Seattle Sports Explorer dry bag is the most heavy duty dry bag on our list. The material is vinyl coated for a seriously durable and robust finish, making this the kind of dry bag that you could take anywhere.
No matter what adventures to put this bag through, and what elements you expose it to, the sheer density of the material means that it will not tear, rip or puncture, and your belongings will stay safe.
The buckle clip is also very heavy duty, so this bag can be fastened to the back of a kayak with rope and will hold fast.
Best of all, it is a great shape and size to double as a pillow should you fancy taking a nap on the shore!
- 100% vinyl
- Seriously durable material
- 5 sizes available
- Watertight not waterproof
- No shoulder strap included
And finally, this cylinder shaped dry bag by Wise Owl Outfitter is neat and compact, yet its innovative barrel design means that there is plenty of room inside for all your essentials.
This bag is a great choice for those taking short kayaking trips, and we particularly love the 5 liter option, which is the smallest on our list.
The roll top design means that this bag is watertight, airtight, and fully submersible. So even if your kayak capsizes, your belongings will be protected.
The material is durable yet lightweight, we only wish it came with a strap for even more portability.
- 5, 10, and 20 liter sizes available
- Cylinder shape for roomy design
- Watertight, airtight, fully submersible
- Pro grade durable clip
- No shoulder strap included
Hopefully you have found some inspiration from our list of top picks, but before you decide which dry bag is best for you, here are some key things to consider:
One of the most important features of any dry bag is the material that it is made from. Afterall, the material will determine how waterproof, durable, flexible and lightweight your bag will be.
Different materials offer different qualities, and where some will be better for long, backcountry trips, others will be more suitable to casual jaunts down the river.
The three main types of material to look out for are vinyl, nylon, and PVC.
Vinyl is the strongest of all drybag fabrics, and it is what is used for most high quality camping gear. It is seriously waterproof, to the extent where bags can be submerged in water and the fabric will remain unsaturated.
This material is ideal for those who like to go on multi-day expeditions across rough and tricky terrain. Camping stoves, kettles and other equipment will not tear or puncture vinyl, and will be kept safe and protected whilst inside.
Nylon is a less robust fabric than vinyl, but it is far more flexible and lightweight as a result. Nylon dry bags are best suited to kayakers who love to go for casual trips down stream, but don’t have huge amounts of heavy equipment to carry.
The flexibility of nylon means that these dry bags are more compact and can be fitted into the small well of your vessel easily. They also fold up and store more compactly than vinyl options.
- Synthetic materials / PVC
Many dry bags are made from PVC and synthetic materials. These materials have been especially designed to be waterproof, strong and flexible, and they are also often slightly cheaper than nylon and vinyl bags.
When opting for a PVC bag it is always wise to check the customer reviews to see exactly how waterproof the fabric is, as some are ‘splash proof’ but cannot be submerged.
As well as keeping your belongings dry, another key requirement of any dry bag is to keep your items safe and secure.
For this reason, looking at what fastenings and security features your bag offers will help you decide which is best for your needs.
- Zippers, velcro, clips, clasps, drawstring, cinches, straps
Most kayaking dry bags have a main central chamber into which your belongings are placed. This chamber must be kept tightly closed to prevent water from getting in (and items from falling out).
If you like to hit the rapids and know that your belongings are in for a wild ride, look for a dry bag that offers multiple clips, clasps and zippers that can hold everything in place.
- Roll top
Roll tops are becoming increasingly popular amongst kayak enthusiasts because they are such an effective space saving and waterproofing design.
A roll top bag has excess material at the opening which can then be rolled down to compress any excess air out of the bag and prevent water from getting in. It is simple yet incredibly effective.
- One or two straps
As you will have to carry your dry bag at certain points on your trip, it is important that it has straps that suit your purpose.
The straps must be well secured and double stitched, because there is nothing worse than when they break. Single strap bags are best for short trips and can be worn over your shoulder for a hands-free feel.
But if you are hiking and covering any amount of distance on your kayaking trip, then investing in a backpack style dry bag will be much better for your back and shoulders.
Size In Liters
The size of your dry bag is a very important factor to take into consideration because you want it to have enough capacity to hold all your belongings, and yet be small enough to fit comfortably in your kayak.
Here is a break down of the general bag sizes and how they correlate to appropriate use:
- 5 - 10 liters
These bags are ideal for short, casual trips when you are paddling for a few hours.
You can fit your phone, wallet, drink bottle, bug spray, car keys, and sunscreen inside a 5 or 10 liter bag. It is lightweight and does not take up much room in the kayak well.
- 15 - 30 liters
These are the most popular sizes of dry bags because they are the most versatile.
For longer trips when you are journeying for many hours and tackling challenging waters, this capacity will allow you to bring spare clothes and underwear, extra layers, shoes and food supplies to keep you going.
- 30 liters and over
Any dry bag that is 30 liters or over has the capacity to hold much larger and more weighty camping gear and equipment.
If you are headed on an extended, multi-day trip, you can take your tent, stove, kettle and more inside your kayaking dry bag. These large bags tend to have backpack style straps so double as great hiking bags too.
Most dry bags for kayaking come in a range of bright and vibrant colors, and this is not simply so that they are cool to look at.
There is a very practical purpose behind the luminosity of many of these bags, because it means that they are much more easily visible than dark bags.
Rather than blending in with the dark water and rocky terrain, bright bags stand out and are therefore less at risk of being lost or left behind. They are also more immediately visible in times of need, allowing you to access your belongings quickly should you need to.
On the whole, the design of a kayak dry bag should be simple and functional, but some special features can really enhance a dry bag and make your life much easier.
External pockets allow you to store small items in an easy to access location, rather than have them mixed in with your larger items in the main compartment.
Make sure than external pockets have strong closures to prevent things falling out, and strong watertight seals to prevent water getting in.
- Interior compartments
Having a single main chamber is handy for storing large, bulky equipment, but dry bags that have interior compartments are really useful for keeping your items organized inside. If you like to separate your shoes from your towels, interior compartments are a great thing to look out for.
- Extra straps
Some dry bags come with extra straps, or detachable straps. These are great because they allow you to adjust the set up of your bag and wear it in different ways depending on whether you are paddling, hiking or relaxing.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Items Should You Take Kayaking?
10 items that are handy to have when you are out on a kayaking adventure are: money, a pen knife, a throw bag and rope, a dry bag, drinking water, sun screen, bug spray, spare socks, an extra layer, and a whistle.
Is Kayaking Hard For Beginners?
Basic paddling is pretty simple, and even beginners will be able to give it a go. What takes time is mastering the proper technique and building stamina to go long distances. This takes practice and patience.
Can Kayaking Help You Lose Weight?
Absolutely. Kayaking is a great physical activity, and you can burn lots of calories by paddling with your arms and engaging your core. The more advanced you become, and the further and faster you kayak, the more calories you will burn.
If you remember to take anything on your kayaking trip, let it be a suitable dry bag. Without it all your other belongings stand to get wet, lost or broken. With a dry bag, you will be able to keep your items safe, dry and easily accessible.