Kayak Dry Bags: Essential Gear for Every Paddler

Kayak Drybag


When you’re out on the water, you want to make sure your gear is protected from the elements. Kayaking offers a unique set of challenges when it comes to keeping your belongings dry. That’s where kayak dry bags come in. These essential pieces of equipment are specifically designed to keep your gear safe and dry, no matter the conditions. This article will discuss the importance of dry bags in kayaking, the different types available, and how to choose the right one for your needs.

The Importance of Dry Bags in Kayaking

Whether you’re an experienced kayaker or a beginner, it’s crucial to have a reliable dry bag to keep your gear safe from water damage. Even if you’re just out for a leisurely paddle, there’s always a chance of encountering splashes, rain, or even an unexpected capsize. Kayak dry bags are specially designed to protect your belongings from these hazards, so you can focus on enjoying your time on the water.

Types of Kayak Dry Bags

There are several types of dry bags available, each with its own unique features and benefits. Here are the three main types you’ll encounter:

Roll-Top Dry Bags

These are the most common type of dry bags. They feature a simple, yet effective closure system that involves rolling the top of the bag down several times and securing it with a buckle. This creates an air and water-tight seal to keep your gear protected. Roll-top bags are available in a variety of materials, sizes, and colors.

Compression Dry Bags

Compression dry bags are similar to roll-top bags, but they have additional straps that allow you to compress the bag and its contents. This is especially useful for saving space in your kayak and keeping your gear organized. They’re ideal for items like clothing and sleeping bags that can be compressed without damage.

Zippered Dry Bags

These bags feature a waterproof zipper closure, offering an extra level of security and convenience compared to roll-top bags. Zippered dry bags tend to be more expensive, but they can be worth the investment if you need quick and easy access to your gear without sacrificing protection.

Choosing the Right Dry Bag for Your Needs

When selecting a kayak dry bag, there are several factors to consider. Here are some key aspects to keep in mind:

Material and Durability

The material used in a dry bag will directly impact its durability and ability to keep your gear dry. Common materials include PVC, nylon, and polyurethane. Each material has its own advantages and drawbacks, so consider your specific needs and the conditions you’ll be kayaking in when making a decision. PVC and polyurethane tend to be more durable and water-resistant, while nylon is lightweight and more packable.

Size and Capacity

Dry bags come in various sizes, measured in liters. Think about the gear you’ll be carrying and how much space you’ll need to accommodate it. It’s a good idea to choose a bag with a slightly larger capacity than you think you’ll need, to allow for extra items and easier packing. Dry bags are available in sizes ranging from 1 liter (ideal for small items like phones and wallets) to 100 liters or more (for extended trips or bulky gear).

Closure System

As mentioned earlier, there are three main types of closure systems: roll-top, compression, and zippered. Each has its own benefits, so consider your preferences and the type of gear you’ll be carrying when making a choice. Roll-top bags are generally the most affordable and versatile option, while zippered bags offer convenience and additional security.

Additional Features

Some dry bags come with extra features that can be useful for specific situations or preferences. For example, some bags have built-in attachment points for easy securing to your kayak, while others have clear windows for easy identification of contents. Consider which features are most important to you when selecting a dry bag.

Top Kayak Dry Bag Brands

There are many reputable brands that produce high-quality kayak dry bags. Some popular options include Sea to Summit, NRS, Outdoor Research, and SealLine. These brands offer a variety of styles, sizes, and materials to suit every kayaker’s needs. It’s worth spending some time researching and comparing products from different brands to find the best fit for your requirements.

Tips for Using and Maintaining Your Kayak Dry Bag

To get the most out of your dry bag and ensure it lasts as long as possible, follow these tips:

  1. Always make sure the closure system is properly sealed before exposing the bag to water.
  2. Avoid overfilling your dry bag, as this can put stress on the seams and closure system, reducing its effectiveness.
  3. Periodically check for any signs of wear or damage and repair or replace your dry bag as needed.
  4. Rinse your dry bag with fresh water after each use, especially if it’s been exposed to saltwater.
  5. Store your dry bag in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent material degradation.

Additional Tips for Choosing and Using Kayak Dry Bags

In addition to the advice provided above, here are some extra tips to help you make the most of your dry bag:

  1. Consider purchasing multiple dry bags in different sizes and colors. This can help you organize your gear more efficiently and make it easier to find items when you need them.
  2. Look for dry bags with a removable shoulder strap or handle. This can make it more convenient to carry your bag to and from your kayak, especially if you need to portage or walk a distance to the water.
  3. Test the waterproof capabilities of your dry bag before heading out on the water. Fill the bag with air, seal it, and then submerge it in water for a few minutes. If any air bubbles escape or water seeps in, your dry bag may not be fully waterproof.
  4. Avoid storing sharp or abrasive items directly in your dry bag. These can potentially puncture or damage the material, compromising its waterproof capabilities. Use protective cases or wrap such items in a soft cloth before placing them in the dry bag.
  5. When packing your kayak, distribute the weight of your dry bags evenly. This will help maintain the stability and balance of your kayak, making it easier to paddle and maneuver.

By taking these additional tips into account, you can further optimize your experience with kayak dry bags and ensure that your gear stays safe and dry during your paddling adventures.


A reliable kayak dry bag is an essential piece of gear for every paddler, providing protection for your belongings and peace of mind during your adventures on the water. By considering the different types, materials, sizes, and features, you can find the perfect dry bag to suit your needs. With proper care and maintenance, your dry bag will serve you well for many trips to come.


Can I use a regular backpack instead of a dry bag for kayaking?

While it’s possible to use a regular backpack, it’s not recommended as they are not designed to keep your gear dry in wet conditions. Dry bags are specifically designed to provide waterproof protection for your belongings.

How should I pack my dry bag to ensure it stays waterproof?

Be sure to properly seal the closure system and avoid overfilling the bag. Distribute the weight of your items evenly and place heavier items at the bottom of the bag.

Are all dry bags completely waterproof?

While most dry bags are designed to be waterproof, the degree of protection can vary depending on the material and construction. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications and choose a bag with a high waterproof rating to ensure maximum protection for your gear.

Can I submerge my dry bag in water?

Some high-quality dry bags are designed to be fully submersible, while others are meant to withstand splashes and brief immersion. Always check the manufacturer’s specifications to determine the level of water protection your dry bag offers.

How do I clean and maintain my dry bag?

After each use, rinse your dry bag with fresh water, especially if it has been exposed to saltwater. Allow it to air dry completely before storing it in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Periodically inspect your dry bag for any signs of wear or damage, and repair or replace it as needed.