Our Guide to Waterproof Dry Bags And Cases
Our mission is to get people outdoors. Since most people aren't enthusiasts who venture outside regularly, you can buy or rent waterproof dry bags and cases. Specifically, about our waterproof dry bags and cases rentals:
- We rent waterproof dry bags and cases that are higher end than those rented elsewhere, but still offer competitive pricing
- We offer a rent-to-buy program so you don't have to worry about losing money from renting
- Our self-service allows you to hire waterproof dry bags and cases whenever is convenient for you
Core function: If you're on a water-based trip (e.g., kayaking or canoeing or hiking with numerous river crossings), you must keep your gear & clothes dry (imagine changing into wet clothes or getting into a wet sleeping bag). Even sometimes on land-based trips where you expect inclement weather, you want a place to keep your valuables (phone, wallet, keys, etc.) dry.
Do you really need it?
Essential for certain trips that are water-based. If you normally do land-based camping but are trying kayak camping, for example, you can easily rent dry bags for a few dollars .
For more info, read our 'what you really need' protip
What we carry
|Type or style||Waterproof case||Dry bag|
|SealLine E-Case||SealLine Discovery Deck Dry Bag|
MSRP with tax
Approved by Transportation Safety Agency (TSA) as a carry-on toiletries container
- We choose what we carry based on extensive research on what's the best value to our customers (e.g., price given performance & durability features) across all the top brands. We specifically do not carry every brand & model; for details on why we do/don't carry certain items in the following What To Use & How To Choose section
- Buy prices a grayed out box indicates we don't sell it (we may only rent waterproof dry bags and cases of this model)
- Rent prices are the starting prices; enter trip dates on our Catalog to get exact prices (based on total trip length, not per day!). We also don't charge sales tax, an automatic savings of almost 10%!
When you hire waterproof dry bags and cases online, you can select from available options or we'll pick out something for you. You can also write-in any preferences on the last page of checkout. This section describes the majority of our models & options, but sometimes we carry others.
What to use & how to choose
Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the hype of something new (over-spending often happens on features). Our guide focuses on the fundamental factors you should always keep in mind (thus, this short list is similar across all items). Then only at the end do we have some questions to get you thinking about other minor features. Also take advantage of renting waterproof dry bags and cases to try out what works for you!
We highly recommend reviewing Type or Style first, where we review what you can use to address the Core function--a regular item you have at home may work! The other factors are secondary & depend strongly on the Type or Style you've picked; in fact, for other factors data charts are generally only for a specific Type or Style that we carry (e.g., as a gear shop, would be outdoor-specific products).
We've organized the most commonly used items people use to address the Core function below, with example images, characteristics, features, etc.
Some people use just a regular plastic bag, but given how easy they tear, we really don't recommend them & don't include them as a "valid" item below for addressing this Core function. Soft waterproof cases & dry bags often don't have an IP rating, which is reserved more for electronic devices. Besides, these soft bags aren't usually submersible (yielding interesting uses, see Usage section), so it's hard to evaluate an IP rating. For these, waterproofing is generally conveyed via a polyurethane coating. You can read more about that in our waterproofing guide
|Our category name||Waterproof case (soft*)||Dry bag|
|Example qualities & features||Example images|
|How to use & effectiveness||Zipper seal (like a Ziplock bag). This can open under certain conditions, but it's not very likely||Roll-top method (see Usage section), this is basically foolproof|
Is it transparent?
Can you easily see where things are inside?
|Generally (some may even allow you to still use a touchscreen!)||Sometimes|
|Effect on other factors||Price||$10-$40||$20-200|
Like a toiletries bag
These cases are typically more flat & less voluminous than an actual toiletries bag, they're more designed for electronics
|5 to 150 liters (wide range as the largest are basically frameless backpacks)|
Up to 5oz
Up to 30oz
|Rationale||Less technical, thinner material||More technical, thicker material|
Why we do/don't carry it= we rent
= we sell
These are used differently, but both can be important depending on your trip
*We don't discuss hard cases here (which unlike soft cases, may have an IP rating, particularly if they're designed as underwater housing for electronic devices). There are different types of hard cases. For example:
- Protective cases: Can be padded on the inside, and being waterproof is just one feature in addition to being crush proof & fire proof
- Functional cases: A good example is underwater camera housing, a case that fits around specific cameras to allow you to operate it underwater
If you don't go very often, of course you're going to want to spend less money, but this often means real trade-offs in terms of the experience that you will have with the gear. Even if you do go often & are ready to invest in quality gear, having the upfront funds can be hard!
Now, it may seem like this price & quality trade-off is disappearing, because you can find a cheap version of almost anything for tens of dollars that still has good reviews (assuming the reviews are real). So you might be thinking: I'll just buy something cheap, and because the price is so low it doesn't matter if it's less featured or heavier or whatever compared to something higher end. When that breaks, I'll buy something cheap again, and so on. Just remember:
- Many reviews are written after only a trial use or first use: We've seen entire review videos of gear done at home, which is very different than actually being outdoors! And reviews after the first use don't tell you about durability at all
- You're headed outdoors to relax and enjoy life! Saving money only to have a trip ruined due to quality issues will feel terrible. Our program to rent waterproof dry bags and cases is designed to help you avoid this trade-off: you get to rent high end, quality waterproof dry bags and cases for around the same price as buying cheap ones (sometimes even for less!)
For this item specifically, the price vs. quality trade-off issues center around performance & durability.
For dry bags, performance & durability are linked (ripped fabric lets in water!). Therefore with lower end products, be especially concerned (e.g., maybe use it for non-electronics).Methodology notes on prices shown on this page
This section just talks about dry bags. While waterproof cases differ in capacity as well, there's much less variation: at their smallest they will just hold a smartphone; at their largest, they will just hold a tablet computer. As you can imagine, price, weight, & size all increase with capacity. The size of waterproof case we carry is approved by the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for carry-on luggage as a toiletries bag, and measures 6x9in (15x22 cm). While we don't carry every size, if we have something different than what you've used, you can rent the waterproof dry bags and cases to experiment with what capacity is best for you.
|Dry bag Liter capacity||5-L||10L||20L||40L||60L||80+L|
|Examples||For small personal effects (e.g., toiletries, electronics--some are sized just for a phone)||For a change of clothes||Standard for weekend trips, fits some gear, straps nicely to a kayak or even on the back of a bike||Longer or group trips (similar to backpacks, referred to as dry packs)|
|Effect on other factors||Price||Less expensive||More expensive|
|Weight & Size||Lighter||Heavier|
|Rationale||While effect on other factors follows above trends (larger capacity = more material = greater price & weight), there is significant product variation across brands, we have not teased out "breakpoints"|
Why we do/don't carry it= we rent
= we sell
|Not as versatile for multiple use cases||
20L are versatile for most outdoor uses, therefore more worth the money; it's a great size to strap to a kayak, bicycle, or fit into a hiking backpack
|Not as versatile for multiple use cases; these may not strap or fit well to kayaks||Most people would not need something this technical|
If you're thru-hiking 20+ miles (32+km) per day, every advantage counts! In this case, size refers to compactness. You can carry more gear in the same size backpack if all of it is very compact, or for more weight savings, you can get a smaller size pack.
Dry bags provide a level of water protection that most backpackers won't need. Those that do may be better served with a dry pack (which, per the Capacity table above, is just a large dry bag with the same shoulder & waist straps as a backpack, albeit without a frame), thereby combining the weights & functions of both dry bag & hiking backpack.
Lightweight dry bags are often differentiated and called dry sacks. They can be substantially less durable, so we'd caution re-using one for an actual water-based trip (e.g., kayaking)
20 Liter Capacity
|Effect on other factors||Price||$45||$25||$27|
|Rationale||Less technical material||More technical material|
Why we do/don't carry it= we rent
= we sell
Versatile for most outdoor uses, therefore more worth the money
|Not necessarily that much lighter (this is already a fairly lightweight object) but could be much less durable|
Here, we give you a list of questions to start thinking about other features. We hope our approach of savings these features for last gets you to more critically think about what you need & not get caught up in the hype of what's cool and over-spend your budget. Remember, we allow you to hire a waterproof dry bags and cases so feel free to try out various models with different features.
- Does it have straps or is it easy to strap down (e.g., to a kayak)?
To seal a dry bag, follow the diagram. Going clockwise from the top left image:
- Line up the ends of the bag
- Roll over the top at least 3 times
- Fold the top
- Clip together
Dry bags keep water out, so therefore they can keep water in! That makes them pretty versatile, some other uses below:
- Transport water
- Fill with water to use as a portable kettle-bell for exercise
- Separate damp clothes
- Fill with air or clothes to use as a pillow
- In a pinch, fill with air to use as a floatation device
We can either provide parts or repair services (and discounts on renting waterproof dry bags and cases while you wait) for the following issues:
- Holes, rips, or tears
Don't put it away or close any lid(s) until it's fully dry
We have a general protip on how to store & maintain gear that we highly recommend reviewing as well. If you send us video or a good photo series, we may be able to help you evaluate your repair needs.
The exact numbers (e.g., weights, dimensions, prices, etc.) used were updated as of September 2019 .