You would think with so many waterproof boots, jackets, covers and gear around that most companies would have chosen to make their backpacks waterproof as well. In fact (as you’ve probably noticed), waterproof backpacks are somewhat of a rarity.
There’s a number of distinct advantages to having a waterproof backpack including not having to worry about a rain cover that fits or the extra cost but they often have welded steams which add less weight than traditional sewing and they’re also much stronger.
Welded seams have been shown to reduce the weight of the pack by up to 30%, something incredibly desirable in the ultra-light world. Waterproof packs are therefor stronger, lighter, and obviously more waterproof than a traditional pack. So why is it so difficult to find?
You’ll often find waterproofing is a compromise between hiking features and waterproofing which means you’re often better off biting the bullet and just getting the rain cover unless you know your bag is likely to end up in the water.
Top 3 Best Waterproof Hiking Backpacks
Sea to Summit Flow 35L DryPack – $XXX.xx
As to be expected of one of the best hiking brands Arc’teryx has a very functional backpack that provides great construction and comfort.
It has mesh side pockets and an exterior zippered pocket for organization as well as a roll-top main compartment which is lined in white for better visibility inside and has a zippered pocket inside.
The seams are fully sealed for waterproofing and it’s all made of TPU laminated 420D Nylon.
This makes it very durable and abrasion resistant. The buckles are 7075 aircraft aluminum to add to that and it has a removable waist strap.
The Top has a large handle like a dry bag to lift it up and out of kayaks and boats and there’s also an ergonomic designed back panel and perforated shoulder straps for comfort.
It’s got a lot of good hiking features without having to sacrifice organization for waterproofing.
- Aluminum buckles
- 420D Nylon
- Removable Waist Strap
The shoulder and hip straps are comfortable and wide with adequate ventilation that you don’t feel like you’re toting a dry bag around. It’s hydration compatible, though the side pocket is a bit small for a water bottle to sit comfortably.
It’s a unisex pack which is great since there’s already limited available for women and it is fully waterproof (even the zips) so you don’t have to worry about your perfectly chosen gear.
The pack has straps for bungee cord but no actual cord which seems silly. It’s a bit bulky and it juts out a lot which makes you feel like a turtle unless you really use the compression straps and smush everything.
SeaLine Urban Backpack – $XX.xx
Sadly this isn’t much of a hiking pack, but if you’re determined to go waterproof this is pretty much it. It’s available in a wide selection of colors but is significantly smaller than the Sea to Summit and most hiking packs.
It’s made of a 600D polyeurethane coated polyester but the bottom is 400D TPU coated nylon. It’s a roll down closure with a large external pocket all of which is waterproof.
There’s no internal organization but there is an optional organizer you can buy to fit into it.
It’s a reasonable size at 37l and there’s also a small version that’s 17l.
The shoulder straps are made of a breathable nylon and there’s a hideaway belt strap for better support.
- Streamlined design
- 2lb weight (large)
- Large external pocket
For something simple and waterproof this works just fine. It will keep everything dry in very tough conditions like water rapids or torrential downpours and it’s ideal for cycling too as a low profile pack. The waist strap is easy to tuck away an the rubber design on the front pocket can have bungee cord attached for more storage.
It’s a tubular design with a shallow front pocket, no organization and it’s not comfortable for long wear. There’s no padding and no real distribution of the weight so it’s incredibly uncomfortable after a while, especially if you have harder contents.
BackSak Waterproof Backpack 35L – $XX.xx
Available in 4 bright colors it’s the cheapest pack and it looks like a combination of the two.
It’s made of 500 denier PVC and has welded seams to seal everything out. It’s got padding and back support to help carrying heavier loads easier as well as cushioned straps with D rings for attaching extra gear.
There are 2 zippered interior pockets as well as two ways to close it using the side clips or the roll top. There’s also a reflective patch and the bag floats.
It’s ideal for water adventures when you know you’ll be hiking through creeks and anything where your bag will get totally submerged.
- Pockets and D rings
With all the watertight capabilities of the SeaLine it also adds useful hiking features like back support and pockets. It’s not huge (12”x6”x18”) but it’s find for a weekend pack.
There’s plenty of room inside for anything you don’t want to get wet ad it doesn’t need an additional organizer since there’s internal pockets built in. The seams are welded for strength and waterproofing.
The outer pocket is not submersible and it will wet through quickly so don’t store things in it you mind getting wet.
It’s a really tough market out there when it comes to the best waterproof hiking backpack. There simply aren’t a lot to choose from asides from one (impossible to get) Arc’teryx and the Sea to Summit if you want a true hiking pack.
The BackSak is a good compromise if you’re willing to sacrifice some organization and it’s a lot cheaper than the other two as well. With so many other waterproof hiking products it’s difficult to understand why they can’t just make packs waterproof too. Overall these two will do the job and they’re not as extortionate as the Arc’teryx either. The SeaLine just isn’t designed for hiking which limits your choice even more.