Your life is surely packed with to-do lists aplenty, is it not? It can all be a little bit too much, but we’re here to arm you with the right kind of to-do list today, one that’s actually — and trust us on this — fun, enjoyable and even a little adventurous. We’re talking, naturally, about the to-do list that comes in advance of an outdoor spring or summer adventure, starting with packing up the right gear. In this instance, we also mean that quite literally: You’re going to need one of the best waterproof backpacks to arm yourself accordingly.
So, that’s the start of your spring and summer to-do list: Buy a water-resistant backpack to get the job done — the job of hauling your everyday carry essentials and your most valuable gear without missing a beat. After all, if you start out your trip on the wrong foot — even if it’s just a day hike — then, there’s no telling how things are going to end up (think: Gear drenched by unexpected rains, namely). Yes indeed, trust us when we say a waterproof backpack is the key to starting your next outdoor excursion off the right way. Heavy duty backpacks are as crucial as it gets, as crucial as the right pair of hiking boots or hiking pants, and that’s just the way it is.
In fact, you might not realize how valuable one of the best waterproof backpacks can be until you really need it, kind of like when you forgo a rain jacket and then realize with a jolt that you should have brought one. Nobody wants to get stuck, figuratively or literally, out in the rain or with gear that’s not going to hold up… because you don’t have a waterproof backpack. Heck, finding the right gear should be the fun part of planning any trip, especially if your next outdoor adventure happens to be a bit grueling.
The best waterproof backpacks blend utility with some serious style points, because you want your backpack to look as cool and well-considered as the rest of your gear. This is something you’ve got to keep in mind when shopping for the best waterproof backpack, too (don’t worry — we’ll have a full list of what to look for in a waterproof backpack below).
So, with the right attitude and the proper essentials, you’ll be all set to cruise through spring and summer. It all starts, though, with checking a critical item off your do-to list: Searching for one of the best waterproof backpacks. Luckily, we’ve got a few in mind to help you gear up.
What To Look For in a Waterproof Backpack
A waterproof backpack, or even a water-resistant backpack, has got to have a few things (OK, more than a few) going for it. Like we said, you don’t want to go off-trail and realize you’ve loaded up the wrong pack. It could dampen your entire trip (pun intended). So, here’s what to look for in a waterproof backpack.
- Durable fabric: The best waterproof backpacks start with the right exterior fabric, since this surface area is the most exposed to the elements. Look for fabrics like nylon for abrasion resistance, and it’s even better if the fabric is something durable and rugged, like a waxed cotton canvas.
- Waterproof finishing: What’s one thing great waterproof backpacks have in common? A DWR finish — DWR stands for “durable water-repellent,” and it’s a finish similar to your favorite rain jacket (which we’d bet you’ll also want to keep handy).
- Plenty of carrying capacity: Your waterproof backpack will likely list how many liters of gear it can hold (think increments like 16 liters, 20 liters, 28 liters and so on). For your purposes, look for something in the realm of 16 liters or above, the better to hold outerwear, base layers, snacks and other EDC essentials.
- Distinctive designs: What exactly do we mean by that? Some backpacks are sleek and feature mainly interior pockets or compartments, while others feature plenty of outer pockets and pouches. Our best advice? Go with one that fits your hiking and carrying needs, so if you need gear close at hand, look for a backpack with a design focused on exterior pockets — and don’t forget, it’s got to be able to stand up to the elements.
With those distinctive features in mind and at the top of your list of considerations as you sort through a plethora of waterproof backpacks, here are some of our favorites.
The Best Waterproof Backpacks To Buy Right Now
Columbia OutDry Ex™ 28-Liter Backpack
Columbia is, to say the least, a highly reliable provider of the best outdoor gear for guys, from its tough rain jackets to warming base layers and of course, one of the best waterproof backpacks out there. You might say they’ve thrown everything but the kitchen sink at this one, starting with OutDry™ Extreme technology that focuses on sealing the seams and zippers to keep out even the most harsh rain. It’s a sleek backpack with an internal organization system that even includes a laptop sleeve, so you can use this backpack on a rainy day commute, too.
Matador FreeRain32L Wateproof Packable Backpack
A packable … backpack? How exactly does that work? Well, how it works centers around the fact that Matador uses material that’s both remarkably durable and remarkably lightweight, meaning this backpack can be folded in on itself when it’s not in use on the trail (makes it quite easy to store, yes?). And of course, it’s made with tough Cordura fabric (a type of ripstop nylon), and it’s treated with silicone for a completely waterproof finish. And yes, the 32 liters of carrying capacity is just what you need these days
Outdoor Research CarryOut 5-Liter DryBag
When you want a rugged backpack that won’t weigh you down, go with the experts at Outdoor Research. The brand’s highly functional DryBag is sized nicely to hold only the essentials, and you can certainly trust a brand with a name like Outdoor Research. Remember that to-do list we keep mentioning? Getting a compact waterproof backpack like this should be high on that list if you want a no-fuss way to haul a few pieces of gear.
EarthPak Waterproof Backpack
Your commute needs a waterproof backpack, your next hiking trip needs a waterproof backpack and if we know one thing to be true, it’s that your entire gear rotation needs a waterproof backpack. EarthPak offers this one up at a highly affordable price, to say the very least, and the splashproof zipper is but one major bonus as far as functionality is concerned. Did we mention it retails for under $70? Because that’s important, too.
Marchway Floating Waterproof Dry Bag
Sometimes, your outdoor adventures call for a little something extra. Or in this case, a heck of a lot of extra functionality. When you’ve got to make your way across streams or hop into a canoe, you can’t run the risk of your gear getting wet. Now this is less of a traditional bag than it is a catch-all of sorts, but we think this certainly still qualifies as one of the best waterproof backpacks around. This floating waterproof bag is the answer to your search for a no-nonsense bag that can do just about anything you ask of it (and we’d wager you’re going to be asking a lot of it, seeing as it’s remarkably durable and well-made).
Filson Dry Backpack
Any to-do list when it comes to compiling the best outdoor gear should feature Filson, and that’s just a fact. The lauded heritage brand has been making the best gear for the harshest conditions for over a century, and the great news is, they’ve never taken their foot off the proverbial gas. In this case, that means the Filson Dry Backpack is made with a PU-coated 840-denier nylon fabric and keeps your gear dry even when completely submerged
Ridge Classic Backpack
The best waterproof backpacks can go just about anywhere you need them to go, and while that might sound like hyperbole, it’s especially true when it comes to the Ridge Classic Backpack. It’s weatherproof, it’s compact yet features enough space for your laptop, and it comes with a built-in water bottle holder and power bank pocket. What more can you ask for.
Dakine Cyclone Rolltop Pack
A cool camo print? Check. 32 liters of carrying capacity to take you just about anywhere? Check. A very agreeable price? Yes, this remarkable backpack has that going for it, too. A heavy duty backpack that outshines other heavy duty backpacks, to say the very least. Don’t believe us? Gear up and try it out yourself.
Patagonia Stormsurge 30 Liter Backpack
While there are waterproof backpacks that are made for your commute and for getting around town, there are certain packs that are best suited to extreme adventures. As in, very, very extreme. That’s what we think, at least, when it comes to the Patagonia Stormsurge Pack, which features a whopping 30 liters of carrying capacity and the weather-ready build that’s made Patagonia a famed outdoor brand for years now.
YETI Panga Backpack
If you can believe it, YETI does more than just make the best and coolest coolers on the planet (pun intended). Here, they’ve gone a step further and made one of the most durable, toughest backpacks we’ve seen in quite some time. For your next outdoor excursion, bring your YETI cooler — and now, your YETI backpack.