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How to Choose the Perfect Dry Bag

Updated: Jul 8, 2020

Paddles up ladies! This week, we’re swapping out our hiking boots for a pair of water shoes. We're all hikers and trail lovers, but there's plenty of room in the hearts of the Women's Hiking Crew for other outdoor rec activities. Whether you’re making time for kayaking on a nearby pond, canoeing in the Keys, tubing on a reservoir, or paddling down a class V river, we're all facing the same dilemma… How do we keep our non-waterproof necessities dry?! I've had to replace too many phones, my friends. This one has to last me a while!

Introducing: The Dry Bag.

Some of you probably know and own one of these handy items already! All dry bags serve the same purpose, as I’m sure you’re aware! However, they come in seemingly endless shapes, sizes, and materials. How do you choose!? What you plan to carry with you and the kind of water sport you’re participating in really determines which type of day bag is best suited for YOU! Let’s break it down.

The Short Paddle Around the Pond

You’re only out for an hour or two on the water. Already coated with sunblock and dressed perfectly for the weather ahead, all you really need to carry with you is your phone, to take some photos and the car keys. Luckily, you’re not going too far from shore, so if something should come up, you can get back to the boat launch in little to no time.

You'd like: CaliCase Waterproof Floating Pouch or another small pocket size dry case.

The Mostly Dry Full-Day

Just getting out for a mellow day on the water, but a few items you need to bring along absolutely must stay dry. You’re okay with your sunblock, first aid kit, and extra clothes being in a tote bag. If they get a little wet, it’s no biggie. On the other hand, your phone, key fob, and beach book will not survive a rogue wave, so why risk it?

You’d like: Sea to Summit Lightweight Dy Sack or another rolling sack style bag.

The Soaked Head to Toe

Ready for a day of wild rapids or tubing down a lazy river with friends? Either way, we both know you're going to get drenched along with whatever you bring... unless you store it all properly. Everything, besides the clothes on your back, should go in a bag or be strapped down. No need to host any yard sales on the water. Your belongings are basically going for a swim, and you'll want a heavy-duty solution to keep them dry!

You’d like: Watershed Dry Duffle or another heavy-duty handbag-sized dry bag

The Weekender's Bag

Fun! You’re getting out for an overnight. Guessing you don’t really want your clothes, tent, sleeping bag, or food getting wet, so it’s best to store it all in a bag that’s sturdy, large, and reliable. Worry less and paddle more!

You’d like: NRS Bill’s Bag or another large dry duffle in the 100L range

Do you have a dry bag that’s your all-time favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Emily is a freelance travel and outdoor recreation writer for hire. Samples of her published work can be found at

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