Going ashore can be a wet affair. Yachting Monthly went in search of rucksacks built to carry your essentials and keep them dry

A dependable rucksack that’s comfortable, big enough to hold the essentials and waterproof enough to keep them dry is invaluable for anyone cruising, so we put several to the test to bring you our guide to best dry bags in the market.

Sailing is a wonderful activity to access parts of the world others find difficult to reach. However, the ride ashore in the tender, can be an adventure in itself, and sometimes a very soggy one.

Dinghies leak, wind can pick up while ashore and invariably, in the scrabble to get in the dinghy, a bag will get placed on the floor and will be soaking wet by the end of the trip.

The best dry bags available right now


It may be cheap but this bag is waterproof and solid all round

Decathlon Itiwit 20L waterproof backpack

Best budget dry bag on test

Reasons to buy:  A great bag for the price, Very positive watertight seal

Reasons to avoid:  Quite basic, Design feels a little cheap

This rucksack from French company Decathlon is easily the cheapest on test. Initially, the design struck us as feeling a little cheap, which of course it is. However, the bag’s folding mechanism was easily the most reassuring we tested, giving a very positive seal and neat closure.

Big enough to take the basics ashore, its padded straps are more suitable for lighter loads. The most surprising thing? It was the only bag to survive our rigorous test completely dry inside.

• Size: 20 litres
• External pockets: No
• Internal pockets: Yes
• YM waterproof rating: 10/10

Buy it now on Decathlon

Note: We may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site, at no extra cost to you. This doesn’t affect our editorial independence.

The bag is light and has an air-flow back panel and two-way sealing system

Overboard Pro-Light Waterproof Backpack 30L

Reasons to buy: Great for use on the water and ashore – a real multipurpose pack,

Reasons to avoid: Lightweight built may affect longevity

Unlike most on test, the Pro-Light sports several non-waterproof outer pockets, making it a practical everyday rucksack. The electronically welded construction is on the light side, keeping the bag weight down, but we thought it might not last as long as others.

The back is well-padded and the rucksack has both chest and waist straps, though both on the light side. It has reflective strips on the shoulder straps, and an air-flow back panel. It can be sealed at the back or the side.

• Size: 30 litres
• External pockets: Yes
• Internal pockets: Yes
• YM waterproof rating: 9/10

Buy it now on Amazon


All the pockets are external, including space for a water bottle

Aquapac 28L Heavyweight Waterproof Backpack

Reasons to buy: Stands up on its own for easy loading, Carry handle makes it easy to pass on or off a boat

Reasons to avoid: Not much padding on the back or straps, No internal pockets

British brand Aquapac’s Toccoa stands up on its own due to a shaped base, a simple feature that made it easier to fill, while a carry handle on the top helped for passing it aboard.

There are no internal pockets, but the outside of the bag has water bottle pockets and the roll-top closure keeps the pack neat. Padding on the back and straps is limited, so not so well suited for heavier loads.

• Size: 28 litres
• External pockets: Yes
• Internal pockets: Yes
• YM waterproof rating: 6/10

Buy it now on Amazon (UK)

Buy it now on Amazon (US)


The highly adjustable strap system is ideal for heavy loads

Ortlieb Gear 40L Pack

Reasons to buy: Great for heavier loads, Comes with detachable water bottle

Reasons to avoid:  It isn’t cheap, A touch over engineered for day-to-day use

Industrial design and construction are the chief appeal of this heavyweight rucksack from German outdoor brand Ortlieb. We can see it lasting a very long time, though the seal didn’t work as well as we expected and it isn’t cheap.

A highly adjustable back system incorporates a well-padded waist strap, making it ideal for carrying heavier loads. It also has a detachable water bottle

• Size: 40 litres
• External pockets: Yes
• Internal pockets: No
• YM waterproof rating: 7/10

Buy it now on moosejaw.com


The neoprene pocket on the outside of the Zhik dry bag can hold a 1-litre bottle

Zhik Dry Backpack 35L

Best dry bag on test

Reasons to buy: Well padded back, Thick base makes it hard wearing

Reasons to avoid: On the pricier side for its size

The Zhik proved a great balance of solid construction, functional design and low weight. Made to last, it uses thicker waterproof plastic for the base and has a well-padded back.

Internal storage is separated with an iPad pocket, while a zipped external pocket is ideal for keys or other essentials that don’t need to be kept dry.

Two neoprene pockets on the outside were big enough for a 1-litre water bottle. We liked the bag’s design, including the reflective details that ensure it is visible in the dark.

• Size: 35 litres
• External pockets: Yes
• Internal pockets: Yes
• YM waterproof rating: 8/10

Buy it now on Amazon


The adjustable cord lets you tuck a jumper or lifejacket to the outside

Gill Race Team Backpack 35L

Reasons to buy:

– Internal pockets make separating luggage easy
– Comfortable shoulder straps

Reasons to avoid:

– Although it did keep water out, the seal was not the best on test
– No chest strap

The Gill Race Team backpack was a good balance of size and comfort, big enough to carry a moderate shopping load. Internal pockets mean the inside of the waterproof compartment is separated. There is no waist or chest strap, but the two straps are adequately padded and ergonomically shaped.

The fold-over design and side buckles keeps the closure out of the way, unlike some designs. The seal wasn’t the best on test.

• Size: 35 litres
• External pockets: Yes
• Internal pockets: Yes
• YM waterproof rating: 6/10

Buy it now on Amazon


The bag is compact and has a handy front mesh pocket

Henri Lloyd 25L dri pac rucksack

Reasons to buy: Not too bulky, Robust build should ensure longevity

Reasons to avoid: Very small internal volume, Outer pocket is all but useless

Henri Lloyd’s latest dry rucksack design is one of the smallest we tested and has a simple design aimed at those wanting to take the essentials ashore. There are no internal pockets and the small mesh pocket on the outside has no zip, rendering it not very useful.

A tough PVC fabric means this bag should stand the test of time while it’s low profile means it will also pack away into a locker easily as it is not very bulky.

• Size: 25 litres
• External pockets: Yes
• Internal pockets: No
• YM waterproof rating: 7/10

Buy it now on eBay

Which were the best dry bags?

What quickly became clear with this test is that dry bag rucksacks are a compromise. They must be highly water resistant while also functioning well as an everyday rucksack. Getting this right is a challenge for each of the bag’s designers.

As a long-term investment that will last many years and many runs ashore, we were very impressed by the truly industrial construction of the Ortlieb. Its highly adjustable and well-padded back system makes it perfect for hauling heavy loads to and from your boat.













An excellent balance of form and function was delivered by the Zhik, some smart design features combined with quality construction make this the choice for someone that’s going to use a dry bag ashore as well.

However, while lacking the heavier feel of its brand name rivals, the Decathlon Itiwit proved itself the most waterproof on test. This, coupled with its low price, means it is excellent value for money.

It is certainly worth considering if you want to keep expensive electronics safe. In bright orange, you won’t miss it in a crowded anchorage!

What to look for in a good dry bag

But how waterproof does such a piece of kit need to be? Opinion varied between members of the YM team but we all agreed that were you to carry a phone or camera ashore in what was said to be a dry bag and fall in with it or drop it into a wet dinghy, you would be far from pleased to find its contents wet or water damaged.

Trips ashore often entail a degree of exploration and usually involved a bit of a walk, so the dry bag must be comfy to carry on your back. It also needs the ability to hold a reasonably heavy load, such as bring provisions back from the shop.

The design of waterproof rucksacks tends to be simple but there were still an array of different features on each dry bag. For example, external pockets are handy for water bottles, and internal pockets good for small items like your phone and keys.

Above all, we paid attention to quality of manufacture, looking for something that could be kept on board for years to come and provide solid reliable service.


The best dry bags should be able to stand up to a proper soaking

How we tested the best dry bags

As each manufacturer made different promises regarding water resistance of its dry bags, we felt it was important to test thoroughly what the bags could be subjected to beyond what it and its contents would be regularly exposed to. This is because waterproof rucksacks compromise heavily on features when compared to their non-waterproof counterparts.

We chose sizes of 20L-40L as a good size for a day ashore. The fabric of all of the dry bags could handle spray, being hit by waves or general sloshing in a tender, so to help distinguish the best, we submerged each rucksack with a piece of dry cardboard inside, as if you had fallen in to see how they coped, even if this is well beyond what they are designed for.

Each dry bag was used on a daily basis by the YM team, on and off the water, to test comfort, design and quality. The team looked carefully at all of the individual features.

Enjoyed reading our dry bags group test?

A subscription to Yachting Monthly magazine costs around 40% less than the cover price.

Print and digital editions are available through Magazines Direct – where you can also find the latest deals.

YM is packed with information to help you get the most from your time on the water.

  • Take your seamanship to the next level with tips, advice and skills from our experts
  • Impartial in-depth reviews of the latest yachts and equipment
  • Cruising guides to help you reach those dream destinations

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.