What Types of Dry Bag or Container Are There?

A dry bag is a flexible, watertight container made for traveling. They can be used in rafting, kayaking, canyoning, camping, hiking, canoeing and other outdoor activities. You can also use them in extreme sports such as snowboarding and skiing where your items get exposed to wet conditions.

Dry bags are designed to protect various items, including electronics from moisture or water. They can also protect your clothes, sleeping bags, tents and other camping gear from getting wet to keep them safe and in top working condition.

When choosing the right dry bag, various factors come into play. Consider the right size for your intended use, durability for longevity, the right seal for your application area and cost within your budget.

Types of Dry Bags or Containers

Barrel Dry Bags

This type of bags are made in the form of barrels. They’re cylindrical-shaped with a single opening on one end. They’re the most common and come with welded seams for watertight use. You load this bag from the single open end that’s rolled down (has extra material for that) for closure. It’s then clipped with a couple of clips.

The bag is water tight, can float on water for a while and keeps its contents moisture-free if submerged in water. But, if it stays in water for longer, it can wet its contents. However, it’s rare for that to happen. Barrel dry bags feature transparent viewing panels for checking the contents of your bag. It’s popularly used for sailing.

Holdall Dry Bags

These bags, unlike roll top barrel bags, have wider openings for easier access of contents. However, it’s less watertight than barrel bags. Therefore, it becomes difficult to maintain pressure on the extra material for rolling down. Even so, they still offer watertight benefits unless immersed in water for long.

Rucksack Dry Bags

Varied in sizes and application, rucksack dry bags are popular among hill walkers. Remote workers also use them to transport sensitive equipment from worksites to main offices. Pylon workers in offshore wind farms use them as rope bags to keep their safety gear and other essential kits.

Dry Bum Bags

Dry bum bags come in handy when you need to keep some essentials at hand. Used in motorcycling and sailing, the bags are ideal for storing keys and phones. Opt for a small lightweight dry bag if you risk falling in water and need to keep expensive electronics.

In that case, double your bag for added protection. However, they’re not ideal for long-distance swimming because prolonged immersion in water can cause leakage into the bags.

Standard Dry Bags

Standard dry bags are made in different sizes, and colors, but come in a similar shape. They have narrow openings at the top and are deep. They feature backpack straps for easy carriage and portability. The bags are watertight and float on water. Simply roll the top thrice and buckle the ends to seal a standard dry bag.

Wise Owl Outfitters Dry Bag 3-Pack

Rolling the top of the bag seals out water, proofing it. On the other hand, buckling keeps the seal tight, ensuring the rolled top doesn’t unroll. When sealing a dry bag, it’s bound to trap air inside. That means if your boat or kayak capsizes, the bag will remain floating on water. Attach it to your sailing vessel to ensure it doesn’t float away in case it gets on water.

Its design, tall and narrow, supports stuffing of the bag into the crannies and nooks of smaller water vessels. The design also ensures you can easily stack or toss your bag on others. However, the narrow design doesn’t help much with gear organization and access.

The design also optimizes storage space in the bag. Even when you pack your bag up to ¾ capacity, you get to use maximum space before rolling the top to seal it.

Dry Sacks

Dry sacks store smaller gear and fit in backpacks for organization purposes. They’re waterproof and roll thrice at the top for closure after which they’re clipped. However, these small sacks aka bags don’t float on water. They also find use as watertight garbage bags for your backpacking needs.

Although you can keep the sacks in your backpack after storing your essentials, you can also attach them to your water vessels. Use carabineers and rope for the attachment. The sacks can hold personal items that are small in size for your outdoor trips such as camping, hiking boating, skiing, etc.

Duffel Bags

Waterproof duffel bags simplify gear storage, especially the clothes you need to bring with you for your outdoor adventured. Unlike the dry bags discussed above, duffel bags are long and wide. However, like other dry bags, they open from the top.

They come in designs that support easy organization for lightweight backpacking. The long and narrow top fully opens for easy access to your essentials wherever they might be in the bag. Even if you need to access something at the bottom of the bag, you don’t have to remove what’s at the top.

However, unlike other dry bags filled to ¾ capacity only, duffel bags can be filled to the brim. Therefore, the dry bags do not float because they often tend to hold more weight than their floating counterparts. Attach your duffel bag to your water vessel for easy access in case your vessel capsizes.

Roll-top Lumbar and Backpack Dry Bags

If you’re a hiker often bringing with you many things outdoors for varied reasons, this is the dry bag for you. It works as a fanny or roll packs and supports ultralight backpacking. Moreover, it provides the space you need to hold your essentials, including extra padding for cameras.

Roll-top Backpack Dry Bags

Roll-top backpack dry bags are the most popular on the market. They’re ideal for holding medium-sized items and protecting them from wet conditions. Use the handles to attach them.

With the removable and adjustable straps, you can customize them to your specific size. The dry bag won’t let you need any other container to store all your travel gear. Furthermore, it comes in all sizes to meet the varied needs out there.


Whichever dry bag type you opt for, make sure it suits all your unique needs, preferences, style and intended application area.