Best Waterproof Duffel Bags

If you’ve ever packed out a waterproof dry bag, you know that the tubular design can make finding your equipment difficult. Having used both waterproof duffel bags and tube dry bags on multi-day trips, I can safely say that packing and finding gear in your dry duffel is far easier. These versatile bags pack out easily, take up less space for a similar capacity, and are far easier to haul around and load up onto your back.

These aren’t your average gym bags. Our list of the best waterproof duffel bags covers everything from roll top to zip closure, different sizes, styles, and materials. Load up easily and hit the water with these bags, whether you’re out on a family trip and want to take some snacks and spare layers, or heading out into a week-long wilderness journey. 

Best Waterproof Duffel Bags: At a Glance

What is a Waterproof Duffel Bag

A man packs his waterproof duffel bag on the beach

Duffel bags are long, cylindrical bags that are designed to lay down, rather than stand. Their opening tends to run the full length along the top, often by either a middle zip or, more recently, a zip that runs around the outside. These bags have straps that allow them to be carried one-handed, or slung over your shoulder for easy carrying.

Traditionally, duffel bags were made from canvas, giving you the ability to ‘pack out’ your bag in a way that lets you fully make the most of the space you have. Waterproof dry bags are less malleable, often made from PVC or waterproofed material in the same way as dry bags. Waterproof dry bags either have roll-top closure, or a zipped closure, which we will look at next.

Types of Waterproof Duffel Bag

Roll-Top

Roll-top waterproof duffel bags are cheaper than zip closure. They rely on rolling the top of the bag over at least three times and creating an impenetrable seal. The seal on a roll-top waterproof duffel bag is efficient for keeping out rain and spray, but the quality of the seals varies and some aren’t suited to submersion, especially in turbulent water.

Waterproof Zips

The technology involved in creating a heavy-duty waterproof zip means that they are naturally a more expensive option. These zips are pressure tested and create a more reliable seal than a roll-top dry bag, securing your equipment and ensuring there is no ingress. This airtight seal also allows you to either squeeze out excess air – to fit your bag in a tight space – or trap air – to ensure floatation in the event of a capsize.

Benefits of a Waterproof Duffel Bag

Waterproof duffel bags have key advantages over traditional dry bags. They’re easier to pack out and much easier to access your equipment in. This is especially noticeable if you pack compartmentally – using smaller dry bags for key gear – which allows you to get a full top-down view of all of your equipment.

The straps on duffel bags have their bonus too. They can be used for hauling your gear around, but also for attaching your pack to your kayak or canoe. Most duffel bags can either be thrown over your shoulder or worn like a backpack, a feature that most smaller dry bags lack.

Drawbacks of a Waterproof Duffel Bag

As useful as waterproof duffel bags are, there are times when it’s better to use a more traditional dry bag. Firstly, there’s the price. Duffel bags – especially zipped duffels – command a higher price tag with their extra technology and features.

Duffel bags tend not to back down as small as other styles of dry bags, and if you want to squeeze them into hatches or into the rear of a kayak, traditional dry bags are often a better choice. The extra seams on a duffel bag can also make them more liable to split as you fold the ends, pull the handles, or haul on the zip. While they’re generally reinforced, any excess folds or features will always increase the chance that there is a weak point.


The Best Waterproof Duffel Bags

Yeti Panga

Yeti Panga

Sizes: 50 L, 75 L, 100 L
Material: High-Density Nylon with TPU Lamination
Closure: HydroLok Zipper

The Thickskin shell of the Yeti Panga combines with the heavy-duty HydroLok zipper and Metallock hardware to give you one of the most heavy-duty waterproof duffel bags on the market. This pack can take an absolute beating. You could probably send your Panga off on a multi-day river trip alone and it would still be watertight at the end.

Yeti knows a thing or two about making hardwearing gear, having a background in arguably the best-quality coolers on the market. The rounded ends of the Panga reduce any points that can catch and tear, and the welded rubberized seams provide pressure-resistant waterproofness.

The various sizes are suited to trips ranging from a couple of days all the way to multiple weeks on the water. If you need to portage, use the removable shoulder straps to load this duffel up on your back and hit the trail. The Panga has attachment points all around the pack, so you can secure it into any kayak or canoe.

Pros:

  • Heavy duty material and fixtures
  • Perhaps the most waterproof duffel on the market
  • Solid zip closure with U-dock for a close fit
  • Removable shoulder straps

Cons:

  • Very expensive

NRS High Roll Duffel

NRS High Roll Duffel

Sizes: 35 L, 70 L, 105 L
Material: PVC
Closure: Roll Top

NRS has a background in making some of the most popular dry bags on the market, with the ever-popular Bill’s Bag topping many people’s list for best tripping dry bags. The High Roll Duffel uses the same heavy-duty material and Storm Strip closure to get a better seal. The extra flap for the Storm Strip gives a tighter and more secure seal than other dry bags, so you can rely on the High Roll Duffel in any situation.

At either end of the roll top seal, the bag secures with heavy-duty metal clips to hold the rolls down. There are also attachment points for a shoulder strap, so you can throw the High Roll Duffel over your shoulder. The webbing straps give you plenty of space to secure your duffel to your kayak, but also let you cinch the back tighter with the over-the-top straps.

Pros:

  • Heavy duty PVC design
  • Simple roll top closure with added Storm Strip
  • 35 L is a perfect day-duffel size

Cons:

  • No backpack-style straps
  • Plastic clips on the shoulder strap

Earth Pak Voyager Waterproof Duffel Bag

Earth Pak Voyager Waterproof Duffel Bag

Sizes: 50 L, 70 L, 90 L, 120 L
Material: 500 D PVC
Closure: Roll Top

Earth Pak is a company renowned for making quality dry bags that challenge the price point of higher-end companies. The roll-top closure secures in place with chunky clips that prevent it from unraveling and letting water in. Over-the-top clips then secure in place to cinch your bag tight shut.

Thermowelded seams and rounded construction of the Voyager mean that you don’t risk snagging the pack on your kayak. These seams are strong enough to stand up against a full submersion and the water pressure that comes with it. Attachments points around the Voyager give you plenty of places to secure your duffel to your kayak, while a shoulder strap lets you haul your bag to and from the water more easily. 

Pros:

  • Heavy duty construction
  • Thermowelded seams
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Plastic buckles and clips risk breaking
  • Roll-top closure isn’t the most secure for submersion

AquaQuest White Water Duffel

AquaQuest White Water Duffel

Sizes: 50 L, 75 L, 100 L
Material: 420 D Oxford Material with TPU Lamination and DWR coating
Closure: Roll Top

The softer design of the AquaQuest White Water Duffel makes it more malleable than the competition. This allows you to pack the bag out more easily and pack it down smaller when it’s not fully loaded. It might be less heavy duty, but the TPU Laminated Oxford Material still withstands water, whether you use this bag to keep out storms or for waves.

The roll top closure features an internal velcro strip to keep the two sides from separating. This helps to create a more secure seal, though you should probably still aim to avoid full submersion where possible, as with most roll-top style bags.

There are multiple attachment points on the AquaQuest White Water Duffel so you can secure your bag to your kayak. There is also a sturdy shoulder strap with added padding for carrying comfort, as well as two hand-held carrying handles. AquaQuest offers a lifetime warranty on this duffel bag.

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Heavy duty 
  • Lighter weight fabric
  • Comfortable shoulder strap

Cons:

  • Not as durable as other duffel bags
  • No shoulder straps
  • Plastic buckles and clips may be susceptible to breaking

Gonex Waterproof Duffel

Gonex Waterproof Duffel

Sizes: 40 L, 60 L, 80 L
Material: PVC
Closure: Roll Top

The Gonex Waterproof Duffel is an affordable heavy-duty PVC duffel that uses a roll-top style closure. This design allows you to throw this bag around your kayak and haul it over rocks and rough ground without fear of punctures or splits.

The easy-to-use roll-top closure keeps your gear dry even in the roughest weather and from splashes and spray. End clips and over-the-top cinch straps keep the top rolled down tight and prevent any ingress of water. The side pocket can be used to separate wet clothing from dry gear, and the drainage holes let your gear dry over time.

End loops and carrying straps also double as attachment points for the Gonex Waterproof Duffel. For more secure attachment, there are four metal strong points fitted around the duffel.

Pros:

  • Heavy duty PVC 
  • Affordable
  • Side pocket to separate wet gear

Cons:

  • Plastic clips and buckles may be susceptible to breaking

Buffalo Gear Waterproof Duffel

Buffalo Gear Waterproof Duffel

Sizes: 40 L, 60 L, 80 L
Material: PVC
Closure: Roll Top

The Buffalo Gear Waterproof Duffel is perhaps the most affordable heavy-duty duffel on the market. Made from PVC – the same type as rafts are made from – and using thermo-welded seams throughout, you can be sure that your gear will remain dry after long days on the water and even during downpours.

The roll-top system, as with every dry bag of this style, calls for you to be able to roll it at least three times to create a seal. The difference with the Buffalo Gear Waterproof Duffel is that the roll top itself is a separate piece of PVC. This allows you to fill out the duffel bag as you would with zip closure, before rolling the top down uninhibited.

Of course, additional stretches of PVC like the separate roll-closure do mean extra seams. While the thermo-welded seams appear to be reliable, they do add in extra potential wear points that other dry duffels do not have. The Buffalo Gear Waterproof Duffel has a series of heavy-duty straps and handles that can be used to haul your gear around and secure it in your kayak.

Pros:

  • Heavy duty PVC design
  • Separate roll-top system for ease of packing
  • Affordable 

Cons:

  • The extra roll-top requires more seams which are potential wear points
  • The roll-top is narrower than the bag, which could inhibit the gear you load into the bag
  • Shoulder strap is held on with relatively flimsy plastic clips

Ortlieb Duffel 

Ortlieb Duffel 

Sizes: 40 L, 60 L, 85 L, 110 L
Material: PVC Coated Polyester
Closure: Tizip Zipper

The heavy-duty PVC-coated polyester design of the Ortlieb Duffel gives it a sturdy finish. The Tizip closure is smooth and easy to use. Simply unclip the ends for unhindered access, then fold them back over to give your bag a smooth and snag-free finish.

The backpack straps on this pack are comfortable for long portages but can be removed if they’re surplus to requirements. There are plenty of daisy chain attachment points to secure your duffel to your kayak or canoe. An internal lateral strap lets you pull the zip together and reduce the likelihood of splitting as you zip the bag up, while a fitted metal loop means you can padlock your duffel closed for international flights. 

I’ve been using the Ortlieb Duffel as my go-to expedition bag for the past five years. This thing has been around the world with me as a basecamp bag, and on the water for up to a week at a time in some of the most remote and wild regions of Scotland. So far, despite sitting on, crawling over, throwing, heaving, hauling, and submerging, I am yet to experience any water getting into this bag.

Pros:

  • Heavy duty build
  • Secure zipper with foldable ends
  • Internal lateral strap
  • Fitted metal loop for flying

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Shoulder straps can slip slightly in use
  • Continual folding of the end flaps could create weak points

SealLine Classic Zip Duffel

SealLine Classic Zip Duffel

Sizes: 40 L, 75 L
Material: PVC Coated Polyester
Closure: YKK Aqua Seal zipper

The SealLine Classic Zip Duffel is a no-nonsense, heavy-duty duffel bag made from PVC-coated polyester, with RF welded seams and a YKK Aqua Seal zipper. This duffel is built to withstand the heaviest use that you can throw at it. The diagonal zipper gives you unsurpassed access to your gear while reducing stress on a particular area of the bag.

The SealLine Classic Zip Duffel has a relatively low profile build when compared with other duffels. This combines with the sleek design to make it easy to stow this duffel bag in tight spots. 

It might be sleek, but that doesn’t mean there is nowhere to attach your duffel to your kayak. Metal strong points on the side of the bag provide sturdy attachment points, while the 75 L bag has strong end loops for easier hauling and attachment.

Pros:

  • Heavy duty PVC coated polyester
  • Sleek and low-profile
  • Diagonal zipper

Cons:

  • Limited attachment points
  • Only available in black – harder to spot and heats up in the sun
Tom Kilpatrick avatar

Moose started his paddling life on the ponds and rivers in the South-East of England. He has slowly worked his way north and has spent the last few years paddling in Scotland, both with friends and as a canoe guide. A very experienced and knowledgeable coach and guide across Scotland and the rest of the UK, he spent a summer in Norway and a month in Nepal. He is also a cofounder of PaddleMore.co.uk.

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