Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Bags

Frequently Asked Questions about Dry Bags - Dry Bags

 What do you use a dry bag for?

Waterproof Stuff sacks

Dry bags can be used to keep clean kit dry and protected from water, dust, mud, sand, etc. They can also be used to pack smelly dirty clothes in, to keep them separate from clean kit, inside a larger backpack or duffel bag. Dry Bags come in all shapes and sizes, and varying levels of waterproofness (more on this later). They’re well suited for all water sport activities, from diving to boating, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking. You even get special dry bags to protect your mobile phone and for open water swimming – so you can take all your clothes with you, leaving nothing on the bank or shore.

Are dry bags waterproof?

Yes, however there are varying levels of waterproofness. These are known as IP ratings (Ingres Protection ratings). All our bags are 100% waterproof, just keep an eye out for the ratings on every product page. They explain what the waterproof bag is best suited for. Lightweight stuff sacks, for example are foul weatherproof. They’ll keep the rain off, but are not submersible. OverBoard’s range of dry tubes, duffels and backpacks are all made from hard wearing PVC tarpaulin. They’re fully waterproof and briefly submersible – so long as you roll the tops down tightly at least three or four times to create a tight seal. Swim Secure’s range of floating dry bags also have the roll top seal, whilst their bum bags and waterproof phone cases use a triple zip-lock and roll system to create a seal. Do remember to pinch the zip-lock seals all the way to the ends to ensure they’re watertight!

Watershed’s backpacks and duffels are certainly waterproof. They’re designed for white water rafting and can withstand some serious abuse. The zip-lock seal is rated to withstand depths of up to 300 feet / 91 metres. Whilst they carry a premium price tag, we highly recommend them.

What is the best dry bag?

Watershed backpack

This very much depends on what you want to use it for! It goes without saying that dry bag MUST be waterproof and big enough to carry what you want to put in it. If budget allows, we’d recommend the Watershed waterproof backpacks and duffels as these can withstand the most rigorous use. However, they lack many of the excellent additional features that OverBoard’s Pro-Sport, Pro-Vis and Pro-Light backpacks have, such as mesh pockets, integrated emergency whistles and a internal Velcro patch for attaching a laptop tidy (an essential piece of kit). If you’re planing to use your dry bag for open water swimming, then one of the Swim Secure floating dry bags or tow-donuts are just the ticket!


How long do dry bags last?

As a rule, dry bags will offer you many years of protection. Certainly the heaver weight materials can withstand being dragged over rocks, through mud and undergrowth. The lighter weight waterproof stuff sacks can loose their DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellant) coating over time. This can be replaced with products such as NicWax. As these bags age, it’s worth cycling them, so less critical clothing is carried in them, like dirty socks.

OverBoard are so confident in the quality of their products that they offer a five-year warranty against manufacturing defects. It doesn’t matter where you buy one of their products, simply register it on their website and they’ll replace free of change. Obviously, wear and tear isn’t covered.  

What is a dry bag used for?

A dry bag is used to protect your kit from the elements; water, mud, dust, etc. They’re often made from a PVC tarpaulin and all the seams are welded using radio frequency to ensure there are no leaks. They either seal with a roll top and buckle or zip-lock.

Dry Bags on paddleboard

Dry Bags are used in a range of water sport environments, marine industries and adventure off the beaten track where protecting your gear is essential.  Dry Bags are great for traveling in humid climates, when you want to keep clothes fresh and dry. Smaller waterproof stuff sacks are best suited for dividing the contents of larger backpacks and duffel bags. Underwear in one, t-shirts in another and wet swimming kit in yet another. Some of these bags even have windows in them to make identifying the contents a breeze.

Do dry bags float?

As a rule, yes dry bags will generally float. Their volume is such that they can contain sufficient air to displace the water – ergo they float. However, some dry bags are not intended to be submersible (Exped’s mega light weight Cloudburst 25, for example) and whilst these will initially float, they may let water in through the tightly woven material. All bags made from the PVC tarpaulin will float, no problem at all. It is also worth noting that the waterproof phone cases don’t trap enough air in with the phone, so need to be attached to something buoyant if you’re using them in deep or murky water.

Can you submerge a dry bag?

Yes, 99% of the dry bags we sell are submersible. Look out for those rated IP66 and above. This means the waterproof bags can handle a brief submersion without leaking. You must be sure to roll the tops down tightly three or four times before securing with the buckle. A prolonged submersion will let in a small trickle of water. Bags rated IP68 are fully, 100% waterproof and rated to a depth of up to 6 metres for one hour. This covers the OverBoard phone cases and the Watershed backpacks and duffels – in fact the latter are rated to a bone crushing depth of 300 feet / 91 metres – but we’ll admit, we’ve not tested them to this depth!

What is the best waterproof bag?

The best waterproof bag is the one best suited to your needs. We sell dry bags from a range of leading suppliers and only stock gear we’ve tried, tested and use ourselves. Dry Bags often have a range of features that make them appealing for different users. OverBoard’s Classic Backpack range, for example, are excellent entry level waterproof backpacks, but if you want one in high-vis reflective material for cycling, look to the Pro-Vis range. If you want to add a drinks bladder amongst whole host of other features and lighter weight material, look to the Pro-Sport range.

What are dry bags made of?

Dry Bags come in two main materials; PVC tarpaulin or PU coated Taffeta nylon. PVC tarpaulin is a heavier weight material and is harder wearing than the Taffeta nylon. The seams are generally radio frequency welded to make the bag effectively into a single leak free piece of material. This material is generally used for waterproof backpacks, dry tubes and duffel bags. The lighter weight PU coated Taffeta nylon material is generally used to make smaller stuff sacks and waterproof compression dry bags. The PU coating on the material is known as a DWR (Durable Waterproof Repellent) coating which causes water to bead up and roll off. It does however wear off and can be replaced with products such as NicWax. The Taffeta nylon is a woven material, so has very fine holes in it. These bags will protect from rain and foul weather, but are not submersible.