A waterproof backpack can protect your laptop, books, documents and other belongings from water damage if you have to commute in the rain. A regular backpack can become a water-filled sack that ensures all your stuff gets ruined!
Backpacks are not just for students and hikers anymore. Years ago, they became "the thing" in business casual circles. Now they are being hefted by just about everyone who needs to carry anything.
Here we will take a gander at some good-looking and functional waterproof backpacks that have met our strict standards. Read the next section to learn more about what it takes to make the cut and be included on our "best of" list, and look to see which one of these packs suit your needs.
Timbuk2 - Spire
18 1/2"L x 12 1/2"W x 5"D
Best For Cyclists
Ortlieb - Velocity
Black, yellow, white, green, grey, blue
19 1/2"L x 12"W x 6"D
Patagonia - Stormfront
21"L x 12"W x 9"D
Mission Workshop - Sanction
Slate grey, black
18"L x 12"W x 5"D
Aquaquest - Himal
Black, blue, red, camo
23"L x 13"W x 5"D
Overboard - Pro-sports
18"L x 11"W x 9"D
How We Reviewed These Waterproof Backpacks
Cheaply made backpacks cannot be considered waterproof, regardless of any manufacturer claims. This is because the parts where cheap backpacks cut corners, like zippers and seams, are the most common leak points. So we paid special attention to quality of construction and what materials are used.
We excluded any packs that had too many bells and whistles. Unnecessary extras usually just get in the way. We did run across several bags that had some cool extras, and we included some here. Spoiler alert: One of the packs we review here has an attachment point for a bike light!
After eliminating dozens of backpacks, we selected eight for our list. We wanted to make sure there was enough variety so everyone would find one they like.
And all of the packs on the list can be used for daily commuting and outdoor adventures!
The Best Waterproof Backpacks Compared And Reviewed
Next, we'll dig deeper into the specs of each backpack and help you decide which one is best for your specific needs. It's not a one sized fits all answer! For example, the Timbuk2 Spire is best for everyday use while the Ortlieb Velocity is best for cyclists. Keep reading to get the full scoop.
Although designed for laptops, specifically MacBooks, this waterproof backpack features so many great features, it makes a fantastic everyday pack.
There are two main interior compartments. The 15" laptop compartment is not padded, but it snugly holds devices to keep them from shifting around and offers them an extra level of protection. The larger compartment is big enough to carry a light jacket, books and lunch.
The internal organizer stows pens, a stylus and a phone. We like the zippered pocket inside for securely storing cash and cards.
It's not hard to dehydrate during a long day on the go. That's what makes the exterior water bottle holder so useful.
There is one thing we want you to be aware of: The material of this backpack wears out relatively quickly, especially on the shoulder straps. This is probably not for you if you need a pack for everyday use, but it's great for occasional use.
This is a good waterproof backpack students and professionals alike. It is stylish and functional, and it is backed by a lifetime warranty against defects in material and workmanship. Keep in mind, however, that the warranty does not cover normal material wear.
This is the best pack on our list for cyclists. It is small and light, and it has a simple fixture you can use for attaching a bike light or helmet. The back is made of tough foam for comfort.
The bottom of the pack is made of strong, abrasion-resistant material and has foot studs. This is a great construction feature if you often set your backpack on the ground.
There is one internal zippered compartment for storing small items like snacks, but it is not big enough for books or documents that cannot be folded. Those items would have to be carried in the main compartment. Your phone and one pen can be kept securely in one of the two special interior pockets.
Here is a versatile backpack that can be used for commuting in the city, but we think it really shines when used for outdoor activities.
It is made of strong nylon with a special waterproof coating. There is no special pockets inside for phones and pens, but there is a big exterior zippered compartment for easy access to the things you need most often.
The outdoorsman will want to check out the Patagonia Convertible Vest that is made to go with this pack. Think of it as a fishing vest. It features several roomy pockets.
We like the fully adjustable straps and the removable waistbelt. You can spend a little time getting the fit right so you can carry the pack all day long in total comfort.
There are two loops meant to hold a fishing rod tube. This is great for carrying rods, but it may look a bit out of place while cycling or riding on a bus.
Mission Workshop Sanction
The Sanction is a tough, durable, simple and stylish waterproof backpack that is great for just about anyone.
The main compartment stores bulkier items and can easily handle a 17" laptop. There are five smaller compartments under the flap for organizing the small things that you carry, like pens, cards, change and anything else that would get lost in the larger storage area.
The front zippered compartment seems to be specially made for a 15" laptop, but it would also be great for books and folders. A small velcro pocket is the perfect size for a phone or wallet.
The main closure is simple. The oversized flap folds over the top of the main compartment and is held securely closed by two strong plastic buckles. This will appeal to you if you want to avoid zippers. Let's face it: Any zipper can get stuck, and that would end any kind of water resistance of a backpack.
This pack is suitable for both daily and outdoor use, like the Stormfront, but this one is geared more toward daily commuting. At first, we were going to give this one the distinction of being the best for cyclists, but that accolade ultimately went to the Velocity due to its more compact size.
If we were going to give an award for the best waterproof gym bag, it would go the the Himal. That's because that is how this pack is built. It's basically just a big waterproof pack with shoulder straps, but it has some cool features that make it useful. It can be used as a commuting or outdoor pack like every other bag on this list, but here are some uses for which this one can be outstanding:
- Use it as a small laundry bag
- Use to carry light sports equipment
- Gym bag
This pack folds into its own front exterior pocket, which then zips up, for easy storage when not in use.
The thin material had us kind of worried that it may tear easily, but this seems to be a very durable pack. Many people use it daily and there are almost no complaints about ripping or tearing.
We really love the essential design of the Boreos Echo. At first glance, this looked like a single-compartment pack. But we are glad we looked more closely.
Aside from the main 25-liter main compartment, there are two full-length side pockets, a stretchable front pocket and one on top. There is also a discreet daisy chain for attaching gear like u-locks and a helmet.
The straps, including the waistband and sternum strap, are fully adjustable and they tuck away for neat storage or for in case you decide to carry it by its top handle. Reflective print on the bag enhances nighttime safety.
All straps are well-padded, and the back panel is made of strong molded foam for added comfort.
This is the toughest waterproof backpack on our list. It is made of strong PVC and features HF-welded seams. This welding process makes the pack basically seamless. Overboard has designed this model to float. This feature can save your trip if you take this pack along on a fishing, boating or rafting trip.
There is plenty of storage room with the 30L main compartment, a zippered front mesh pocket, two long mesh pockets on each side and an interior 10"x8" zippered compartment. If you carry gear that you like to hang, you will appreciate the multiple D-rings.
The straps are well-padded and ventilated. Combined with the breathable back, this makes for a very comfortable backpack.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are There Any Waterproof Backpacks That Offer A Guarantee That They Will Replace My Stuff If The Pack Turns Out To Not Be Waterproof?
We really wanted to show you a backpack with a guarantee like this. We looked high and low, but no manufacturer makes this type of warranty. So we were extra vigilant when we compiled the list. These are all well-trusted packs. Make sure you read the instructions to make sure you are closing the pack correctly.
How Can A Backpack With A Zipper Possibly Be Waterproof?
We had the same question. Zippers are more waterproof than we thought. In fact, even waterproof backpacks that float sometimes feature zippers. Flaps are not really necessary, but many manufacturers include them into their designs as an added later of protection from rain.
How Do You Close A "Roll-Top" Waterproof Backpack?
Read the instructions that come with it, but you generally have to tightly roll the top at least three times before securing it with the strap.
The Final Verdict
So, what do you think? We are impressed with all of these packs.
Our "best overall" pick, the Boreas Echo, is a tough and durable pack with ample storage space and several convenient compartments. We were really happy with the price! It could be priced twice what it is and would still be a pretty good deal. If only one waterproof backpack could exist on this planet, we would hope that it could be this one. It would make a great gift too!
Our "budget pick" is actually not the least expensive pack here. But it got the nod because it is only $20 higher than our cheapest, but it is so versatile that it appeals to a wide variety of people with any number of intended uses in mind.
Each of the other options here are winners in their own right. Each one has that special something that secured its place here on our list. Read the reviews to see what we think about durability, storage capability and comfort.