When purchasing a backpack (particularly for the outdoors), it’s important to consider how the bag will withstand bad weather conditions. A bag’s durability can be the difference in whether important documents, electronics or running shoes become soggy or not. A suitable waterproof backpack should be a staple accessory, which is why we’ve put together this guide to choosing the right one for you.

Broadly speaking, there are three tiers of waterproof backpack: water-resistant, water-repellent and 100% waterproof. Below we will cover waterproof backpack types and what you need to look for before making your decision.

Water-Resistant Backpacks

Water-resistant backpacks are made of durable materials, most commonly cordura nylon or very strong grades of polyester. Belongings will be fine in a water-resistant bag if you’re walking through light showers from the office or biking through intermittent rain. Water-resistant bags will keep water from penetrating, but eventually rain will soak through.

The water-resistant backpack market is quite popular, meaning there are a range of options out there to suit all tastes. Some of our best sellers include the JanSport Right Pack, the Herschel Winlaw Cordura Pack and the Rover Pack from Topo Designs (pictured below). They all make for great everyday backpacks due to their all-round durability.

For something a little different, consider the Sandqvist Hans Pack, Patagonia’s Arbor backpack or the Topo Designs Klettersack.

waterproof backpack

waterproof backpack

Water-Repellent Backpacks

A solid water-repellent backpack is essential if you tend to spend longer periods out in the elements – hiking or cycling in persistent rain for example. Belongings in a water-repellent bag will remain dry so long as your backpack isn’t literally submerged underwater. If you happen to drop one of these packs in water and haul it back up quickly, no moisture should be able to soak through.

When identifying a water-repellent backpack, much consideration should be given to the material. These bags will usually be made of burly fabric that contains Polyurethane, or coated with a Durable Water Repellency (DWR) treatment and laminated with TPU. This ensures that water pools on the surface rather than soaks through the material.  A quality water-repellent backpack also has waterproof zippers and taped seams. This ensures there are no weak points in the backpack’s defence.

The Patagonia Black Hole backpacks are some of the most popular water-repellent backpacks on the market. They come in two sizes: there’s a 32L Black Hole Backpack, which fits up to 17″ laptops, and a more compact 25L Black Hole Backpack for 15″ laptops. Meanwhile, the new Field Bag from Rains is a stylish and minimalist water-repellent backpack for daily use.

waterproof backpack

waterproof backpack

Why Consider A 100% Waterproof Backpack?

Investing in a fully waterproof backpack equips you for a number of activities. Think rigorous outdoor activities such as white-water rafting or camping, for times when your bag won’t be safely inside a tent. If you regularly commute long distances by bike, you may also require the extra protection.

100% waterproof backpacks are completely airtight and will float if you drop it in water. This level of protection is commonly achieved using an airtight roll-top closure, like the Chrome Barrage Pack. The Chrome Barrage’s external net compartment for storing helmets and quick access items makes it ideal for cyclists.

Another tactic for achieving 100% waterproof protection is to use more heavy-duty fabric and zippers. The Patagonia Stormfront Pack for example, is a spacious backpack ideal for hauling expensive camera gear on your outdoor adventures.

The Henty Wingman is another brand worth mentioning in the 100% waterproof backpack conversation. This innovative carry option consists of two parts: a water-resistant outer compartment and a 100% waterproof inner tube dry sack. This enables you to separate your clean clothes from your dirty clothes, making it suitable for busy professionals on the go.

waterproof backpack

waterproof backpack

waterproof backpack

The Bottom Line

Choosing a waterproof backpack depends heavily on your needs. Are you searching for a new everyday workhorse?  Or maybe something to accompany you on your week-long camping trip? You may commute a lot through the rain by bike, or just want something more durable. Whatever your need, we hope this buying guide has helped you narrow the field.

Check out our selection of waterproof backpacks at Rushfaster.

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