Choosing the Correct Dry Bag

25 thoughts on “Choosing the Correct Dry Bag”

  1. I was recently using a compression sac (#5) on a hike in Borneo, inside my pack to contain a few dry clothes and a light weight sleeping bag. The sac was not actually being used to compress, nor was it full. After 4 hrs of driving rain, my pack was of course soaked through, but I expected my “dry” bag to have kept my clothes and sleeping bag dry.
    I was extremely disappointed to find that this was not the case. The sac did not leak through the roll top as the clothes near that were dry; only the sleeping bag and clothes near the event end were wet. I doubt that this counts as “submersion”, so why did the dry bag fail so badly?
    I had previously assumed that this use case was appropriate, and that I could be sure of a dry (and warm) nights sleep.
    I guess the statements about the dry bags are not that true!

    1. G’Day Nick

      First of all, I’m sorry to learn that you’ve had a less-than-ideal experience with your eVent Compression Dry Sack.

      Thanks for providing such a detailed description – it helps in understanding how the water entry may have occurred. Given that the items close to the roll-top closure were not affected, it’s reasonable to conclude that the closure was sealed properly, and that the water has entered through the base of the compression dry sack.

      For the eVent fabric or seam taping to have become compromised, one of the following conditions must have occurred:
      – Sharp object damage. This may be extremely small, ‘pinhole’ punctures which allowed the water to pass through the laminate
      – Exposure to solvents or oils. This can include mosquito repellents with DEET (a powerful solvent), the alcohol in spray sunscreen or iodine solution, the oils in sunscreen, or gasoline / lubricant oil. Any one of the above would cause the laminate to become porous, or would cause the seam taping to delaminate (even a barely visible crack in the seam tape may admit water)
      – Exposure to heat above 60°C / 140°F. This can occur in a vehicle parked in strong sunlight if an item of gear is exposed to direct sun. The heat can cause the seam tape to separate from the fabric.

      The possibility exists that the eVent Laminate has a manufacturing failure and is therefore not waterproof; but it would be an *extremely* rare occurrence.

      We would be happy to test the Compression Dry Sack and determine why it has failed. Can you please contact us via our address (put the words eVent Compression Dry Sack – water entry’ in the subject line, and let us know:
      – Your full mailing address
      – The name and location of the store where the Compression Dry Sack was purchased
      – The approximate date of purchase
      We’ll provide you with a returns authorization number and details on how to send the product back to us.

      At Sea to Summit, we go out of our way to provide honest, detailed and accurate information to consumers about the materials, function and limitations of our products on our packaging, on our website and on this blog: I’d be happy to answer any specific questions you might have about dry sack performance.



  2. Thanks for this article. It clearly explains the weight/durability trade off with each product line and will aid in my purchasing decision.

  3. I’d like to use one of these bags for paddleboarding on mostly calm water. It will probably be submerged up to two or three feet for a few seconds at a time every so often (read I’m going to fall off). Can you recommend a range of bags that would be suitable for this?

    1. G’Day Doug

      Thanks for checking in with us regarding the right dry sack for paddleboarding.

      In principle, any of the following dry bags are rugged enough to work in a paddling environment:
      Lightweight Dry Sack,
      eVac Dry Sack,
      Big River Dry Bag,
      Stopper Dry Bag,
      Hydraulic Dry Bag.

      Of these, our recommendation would be for the Big River Dry Bag (or possibly the Hydraulic Dry Bag) because the lash patches on the side of these dry bags will allow you to secure them to the paddle board easily.

      If you are not transporting electronics or other sensitive items, a brief submersion to the depths you mention should not cause any problems. It is possible that a very small amount of water might seep through the roll-top closure (hence the advisories which we put on our dry bags), but if the contents do not include electronics, this should not be an issue. If you are transporting electronics, you should take the precaution of packing them in a second dry bag (such as the Lightweight Dry Sack) inside the Big River / Hydraulic – this will prevent water incursion. Closing the roll-top closure carefully each time (a minimum of three tight rolls, ensuring that nothing projects – even partially – through the closure) is key to waterproof performance of any dry bag.

      Please know that we offer a purpose-built dry bag especially for SUPs: which comes with special mounting hardware.

      I trust this information is helpful – if you have any questions, please shoot us an email at and put “SUP – dry bag questions” in the subject line.



  4. I bought a 20 L back to use as a sleeping bag stuff sack. I will not need any water resistance or water proofing features. The rubber which partly covers the gizmo which lets you loosen the cord all the way — the rubber interferes. Since I don’t need the water resistance feature, can I just cut that rubber thing off?

    1. G’Day Sue

      The intent of the Hypalon ‘garage’ on the stuff sack (which covers the barrel lock) is to permit one-handed operation of the drawcord.

      When the stuff sack is brand new, the barrel lock may be a little stiff, but after a few uses you will find that the drawcord will glide quite easily.

      We would therefore suggest waiting before cutting this Hypalon ‘garage’ off of the stuff sack.

      However, if it really is in your way, feel free to cut it off carefully – make sure you don’t cut into the seam or fabric of the stuff sack. The barrel lock will then be untethered (and you will need both hands to operate it). It may also be worth knowing that altering a product in this way voids the warranty.

      Please let us know if we can provide additional assistance – drop us an email at and put “stuff sack barrel lock” in the subject line



    1. G’Day Adam –

      There are two main considerations when choosing a dry bag for use as a food storage bag/bear bag:

      – the degree to which the bag might be exposed to sharp branches while being hoisted into trees
      – the weight which a backcountry user is prepared to carry

      The Lightweight Dry Sack is probably the most universal of our dry bag range. Its 70 D fabric is tough and is unlikely to tear if it becomes snagged on branches. A 20 Liter Lightweight Dry Sack weighs 4,7 ozs / 133g.
      The UltraSil Dry Sack would probably be the choice of a weight-conscious end-user – a 20 Liter version weighs 1.8ozs / 50g. However – care would be necessary when hauling the bag up into trees to ensure that it did not not become snagged on branches., as the featherweight fabric can tear.

      If you would like more details, please email us at and put “Dry Sack – Bear Bag questions” in the subject line.



      1. I had the same question. Thank you for answering & clarifying the pros/cons of each bag. It solidified my decision on which Sea to Summit bag to choose.

      2. G’Day Jim –

        Thanks for getting in touch with us – glad to know that the advice on choosing a dry bag was helpful to you.

        We’re working on getting links created on our website (linking to the Blog and to other sources) which will provide additional information of this kind for each of our products – this should be up and running fairly soon.

        In the meantime, if you have a specific question, just Ask Baz!

        We’re happy to help



    1. G’Day Deneen

      Thanks for asking about the most appropriate compression dry sack for your Revelation quilt. The Revelation website lists the following packed sizes (temperatures) for their quilts – next to each you will find the recommended size of Sea to Summit compression dry sack:
      5.5L (40°F) XS (6L)
      6.5L (30°F) S (10L)
      7.5L (20°F) S (10L)
      9L (10°F) S (10L)
      10L (0° F) M (14L)

      Given that you are a quilt user, you are probably an ‘ultralight’ hiker, so we would suggest the UltraSil eVent Compression Dry Sack in the appropriate size.

      However, if you are planning on carrying the compression dry sack mounted externally on a backpack, or use it in high puncture/abrasion environments (such as paddling), we would recommend the heavier-weight 70D nylon eVent Compression Dry Sack

      Let us know at if we can provide more details



  5. Hello, I was looking at getting either the Big River dry-bag or the Stopper dry bag and was hoping you could elaborate on the difference between the two? I noticed that the Stopper is slightly heavier and more durable according to the chart, even though is has a 210D yarn, as opposed to the 420D of the Big River. I imagine this must be because the Stopper has a thicker laminate coating? I’m just curious as to which would be good in which applications?

    1. G’Day Matt,

      Thanks for checking in with us about the difference between Big River Dry Bags and Stopper Dry Bags. Both types have high strength-to-weight characteristics; which of the two you choose may well be a question of function rather than construction.

      The Big River material comprises of a 420 D face fabric (the technical term used for the externally-facing fabric) laminated to a thermoplastic (TPU) film which is on the inside. This construction provides a high tensile strength and good abrasion resistance, yet is quite supple. Big River Dry Bags are therefore ideal for packing down into spaces (such as hatches in sea kayaks or fishing kayaks). In addition, the Big River Dry Bags have lash patches which make attachment to a boat, raft or motorcycle really simple.

      The Stopper material comprises of a 210 D carrier material (the technical term used for an internal mesh or ‘scrim’). The thermoplastic urethane (TPU) is laminated onto the outside of this carrier material. The TPU used in this case is, indeed, heavier than the film used in the Big River Dry Bags. It gives the Stoppers high tensile strength and a very good abrasion resistance, without the inflexibility which is the characteristic of some urethane laminates used for welded dry bags. Notwithstanding this, the Stoppers are not quite as supple as Big River Dry Bags. They also do not have external lash points.

      If you would like further details, please email us at and let us know what type of usage you have in mind: what you intend to transport in what kind of environments. Please put ‘Stopper / Big River Dry Bag comparison’ in the subject line.



  6. I am looking for a dry bag for bike packing (mountain biking, single track, trees, rocks, etc.). The bag will be mounted to a harness attached to the handle bars of my bike. It will contain my sleeping bag and tent. Which bag would you recommend, the Big River bag or the Stopper bag?

    1. Thanks for checking in with us about the best dry storage option for bikepacking.

      Please know that our most popular dry storage product for handlebar mounting for bikepacking (by far) is the eVent Compression Dry Sack – it will compress gear such as insulated clothing and sleeping bags and keep them dry, and the compression straps offer several easy attachment points.

      (note that the eVent Compression Dry Sack is available in two versions; a 70 D Nylon version and a 30 D UltraSil Version. We would not recommend the lighter UltraSil version for external mounting on a bike – the fabric does not have the necessary puncture and abrasion resistance for this type of usage).

      If you were to opt for a conventional dry sack rather than the compression dry sack, we would definitely choose the Big River Dry Bag over the Stopper Dry Bag. The Big River Dry Bags have external lash patches which make attachment to a bike really simple – the Stoppers have a smooth laminate and no external attachment points.

      One final thought – we would avoid packing a (damp) tent in the same dry bag as a sleeping bag (all tents will have an amount of condensation on them which cannot easily be dried out in the amount of time you have to air out your gear in the morning). After a full day of being stored together in a dry bag, the sleeping bag will have absorbed a lot of that moisture.

      I trust the above is helpful – if you have additional questions, please shoot us an email at and put ‘Bikepacking – dry storage’ in the subject line.



  7. Hi guys. I’ve had 3 sea to summit hydraulic dry bags for about6-7 years now. They have performed flawlessly–2 small guys inside a 20 liter larger one, along with fly fishing reels, fly boxes etc. No water has ever gotten in, despite being used on the floor of flats boats and my kayak. Indeed, in 2 spills from the kayak the 20L bag simply floated away–and was retrieved with all contents dry. Now the interior laminate of the 20L bag is flaking all over the contents, and the rubber grips on the sides of the bag long ago fell off and resisted being reglued.I am considering buying the 35L bag, primarily to fit one flybox that is too wide for the 20L. But the 20 L is rarely fully packed and the 35L will be even less so. So I will likely be rolling the bags down past the rubber handles- to conserve space on the flats boats and the kayak–which i suspect led to them eventually falling off–Any suggestions to avoid a repeat? thanks Joel

    1. G’Day Joel

      Thanks for checking in with us regarding your Sea to Summit dry sacks.

      The model of dry sack which you have is not the Hydraulic, it is the Big River Dry Bag The laminate used in the Big River Dry Bags can eventually deteriorate if it remains damp for long periods and is subjected to mechanical wear (such as fly boxes sliding around inside the dry bag). The adhesive of the lash patches can also degrade over time.

      For this reason, we would suggest a dry sack made of a different type of laminate – we would recommend either the Hydraulic Dry Bag or the lighter Stopper Dry Bag

      In the case of the Hydraulic, it will have lash patches similar to the Big River Dry Bag, but these are RF-welded on rather than glued. Either the Hydraulic or Stopper in the 20 Liter size sounds like it will serve you well.

      If you have any additional questions, shoot us an email at and put ‘Dry Bag for fishing use’ in the subject line. We’ll be happy to make further recommendations.



  8. I’m considering among the biggest hydraulic dry packs (90, 120L with harness) for a 5 day Canadian canoe paddle but wonder how well they will fit as a backpack for our 10 miles of portaging. Essentially what length torso are they designed to? (Yes, including the two adjustment positions). And does a bigger size assume a bigger, longer torsoed portager?

    1. G’Day David

      Thanks for checking with us about the torso lengths of our Hydraulic Dry Packs.

      The torso length of the harness of these packs is the same regardless of the size of the pack (65L, 90L or 120L)

      The attachment points for the hip belt (at the base of the pack) and the ‘load lifter’ straps (at the top of the pack) are spaced approximately 21” and 23” or 53cm and 58cm apart. The two measurements reflect the fact that there are two sets of attachment points to provide back length adjustment.

      This would equate to a torso length of approximately 18” and 20” or 46cm and 51cm, if the normal procedure for measuring a backpack harness were followed. However, it’s worth knowing that the Hydraulics do not have a frame, and therefore the torso length is much more approximate.

      Achieving a comfortable carry with a dry pack of this kind is therefore very much a question of how the dry bag itself is packed. Ideally, the dry bag will be as full and as uniformly dense as possible – this may mean not compressing certain items as the volume of things to be carried decreases over five days (as the result of food/drink items being consumed).

      If you would like more information, please email us at and put ‘Hydraulic torso length’ in the subject line.



  9. I recently bought two of your Ultra Sil dry packs. I would like your advice on how to store the packs when not in use. I live in India which has a very tropical climate and bugs eating through clothes is a common possibility, if not kept with some chemicals like naphthalene balls. Is that a possibility with your bag?
    Thanks in advance.

    1. G’Day Roy

      Thanks for your question regarding the UltraSil Dry Pack.

      In an ideal situation, an UltraSil Dry Pack (like any item of outdoor gear, particularly a featherweight waterproof product) should be stored in a cool, dry place. This will be more difficult to achieve in a tropical location, so here are some thoughts on storage:

      – The Dry Pack should be stored in such a way that air can circulate inside the pack. Hanging it up in a closet upside down seems like the best option
      – If it’s not possible to store the pack hanging up, ensure that the Dry Pack is not stored for long periods in its stuff sack. If an UltraSil Dry Pack or Dry Sack is rolled tightly and stored in a situation with high humidity, it can negatively affect the polyurethane coating on the inside surface.
      – Putting a desiccant (such as the silica gel packets supplied with many electronic and clothing products) inside the pack should help to keep it as dry as possible.

      I have no experience with bugs eating through fabrics; but I would have thought that the risk of this happening with a synthetic (nylon) fabric is relatively small.

      I trust this helps; if you have further questions, send us an email at and put ‘UltraSil Dry Pack – storage in a humid climate’ in the subject line


      Barry Robertson :: Minister of Education

      Phone 303-440-8977 | fax 303-440-8995 | |

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