Over the years, the humble duffel bag has morphed from functional carry-on bag to versatile fashion statement. Initially used by the military and seamen, it has slowly gained popularity in the mass market. Today, when it comes to travelling, nothing comes in handier than a duffel bag. Whether it’s for a short getaway to the beach, a visit to the family over the weekend or while out camping in the wild, there’s nothing these bags can’t do in way of providing secure storage and convenience. They are usually lighter, cheaper, and easier to bring around than big and bulky luggage bags.
Since we never know where our travels might take us, it is always useful to have a waterproof duffel bag. This feature can be a literal lifesaver: keeping your valuables, clothing and survival gear protected from rain and the elements.
The key features of the best waterproof duffel bags
Duffel bags come in a variety of designs and styles. There are the knapsack types with a drawstring at the top, ones with shoulder straps that double as a backpack, as well as long cylindrical duffel bags with cushioned handles for single-hands carrying. Picking a design that works best for your travel needs is crucial to get the most out of your purchase.
A common complaint with duffel bags is their lack of organisation, as travellers are expected to put everything into the same compartment. If you’re an avid weekend traveller, choosing ones with compartments to store your toiletries and personal items can save you both money and time from rummaging around your belongings for that bottle of suntan lotion. If you’re using the bag as a more casual carry-on or like a suitcase, look out for front pockets to store books, sunglasses or travel documents which you can take out easily.
Build, Materials and Durability
The duffel bag should be tough and sturdy: able to withstand things such as being stuffed into an overhead compartment on a plane, being dropped on to the floor, and basically survive the wear and tear that comes with travelling. It should be able to expand a little to fit in any extra items you might be bringing back on your return trip. For the best waterproof duffel bags, go for material such as ballistic nylon and polyester, which are durable and can be easily cleaned. Other things to look out for are the quality of the seams and zippers, and whether or not they’ll hold up when the bag is at full capacity.
Size and fit
Duffel bags can be used as hand luggage for air travel, but be sure to check the dimensions to make sure that they follow airline baggage requirements. Anticipate your space needs according to what they’ll be used for. Those packing for a vacation with the whole family or backpackers going on long trips can opt for bigger bags, some with a capacity of up to 130L. Consider getting bags that are reinforced at the bottom to prevent scratches, or types that come with wheels so that you can easily roll them around at the airport.
Top 10 Best Waterproof Duffel Bags in 2018 – Comparison Table
With no pockets and a clean, minimalist look, the Exped Tempest Duffel Bag might not look like much at first glance: especially considering that it comes with a high price tag. However, users will be surprised to find that the bag delivers high performance, and more.
Made from hydrophobic material and finished with a blend of TPU film laminated 840-denier and 420-denier fabrics, it is designed to offer complete protection against water. Unlike some duffels which only have waterproof bodies, even the zips on the Exped are meant to keep water out. It uses YKK FlexSeal zippers, which keeps the inside of the bag airtight once sealed. Furthermore, the seams are welded with high frequency construction to keep out moisture.This fully waterproof feature makes the bag suitable for outings where it might get soaking wet, such as whitewater rafting. At the same time, it is tough and versatile enough to store gear for other outdoor activities, such as climbing and backpacking.
The simple design adds to its lightweight, as there are no unnecessary straps or buckles to hold it down. They do come with nylon grabber handles on the sides, as well as two rings for attaching to vehicles or racks. The bags are available in three sizes; namely 70L, 100L and 140L, and either black or grey color.
It comes with nylon straps so users can shoulder it backpack style, but these are unpadded and not comfy for heavy loads or long hours of carrying. Its lack of compartments means everything has to be placed in the same slot. The zipper is also hard to pull, but that’s a small price to pay for full water protection. Otherwise, this is a very durable piece that can last for years down the road.
Adventuring in the wilderness seems like a daunting task on its own, without having to deal with things like wet sleeping bags and clothing. The Watershed Yukon Duffel Bag is the perfect companion for outdoor activities, tailored to harsh and diverse environments. Some users have even brought them on Arctic expeditions and through mountain passes. Unlike water-resistant bags, which will still get your gear soaked if they fell off a boat, the Watershed Yukon provides complete waterproof protection. RF welded seams seal the insides from water and moisture, while the ZipDry closure acts like a ziplock bag, ensuring that contents stay dry even when fully submerged in water.
Material wise, Watershed Yukon is made from abrasion resistant 420 Denier Cordura Nylon with Ripstop technology. A heavy matte polyurethane finish is added for super strength and lasting durability.
Measuring 14” x 27” x 13”, the bag opens up with a wide mouth so users can easily access its contents. It has a 70L capacity, making it roomy enough for large loads. Compression straps keep items in place. In addition, the bags come with Duraflex side release buckles, sturdy nylon webbing and rings for hooking up to luggage racks and vehicles.
The Watershed Yukon has also been designed for times when we need to carry fragile items on our trips. The interior is lined with 200 Denier Nylon outer shell material, minicell foam cushioning and fleece for better protection of sensitive gear. Available in blue, orange and brown.
Although a tad pricier than most, the Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel Bag delivers high quality when it comes to waterproof storage. Designed for motorcycle use, these 100% waterproof bags have a roll-top design, where users simply roll the top down until tight, then keep it in place with four compression straps. Two go over the body and one at each end for a secure fit, so you’ll never have to worry about the the contents spilling out.
Waterproof webbing on top helps to keep contents dry from rain or water splashing. The radio frequency welded seams also prevent moisture from seeping in, creating a watertight seal.
The Wolfman’s body is made from an extremely durable 22oz vinyl fabric, while the sides are a sturdy 34oz. Function aside, the sleek and shiny material gives the bags a fashionable appearance. They come in small, medium and large sizes with capacities of 33L, 40L and 47L, respectively. The large size measures around 28” x 11”.
Carry handles are padded for comfort, and the set includes a removable shoulder strap as well as two mounting straps. These are useful for mounting on the back of a bike or on the roof of a vehicle’s luggage rack. However, as with most sealed bags, the Wolfman warms up fast in hot weather, so bear in mind not to keep items such as candy and toothpaste with your clothes.
A product of the USA, the SealLine Zip Duffel has earned a place in the hearts of outdoor enthusiasts and adventure travelers, based on its glowing reviews. One of the few best waterproof duffel bags that come with a zipper, many users have testified to its durability and how well they keep out water. Stylish and versatile, they have many uses; from paddling to cross country on a bike and sailing.
The top of the bag has a diagonal YKK-manufactured zipper, welded on with radio frequency welding. The zippers are the same kind used for dry suits, ensuring maximum protection even against submersion, when sealed correctly. They are sturdy and glide easily to open and close. Water protection aside, some users have also commented that they form an airtight seal, keeping the inside free from moisture even in high-altitude environments.
Made from a soft but tough vinyl material, the SealLine is reinforced on the sides and bottom for a long lasting, durable build that can take being dropped or flung onto the ground. Its diagonal top means that the bags open up wider, allowing users easier access to their packed items inside.
The low profile shape and soft material allows for more flexibility, so users can stuff the bag into smaller spaces. On its own, the large bag measures about 26” in length and has a capacity of 75L, but weighs only 2.3lbs. There are grab handles on each end for easy carrying, as well as shoulder straps. When not in use, the bag folds up small for convenient storage. Its has a simple design and comes in black color.
From boating and motorcycle road trips to dirt racing and canoeing, these are just some of the occasions where users have brought along the Aqua Quest White Water Duffel. Rugged and durable, the bag is 100% waterproof and can withstand dirt, dust, mud, sand and snow, making it the perfect companion for outdoor adventures.
It is made from abrasion-resistant Oxford 420 RipStop fabric, while thermoplastic polyurethane lamination and durable water repellent coating ensures items stay dry and safe, even in harsh environments. Double bar-tacked stress points and welded seams complete the entire package.
Carry it in one hand with a padded handle for extra comfort, or sling it over the shoulders with easily adjustable and removable padded shoulder straps.
The bag measures 29” in length and has a 48” circumference when closed. One kiteboarding enthusiast noted that it could fit two full body wetsuits, pump, booties and other gear. Despite its huge capacity, the bag is lightweight at only 2.2lbs.
There are also two external, rubberized mesh side pockets to store smaller items that need to be taken out often, and can be used to separate dry and wet gear.
Attach the bag securely to racks, vehicles, boats and racks with four sturdy webbing loops at the bottom of the bag, so it never slides off a ride or gets tossed around on a bumpy trip.
There is one minor setback to the Aqua Quest. Due to a lack of zippers, the Aqua Quest works like a conventional travel duffel where users have to fold the top down. In this case, the Velcro strip appears a tad too small.
Available in black, charcoal and red in two sizes: 75L and 50L.
The Motine seems to be a lucky find: cheap, yet functional and long lasting. Doubling as a gym bag and travel duffel, it can be used for weekend trips, getaways to the beach or even for canoeing and kayaking. Made of durable waterproof nylon, the hydrophobic material keeps water out effectively, so that your clothes and items are safe and dry. The nylon is produced with Ripstop technology, a weaving technique using crosshatch patterns, which is reinforced to resist tearing and ripping.
The bag measures 21” x 11” x 11” and can expand to accommodate up to 40L. For easy storage, simply fold it down into a compact pouch measuring 8” x 6”. Due to this convenient feature, users can even treat the Motine as a backup luggage bag to store extra clothes or souvenirs on your return trip, if there is not enough space in your main bag.
It has carry on handles for times when you need to transfer the bag onto a vehicle, as well as padded, adjustable shoulder straps . The straps allow users to carry the duffel around like a regular slingbag, distributing weight evenly for extra comfort.
There are two large pockets on each side for users to place their water bottles in.
For such an affordable bag, the Motine offers value for money, but it does have several drawbacks. The material is thin, so users have to be careful when placing hard objects with pointed edges. It also does not come with internal compartments for organisation.
Available in black, blue, grey and purple color.
Some duffels are sturdy; designed to store camping gear, sleeping bags or survival equipment. For something less heavy duty, there is the MIER. Great as a gym bag, it doubles as a travel duffel for clothes, toiletries and other personal effects, making it handy for weekend getaways. Made from durable and strong ripstop nylon material, the bag is waterproof and tear-resistant. The soft nylon is easy to clean by wiping down the bag. Although lightweight at just 0.77lbs, its sack-like design offers plenty of room, with a capacity of up to 40L.
One of the MIER’s big plus points is its foldable feature. While able to expand to dimensions measuring 19.3” x 10.6” x 10.6”, it can be folded down into a small pouch that is barely 9”- making it convenient to store away when not in use, or as a standby piece of ‘luggage’ that goes into your main bag. The main compartment has dual high quality zippers which open and close in smooth motion. These are made from abrasion resistant SBS metal material, which is 50 times stronger than normal plastic zippers, so they are not likely to break from repeated use.
There are two side pockets with elastic bands for keeping water bottles, lotions or liquids that need to be kept upright. The bag can be carried around with a shoulder strap or carrying handles with padded Velcro wrap. Available in black, blue and red color.
When it comes to short trips, sometimes smaller bags are more convenient, as they store easily and are lighter to carry than their larger counterparts.
The EcoDept Backpack Duffel offers incredible value at an affordable price.
It is especially handy for those who don’t use duffel bags often, or need it just for the weekend. Suitable for the outdoors, the EcoDept’s waterproof feature means that it can be brought along for boating, fishing or kayaking. It will keep gear, valuables and electronics safe from mud, water, sand and dust. The water repellent PVC material is lightweight but does not appear flimsy, so users can safely place hard gear in it without worrying about punctures and leaks. A roll-top closure provides added protection against the elements. It has a single shoulder strap for easy carrying.
The bags come in three sizes: 20L(Small), 30L (Medium) and 40L (Large). Depending on what you’ll be using them for, they can fit items such as sleeping bags, water bottles and camping gear comfortably. The 30L bag measures about 9.4” in diameter and 19” in height, while the 40L bag measures 11” and 21” when packed. They are easy to clean and dry quickly.
Granted the price, the bags might not hold up to too much wear and tear. When carrying too much load, the fabric attached to the straps tend to rip off. As with cheaper duffel bags, the EcoDept has no compartments so users will not be able to sort their items, but for the price they’re going at and their functionality, these are definitely value for money.
Design-wise, the EcoDept bags look colorful and attractive. They are available in three bright colors: desert sand, marine blue and foliage green.
While some duffels are merely water resistant, which means that some water might still get through, the Kwik Tek offers complete waterproof protection for your gear and clothing. It is made from extra heavy duty vinyl polyester laminate and stretchy nylon material, designed to keep water out. Unlike zippered bags, the Kwik Tek needs some extra work to open and close: users have to roll down the top several times and snap the release buckles on each side of the bag together, with one reviewer comparing it to the way you roll a lunch bag. Additional Velcro straps provide extra protection.
The bottom is made of rigid plastic to give the bag more structure and prevent punctures. Meanwhile, electronically welded seams ensure that the bag stands up against stretching for long lasting wear.
One notable feature of the Kwik Tek is its size. If you’re looking to pack for outdoor activities such as camping or for long trips, the Kwik Tek provides loads of room. Measuring 24” x 12” x 12” when closed, the bag is able to accommodate 70L in 4270 cubic inches of space. This means that it can comfortably hold a sleeping bag, pillow, toiletries and clothes for a week, with room to spare.
There are some negatives, however. On its own, the bag weighs five pounds and can get very heavy when filled with items, making it impossible for single-hand carry. If you’re looking for a small and convenient weekend-trip bag, then the Kwik Tek might not be suitable.
As there is no zipper, users will have to roll and unroll the top in order to access its contents. Items can also get jumbled up as there are no organising pockets on the inside. Available in black, blue, clear and green color.
Made from nylon, the OverBoard duffel bag is a decent choice for outdoor travel, especially in wet environments. Designed to be waterproof in bad weather and even while submerged in water, the bag’s internal PVC tarpaulin is bonded to the outer nylon shell for added
protection. Meanwhile, its high frequency welded seams form a watertight seal. The roll-top style opening can be folded down several times, providing comprehensive protection not only against water, but dirt, sand and mud. The opening can be secured with Velcro straps and two side release buckles, so they will never accidentally spill the contents after being buffeted around on a rocky ride. At the same time, the tapered opening allows easy access to its contents.
For people who like keeping their things neatly organised, the OverBoard spells good news with its many handy compartments. Aside from the large main space, there is also a large mesh side pocket on the outside, two small internal mesh pockets with zippers, as well as a wet/dry zipper compartment. Users can use these to store valuables such as electronics, memory cards or batteries.
Carry the OverBoard easily with shoulder straps, which can be removed when not in use. There are four rings to clip on to luggage racks, boats, vehicles or rafts.
The bag comes in four sizes, from a small 40L to 60L and 90L. The largest is a whopping 130L, measuring 12.5” x 9.1” and 20.5” when closed. Even so, it is lightweight at only 0.7kg.
However, the best waterproof duffel bags needs to be at least half full in order for the roll-top mechanism to work effectively. Available in four colors: black, blue, yellow and red.