Last updated: 16/10/2022

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The waterproof backpack can do one thing very well – protect the contents from moisture. Unlike a conventional backpack, you can take it with you on trekking tours and even go swimming or diving with some models.

With our detailed waterproof backpack test 2022 we want to help you find the right model for you. We have also compared different waterproof backpacks for you and answered the most frequently asked questions in our guide section.




Summary

  • Whether hiking, on a bike tour or camping, this is where a waterproof backpack is beneficial as it protects the contents of the backpack from getting wet. But these types of models have to meet the German industry standard of waterproofness.
  • The wetness usually penetrates the inside via the seams or the zip. This is where waterproof backpacks differ in their use and features.
  • In addition, cleaning waterproof backpacks is a little more complicated, as you should not clean them in the washing machine.

The Best Waterproof Backpack in the United Kingdom: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for waterproof backpacks

In the following, we will explain all the important aspects in more detail, which you can use to compare the different waterproof backpacks. These are the following criteria you should look for when buying a waterproof backpack.

Material

Most waterproof backpacks are made of a water-repellent nylon material (polyamide 6.6) or truck tarpaulin. However, some models have a more flexible and adaptable fabric than others, which is not as rigid and uncomfortable. Some fabrics are coated with polyurethane (PU) or silicone for waterproofness. Most often, backpacks are made of polyester or polyamide. However, polyester is not as UV-resistant as polyamide. The latter must be specially coated so that it remains tear-resistant.

You should note that PU coated backpacks wear out more easily. As soon as the coating becomes porous, water permeability can occur. You can also make leather backpacks water-repellent by impregnating them before use. However, their heavy weight makes them unsuitable for outdoor activities such as trekking or hiking. And cotton backpacks soak up water and are not durable enough.

Size / Capacity

You can compare the capacity in litres or the dimensions in centimetres. In terms of capacity, some start at 5 litres and go up to 70 litres. But the most typical sizes are between 10 and 30 litres. Depending on the purpose, it depends on what you want to carry in the waterproof backpack. If it is more of a daypack, then 10-20 litres is usually enough, and for hiking backpacks we would recommend a size of 30 litres or more. Regarding the dimensions, it is important that they are not too wide or too high for your height and strength. This is the best way to prevent back problems and make it easier for you to move around.

Use

It depends on the occasion for which you need the waterproof backpack. Depending on what you plan to do and how much you need to carry, you can choose between different features. You have to decide whether it will be used for any water sports. Or is it enough to carry your belongings dry on the way home from work or university?

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There are also waterproof backpacks for school/university with which you can transport your documents dry. (Image source: Andrea Piacquadio/ pexels)

The International Protection Index (IPXX) shows how extremely waterproof and dirt-repellent the model is. On most tested and certified backpacks you will find the IPX6 (protection against strong jets of water), IPX7 (protection against temporary submersion) or IPX8 (protection against permanent submersion).

Wearing comfort

Padded and breathable shoulder straps as well as back padding prevent unwanted cutting and sweating. If you wear the waterproof backpack on your back for a long time, you certainly don’t want to feel heavy, so additional hip or chest straps are an advantage. They take the strain off your shoulders.

Type of closure

The roll-up or wrap-around closure has proved its worth. This means that hardly any water or dirt can get through. Most IPX6 certified waterproof backpacks have such a closure. The backpack is folded three times and then locked with clip fasteners. In addition to the roll top closure, there is also the waterproof YKK zip. These are usually sealed or taped so that no water can penetrate.

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a waterproof backpack

Below we would like to answer the most important questions about waterproof backpacks. By answering them briefly, you will soon have all the important knowledge you need on this subject.

What is special about a waterproof backpack and what advantages does it offer?

Waterproof backpacks protect the contents of the backpack from getting wet. They are usually made of tear-resistant and water-repellent materials such as nylon, polyester or even truck tarpaulins. The special feature of this type of backpack is the special closures so that no dirt or water can penetrate. Here you should pay attention to the International Protection Code. This indicates how waterproof and dirt-repellent the backpack actually is.

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A waterproof backpack for hiking, boating or stand-up paddling should be at least IPX6 certified so that it can be transported in water without any problems. (Image source: Kal Visuals/ unsplash)

There is the roll or wrap closure where the opening is rolled three times and then closed with the two retaining rings. In good models, the brackets themselves lock into place so that unintentional opening can be prevented. In addition, the seams and zips are the typical places through which dirt and water can penetrate, so both must be sealed or taped. Only with these features will your contents be safe from heavy rain and showers. Before buying a waterproof backpack, you should think about what you want to use it for. This will determine the size and additional features.

What types of waterproof backpacks are there?

When buying a waterproof backpack, you can compare the following types.

Waterproof backpacks for outdoor activities

Outdoor activities include trekking, hiking, camping and all kinds of water sports. For this, your backpack must not only be water-repellent, but extremely waterproof and at least IPX6 certified. Waterproof hiking backpacks in particular have a low weight, which makes them comfortable to carry. A lot of items fit into these types of backpacks. The robust and tear-resistant materials (nylon, truck tarpaulin, polyester) provide absolute protection against dirt and water.
Advantages
  • Low own weight
  • Capacity from 30l upwards
  • Enormous durability
Disadvantages
  • Less ergonomic

Not all waterproof backpacks for outdoor use are ergonomic. Some lack padded shoulder straps and breathable back padding.

Waterproof backpacks for everyday use

Due to the relatively small weight and size, you can easily transport the backpack. Such a waterproof daypack is especially suitable as a school backpack or for shorter trips.
Advantages
  • Small size
  • Light weight
  • Wide range of colours and designs
Disadvantages
  • Not particularly durable

A big disadvantage is that you can’t use it for longer hikes. If you pack it fuller, it might become less comfortable on your back.

Who are waterproof backpacks for?

Actually, anyone who wants to protect the contents of their backpack from water and dirt. So if you’re often out and about, then a waterproof backpack is just right for you. You can always be surprised by a thunderstorm. And if you are a water sports enthusiast, then this kind of backpack is for you. It is the perfect companion for surfing, stand-up paddling, canoeing or kayaking. But beware, there are differences between, for example, a waterproof hiking backpack and a waterproof lake bag.

How much does a waterproof backpack cost?

Some waterproof backpacks are more elaborate than others. The models without seams and those with sealed seams and closures are priced higher than a normal backpack that is not waterproof. Of course, the price differences between waterproof backpacks arise because of the type of material. For example, the foldable and compact backpacks made of nylon are priced lower than the See bags, which are made of truck tarpaulins. The foldable waterproof backpacks are available for as little as 10 euros and the sea bags are priced from 20 euros.
Type Price range
Waterproof daypack 10-200€
Waterproof outdoor backpack 30- 200€

What are the alternatives to a waterproof backpack?

There is the rain poncho. For most people this is enough protection. They put it over their backpack and themselves, but this is only enough for short periods of wetness. Another alternative is the protective covers specially made for the backpacks, which are often supplied with the models. But here too there is a big disadvantage. Unfortunately, the protective cover does not keep the back of the backpack dry. This means that some moisture could penetrate. Especially on the bike, the wind can cause the moisture to penetrate even faster.
Type Description
Rain poncho Also serves as backpack protection and takes up little space in the bag
Protective cover Protects everything except the back area from moisture

If you only want to carry small valuables, there is also the option of using small waterproof compact bags. These are about the same price and are not as ergonomic as the backpacks.

What is a waterproof backpack made of and what are its advantages?

Most models have a PU layer on the inside of the backpack that makes it waterproof. In addition, the backpacks are always made of waterproof and dirt-repellent materials such as nylon, polyester or truck tarpaulins. This makes them very hard-wearing and robust.
In addition, however, it scores points for its waterproofness and for this it is not much higher in price.

Some models have more compartments or divisions. Others have only one main compartment. Again, it depends on the purpose for which you will use the backpack. A big advantage of the waterproof backpack is that it can have the same features as a normal backpack.

How do I clean the waterproof backpack?

It’s better not to put it in the washing machine, as the backpack, like the machine itself, can take damage with it. The best way is to wash it by hand. Simply remove all the inserts and the carrying frame from the backpack, shake the backpack out upside down once. Then roughly brush off the dirt in the shower and rinse it off. Then soak the waterproof backpack in a bathtub or wash bowl with a little mild detergent. Make sure the detergent is not too aggressive, as it could remove the PU (polyurethane) coating. Then treat the straps again individually in water by squeezing them. Finally, rinse the entire rucksack again with water so that the remains of the detergent come off and you have a fresh rucksack.

It is important that you check regularly to see if any small tears have crept into the material. In addition, spray the zips with silicone if you have them. That way you can enjoy your backpack for longer.

Cover photo source: DH1tlJyHMXg/ unsplash.com

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