Whether you’re headed to a famously drizzly city, about to trek deep into a misty rainforest, or preparing for potential tropical squalls, these bags will keep your valuables nice and dry.
Backpacks are a traveler’s best friends. Not only do they free your hands for juggling boarding passes, a camera, and maybe a coffee, but they also give you mobility to chase down a bus or climb five flights of stairs to your Parisian walk-up. And if they’re waterproof? Even better because chances are, the stuff you’ve stashed inside (like a passport, computer, or the next day’s outfit) really needs to stay dry.
Technically, backpacks can’t be labeled “waterproof” unless they can handle being fully submerged, and that requires waterproof zippers and seams and airtight construction (because anywhere air can seep in, water can too). Most of us don’t need anything that intense, so many of the backpacks we’ve included here qualify as “water resistant,” meaning that in practice, they’ll shield your valuables from extended exposure to snow and rain. Which one is best for you? Read on to find out.
Arc’teryx Granville 20 Backpack
For urban commuters
Proving that weather protection can be both utilitarian and beautiful, the water-resistant Granville ($229) pairs rain-shedding fabric with a sleek, elegant design. The ripstop nylon keeps contents dry through hours-long exposure to drenching storms, and critical seams are taped over to ensure that moisture doesn’t seep through the stitching.
The uncluttered exterior includes a simple clip-in point for a bike light and a zippered pocket that allows fast access to a wallet or keys. The main compartment’s single clasp releases with just one hand, so you’ll never have to set the pack in a puddle to devote both hands to the job.
Inside, there’s a padded sleeve for a 15-inch laptop and another to keep papers tidy, plus a zippered, stretch mesh pocket to organize charging cords. But the rest of the 20-liter storage is open and spacious enough for a bulky neck pillow and pair of headphones. Although there’s no waist belt, the molded shoulder straps and sternum buckle help keep the pack from sliding around while you’re hiking or cycling.
YETI Panga Backpack 28
For backcountry adventurers
Fully waterproof and submersible, this airtight pack was built for the toughest, most abusive situations in world travel. Need to wade through a flooded stream? Strap your cargo to the roof of a Bolivian bus? Stow your camera on a whitewater raft? This is your sidekick.
YETI’s proprietary ThickSkin fabric lives up to its name: Not only does it repel water, but it’s puncture-proof and abrasion-resistant. That means anything made with the sturdy stuff can handle careless baggage-handlers and ride safely on the exterior of a vehicle. A plethora of daisy chains makes it easy to strap the Panga ($300) to a cargo rack or lash wet sandals to its exterior.
The zipper is sticky—you’ve got to apply some real muscle to yank it closed—but that’s because it’s waterproof and durable. Go ahead and plop the Panga on the beach; sand won’t jam these beefy zipper teeth.
The rigid ThickSkin shell makes it hard to overstuff this pack, but the 28-liter capacity is generous enough for most loads. And even when it’s full of heavy lenses and computer gear, the pack’s suspension ably supports the weight for a truly comfortably carry. The broad shoulder straps stay in place without slipping, and a removable waist belt provides extra stability when hiking in rugged terrain.