What Size Dry Bag For Kayaking Do You Need?

One of the most essential items you need to have before heading out onto the water is a dry bag. A dry bag is essential for keeping your belongings safe and dry while kayaking.

Determining What Size Dry Bag For Kayaking You Need

If you’ve never bought a dry bag for kayaking before, you might be wondering what size dry bag you need and lucky for ya, I’ve bought quite a few over the years (some crappy ones, but a few amazing ones) and I’ll be discussing everything you need to know about choosing the right size dry bag for kayaking.

#1. Consider the Length of Your Kayak

When selecting a size for your dry bag, consider the length of your kayak.

A longer kayak will require a larger dry bag. If your kayak is 12 feet or longer, we recommend a 30-liter dry bag or higher. For shorter kayaks, a 20-liter dry bag should suffice.

#2. Think About the Duration of Your Trip

The length of your trip will also play a vital role in the size of the dry bag you need.

For a day trip, a 20-liter dry bag can be sufficient. However, if you’re planning to be out for a few days, we recommend a dry bag with a capacity of more than 30 liters. You’ll need more space to pack clothes, food, and other essentials.

#3. Consider the Type of Items You’re Carrying

The more items you plan to bring with you on your kayaking trip, the larger your dry bag needs to be.

If you’re only carrying a camera and a phone, a 20-liter dry bag can be enough. But if you’re carrying additional gear such as tent, sleeping bag, clothes, and food, you’ll need a larger dry bag.

A 30-liter dry bag or higher is recommended for carrying camping equipment.

#4. Think About How You’re Planning to Use the Dry Bag

The type of kayaking you’ll be doing will also play a role in choosing the size of your dry bag.

If you’re planning to use the bag for whitewater kayaking, you’ll likely need a smaller bag to keep it out of the water. If you plan on touring, choose a larger size bag to hold more supplies.

#5. Don’t Forget About the Importance of Compression Straps

Lastly, the compression strap on your dry bag will also impact how much it can hold.

Compression straps help to get rid of excess air, making it possible to manage space better. If you need to bring more gear, choose a dry bag with compression straps.

What Will a 5 Liter Dry Bag Hold?

A 5 liter dry bag is one of the smallest sizes available and is typically used for carrying smaller items such as a camera, phone, or keys. It can also be used to store snacks and other small items.

This size dry bag is not designed for carrying large items such as camping equipment or clothing.

How Big is a 20 Liter Dry Bag?

A 20 liter dry bag is roughly 17 inches by 9.5 inches, making it a good size for carrying smaller items for day trips or short weekend trips.

It’s big enough to store some clothes and other essentials, but not large enough for camping gear or larger items.

If you have to choose between a 5 liter and a 20 liter dry bag, I’d go for the 20 liter one.

Do You Leave Air in a Dry Bag?

rain coming down unexpectedly while kayaking on the ocean

Leaving a little bit of air in a dry bag is a good idea because it will help to protect your belongings from getting squished or damaged and it can float in the water.

However, you should use the compression straps on the dry bag to get rid of too much air so that it can hold more items.

3 Recommended Dry Bag Brands

If you’re looking for reliable, durable dry bags for your kayaking trips, consider one of these three brands.

#1. Sea to Summit

This brand is well-known in the outdoor community and offers a wide variety of sizes and colors to choose from. Their dry bags are made with waterproof materials that will keep your belongings safe and dry.

I highly recommend their dry bags!

#2. Earth Pak

This brand offers a range of sizes and features an air-tight seal to keep out water. Their dry bags are lightweight yet durable, making them ideal for kayaking trips.

#3. NRS

NRS is another popular brand that produces high-quality waterproof dry bags designed specifically for kayaking and other outdoor activities. Their dry bags are made with durable materials and come in a variety of sizes.


Before you go out and buy a dry bag for kayaking, consider the length of your kayak, the duration of the trip, the type of items you plan to carry, and how you plan to use the bag.

Your choice of dry bag will determine how much space you have to store essentials, so choose wisely. Remember, in the case of dry bags, size does matter! If you’ve got a few extra bucks, opt for a quality and nice sized dry bag!

Are Dry Bags Airtight?

Dry bags have become indispensable for all those who love outdoor activities such as kayaking, rafting, camping, or even going to the beach. They help keep your belongings safe and dry, no matter the conditions and for someone like me who practically lives at the beach, they are a lifesaver!

But if you’ve never had one, you may not understand exactly what they are and if they are airtight (who wants to find that out the hard way!), so let me answer that for you.

Are Dry Bags Airtight?

The simple answer is yes! Dry bags are designed to be airtight. They are made from a waterproof and tear-resistant material such as PVC, rubber, or polyurethane laminated nylon that does not allow any air in or out of the bag.

The seams of dry bags are heat sealed to prevent any water or moisture from seeping through, so your gear will stay dry and protected inside.

That’s the whole purpose of a dry bag so that your items can remain safely sealed away without any moisture leaking in which leads us backwards to…

Not All Dry Bags Are Made With Quality In Mind

Keep in mind that not all dry bags are created equal. Some may have better sealing capabilities than others and some may have a tendency to leak if not closed correctly.

Read plenty of reviews and do your best to buy a brand known for their dry bags.

3 Different Sealing Mechanisms

Dry bags typically come with different sealing mechanisms that can impact their air tightness.

These mechanisms include roll-top closures, zip-lock closures, and buckle closures.

Roll-Top Closure

The roll-top closure is a classic style; it requires rolling the opening of the bag down several times before clipping it shut.

Ziplock Style

The Ziplock style is similar to opening and closing a regular bag and is the easiest to use.

Buckle Closure

A buckle closure is secured by snapping the plastic buckles tightly. Depending on the closure mechanism, the airtightness of the bag may vary.

How High-Quality Materials Help

Another factor that can impact the airtightness of dry bags is the quality of the materials used to make them. High-quality materials tend to provide better sealing capabilities, which ensures that your belongings stay safe and dry.

PVC and nylon are two common materials used in making dry bags because they are durable and resist wear and tear.

Moreover, the seams of the bag play a crucial role in preventing any leaks. Look for models with heat-sealed seams as they provide better water resistance.

Should a Dry Bag Have Air?

Yes, it is essential that a dry bag has some air in order to create an airtight seal.

The trapped air creates a vacuum inside the bag which helps keep your belongings dry and protected from water or moisture and also contributes to the buoyancy of the bag.

Are Dry Bags Watertight?

Yes, dry bags are watertight. They are designed with waterproof materials and heat-sealed seams that keep your belongings safe from water or moisture.

What is the Difference Between a Dry Bag and a Dry Sack?

A dry bag is usually made with thicker material than a dry sack so it provides more protection against water and moisture.

Dry sacks are lighter and usually used for smaller items like keys or wallets while dry bags are designed to carry larger items such as camping gear or electronic devices.

How Long Do Dry Bags Last?

The lifespan of a dry bag depends on the quality of materials used, how often it is used, and how well it is maintained. Typically, with proper care and maintenance, a good quality dry bag can last for several years.

I have dry bags that are 8 years old!

What Dry Bags Do Navy SEALs Use?

Navy SEALs use a variety of dry bags depending on their mission requirements. They typically opt for high-quality and robust dry bags that can handle extreme conditions.

Most commonly used are roll-top closure dry bags as they provide optimum airtightness and water resistance.

Do All Dry Bags Float?

Yes, most dry bags are designed to float with air trapped in them. However, the amount of buoyancy will depend on the size and weight of the items inside the bag as well as how much air is present in it.


If you’re planning to go on outdoor activities, dry bags are an excellent investment. They are designed to keep your belongings safe and dry and a good dry bag is always airtight.

Remember, the airtightness of a dry bag depends on its sealing mechanism, the material used, and the quality of the seams.

Like I mentioned, I’ve had quality dry bags last over 8 years now and I’ve also had 1-2 crappy ones that cost me my items, which sucks, so be sure to read other peoples’ experiences before you buy one. Make sure to buy a brand that’s been around a while!