As annoying as it is to walk through the rain and wind up with your jeans soaked and sneakers sopping wet, it’s even more frustrating to open up your bag and find the pages of your new book are waterlogged and your laptop no longer allows you to use the letters Q, A, W or the spacebar. Ugh. Here, we tracked down the best waterproof backpack for every budget so you can be sure your belongings don’t incur any unexpected water damage, whether you’re commuting in the rain or heading out for a hike on a cloudy day.
The Best Waterproof Backpack for Every Activity and Every Budget
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First, What’s The Difference Between Water Resistant And Waterproof?
It might feel like a silly distinction but these two terms do, in fact, mean different things. Waterproof, as the same suggests, is best at keeping moisture out and having the greatest ability to keep you or the contents of your backpack dry. Water resistant, on the other hand, is a fairly broad term that simply refers to a fabric’s ability to keep water from seeping through.
Different brands have different standards for determining when something crosses the line from being water resistant to being waterproof, but generally speaking, if you trust the brand name (or you’re dealing with an outdoor gear brand) then you’re in good hands. All the backpacks in this list, whether they’re described as waterproof or water resistant will definitely keep your stuff from getting wet, provided you don’t suddenly find yourself in a torrential downpour (although a few packs on this list will do you justice then, too). Of course, if the weather report isn’t looking promising, you can always pack an additional rain cover or pack liner to further increase the odds of your precious belongings staying dry.
BEST Waterproof Backpacks FOR DAILY USE
If you live someplace like Seattle where frequent rain is just a part of winter (and fall and spring and summer), you might find you actually need a waterproof pack for everyday use—commuting, running errands, going out on the town and so on.
1. fjällräven Kånken Water Resistant Backpack
This ‘70s-throwback style is made from a water-resistant Vinylon F material that’s also super durable. The extra strip of fabric that folds over the zippers offers another level of water protection, as well, so you can rest assured your laptop will still be in working condition once you reach the office.
2. patagonia Arbor Daypack 20l
We’re kind of obsessed with the retro vibe of this rucksack, and we’re even more excited about the fact that it’s made with 100 percent recycled polyester that’s been treated with a durable, water-repellent finish. There’s also an interior padded laptop sleeve that fits up to a 15-inch computer.
4. caraa Stratus Waterproof Backpack
This nylon bag is every bit as light at its cloud-inspired name suggests. It also comes with an interior pouch perfect for stuffing swimsuits after a day at the pool or sweaty athleticwear from your AM workout class. In fact, there are multiple interior pockets for keeping necessities like your wallet or chapstick handy (and dry) at all times.
5. timbuk2 Tech Roll-top Backpack
Roll-top designs don’t have any exposed zippers, so they can better ensure that moisture doesn’t seep in. There’s also an extra waterproof bottom panel, in case you need to put your pack down on something wet to readjust. Or if you accidentally drop it in a puddle (hey, it happens sometimes).
Buy it ($179)
6. rains City Backpack
Another great minimal design, this two-tone bag from Rains City is actually machine washable (although you should avoid putting it in the dryer) so you can keep it fresh and clean, no matter what sort of weather your encounter on your commute.
7. mountain Warehouse The Tempest 25l Waterproof Backpack
In case of a true torrential downpour—thunder, lightning, wind and all—this is the pack you’re going to want. The fabric and design have been tested to withstand 10,000 mm of rain over a 24-hour period. Yep, this pack will definitely keep your belongings dry through rain, snow or sleet, guaranteed.
8. timbuk2 Especial Shadow Commuter Backpack
The zippers on this classic-style pack are coated with an extra water-repellent finish to make up for the fact that they’re exposed on the outside of the pack. The fabric itself is water resistant, lightweight and features reflective strips to increase your visibility in the rain.
Buy it ($99)
9. tumi Tahoe Finch Backpack
This backpack is technically not waterproof. However, it does come with a handy waterproof cover (that’s conveniently stowed in its own interior pocket) which is super easy to slip on if you see storm clouds ominously rolling in.
BEST Waterproof Backpacks FOR TRAVEL AND DAY HIKES
One step up from your regular pack, these backpacks are more spacious, extra comfortable (for long hikes through the woods or the streets of Paris) and just as water repellent as you’d expect.
10. hydro Flask Journey Series 20 Hydration Pack
Choosing a pack with a built-in hydration system is actually a super-smart move if you want to avoid opening any zipped pouches and potentially exposing your belongings to the elements. That, plus the incredibly durable waterproof fabric, taped seams and sealed zippers makes this a brilliant choice if you’re headed on a hiking trip during the rainy season.
11. mountain Hardwear Scrambler 25 Pack
Come for the tenacious four-layer Dimension-Polyant X-Pac fabric, stay for the vibrant pops of color on the handy straps and zipper loops. According to reviews, this Mountain Hardwear pack falls more within the water-resistant camp, as opposed to the waterproof one, but it still has a 4.75-star rating with nearly every reviewer saying they would indeed recommend this backpack.
12. patagonia Nine Trails Pack 14l
This 14-liter bag is hydro-pack compatible and has plenty of room to carry anything you might need for a day-long adventure. Beyond the waterproof fabric, we love this particular design for its long, lean shape that allows for more breathability along your back, meaning you’re less likely to find your back coated in sweat as you stroll through Chelsea Market or find yourself midway through hiking Mt. Hood.
13. filson Dry Backpack
This simple roll-top design on this Filson bag made from a super-lightweight polyester that’s been coated with vinyl to ensure total water protection. There are just two small zippered pouches for your keys, phone or other small essentials, but the main compartment is spacious enough to fit one or two water bottles, some extra layers and all the trail mix your heart desires.
Why You Should Trust Us
PureWow's editors and writers have spent more than a decade shopping online, digging through sales and putting our home goods, beauty finds, wellness picks and more through the wringer—all to help you determine which are actually worth your hard-earned cash. From our PureWow100 series (where we rank items on a 100-point scale) to our painstakingly curated lists of fashion, beauty, cooking, home and family picks, you can trust that our recommendations have been thoroughly vetted for function, aesthetics and innovation. Whether you're looking for travel-size hair dryers you can take on-the-go or women’s walking shoes that won’t hurt your feet, we’ve got you covered.