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What Size Dry Bag To Use When Kayaking?

Kayaking is one of life’s great joys, but just like other outdoor adventures, it also comes with its own set of challenges.

One of these is keeping your gear dry and secure while you’re out on the water, especially during multi-day kayaking trips.

The best solution is to pack your belongings in a quality dry bag.

However, there are multiple dry bags available in a variety of sizes for kayaking trips, so how do you choose which ones are the best options for you?

The ideal number of dry bags to bring on a kayaking trip is two medium-sized bags (typically 10- or 20-liter dry bags), stored in both the front and rear storage compartments, and two smaller bags in the smaller central storage compartment. Your choices may vary based on the capacity of your kayak and the length of your trip.

The size of the dry bag you choose depends on how long you will be on the water, the contents you need to pack (like food and dry clothing), and the size of your kayak storage compartments.

It’s better to use multiple small dry bags rather than larger bags, so it’s easier to both pack and access them – just one dry bag is generally not enough.

The best multi-purpose dry bags for kayaking are the 10–30 liter drybags, which can store the ideal amount of gear and, most importantly, keep your things dry.

Dry bags are essential for all kayaking adventures, and they are the best way to protect your possessions when kayaking, regardless of the length of your voyage.

Here, we’ll explore some of the best drybags available for kayaking to help you determine which type is best for you.

Dry Bag Size Options

Man loading a dry bag in the back of a car

Kayaking is quickly growing in popularity around the world through lakes, rivers, and oceans, as more people are taking advantage of the great outdoors for recreation and exercise.

We’ve already established that using dry bags helps keep your clothing and other essentials dry, so let’s explore which size dry bag is best for your needs.

Sizes vary, ranging from tiny to very large – the most common sizes include 2-liter to 60-liter dry bags, and everything in between.

The right size dry bag will be heavily dependent on what you need to carry, the length of your kayaking trip, and the storage capacity of your kayak.

It’s also vital to choose a dry bag of good quality.

The ideal dry bag is one that will comfortably fit into the storage compartments of your kayak, and has sufficient capacity to store your possessions.

Generally speaking, you need to ensure that your cooking equipment, clothing, medical gear, cell phone, food, and tent (if camping) stay dry throughout your kayaking trip.

A 2-liter dry bag will fit easily into a storage compartment, and is the ideal size for storing smaller essential items, like electronics, wallets, glasses, camera gear, and small hand tools.

The 2-liter bag is not ideal for storing an extra set of clothes or a First Aid kit – only a few essentials can fit inside this smaller dry bag.

My sleeping bag fits perfectly inside a 5-liter dry bag, but it obviously depends on the size of your sleeping bag.

Most cooking gear will fit into the 60-liter dry bags, which are also perfect for storing spare clothes and sleeping bags, but they are not likely to fit into most kayak storage compartments.

Keeping this in mind, the best size dry bag for your vessel should be the maximum size that will fit within your storage space, buying a bag that will fit is obviously crucial.

Having a few dry bags of this size or smaller is the best way to carry your possessions while kayaking, rather than using one very large bag, backpack, or duffel bags.

The more dry bags you have, the more organized you will be.

How Many Dry Bags To Use When Kayaking

Person on the shore packing bags near a kayak

Bringing multiple small dry bags is preferable to one large dry bag for a kayaking trip.

Using one large bag for kayaking is cumbersome, and is not likely to fit in the boat – this means that it will have to be strapped to the topside of the vessel, which is not ideal, even though it is waterproof.

Different kayak models offer different levels of storage, so it’s essential to choose your dry bags according to your vessel’s capacity.

Most kayaks have a larger storage compartment in the front and rear of the vessel, and a smaller compartment directly in front of the seat for the dry bag you need to access quickly if needed (for example, the one with your food or phone).

The ideal number of dry bags when kayaking is two medium-sized drybags (typically 10- or 20-liter bags) in both the front and rear storage compartments, and two small bags within the smaller central storage compartment.

This approach should provide enough capacity, regardless of how long your excursion is, and allow you to stay better organized for your trip.

What Is The Ideal Size Of A Dry Bag?

Your first step is to measure the entrance port for the storage compartments of your boat.

Fortunately, most dry bags are cylindrical, which will allow them to fit through round compartment entrances and small gaps when packing.

Measure the circumference of the entrances, and this will give you the maximum circumference dimensions of the dry bags that you can use.

Next, measure the internal dimensions of the storage compartments.

This will show you how long the dry bags can be, and how many will fit inside your boat.

After this, take stock of everything that you plan to pack for your trip – this will determine the overall dry bag capacity you’ll need.

Once you know the size limits of your storage compartments and how much gear you will pack, now is the time to buy your dry bags.

Dry Bag Construction

Woman swimming while carrying a dry bag on her back

Most kayaking dry bags are made from nylon or vinyl – of these two materials, vinyl is the most water-resistant.

While some people simply use plastic bags when packing their belongings, a tight-fitting mesh bag will provide much more protection, especially if your vessel flips and your bag falls into the water.

There’s nothing worse than having to eat soggy food and sleep in a wet tent when camping.

Sometimes, a dry bag will come with a roll-top closure that is secured with buckles and two straps, and even carrying straps – it all depends on the brand you purchase.

Whatever your bag’s contents, whether it’s cooking equipment, food, or other essential items, ensure that the bag you use has been specifically designed for use in different weather conditions.


A dry bag helps keep your essential gear safe, dry, and secure when kayaking.

It’s much easier to access smaller bags in your kayak instead of using one larger bag, which is especially important when it comes to reaching food and water supplies.

Using the right size dry bag is critical.

Make sure you’re aware of your kayak’s storage capacity, and how many dry bags of various sizes can comfortably fit in your boat.

Storing your gear in dry bags doesn’t mean you should take everything you own – the less dry bags you take on your trip, the easier it will be to pack your kayak.

Remember, you’re not touring the entire country with your backpack – you’re on the water, so you need to keep it simple.

The more gear you carry, the heavier your kayak will be, and heavy loads will make your kayaking experience less pleasant.

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