Tested: Four 5L Dry Bags for Bikepacking
The dry bag is an all but mandatory piece of a proper bikepacking or bike touring gear arsenal. Whether strapped to the bike for overflow gear (or food), carried as a standby for protecting valuables from the weather (or bears), or used as permanent luggage, folks usually have at least one in their kit.
Five or six liters seems to be the volumetric sweet spot for stowing various bikepacking gear; among other things, a 5L dry bag can accommodate an ultralight down sleeping bag, a sleeping pad, a cook kit based around a narrow pot, or a combination of clothing. These four 5L dry bags were purchased to use as working components of a long-term kit and to either be strapped to a Salsa Anything cage, mounted on a rack, squeezed under the seat, or cinched to a handlebar harness. Each of these four bags was chosen for its useful size and reputation for durability; and each has been battered over the years. Here are some details and how they’ve stood up to miles of punishing sun, rain, sand, and wind.
Outdoor Research Window Dry Bag (5L)
11.63 x 6 in / 420D laminated and coated nylon with urethane window / 113 grams
The OR Window 5L has just the right amount of space to stuff the Big Agnes Pitchpine sleeping bag and keep it within a long and slender format. This allows it to be cinched along side a small tent or hammock in the Revelate Harness and maximize the handlebar capacity in a bikepacking kit.
The marketing pitch for the OR Window Dry Bag is the urethane window which allows one to take a visual inventory of its contents, but I actually frowned on this a bit and thought it may be an extra point of vulnerability. But that wasn’t the case, in fact this dry bag has stood up to a lot of miles and has proven itself the most durable of the bunch.
Sea to Summit Big River Drybag 5L
7 x 4 x 11 in / 420D TPU laminated fabric / 79 grams
The 5 Liter Big River Drybag is close to the ideal size for the Salsa Anything cage. It has a slightly oval cylindrical shape and is fabricated from strong abrasion resistant 420 D nylon, double stitched, and has tape sealed seams. The rubberized and stiff Hypalon strip along the roll-top provides a no-wick closure to ensure a waterproof seal. The Big River bags also has a Hypalon loop on either side to allow straps to be fed through the bag. We used three of these on the last trip and only one has developed abrasion wear.
Sea to Summit eVent Compression Drybag 6-2L (XS)
6 x 14 in / Breathable eVent fabric / 103 grams
The eVent Compression Dry Bag is a fairly popular option among bikepackers. The straps and end handle provide lashing points for handlebars, racks, or a harness. The bag’s waterproof breathable eVent material makes it compressible without a valve. This particular bag housed Gin’s sleeping bag on our tour through Mexico and Central America and was mounted directly to the rear rack.
Exped Fold Drybag 5L
6 x 12 in / PU-coated Taffeta nylon / 46 grams
The Exped Fold bag has a very simple and light design. However, I was actually surprised at how durable this bag is. I used the larger 8L model for a tent that was constantly strapped under my saddle bag and it held up well over 6 months of rough dirt and gravel roads. That being said, the best use of this bag is still as a packed backup for keeping things dry, or lashing extras on when needed.
Have other dry bags to suggest? Leave a comment below and we’ll post them here:
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