GEAR,  June 2024,  Product Reviews

Best adventure bags for outdoor swimmers

Durable, weatherproof and ready for anything: whatever you’re looking for in a new adventure bag, we’ve got you covered. Read on for our expert guide to wet and dry bags

Best post-work swim bag | Chrome Ruckas Tote, £100
Best swim bag for everyday use | Finisterre Drift Waterproof Roll Top Backpack, £185
Best swim bag for longer trips | Ulu AquaTrek® 36 Waterproof backpack, £159.99
Best bag for swim hikes | Wild Moose Caribou Waterproof Backpack, £65
Best hybrid city and kit bag | dryrobe Compression Backpack, £95

RED Adventure Waterproof Backpack 30L


They say: Constructed in highly durable recycled fabric with reliable roll-top closure, it’s totally watertight. Gear stays well protected, with a reinforced base, waterproof and water-resistant external stash pockets, plus removable padded laptop sleeve. Your safety’s boosted too, thanks to reflective detailing and a built-in emergency whistle. With super-comfy foam shoulder straps and breathable, ergonomically padded back panel.

We say: Lots of fully waterproof backpacks are relatively simple and don’t have practical details like easy-access pockets. All the elements of this bag make it an all-round bag for work and play. The side sleeves for bottles are useful and the pockets super for access to phone and keys. The strapping and ties were great to attach walking poles and hang wet kit on while we walked. The bag is quite heavy before anything goes into it, but the brilliant fastening system ensures you can off-set the weight.

SEASHELL Drybag Backpack 25L


They say: A robust 500D PVC coating for unbeatable waterproof protection, ensuring your gear stays dry and secure, no matter the weather. This versatile bag offers ample space to comfortably fit your seashell robe, towel, swimsuit and other essentials, making it the perfect companion for your next adventure. Features a fully waterproof main compartment and water-resistant front pocket.

We say: We were really impressed by this backpack, both in terms of styling and functionality. It has proper back support and padded straps. We also really liked the robust grab handle; the whole construction feels like it will last plus its completely waterproof. It’s roomier than you might imagine for its 25L capacity, with ample space for a robe, towel, swimmers and lunch box, with pockets for water, hot drinks and valuables that need to stay dry.

D-ROBE Roll-Top Bag 35L


They say: Perfectly crafted for travel, this rucksack is designed with the commuter in mind. Made from durable, waterproof, recyclable and biodegradable TPU, this bag can be worn rolled for extra water protection or unrolled for extra storage. Stylish enough for navigating the city, heavy-duty enough to haul around nature, and spacious enough to fit a weekend’s worth of luggage or one of our signature Beaufort Robes.

We say: We packed our entire luggage for an overseas weekend swimming trip into the D-Robe Roll-Top and there was no issue taking it onto the plane as hand-luggage. The side valve allows you to compress the bag once it’s packed. We also wore the bag for a 4-hour hike. The outside pocket will hold snacks or your keys, but a mesh pocket for a drinks bottle would be a useful addition. Inside, a deep pouch will hold a large book. There’s also another smaller zip-up pouch for small items. A surprising amount of stuff can fit in the depths of this bag!

WILD MOOSE Caribou Waterproof Backpack 45L


They say: Fully waterproof, roll top, wet/dry rucksack designed for wild swimmers. It will keep your kit dry, has tons of storage space, is fully adjustable for comfortable wearing and has an array of features to facilitate carrying your gear to your favourite swim spots. It is made from tough 500D tarpaulin and has heat welded seams for total protection from the elements.

We say: With a 45L storage capacity, this bag is extremely roomy with ample space for a changing robe, towel, wetsuit and any other kit you might need on a day out. A wide opening makes it easy to stuff in all your kit. Its stand-out element is a separate waterproof bag that zips into the main compartment, meaning you can keep your wet and dry clothes separate and easily remove it once home, plus a transparent showerproof pocket so you can find your keys and phone easily. The roll-top style keeps the bag watertight, but means you can also keep rolling to create a more compact bag.

ZONE3 Open Water Dry Bag Tech Backpack 30L


They say: 100% waterproof welded seams and folding seal so suitable for keeping things dry whilst you’re swimming and then for putting wet swimwear or wetsuits in post-swim. Featuring a front mesh pocket for all your essentials with quick release cord closures, elasticated side pockets for drinks and a lightweight, breathable back panel and shoulder straps.

We say: We took this waterproof bag on a weekend swimming trip and it performed brilliantly. It was roomy enough to fit dry clothing, swim kit and a packed lunch. There’s also exterior pockets for a flask and water bottle, and a front pouch for a notebook and snacks, all within easy reach. Despite being packed full, the weight was distributed evenly across our shoulders because of the chest strap, so it felt comfortable to carry for long durations. It was a very rainy weekend but our stuff stayed perfectly dry inside!

DRYROBE Compression Backpack


They say: This lightweight and weatherproof daypack can also compress a dryrobe changing robe, helping you to experience more of the great outdoors. This versatile backpack features both a laptop sleeve and quick access media pocket, making it perfect day-to-day use and city exploration. Made with 100% recycled fabrics.

We say: A smart rucksack that is perfect for everyday use, but also big enough to carry a changing robe. Simply stuff your robe into the bag and then compress it using six straps on the side of the bag. We liked the lightweight, weatherproof material and the understated styling. Padded straps, chest strap and breathable, padded back were comfortable. An internal sleeve with Velcro strap keeps your laptop secure and there is also an external zipped pocket. We liked the satchel-style buckles but found the straps fiddly to adjust.

PATAGONIA Black Hole® Pack 25L Classic Navy


They say: A burly 25-litre daypack with just the right amount of space to haul your daily essentials, with the durability you expect from our Black Hole® bags. Made with 100% recycled body fabric, lining and webbing. Light and strong recycled polyester ripstop with a highly weather-resistant TPU-film laminate. Featuring an air mesh back panel for comfort and increased ventilation.

We say: The clever design of this backpack means it can withstand big adventures, while being smart enough for day-to-day activities. There are multiple storage options in addition to the main compartment, including a zippered top pocket, front stash pocket and stretch water-bottle section, allowing for a multitude of uses. It is incredibly comfortable to wear and it looks great.

FINISTERRE Drift Waterproof Roll Top Backpack


They say: Made from 100% recycled heavy duty polyester material, our Drift Backpack is fully waterproof with welded seams and a whole host of technical features to help get you out on your adventures – no matter where they take you. Tough and durable, with an IP64 rating and high frequency welded seams, plus roll top construction.

We say: A bag expertly designed for big adventures, with an excellent quality and fit to match its size. The material of the backpack feels extremely durable. The design means you can wash out dirt that may accumulate on long journeys, and it should withstand scrapes and bumps that may occur. Overall, a great bag, but would be made even better with the addition of an internal zip!

AQUAPAC 28L Heavyweight Waterproof IPX


They say: This is from our TrailProof range. It’s designed to waterproof your gear for rugged adventures but be simple and affordable. Brilliant for paddling, biking, vacation and extreme sports. Tough 500D Vinyl will resist scrapes and abrasion on the trail. Mesh side pockets for drinks or quick-access items. Breathable mesh straps and padding.

We say: For the price point, it’s a fantastic backpack. The tough, waterproof material allows for ease of mind when travelling across various terrains and entering water. I tested out the acid green backpack, which also enables greater visibility when travelling in the dark. Feeling slightly bulkier than others on the list, this is probably more suited for shorter, swim-specific trips.

OSPREY Transporter Waterproof 30L


They say: Built to get you from point A to B and handle any conditions that come your way. Waterproof, lightweight, reliable packs that offer comfortable carry and simple organisation for the day ahead. With an IPX6 waterproof rating, when rolled this pack is the perfect companion for every active user.

We say: We loved this, and used it on a city swimming trip. It was a great flight carry-on bag, You can get a lot in it. It was super light when empty, and wasn’t heavy once full. The outer secret pocket was great for phone and passport, while inside the zipped smaller pocket was great for wallet. Threw it into the lake to see how good it was at keeping things dry inside and it passed the test! The roll top is stiff to begin with but softens with use.

ULU AquaTrek® 36 Waterproof backpack


They say: This backpack has been designed to give you the freedom to explore and flow across land and water. Packed with all the essential features for safety on land and in the water, this inflatable backpack is unique! With a zipped top style opening, removable back panel and harness, external compression straps and a tow system, it provides a quick and easy way to explore.

We say: This is a serious piece of kit and worth the price tag. Designed and built for proper adventure, it is big and so you could get a weekend’s worth of kit in it and still tow it from A-B. It is also bright, so you will not be missed in the water. As a decent size floating bag, this was brilliant. If you wanted to go on a swim-camping weekend or swim along a coastline, this would be perfect. This is worth it if you love a weekend adventure.

CHROME Ruckas Tote


They say: This roomy hybrid bag has been cleverly designed to be worn either as a backpack or a traditional tote, with convertible shoulder straps. Light not only on weight, but also on the planet, the Ruckas Tote is PFC free and has been consciously constructed with weather resistant and recycled scratch resistant outer shells. Designed to transport your tech safely and securely, inside the spacious main compartment you’ll also find a padded laptop sleeve designed to hold devices of up to 15”. All packs in the Ruckas family feature a handy webbed hanging/grab loop to the top and wide, adjustable straps to allow for all day carrying comfort and great weight distribution when loaded.  

We say: We loved this robust, versatile and lightweight bag, which converts easily between a rucksack and tote bag. For its 0.5kg weight, it has a generous 27L capacity, which is ample room for a quick-dry towel, swimsuit and goggles. On the outside, it has two expandable pockets for drinks and an external stash pocket for goggles or snacks, while inside there’s a 15″ padded laptop sleeve and various internal pockets. The recycled material feels hard-wearing and is water-resistant. While it doesn’t have the back support of some larger adventure bags, we think it’s ideal for post-work swims and those who prefer minimal kit.

Find all the gear you need for open water swimming, from adventure bags and swimming togs to tow floats and changing robes, at the Outdoor Swimming Shop. If you buy a product through a link on this page we may receive a commission. Last updated June 2024.

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Outdoor Swimmer is the magazine for outdoor swimmers by outdoor swimmers. We write about fabulous wild swimming locations, amazing swim challenges, swim training advice and swimming gear reviews.