Best Budget Dry Bag
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An affordable dry bag that does the job at the same level as other well-established brands is what this product from Nature&Friends, against expectations, delivers. Surprisingly so, given how many cheap dry bags there are out there.

We tested both the 10-liter (essentially a sling bag) and the 20-liter bags through two weeks of hard camping and sailing with salt and grime and abuse. Clothes stayed dry–even when dropping in the sea–and electronics were free of any moisture.

Considering the 20 liter bag also survived its role as a football for a scrimmage on the beach, this product proves itself as a reliable pack for watersports and camping.

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    It does what it’s supposed to do
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    Price and quality make it a solid gear piece
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    Plastic clips survive impact well
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    Sling strap can actually be used
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    Shape of opening good for fishing items up

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markDoesn’t come in larger size with backpack straps

Where to buy:

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Nature&Friends Dry Bag

With so many budget dry bags flooding the market, big-name gear brands need to improve their products, adding features to keep kayakers and campers buying their roll top waterproof sacks.

The dry bag by Nature&Friends has taken another tack, drilling down on a model that simply aims to do what a thicker, waterproof sack is supposed to do. Competing with other budget models, we approached this bag without kid gloves to see if it would leak or fail like other cheaper models.

Our time testing this dry bag at sea, on the mountain and in the forest showed affordable and unknown products can still have very positive results. It’s not submergible, but it floats. Quite well, actually.

Specs & Features

  • Material: 500D Nylon
  • Sizes: 10 & 20 Liters
  • 3 D-rings
See the complete list of the best Dry Bags here!

An Affordable Workhorse

Whatever the origins of the Nature&Friends’ name, this dry bag proves there’s still a very robust future for budget camping gear. This pack stays waterproof and protects both hard and soft items in heavy rains and getting cast about along stretches of sand with sharp rocks.

As far as the material goes, 500D Nylon is a tried, tested and true way to seal in hydrophobic clothing and electronics as well as food. It’s the industry standard for waterproofing a product.

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500D has been tested to show only very slight abrasion after 25,600 cycles of friction. The seams too are solid; heat-sealed closures that withstood our hopping on it while inflated.

In fact, one of the models was used as a soccer ball, a football and a punching bag.

The price of this bag means buying 2 or three to protect or organize all the items you need to take on a canoe trip or kayaking is very feasible.

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There has been a movement away from simple stuff sack-style waterproof packs by the established gear brands in the last many years. Companies like Outdoor Research and Sea to Summit have progressively gone more lightweight, incorporating new materials for more technical, longer trekking needs.

Nature&Friends’ dry bag is at the opposite end of this trend, sticking to affordability over features, simple rather than ultralight. That means this dry bag is heavier.

The heavier 500D Nylon material provides more protection against thorns, against shrapnel from the fire pit (a fireball flintstone hit one of our models but was flicked off instantly without causing any damage) and against a whole summer of sun.

Newer, lighter dry sacks and packs are also designed to improve the view within for finding loose items by letting some light in and reflecting it. 500D dry bags will demand you feel your way around for the power bank or pair of socks.

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What’s It For?

The quick answer is what’s it not for? We took it kayaking, paddle boarding, sailing, camping and even traveling across the Atlantic. While its weight makes it more cumbersome when not in use, there is no denying its durability.

On the water, strapped into a SUP’s bungee cords, the Nature&Friends dry bag kept our kit clean of moisture. It fell into the water–with a little encouragement for testing purposes–and it floated until we leisurely picked it up and out of the water. The 10 liter option was better for this activity.

The same experience was repeated with a kayak, digging a lunch out, closing it and shoving it into the hull of a sea touring boat that was full of salt water. No worries for the food or the paper towel inside.

The real test was executed while testing a snorkeling mask in saltwater with this dry bag slung over Torben’s back. Not only did the bag float, but there was almost no condensation collected in the roll top.

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For sailing and landing on beaches, sand and salty surf didn’t penetrate. You are going to want to make sure you do the three folds so water doesn’t seep into the bag through the folds. As long as you do this–even better with 4 folds–water activities won’t threaten your seals.

In the rain by a campfire, the Nature&Friends pack did its job well too. The 20 liter bag is a little more useful than the 10 liter option because it can fit more gear and still roll down when it’s not filled up.

It’s not going to be something we take hiking instead of a backpack or a sling bag. That’s just not what the strap is for, but it works in a pinch for a short jaunt from boat to the grocery store or when carrying the kayak to the rack.

 

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In short, it’s not a backpack but it can be used as a sling bag when needed. There’s a difference between the 10 liter and the larger 20 for different activities. Both sizes kept our gear nicely and we’d not hesitate to use it with more valuable items–like power banks and cameras–now that it’s tested.

What’s A Good Alternative?

Sea to Summit’s lightweight sling bag is a great waterproof alternative when it comes to a sack that you want to toss into your duffel bag and use as a utility bag. It takes up almost no space and has the same strap function as the Nature&Friends option.

The sling bag is more expensive and it might be slightly more abrasion resistant, though it’s not likely more puncture resistant.

Equally, the Outdoor Research Beaker bag is an ultralight waterproof sack that functions very well as a type of organization pack, a type of packing cube actually.

If looking for a 500D bag with an additional pocket, the Skog Å Kust has that. The clip is perhaps not as easy to close and loosen, but it does essentially the same thing plus a pocket.

When we look at bags for survival and for hiking trips, the Nature&Friends dry bag has a place, but the size limitations make other options potentially more useful. IDrybag makes a backpack style dry bag for a more comfortable carrying experience. It does the job alright and has a pocket, but with any weight, it’s still going to be a little uncomfortable after several miles.

The Sea to Summit Hydraulic has been a great companion for some going-ashore adventures from sailing. It’s proven quite comfortable in summer heat over 4-5 miles of trekking. But this one is an entirely different animal. It’s a go-bag of choice, but costly as far as a casual dry bag goes.

The Long & Short of this Dry Bag

A simple dry bag, made of the industry-wide standard 500 Dernier Nylon is going to simply keep your gear dry. This dry bag by Nature&Friends is generally waterproof but not intended to be submersible.

In reality, a dry bag that stays afloat by maintaining air will not sink, despite having rocks or heavy metal inside. As long as it is not punctured.

We spent a whole summer at sea, camping and hiking, exposing these bags to the normal wear and tear that a bag like this will experience. After testing these the way they were supposed to be used, there were no clips that cracked, no holes that were made and no water inside.

In terms of price, its around but just below the price of other alternatives like EarthPak and Marchway. What might make a difference–and a small thing at that–is the choice of a bag with a more subtle logo. In particular, the author has taken a liking to the black and green models.

nature-and-friends-dry-bag-bradley-on-water

Our Overall Review

We have thoroughly tested - and read reviews from other experts and users. In summary, this is what we think:

4.7

Reasons to buy:

  • check-mark
    It does what it’s supposed to do
  • check-mark
    Price and quality make it a solid gear piece
  • check-mark
    Plastic clips survive impact well
  • check-mark
    Sling strap can actually be used
  • check-mark
    Shape of opening good for fishing items up

Reasons NOT to buy:

  • check-markDoesn’t come in larger size with backpack straps

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