Useful Travel Items: Drybags

Following on from last month’s Useful Travel Items: Travel Towels, this month I bring their partners-in-crime, drybags. Or possibly dry bags but I’m going for the single-word version.

Drybags are an absolute revelation. I was aware of their existence from my previous life as a caver, where we worshipped all things waterproof but I didn’t get a drybag of my own until I started going regularly to Iceland, where you often find yourself swimming in the middle of the day. I was tired of towels soaking my stuff, especially the day one got my Iceland guidebook, so having invested in a travel towel, I next invested in a drybag.

Essentially, they’re just a leakproof plastic bag. I have five now. The smallest is an Exped XXS, 1 litre capacity, in lime green, just big enough for a phone – I actually don’t remember buying this one and I can’t find it right now. I have a yellow Exped S, 5 litres, which is a good size for storing phone, cards, keys and other important small things while you’re out and about. The one I use the most is my blue Exped L, 13 litres, which is my swimming bag. It can easily swallow a swimsuit, two large travel towels, goggles, shampoo etc and when I’m in the water, it’ll swallow most of my clothes. For occasions when it’s just not big enough, I have an orange Lifeventure bag, 25 litres, which will both fit clothes and boots, for leaving beside hot springs in the rain. And finally, I have a khaki green bag that I also can’t find at the moment but I think it’s also Lifeventure, I think it’s 35 litres and it serves as a rucksack liner.


The Exped ones are a bit thicker, with a white lining but the Lifeventures are no less tough and certainly no less waterproof. From the website, I think they’re designed to be ultralight. The manufacturers will tell you they’re not submersible but… they are. They’re designed for watersports, really, not tourists who want to go in the pool at Landmannalaugar, so they’re meant to keep all your important stuff safe if water sloshes into your kayak and to keep it safe if you capsize and all your important stuff ends up in the water. It’s hard to avoid catching air in them, so they float and in times of need, you can use them as a pillow. I’d probably avoid dragging them down too deep, I don’t think they’re meant for scuba diving but for casual soakings, no problem.

They work very simply. There’s a reinforced strip around the top and you fold it over as many times as you can and then clip the ends together. As well as creating a seal, this effectively makes a handle, although some of the bags come with a built-in grab handle on the bottom.

Drybags done up

The 13-litre is a great size for days out for me. If you give it a good squeeze when you do it up, you can compress it to the size of a couple of screwed up microfibre towels, throw the whole bundle in the bottom of your bag for the rest of the day – or for a few days – and it won’t let a drop of water out.

I highly recommend drybags. They come in so many sizes, I can guarantee there will be one suitable for whatever you might need it for, especially if you’re going in the water halfway through the day.

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If you want to see more Useful Travel Items, click here to see everything in the series so far.