First of all, let me say that the Dry Case Waterproof Backpack is designed for use in outdoor environments with the main goal of keeping things in the inner compartment dry. Clearly, all the marketing pictures at DryCase.com, show people using the bag in wet, outdoorsy places (on a canoe, on a boat, etc), and with that in mind the biggest question is “does it actually work?” I put it through the ringer. Here are the results:
In short, it performs quite well. It survived my rigorous, jackass-eque tests and it pretty much passed with flying colors because nothing inside got wet.
Some moisture (forgive me for calling it condensation in the video) did collect behind the shoulder strap shield but never permeated the actual inside of the bag. This makes me wonder if mildew could be a long-term possibility if not promptly and properly dried out. Other than that this bag is the real deal!
But can you use it for everyday office life and travel too? This is a pretty serious backpack and that’s just the thing…it may be a little too serious for office life. Whether or not you want to tote your daily gear in this bag around the city or through airports will depend on who you are, where you live and what your needs are.
When I am evaluating a backpack for office life/travel, I’m always torn between wanting things that can sometimes be mutually exclusive. I want total protection but I also want flexibility. I want style but I also want comfort.
For example, do I really want to head out for a sportcoat-clad commute wearing a bag that would look more at home being worn while wading through a stream at the base of Grand Teton? At the same time, when I’m traveling and standing in the rain trying to hail a cab and the water pouring off my floundering umbrella is landing directly on my bag, I want everything inside to stay dry. A first world problem to have indeed.
Protection versus flexibility. Style versus comfort. The Dry Case Waterproof Backpack is almost the great bridge between these bifurcate needs. Almost, but not quite. Ultimately though, it works well, so tradeoffs just have to be balanced against preference.
As noted, the bag seals up tightly to be waterproof. You roll the lengthy top down and snap it together with on-board latches. In doing so, additional air is captured inside and this can lead to a “puffy” pack (which could actually come in handy if you drop your pack off the side of a boat). However in a day-to-day scenario, excess air in the pack could look silly.
To alleviate this issue, the Dry Case Waterproof Backpack has a smart little air valve at the bottom that lets you squeegee out any captured air, once you have the pack all sealed up. In this way, you can really get the pack down to a slim profile…almost like a vacuum seal. An interesting concept.
Despite its definite outdoorsy stylings, I actually like how the bag looks. It’s fairly sporty and, as noted, can have a slim profile. The two-tone black and blue is pleasant enough. The shoulder straps are hearty and comfortable. There is also a belt strap which would be a bonus for walking distances.
Missing Compartments And Padding
Most notably, there is no laptop sleeve inside, nor are there additional inner compartments for cables etc — it’s just one big space inside (30 liters-worth according to the website). Probably more suited for filling with a bunch of clothes instead of cables and whatnot. Before I figured out the air valve trick, I noticed that my laptop was bouncing around inside a bit because of the lack of sleeve.
However, once I took all the air out I could essentially, vucuum-seal my laptop in place. Additionally, there is not any padding along the bottom. You’ll want to make sure you set it down gently if you are toting fragile items inside. Maybe just put a shirt of something soft across the bottom if you are prone to dropping your bag.
It’s Getting Hot In Here
Another thing to note is that this is a vinyl bag. While I didn’t experience it myself yet, I imagine it could get a little hot on your back if carried over a longer walk or bike ride. This is fine when camping or windsurfing, but might be uncomfortable showing up for a presentation with your back drenched in sweat.
The bag also doesn’t have a quick access sleeve for laptops. Indeed, this would negate the entire intention of the waterproofing scheme. The only reason I bring this up is because if you are traveling through airports, you would have to unravel the waterproof top to get your laptop out. It could take a bit longer than a backpack with quicker access compartments. Just something to consider.
- Keeps stuff completely dry
- Decent outdoorsy looking style
- Interesting air valve system.
- No laptop sleeve or other containment inside…just a single open space
- Vinyl — could be a sweaty carry
- No padding
- Could take a bit longer at an airport
The Bottom Line
Does the the bag smell like a new radial tire? Yes, a little. Will it keep the stuff inside dry? Totally. Is the bag great for camping? Absolutely. Can you use it for daily office life too? Yes, with a few concessions. I myself would use this for a daily pack because the waterproofing capability outweighs the other issues for me and I like how it looks. At $79.99, it’s on par with — or cheaper actually — than a lot of different bags out there.