Updated for 2021 – Products are still available
College is a hectic place. Even moreso if you’re living in the dorm. You’ll, of course, need a solid backpack for your laptop, your textbooks, and your notebooks, but it’s also a good idea to find a waterproof bag. Besides your occasional clumsy moments, people will be coming and going all the time, and your new backpack is sure to be the unfortunate victim of a spill or two. Then there will also be those gloomy days where you have to run to class in the rain.
We don’t want your bag to be ruined the first time someone drops their water bottle at the wrong time, and that’s why we’ve made this list of the best waterproof backpacks for college. We’ll help you to be prepared for that mishap and to find a good bag that will last longer than just your freshman year.
Carry on reading to see our full list of the best waterproof backpacks for college, followed by a recap of what each backpack offers. Or jump straight to our number #1 pick here.
- What Should You Look For in a Waterproof Backpack for College?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Waterproof Backpack for College
- How Waterproof Is a Waterproof Backpack?
- Verdict: Your Best Waterproof Backpack for College
What Should You Look For in a Waterproof Backpack for College?
It might have been a while since you’ve bought a backpack. You or your child may have been coasting on the same backpack for most of grade school, but now that college is starting, it’s time for an upgrade. It can be hard to know what to look for, but we’ve laid it all out for you in an easy-to-read list of criteria so you can find the perfect bag to get you through your entire degree.
Criteria #1: Pockets – Your backpack should act as a tool to help you stay organized just as much as a way of carrying your things. The more pockets a bag has, the easier it will be for you to separate all of your books, pens and pencils, and other supplies in a manner that makes sense and is easy for you to remember. A good backpack will also have lots of pockets that serve an obvious function, such as a clearly labeled laptop compartment or mesh pockets on the front or sides that are perfect for easy access to pens or pencils.
Criteria #2: Size – Finding the right-sized waterproof backpack is a little tricky. You obviously want a bag that can hold all of your things, but you also don’t want to have to stumble through the hallways in a backpack that’s almost as big as you are. We’re definitely trying to stay within the Goldilocks zone with our backpacks so you can find a bag that gives you all the utility you need without being a burden.
Criteria #3: Design – Design encompasses a few different traits. First of all, we want a waterproof backpack that’s actually waterproof and made out of reliable material. Secondly, we’re looking for a bag that will last long and that has straps that can support a lot of weight. You definitely don’t want a shoulder strap breaking on you on the way to class. Lastly, you’ll want to look at backpacks that have their pockets and compartments arranged in a manner that makes sense and preferably a bag that is nice to look at. You may also want to find a bag with a breathable back or extra-padded shoulder pads to keep you comfortable throughout a long day of classes and adjusting to the college lifestyle.
Criteria #4: Price – With tuition, textbooks, rent/dorm fees, and food, college is expensive enough as it is. We definitely don’t want to add to that more than we have to. Obviously, the best bags are more likely to be more expensive than other backpacks, but we’re going to prioritize bags that offer a performance that outweighs its price. We’d rather spend $70 on a bag worth $100 than spend $50 on a waterproof backpack that only lasts a semester and should be worth $30.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Waterproof Backpack for College
We checked all of the most popular brands and some lesser-known ones to look for the best and most popular waterproof backpacks for college. We then checked the price and the features to make sure that the backpack is worth your hard-earned money. Finally, we checked with “top 10” lists and blog posts, as well as customer reviews on websites like Amazon, to make sure that the backpacks on our list were as good as advertised.
And with that, we offer you our best waterproof backpacks for your time in college.
#1: OUTJOY Waterproof Laptop Backpack (Best Value – All-Purpose)
Besides being waterproof, the Outjoy Waterproof Laptop Backpack does pretty much everything else you can think of. There’s no other backpack that will leave you feeling this prepared for college. The main pocket, which has more than enough room for all of your textbooks and notebooks, includes a dedicated laptop pouch with a strap that will keep your computer in perfect condition, and extra room designed to keep it cool, so you’re always ready to do your research and type up your next assignment.
There’s then a second compartment which is great for storing lunch to help you save money by staying away from the school cafeteria, or a change of clothes if you plan on going to the gym during your break and don’t want to run back to your dorm room to change.
There’s a third pocket which consists of an array of smaller pockets perfect for all your smaller items like pens, notecards, keys, and USB cords, and a pocket that can fit your smartphone so you can stay focused during that important lecture. On top of that, there are net pockets on the side for your water bottle.
The pockets are just the beginning with Outjoy Backpack. On top of being made from water-resistant fabric, our number one waterproof backpack has a waterproof cover stored at the bottom that will give you an extra layer of water protection in case of heavy rain. This bag also has a USB port on the outside which can connect to a power bank on the inside and allow you to charge your devices without while keeping your power bank safe and leaving you with one less object to hold or carry in your pocket.
Plus, the back is made of a breathable mesh that will reduce heat so you won’t have to think about sweating on your way to class. No more worrying about showing up to that class that your “crush” is in with a backpack-shaped sweat stain on your shirt. In addition to all that, this backpack has a sleeve on the back that perfectly slides over luggage telescope handles, making it just as perfect for airports as it is for lecture halls.
The best part about this bag is that it comes in at an amazing price. While paying far less than you would for a designer-brand backpack, you’re walking away with a durable, practical, waterproof backpack.
And the customers agree. Users on Amazon were head-over-heels about this bag, giving raving reviews in which the word “perfect” came up quite a bit. Reviewers mentioned how much space this bag offers, the great price, and of course, the fact that it’s waterproof. One customer suggested that this bag may be great for camping as well. So, if you’re already planning a weekend getaway with your new college friends, this bag may come in handy.
#2: Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 (Best for Safety)
If you’re a little more protective of your belongings, or if you’re a parent worried about your child living away from home for the first time, it could give you some peace of mind to invest in a safe and secure backpack. If that’s what you’re looking for, the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 waterproof backpack is an amazing choice to help or your child keep all of your belongings exactly where they belong. It costs a bit more than our number one backpack, but if you care about your safety, the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450 college backpack has a few features that will catch your eye and convince you that it’s worth the extra money.
Reason #1 to Choose This Product: Cut-Proof Materials
This amazing anti-theft backpack has one feature that you’ll be hard-pressed to find anywhere else – cut-proof materials. Because it is made out of a lightweight steel mesh, this Pacsafe backpack is soft and easy to carry around, but it’s tough enough to resist most knives on sharp objects. Obviously, this is perfect for keeping away anyone with plans to cut their way into your bag. A nice side-benefit of this design is that it also means you don’t have to worry about your bag getting snagged on any corners and subsequently tearing. This steel mesh design will help you know that your possessions are safe both from sneaky pickpockets and from those little accidents that can ruin your day.
Reason #2 to Choose This Product: RFID Blocking Pocket
Most modern credit cards use a tap only feature that saves you the trouble of needing to swipe your card at checkout. This is great in terms of convenience and saving you a few seconds, but there is a major downside to this new feature as far as safety is concerned. This technology works through most wallets, and because you simply need to tap your credit or debit card to the right service to initiate a transaction, someone with the right equipment can tap your back pocket or wallet and initiate a transaction from your card without your knowledge. That’s where the Pacsafe Metrosafe comes in. This bag includes a special pocket that blocks RFID signals, which means that none of these tap-only transactions will work through the fabric of the bag. Nobody is accessing your cards or ID without going into your bag and taking them.
Reason #3 to Choose This Product: Lockable Zippers
The final anti-theft feature of this waterproof college backpack is its lockable zippers. While most backpacks have holes in the zippers through which you can place a bike lock, the Pacsafe backpack takes things one step further. All of the zippers are within reach of buckles that can be threaded through the zippers to make sure they stay in place. Of course, if you’re not with your bag, someone could simply undo these buckles, but it makes it much less likely that someone will be able to sneakily access your bag while you’re in the room or even when you’re wearing it. For maximum security, you still have the option of using a key lock.
In addition to its anti-theft features, this backpack has three pockets and a special padded laptop compartment that can hold computers up to 15 inches. Plus, it has two side pockets that can hold your water bottle or your umbrella and a smaller front pocket for easy access to your pens and other small materials. This front pocket also has a ring that’s perfect for your keys or wallet. Finally, this bag comes with padded shoulder straps to keep you comfortable, and the main compartment is big enough to fit all of your supplies.
Customers loved the fit and size of this bag, pointing out that it’s comfortable but also large enough to get you through the day or even the week. This large capacity backpack may be a little expensive, but this is the perfect backpack for college students who want to keep their belongings safe as they begin their post-high-school adventures.
#3: DRY2 Waterproof Backpack (Best for Biking)
If you prefer to start your day off right by biking to your classes instead of walking or taking the bus, you’ll need a good waterproof backpack that has a comfortable design and has the water-resistance to stand up to an unexpected rain shower. The Dry2 Waterproof backpack is perfect for college students looking to stay active during their busy schedule as they adjust to life after high school.
It comes with a sleek cornerless design that will make sure you don’t lose speed on your bike ride to class, and it has a minimalist build that means you won’t have to worry about any straps or strings getting caught in your bike or anywhere else. On top of that, it has a breathable, neoprene back so you can stay cool and not show up to class in a sweat, and it has a large 25-liter main compartment, a few smaller pockets, and a removable multi-pocket organizer.
Sometimes waterproof and water-resistant get used interchangeably, and a bag that is labeled as waterproof might be able to deal with a light splash but won’t keep your books dry in a serious storm. The Dry2 is not one of those bags. As far as college backpacks go, there’s nothing else as water-repellent. The main compartment is completely airtight and will block out any and all water that tries to get in. As a demonstration, the Amazon page for this biking backpack features a picture of the Dry2 placed in a running creek. You can bike or even casually walk to class in a thunderstorm, your things are staying bone-dry.
On top of all that, this amazing travel backpack has a laptop sleeve for 15-inch laptops, and it costs about as much as the Outjoy backpack. Anyone looking for a school backpack that can also handle a long bike ride or a day on the trail needs to buy the Dry2 Waterproof Backpack.
#4: Gysan Lightweight Waterproof Backpack (Best Low Cost)
College students, generally speaking, are not the demographic with the most disposable income. It can be frustrating and discouraging to feel that you need to spend a lot of money on necessities, but we want to help you avoid that anxiety. The Gysan Lightweight Waterproof Backpack is made of water-resistant nylon that will keep your belongings dry, and it offers a design that will let you conveniently carry all of your belongings without breaking the bank.
This product is one of the best backpacks for its cheap price range, and it comes with the standard padded laptop compartment, as well as two smaller zippered pockets on the front that will be great for your pens and pencils. Finally, this budget backpack has a creative hidden compartment located on the back of the bag that is great for storing your phone or wallet while you’re on the go or in class. Just place the bag front-side up and no thief will even know that its there.
Gysan covered this backpack with a 12-month warranty, so in addition to your saving, you’re guaranteed a replacement if anything goes wrong with this bag.
Reviewers were overall huge fans of the Gysan waterproof backpack, saying that its comfortable, stylish, and useful for students, travelers. and employees alike. One reviewer was slightly disappointed with the water-resistance, so if you really want to go for a swim with your bag, you should stick with the Dry2 backpack. But if you need a high-quality backpack that won’t cost you an arm and a leg, this Gysan backpack is the best waterproof backpack available.
#5: HotStyle 936Plus Casual Backpack (Best Small Backpack)
Sometimes you don’t want to lug all of your stuff around at once. Maybe you only have a few classes, or maybe all you need is your laptop anyway. If you want a lightweight waterproof college backpack that won’t weigh you down, you’ll have to check out the HotStyle 936 Casual Backpack.
This high-quality, low-weight backpack is small enough that you can go straight from class to your next plans without feeling like you need to go back home to drop off your bag, making it perfect for college students trying to live a social lifestyle and stay busy. It only has two compartments, but this backpack still offers you plenty in terms of organization. The main compartment has several smaller pockets so you’ll know exactly where everything is. It has a laptop pocket that can fit a 15-inch laptop, but it’s also the perfect place to pack your books or even a spare outfit if you’re going to be spending the night away from home. The second compartment is a smaller one on the front of the backpack that’s good for holding your keys, wallet, phone, credit cards, pens, and other assorted loose items.
The main flaw of this travel backpack is it doesn’t have any of the water bottle pockets which are more common in our bigger backpacks. That being said, customers loved the HotStyle 936 Plus, and it’s one of the best backpacks for college students trying to keep it light so they can stay flexible with their plans.
A nice side-benefit of this lightweight travel backpack is that it’s cheap, and despite its price, it’s long-lasting and comes with a 10-year warranty. This backpack also has the same back-side compartment as the Gysan Lightweight backpack which is great for small items, and it has a media port perfect for threading your headphones through and listening to music without taking your phone out of your backpack.
Plus, it has padded straps that will keep your shoulders comfortable while you’re on the go. Of course, like all of the bags on our list, the HotStyle 936Plus Casual Backpack is made of water-resistant fabric and is the perfect waterproof backpack for college students on the go.
How Waterproof Is a Waterproof Backpack?
The slightly frustrating answer is that it depends on the backpack. As I mentioned above, the Dry2 backpack is one of the few products that’s completely waterproof, and even then it’s only the main compartment that’s %100 waterproof. Remember that most waterproof backpacks will keep your laptop and your books dry in the case of a light spill or small drizzle, but you can’t expect most backpacks to protect your possessions from the water if you drop your backpack into a deeper puddle or get caught in a really intense downpour. Even if a college backpack is advertised as water-resistant or water-repellent, it’s a good idea to double-check the material and see how water-resistant it really is.
Verdict: Your Best Waterproof Backpack for College
There you have it. With the exception of the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450, we managed to keep the backpacks on this list pretty cheap, which just goes to show you can always save if you know where to look. If you’ve found yourself forgetting which backpack had which features, and already have forgotten which one caught your eye the most, don’t worry. We’ve provided a quick recap below to refresh your memory and help you find your dream waterproof backpack to get you through college.
If you want the best value for money, pick the OUTJOY Waterproof Laptop Backpack.
Despite costing about the same amount as the other backpacks on our list, the Outjoy Waterproof Laptop Backpack offers pretty much everything you could ask for. It’s one of the more popular backpacks for college students on the market. Made from a water-resistant fabric, this backpack comes with a built-in USB port that can be connected to your power bank for quick and easy charging, and it has all of the compartments and pockets you can ever ask for. It has a water bottle pocket, a laptop sleeve with a strap to keep things in place, and an entire second compartment with the capacity to store all of your books, your lunch, or spare change of clothes. This waterproof college backpack is just as useful for a weekend away as it is for school, and that’s why it’s our best college backpack for college students.
If you need the most secure college backpack, pick the Pacsafe Metrosafe LS450.
This waterproof college backpack is the perfect bag for anyone willing to pay top-dollar to make sure their belongings stay safe. With its cut-resistant steel mesh material, its lockable zippers, and its RFID blocking pocket, all of your things are staying right where they are, when they’re in this backpack. You’d almost have to let someone break into it just to give them a fair chance.
If you want to keep the spending cheap, pick the Gysan Lightweight Waterproof Backpack.
As I mentioned earlier, we managed to keep it nice and cheap for you on this list, but if “cheap enough” isn’t cheap enough, then the only waterproof college backpack for you is the Gysan Lightweight Waterproof Backpack. It’s not exactly large, but this is the best backpack for you to limit the spending and carry your stuff around school while making sure it all stays organized and dry.
It has a great design that makes up for its smaller size by giving you the right layout to maximize space. This layout includes two front pockets that are great to fit small items and a hidden compartment on the back of the backpack that can keep your phone or wallet safe and secure. The main compartment of this bag has the capacity to store 15-inch laptops and your textbooks with room leftover for a snack, so you can save even more money by skipping the cafeteria. This is the perfect backpack to make college a little less expensive.
And that concludes our list of the best waterproof backpacks for college. Remember to think about what features are important to you when making your purchase. If you didn’t like the standouts we recapped above, you may be more interested in the DRY2 Waterproof Backpack, which has a completely waterproof design that makes it perfect for anyone who loves the great outdoors. You also may be drawn to the simple and minimalist HotStyle 936Plus Casual Backpack, which is perfect for anyone who often finds themselves running straight from class to a party or a date without time to return home. All of the backpacks on our list will make your college days a little less hectic and keep your books and laptops dry. We just hope you find a backpack that’s perfect for you.