Dry Bags: The Way To Carry A Tent On Tour?

Dry BagsDry Bags are waterproof bags (often used by kayakers) with a roll-top closure at one end, which folds over itself a few times to form a totally waterproof seal.

We’ve always used a dry bag for bike touring. It’s a large Ortlieb bag that holds much of our camping gear: our tent (a Hilleberg Nallo 3GT), the poles, groundsheet and tarp.

The dry bag is big enough that sometimes we also stuff other things inside, such as extra food or our rain gear (if the rain gear is at the top, it’s really easy to reach when the sky goes grey). All of this goes in one big bundle on the back of the bike, between the panniers.

Dry Bag Between Our Panniers

See the red bag? It’s made by Ortlieb – a 22 liter dry bag (£16.50 from Wiggle). Ours is currently 6 years old and still going strong.

We thought the benefits were obvious but recently a reader wrote to ask what was so special about this dry bag:

Why would you need a dry bag for your tent which is designed to keep rain off you? If you arrive at a camp site and it looks like rain, you take your tent out of your expensive ‘dry bag’. It will remain lovely and dry… until it rains. When you put the wet tent into your ‘dry bag’ in the morning, after it has kept the rain off you all night, it will remain nicely wet in the ‘dry bag’ because ‘dry bags’ presumably do not let water in nor out. Please explain??!! -Bob.

That’s a fair question. Now that you mention it, maybe it is a bit confusing.

Here are the detailed reasons why we use a dry bag. (click to read more)


  1. Sergio
    18th January 2012 at 11:37 am #

    I have a more simple, and cheaper one! User the big garbage roll bags! They are lighter and covers a lot! You will see some samples in my blog. No need to buy expensive or fancy stuff. Price is also essential!

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