From Borneo to Vietnam, I often end up traveling during monsoon season. Although rain is welcome when the temperatures are hovering around 90 degrees Fahrenheit, my SLR camera and laptop don’t enjoy getting wet as much as I do.
While trekking in Sumatra last year, I met a German traveler who had the perfect solution: She was carrying an Overboard waterproof backpack. Rather than try to protect over $1K+ in fragile electronics from the elements by relying on having time to put on a pack cover, the Overboard waterproof backpack allows you to shove everything inside, roll the top down, and forget about it.
I contacted the company, and they were kind enough to send me not just one, but two of their 20-litre, Pro-Sports daybags! So, I’m giving one away (valued at US $69.95!). [contest has ended and the winner was announced!]
Congratulations to Simon Uribe-Convers!
Review of the Overboard Waterproof Backpack
Overboard ingeniously managed to combine the functionality of a dry bag (such as the ones used by scuba divers for years) with the features of a daybag.
The entire waterproof backpack is made of a heavy, rubbery material, making it entirely waterproof. To seal the bag, you roll the top down as you would with a traditional dry bag. A full strap system with full-sized buckles makes the bag perfect for adventures ranging from the beach and boating to jungle trekking where wet leaves and mud always make a mess out of regular daybags.
The Pro-Sports waterproof backpack comes in a 20-litre and 30-litre version. The 20-litre works fine for most travel applications, unless you need the extra bulk that a 30-litre daybag provides.
The Overboard Pro-Sports waterproof backpacks are rated as “Class 3” which means they can float and handle quick submersion; good enough for most field applications.
- Durable construction and reinforced “welded” stitching in the important places
- A fully-adjustable strap system includes a waist strap with full-sized buckle and sternum strap. Note: I actually ended up cutting off the waist strap later to save some weight!
- The front straps have loops that support carabiners, a hydration system, and army-style MOLE and ALICE clips for adding things.
- A zipping, internal pocket for small things such as maps. I’ve hidden my passport in there a few times.
- Reflective strips on the outside
- Two ways to close the bag using the buckles
- Good padding on the straps for carrying heavy loads
- Air-flow padding to stop back sweat
- A mesh, zippered outside pocket for quick access to small items (this bonus pocket is very much not waterproof)
- The solid construction contributes to the empty weight of the bag; ultralight backpackers will notice.
- This waterproof backpack is cavernous! Locating small items inside (e.g., a pen) is a challenge.
- The unrolled length of the bag is quite long, making it difficult to reach things inside while sitting on a plane, etc.
I’ve carried this bag for a few months now and have yet to find anything “ugly” about it. In fact, you are probably sure to make a few fellow adventurers envious while carrying this waterproof backpack!
The Overboard Pro-Sports waterproof backpack belongs in the field — and any place where you need reliable protection from the elements. For myself, this is not the best choice as an urban or airplane carry-on bag. Overboard does make other bags more suited for those applications.
Material Disclosure: I received two Overboard backpacks to test. One was given away via a contest on our Facebook page.
November 2017 Update
After five years of heavy use in the field (mostly Southeast Asia), I’m still carrying my Overboard waterproof backpack! It is showing its age, and I’m certain it wouldn’t be waterproof if tossed overboard, but it still provides excellent protection from unexpected weather. Carrying this bag gives me a lot of peace of mind for protecting my laptop and passport — essential tools of this trade!
Official Website: https://www.over-board.com/