What is common way how to transport personal belongings while swimming?

I am talking about scenario when I need to cross a lake by swimming. I would like to take my stuff (wallet, cell phone, shorts, t-shirt) with me in some waterproof sack or something like that. What is the correct/recommended gear for this job?

If I try to search for "swimming bag" or similar, I find only results related to fancy bags for carrying stuff to/from swimming training.

To clarify my question. I know there are waterproof bags on the market. My question is more about what is the best gear (or class of gear) according to experience of somebody who actually try that.

  • google.com/search?q=waterproof+backpacks - Are you thinking of something like this?
    – Alec
    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:08
  • @Alec Yes I know, they are great for hiking. Is that the correct/recommended gear for swimming?! I updated my question to make more clear.
    – matousc
    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:09
  • google.com/search?q=waterproof+backpacks+for+swimming - I'm just spitballing here. I don't have any experience with this, but this is how I would try to find it at least.
    – Alec
    Apr 27, 2018 at 10:24
  • There are shorts which are meant to go in the water, then dry very quickly and look like a normal pair of shorts when you come out. They also have clips inside for metal keys (not car-keys with digital transponders!). A pair of these could reduce the amount you have to carry.
    – WBT
    Apr 29, 2018 at 1:10

5 Answers 5


There are these types of dry-bags that float and are combined with a leash and waist band. They are often marketed as primarely a "safety buoy", as they provide you with visibility, which is definitely a nice thing if there are boats around. Many of them just have a small pouch for keys/wallet/phone, but there exists variants with much more capacity. Keywords are dry bag or tow float.

Swimmer with tow float by Danielle from wikimedia commons

  • I found a 28 liter Dry Bag that holds my cycling shoes, jersey, ID and my eTrex 30x GPS. In most cases, my eTrex still works even from inside the dry bag while also double wrapped in plastic bags. This saves me from having to buy a more expensive waterproof GPS watch to track my swims. The Dry Bag keeps my stuff reasonably dry for 1-2 mile swims and I've used it numerous times now.
    – Shawn Eary
    May 15, 2020 at 12:58

Until you got to "shorts and T shirt" I'd have said a waterproof belt bag. I've used them kayaking (on the rare occasions when it's warm enough to go without a drysuit or at least dry-cag in the UK) and for swimming in the sea/lakes/rivers. They'll hold a decent wallet, phone and keys without much effect on your swimming.

If possible, avoid trying to take more than that, but I assume you've considered that already. I wouldn't want anything bigger fastened to me, but would instead use a good roll-top drybag and tow it with an easy-to-release line. I have a tow-line belt for kayaking (things like recovering beginners' boats in flat water) so would try that, or a line held in one hand. A loop over one shoulder goes against my whitewater-trained instincts but would be quite sensible in placid water. The dry bag should be packed so it floats but not too full of air.

Note that there are special tow floats (bright to make you more visible). Some have dry storage. That's what the experts use.

  • 1
    What, can't one wear a belt while otherwise nude? :-P
    – Vikki
    Apr 27, 2018 at 18:17

Search on "dry bag". Look for one with a tether and tow it. Ortlieb

Also there are some waterproof packs. I don't know anything about this brand - it is just an example.


River swimming is very popular in Switzerland and has led to the development of exactly the kind of dry bag you are looking for called "Wickelfisch". It's a dry bag you roll up and tow. https://wickelfischusa.com/


I am searching for the same sort of thing. I live in a village on a rugged, sparsely populated stretch of coast in Mexico. I have a lot of ocean to explore if I can address two safety concerns:

  • I will be on my own. There's no one on shore, and minimal boat traffic, so no one would see me and offer help if I needed it
  • the people in boats aren't expecting anyone in the water, so they won't be on the lookout to avoid running me over

Solution I found a bunch of high-visibility bags, that provide flotation, by searching for "swimming tow bag" on Amazon. I'm going to try this one

swim buoy bag/backpack


  • visible color
  • it appears to have separate compartments for air and stuff. If you have just one compartment and you were to open it while in the water, the bag would lose some or all bouyancy unless you refill and close it just right
  • detachable backpack straps (handy for swimming somewhere and then walking)
  • 3
    This question already has similar answers from months ago. Is this bag you suggest different than the one already suggested by the accepted answer (and several more times by other answers)? It looks the same to me, but I'm not an expert in that subject.
    – Loduwijk
    Oct 16, 2018 at 21:35

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