I want to buy a drybag for washing clothes while backpacking (travelling, not hiking) and also keeping dirty/wet clothes until it is time to wash them.

I have available near me 5L, 10L and 20L dry bags, they are almost the same price. For washing clothes I think the 10L would work, but since they are close in price and weight, is it better to pick up a larger size? Can I keep rolling it down to compress it more?

Also, those dry bags are made from polyester with PVC "sealing" (loose translation here).

PS: Couldn't find better keywords for this question.

  • 4
    I wouldn't keep wet clothes wet for very long. They'll mildew.
    – nhinkle
    Feb 9, 2015 at 3:13
  • I know that, but in this question I'm trying to find if there is any advantage to using a smaller bag instead of a larger one (and not replacing one larger with more smaller). Feb 9, 2015 at 9:16
  • 1
    @LuizBorges -- Are you asking what is better for storage, or are you planning to use the bag to wash the clothes? This seems like two separate questions. Feb 11, 2015 at 15:03
  • 1
    @BenCrowell, not trying to be rude or anything, but have you read the question? I don't know any other context for a "drybag" and a google search on the term is right with what I mean. I described what I wanted to to do in the question and expanded in the coments. When I say backpacking there are two different contexts here, travelling around with a backpack and nothing more, and the other scenario is hiking or trekking in the wild. Feb 16, 2015 at 13:37
  • 1
    I don't have an answer to what size to use, but it's clear to me that the question isn't about storing wet, damp or dirty clothes in a drybag, but using one as a sort of washing machine, like a Scrubba.
    – user9016
    Mar 8, 2016 at 23:32

4 Answers 4


You need two separate bags. Washing clothes requires something be mostly water tight. Storing them requires airflow. These two things are mutually exclusive.

For washing, you need movement inside the bag. Figure out what size will just fit your clothes, then buy one size larger.

For storage, I would buy one mesh bag that fits what you most often carry. The mesh will allow airflow and help prevent mildew and smells.

Do not toss wet clothes in a bag. I recommend hanging them on your pack somehow. You look like a bum, but at least your clothes won't grow things....


I wouldn't keep clothes to wash in a drybag at all, it will smell worse than wearing those clothes.

If you can't wash your clothes in one night, you'll probably be taking the wrong clothes with you. And all in all i'd take more smaller bags than one large one, because you can put them better in your backpack, and use the space given to you optimally.

But really rather than keeping them in a backpack, put them in some cheap tights, because it probably won't matter if your dirty clothes get wet again, and it's able to breathe which means you won't get knocked out of the odour coming out from a drybag filled with dirty clothes

  • I won't keep clothes for days there, I will store it from one morning until the laundry night on the same day. I know about mildew, odour etc. My point here is: being the same price, is the bigger the better? Do I have any really good advantages to using a small dry bag instead of a larger one (in this case I'm talking one to one, not one 20l to 2x 10l). Feb 9, 2015 at 9:14
  • 3
    Drybags are absolutely disgusting for storing laundry, i learned that the hard way when paddling from Zürich to Amsterdam, really. If you really have to get a drybag, i'd recommend small ones, as you need to compress that bag anyways, just be carefull with zippers and other sharp edges, as they might pierce your drybag. Just to stress things out again, don't use a drybag for smelly stuff.
    – Jeredepp
    Feb 9, 2015 at 9:28

I use a 20L dry sack for washing clothes. This has no issues at all and it stores clothes well if it's dried compleatly even in wet rainy hiking and camping situations. I put a tiny rubber spiky ball which is a toy for small dogs into this 20 L dry sack and then put dirty clothes in and add enough water to move them around with a very small amount of bio degradable detergent such as Dr bronners soap. Shake it and knead it lightly with the dogs toy ball inside then throw away the dirty water and clean water to rinse. Repeat shaking and kneading it lightly, then throw the water away again. Wring the clothes out, then hang the wet clothes and the dry sack flipped inside out on a cloth line. When it's dried, fold the clothes, roll them up and place them neatly inside the same clean dried 20L dry sack. Now, I'm ready to put it into my backpack even when hiking in rain. My clothes stay dry and clean. I've learned this trick from one long haired Japanese hinter / camper who moves like a ninja on trails.


In my experience, a 20L dry sack is the perfect for washing all of the following at once:

  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 underwear
  • 1 shirt
  • 1 pants
  • 1 bandana

You'll also be able to use it to wash bed sheets or large bath towels, but probably only one sheet or towel at a time.


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