Review: OverBoard waterproof backpack

OverBoard specializes in waterproof stuff. I happened across their waterproof backpacks at Costco a few months ago, and eventually caved in and bought one to combat the rainy season in Kansas City. May has been exceptionally rainy, and I have put this pack through many miles in torrential downpours. First, let’s take a look at it:

The design is much like a roll-top dry bag, with some reflective trim on the back…

… except it has shoulder and waist straps, also with some reflective trim on the front.

It also features an internal zipper pouch that’s designed to keep your small stash-ables such as your wallet and phone from falling to the bottom of the bag, and an outer mesh pocket on each side, neither of which is quite big enough for a bike bottle. Good for stashing things you might want quick access to that aren’t going to get damaged by water: your bike lock and office keys, for example.

To seal it up, you simply roll the top 3 or more times, then clip the straps together at the top like you would a traditional dry bag. The velcro strap can help hold the rolled top in place.

Optionally, you can attach the roll-top clips down to the side straps. I’ve found that both ways are sufficiently waterproof. Aesthetically, I think it looks better clipped down and to the side like this, and as shown in the first photo above.

This pack is pretty big for a backpack, and looks absolutely cavernous when opened before you roll the top down to close it up.

So, how did it do? Quite well, actually! Last week was the rainiest yet. I was out in heavy rain for 90 minutes on Wednesday. Thursday, it was like riding home under a pressure washer for half an hour. Both days, my gear arrived home nice and dry:

The shoulder straps are actually quite comfortable and adjustable in many ways. The part that rests on your back is padded with foam channels. It’s certainly not the most comfortable backpack I’ve worn, but if you’re trying to get to work with your goods safe and dry, your options are somewhat limited. My usual commute is a bit more than 6 miles each way. A backpack isn’t too bad for a trip like that. I wore it for a rainy 20-mile ride while running after-work errands last week, and it was completely tolerable, but I didn’t have it loaded too heavy.

I may have preferred a set of waterproof panniers, but they’re relatively expensive compared to the $30 price tag at Costco. Online, prices vary from $40-$80. Available in solid black, or black with yellow, blue, red or gray trim.

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