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RGD Waterproof Submersible Duffel Laying in River

Which waterproof bag should I choose? Zipper vs Roll Top

Both zippered and roll top waterproof bags have their pros and cons, here's a breakdown of the two bags:

Roll-Top Waterproof Bags

Roll Top Bag Pros:

  • Dependable Waterproofing: The roll-top closure creates a simple, reliable seal.
  • Durability: No zipper mean less chance of failure.
  • Expandability: Depending on the bag design, you may be able to adjust the capacity of the bag by how many times you roll the top.
  • No Maintenance: Bags with waterproof zippers require maintenance for longevity and ease of use, whereas roll top bags do not.
  • Cost: Generally speaking, roll top waterproof bags cost less.

Roll Top Bag Cons:

  • Access: Getting to specific items inside can be a hassle since you have to unroll the entire top.
  • Organization: Limited access through a single opening means digging through belongings or emptying the contents to find what you need.
  • Bulkier: The rolled closure takes up extra space compared to a zipped top.
  • Vertical Orientation: Typically most waterproof roll top bags have a vertical design limitation due to the nature of the closure. A horizontal bag is harder to roll and keep rolled.

Zippered Waterproof Bags

Waterproof Zipper Bag Pros:

  • Easier Access: Zippers allow you to quickly reach specific items inside the bag.
  • More Organized: Zippered compartments and pockets help keep things tidy and allow better visibility and organization of contents.
  • Sleeker Design: Can be more compact due to the lack of rolled closure material.
  • Quicker Operation: Unzipping takes less time for opening and closing compared to a roll top bag.
  • Introduce Flotation: Zippered bags allow you to introduce air into a waterproof bag to provide bouyancy or flotation to a bag.

Waterproof Zipper Bag Cons:

  • Cost: High quality waterproof zippers are expensive and drive up the cost of a quality bag.
  • Reliability or Failure: Zippers may jam or break, causing problems in the field.
  • Maintenance: Full waterproof zippers require cleaning and lubrication for easier opening and longer life.

What both waterproof bags are good at:

  • Submersibility: Modern waterproof zippers provide high levels of submersible protection as do roll top bags when properly closed.
  • Protection: Keeping contents protected from rain, snow, dust, moisture and even scent. 
  • Clean Up: Most waterproof bags are made of either TPU or PVC material and can easily be hosed off or washed out.

Most often choosing a submersible waterproof bag comes down to personal preference. I typically ask people what's more important - reliability or ease of organization? Choose a roll-top bag for simpler waterproofing and durability, especially for activities where dependability is the most critical factor. If failure is not an option, a roll top waterproof bag is probably best. If quick, repeated access and ease of organization are priorities, a zippered waterproof bag is most likely a better option.

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