While you won’t need much more than your yak and paddle to enjoy a beautiful day on the water, there are still a few must-haves you’ll need to bring with you every trip. The problem is, most kayaks don’t have a ton of opportunities for onboard storage, which is where a kayak bag comes in.
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to select the best kayak deck bags for you, and we’ll check out eight of the best options available.
Quick Answer: The Top Kayak Deck Bags
How to Choose a Kayak Deck Bag: Buying Guide
Before you start checking out kayak deck bags, take some time to consider the different factors that matter to you when you’re on the water.
How you use your deck bag and what you’ll store are essential considerations when purchasing a deck bag. If you need a bag for bare essentials like sunscreen, water, and a snack or two, a small light-duty bag should be more than sufficient for you. Or, if you need a bag for tools and equipment, a more rugged bag with plenty of room for gear will be more your speed.
What the deck bag is made of is another crucial concern, particularly if you’re tough on your gear. A quality deck bag should be made from a durable and rugged material like nylon or polyester. It should be treated with a water-resistant or waterproof coating to help keep your gear safe from the elements.
Size and Weight
Size and weight are essential factors to consider because they affect your ability to store everything you need and your ability to maneuver your yak.
If you select a bag that’s too small, you aren’t going to have the space you need to store all your essentials. Meanwhile, if you go for a big heavy bag with plenty of room, you run the risk of affecting how well you can control your craft. Select a bag that’s large enough for everything you need but still lightweight enough that your kayak is always easy to maneuver.
Ease Of Access
If you’ve ever used a bag that was poorly designed with pockets and zippers in the wrong places, you already know how important it is to easily access all your gear. Since every kayak is slightly different in terms of where you’re sitting in relation to the deck, it can be helpful to sit in your kayak with the bag attached to ensure you can easily reach everything you’ll need.
Straps and Buckles
When you’re on the water, there are plenty of hazards to contend with. Choppy waters, wind, and the wakes of other boats can make it challenging to navigate. The last thing you want to be worried about is whether or not your gear is secure.
Be sure to choose a deck bag that offers ample straps and buckles so you can secure your gear to the deck without concern for it moving around on the deck or falling off altogether.
Waterproof vs. Water-resistant Deck Bag
One area that kayakers are sometimes confused by is the material the bag is made from. What’s the difference between waterproof and water-resistant in this case?
Waterproof bags are entirely impervious to water. They’re constructed with different methods to ensure that water can’t intrude through seams or zippers, which is how water can enter the bag most easily.
Water-resistant bags are still built to repel water and prevent your gear from getting wet. But, if the bag is submerged, or if conditions are incredibly rough, you can expect what’s inside the bag to become at least somewhat wet.
If you aren’t storing sensitive items like your phone or other electronics, a waterproof bag might not be worth the added expense. But, if you’re planning on keeping your phone, GPS, fishfinder, or other sensitive equipment, opt for a waterproof bag.
Beyond the internal storage compartments of a deck bag, it can also be helpful to have some attachment points for you to secure additional gear to the bag’s exterior, so it’s ready at a moment’s notice. Look for a bag that offers loops, D-rings, or daisy chains for securing additional gear or accessories.
The final aspect you’ll want to consider is whether or not the bag offers enough room inside to store everything you’ll need. A bag doesn’t need to be huge to provide you with room for all your gear. Look for bags that have smartly designed internal compartments that provide the space you need to store everything while remaining as compact as possible.
Best Rated Kayak Deck Bag Reviews
Now that we’ve covered the basics of shopping for the top kayak deck bag, let’s check out eight of the best bags on the market today.
#1. NRS Taj M’Haul Kayak Deck Bag
The Taj M’Haul from NRS is an ideal bag for kayakers who need a rugged and reliable bag with a waterproof main compartment.
The bag is made from a 400-denier nylon outer shell that is water-resistant and rugged enough to stand up to any abuse you throw at it. Securing this expansive bag is a breeze, thanks to dual hook-and-loop straps and heavy-duty clips at each corner of the bag. At 3” wide, these straps do an excellent job of securing your bag in place without shifting around as you paddle.
Inside, there’s a waterproof main compartment, three expanding mesh pockets, and a bungee system to secure all your gear. Reflective piping ensures you’re seen at night and in low light conditions.
#2. Gearlab Kayak Deck Pod Bag
- Sip and Paddle: Gearlab Deck Pod fits a hydration bladder up to 3L. The large tube opening and see through mesh pocket holding the...
- Snag-Free: The external holders on both sides of the Gearlab Deck Pod are designed to hold bilge pump and paddle float, providing...
- Sleek & Streamlined: Low profile design reduces wind resistance and stays away from paddling strokes.
A recent Paddling Magazine Industry Award winner, the Deck Pod from Gearlab, is a well-designed deck bag that provides room for your gear, ample storage for emergency equipment, and much more.
This rugged bag is made from 450-denier water-resistant nylon and features robust zippers that close tightly to prevent water from intruding into the bag. The large main compartment is big enough for a 3L hydration bladder, along with all your other essentials. While the bag is exceptionally water-resistant, you’ll still want to put any electronics and delicate gear into a drybag.
This compact bag provides external storage for a bilge pump and paddle float, so they’re at the ready in an instant in emergencies, and it can be attached or removed to the deck in seconds. The carry handle is inconspicuously located beneath the bag, so it’s out of view when secured to the deck, which helps eliminate spray skirt handle confusion in emergencies.
If there’s one knock on this bag, it’s that the zipper opens vertically instead of horizontally, which makes it difficult to fully unzip the bag from the cockpit.
#3. Seattle Sports Vinyl Coated Mesh Kayak Deck Bag
- VERSATILE - Great Storage Option on SUPs and Kayaks for Items That Can Get Wet or Are Stored in Smaller Dry Bags
- HEAVY DUTY - Vinyl Coated Open Weave Mesh and #10 Corrosion Resistant Zippers
- FEATURES - Swivel Snaphook Lash Points to Attach to Your Kayak or SUP, Webbing Carrying Handle, and Vinyl Coated Mesh Dries...
An ideal bag for kayakers who need a basic bag to secure their valuables, this deck bag from Seattle Sports is one of the best affordable options on the market.
The bag is made from an open-weave mesh that receives a generous water-resistant nylon coating to help keep your gear safe and dry. The heavy-duty zipper is a #10 corrosion-resistant model, and it’s built to stand up to water, sea spray, and anything else without rusting or failing.
The zipper is perfectly located to provide access to everything inside the bag from the cockpit. The internal compartment is expansive, with plenty of room for all your necessary gear. While it is water-resistant, you’ll want to pack electronics and delicates into a dry bag to ensure they stay fully dry.
#4. North Water Kayak UnderDeck Bag
Your car has a glove compartment; why shouldn’t your kayak? With such an ingenious design, it’s surprising that we don’t see more bags like this designed to mount under your deck instead of on top.
The UnderDeck bag can be bolted to the hull of your yak or attached with a heavy-duty adhesive such as Vinyl Tec 2000 for a blemish-free installation. Once mounted, the bag can easily be removed using the quick-release clips at each attachment point.
Most people choose to attach their bag using the adhesive method, but some kayaks will require you to bolt the bag to the hull. If you end up installing the bag with hardware, you may want to upgrade from the included black oxide bolts for something more rust resistant.
Inside, one main compartment provides plenty of storage for all your necessities, and the bag has a pelican-style opening to ensure that nothing falls out when you open the bag. A large mesh drainage panel in the center helps wick water out of the bag on the off chance your gear gets wet.
#5. Seattle Sports Deluxe Kayak Deck Bag
A simple and inexpensive solution that provides tons of room to store all your gear, the Deluxe deck bag from Seattle Sports is ideal for keeping your gear secure and dry.
This semi-structured bag has a half-moon shape that maximizes internal storage while still maintaining a streamlined form. The bag is covered in reflective silver nylon with welded seams and a storm flap, making it about as close to waterproof as it gets.
The bag’s exterior features a bungee system, multiple lash loops, and a transparent window that faces the cockpit so you can easily see where everything is inside the bag. There’s also a 4-way lash point at the bottom of the bag for attaching a strobe or spotlight.
#6. Sea to Summit Access Kayak Deck Bag
A sleek deck bag that elevates the look of any kayak, the Access bag from Sea to Summit is rugged, durable, and provides plenty of room for everything you’ll need.
The heavyweight ripstop nylon shell is highly water-resistant and rugged enough to handle the harshest conditions, even on the open seas. The front zipper is ergonomically designed to allow for easy access to anything in the bag while you’re seated in the cockpit, and there are eyelets on either side of the top for attaching additional accessories.
Inside the main compartment is a detachable roll-top dry bag to ensure all your gear stays completely dry. The dry bag can also be removed and used for other stuff if you aren’t concerned with your equipment getting wet.
#7. Chinook Aquatidal 25 Kayak Deck Bag
- Large water-resistant main compartments
- Durable TPU-coated ripstop nylon bar-tacked stress and rugged non-corrosive zippers
- Heavy-duty bilge pump/water bottle side storage panels
The Aquatidal 25 from Chinook is an expansive tactical bag with plenty of room to spare.
This bag is made of durable ripstop nylon coated in TPU for additional water resistance. Internal stiffeners ensure the bag maintains its shape, and the large interior compartment is more than large enough to store all your essentials.
The exterior offers multiple lash points, a bungee system, and exterior pockets for a water bottle and bilge pump. There’s also a removable carry strap for bringing your bag anywhere you need when you’re on land.
#8. Advanced Elements Quickdraw Kayak Deck Bag
- PVC tarpaulin construction for extreme water resistance and durability
- Water resistant zipper
- Removable interior ultra-light roll-top liner
An ideal solution for protecting your gear from the elements, the Quickdraw from Advanced Elements offers a heavyweight 500-denier PVC tarpaulin shell with a removable ripstop roll top that adds an additional layer of water-resistant protection for your gear.
The large top zipper gives you easy access to everything inside, and the semi-rigid shell makes it easier to see all the contents in the back of the bag. The exterior provides a bungee system and all the attachment points you’ll need to secure the bag to your yak.
Note that both the height and width of this bag taper toward the bottom, so it doesn’t provide tons of capacity. But, it’s the perfect size and shape for storing basic necessities while you’re out on the water.
Conclusion: Which One Should You Buy?
- 400-denier nylon outer shell with double-pull main zipper entry, 17" L x 5" H, tapers 13 – 11" width
- Waterproof Infinity urethane inner bag with a HydroLock zip-seal closure
- 1 zippered mesh pocket, 3 expanding mesh pockets w/ barrel lock closure, and bungee rigging
Each of the bags above makes an excellent choice if you’re in the market for a quality kayak deck bag. One model, in particular, is our top choice as the best kayak bag, and that’s the NRS Taj M’Haul.
This bag provides the ideal blend of performance and convenience. It’s rugged and durable, features a waterproof main storage compartment and plenty of customizable storage, including a bungee system and plenty of lash points. If you’re looking for the best kayak bag for any water, the NRS Taj M’Haul is our top choice.