YETI is known for making high-quality, reliable gear, and the Panga Backpack is no exception. It’s portable. It’s durable. And it’s more than waterproof.
A fully submersible, waterproof pack may seem excessive but, in many cases, it’s essential. If you’re an aquatic human, there are times when you’ll have the gear you need to keep dry but getting it wet is unavoidable.
While a lot of items can get wet, there are some items like your phone, camera, towels, or extra layers that are important to keep dry. Whether you are wading across a river, on a bumpy boat ride, paddling in the ocean, or fishing in a creek, you’ll want a pack you can rely on.
In short: There’s a massive difference between water-resistant, waterproof, and submersible. For the ultimate on-water and in-water protection, a submersible dry bag is the way to go. YETI’s 28L Panga is also a backpack-style bag, making it a unique standout in the submersible drybag category.
Off the top of our head, Watershed Dry Bags and Patagonia also have one, but the YETI Panga won us over with its 100% submersible, durable, and reliable design.
YETI Panga Backpack Review
What Does Submersible Mean?
Not only is the YETI Panga pack waterproof, but it’s also fully submersible. That means, if everything is properly closed, the contents of the pack will be fully protected for 30 minutes at a depth of one meter. The Panga has been tested to the global industry rating of IPX7.
The Panga backpack is an airtight citadel that’s designed to be both waterproof and incredibly durable. To ensure that your gear stays dry, the pack sports a tough, high-performance waterproof, and leakproof zipper.
The ThickSkin Shell is made of high-density nylon and thick TPU lamination and is equipped with MetalLock hardware that ensures the backpack is puncture- and abrasion-resistant and is capable of withstanding any and every adventure you throw at it.
In addition to being durable and functional, the bag is designed to be comfortable. The Panga features ergonomic, padded DryHaul straps, removable chest straps, and a waist belt for added stability while you adventure. The backpack also includes plenty of QuickGrab Lash Points for clipping or tying on any extra gear you may have.
Additionally, the pack includes interior organization to ensure that your gear is safely stowed. A stowaway mesh pocket is perfect for storing essentials and an interior sleeve works well for storing a laptop. The Panga is compatible with YETI’s SideKick Dry Gear Case, all their Rambler Bottle Slings, the MOLLE Bottle Opener, and Zinger.
In order to find out if the Panga was worth its salt there was only one logical thing to do: take it to the water. I threw my phone, a towel, snacks, and other essentials into the backpack and ventured down to a river near my house to go paddling.
Before heading out, I double-checked all the zippers to ensure that everything was sealed. To make sure it’s all sealed, you simply slide the zipper fully into the U-Dock and apply pressure. If you hear/feel any air or any leaks, start again until you don’t hear anything to ensure that you have a solid seal.
Once I was satisfied everything was sealed, I strapped the Panga onto my paddleboard, and loaded my dog onto the board. We put the Panga to the test straight out of the gates. My wet, muddy dog ran over it repeatedly, splashing water on it as he trampled back and forth across the board (and the pack).
Mid-paddle, I carefully unzipped everything to retrieve my phone and snap some photos. As promised, everything was completely dry. When we were finished paddling, I submerged the pack in the pool and then hosed down the pack before retrieving my gear — which was perfectly dry.
The YETI Panga is advertised to be waterproof and durable, and it certainly lives up to its promise.
While the straps got the job done, they weren’t incredibly comfortable — fine for trekking to the river, but I wouldn’t want to wear the pack on longer hikes. I appreciated the internal mesh pocket to stash my keys and the external lash hooks for attaching my water bottle.
At $300, the Panga is not a cheap backpack. There are numerous dry bag backpacks on the market for under $125 (Quiksilver Sea Stash, Billabong Surftrek Storm Backpack, RVCA Weld Backpack, and the Dakine Cyclone II). Slightly nicer options include Patagonia’s Disperser Roll-Top Pack ($219) and NRS’s Bills Dry Bag ($180).
While these bags are cheaper and waterproof, they aren’t submersible like the Panga backpack. The only similar options we found was the Fishpond Submersible backpack ($300) and the Patagonia Guidewater backpack ($299) — which we have yet to test for comparison.
If you’re looking for a bag that’s going to keep your gear dry no matter what, the YETI Panga is the pack for you. It’s reliably waterproof and incredibly durable. Dogs, kids, crazy adventures — the Panga can keep up with them all.
At 27 L, it’s got plenty of room for the gear you need for an epic day of adventuring on the water. And added components like lash loops and internal pockets up the value. The comfort of the straps (both waist and sternum) could be improved. But overall, we couldn’t fault this bag for how well it held up in testing.