Are Suitcases Waterproof?

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Not all suitcases are waterproof. There are different types built for different reasons and types of travel. While there are certainly many water-resistant hard-shelled suitcases available, they may not be entirely waterproof. If you’re planning on traveling during not-so-dry weather but are wondering “Are suitcases waterproof?”, then you’ll find your answer to this question, and more regarding water-resistant suitcases and neat hacks on how to waterproof your suitcase in this article.


Does Water Resistant Mean Waterproof?

Though they sound similar, water-resistant and waterproof are actually 2 different features. If you see “water-resistant” written when describing a suitcase’s features, this means that it can protect against water in the cases of light to moderate rain and splashing. However, if this type of suitcase were to fall into a water body, your things are sure to get wet due to the entry of water. Most soft-sided bags that are considered water-resistant are either made with heavy-duty water-resistant materials or come with a water-resistant coating on the body. The material of the suitcase itself in most other cases, however, is not water-resistant.

Whereas, a waterproof suitcase can completely protect against water even in the worst of circumstances due to the waterproof materials used for the shell and zippers. Though this may be a rare occurrence, if a waterproof bag falls and sinks into a pool of water, everything inside it would remain dry and untouched by water.

Are Hard Shell Suitcases Waterproof

Are Suitcases Waterproof?

Not all suitcases are waterproof, though water-resistant suitcases are very common. Unless you’re going to be traveling in incredibly wet weather conditions, you won’t really need an entirely waterproof suitcase. But, if you’re looking for one that is as close to waterproof as you can find, then consider a hardshell suitcase. Softshell suitcases are commonly made to be water-resistant at the most.

But even cases advertised as waterproof, mainly hardshell, are not entirely waterproof, particularly when talking about the zipper line designs. The zippers do eventually allow water into the case, but again, only in very few instances where a suitcase falls into a body of water and remains there for a long period or if the suitcase is left standing in heavy rain on a tarmac.


Are Fabric Suitcases Waterproof?

Soft shell cases are, more often than not, very absorbent, making them less waterproof than hard shell cases. Soft fabrics are used to make soft shells, primarily to keep them lighter and capable of holding more items than hard shell cases. A water-resistant coating may be applied on the fabric, but will eventually wear off after a few encounters with heavy rain.



Are Hardshell Suitcases Waterproof?

There are 2 parts of a common hardside case to talk about; the shell, and the zipper. Hard case shells can not only take a good amount of splashing, but they aren’t absorbent either. Though some hard shell cases are known to crack and break after withstanding a few showers of rain, there are newer cases made using more durable materials such as polycarbonate that are also very water-resistant. But because of the gaps in the zipper lines, hard shell zipper suitcases are not entirely waterproof.

However, hard shell suitcases with latches and rubber seals are far more waterproof. This type of case closes and locks with the use of 2 latches, usually coming with in-built combination locks, keeping it well sealed all around, and safe from any water or even moisture entering the main compartment.

Since baggage handlers and airlines don’t care about how protected your luggage is, they could leave them out on the tarmac even if it’s raining. Their weather resistance is an important reason why hardsided suitcases are more suitable as checked luggage.


Are Samsonite Suitcases Waterproof?

Most Samsonite soft shell bags are coated with SamGuard water-resistance coating, while others are made using natural water-resistant materials such as ballistic nylon. These cases will protect against a few interactions with light rains, but anything more aggressive, and the case will be soaked.

Samsonite S'Cure Hardside Luggage with Spinner Wheels

Many Samsonite hard shell suitcases, like the S’Cure collection, come with latches and water-resistant sealed gasket closures to keep all items inside dry and secure. These work far better in keeping your things safe from water. Though some have noticed a decline in durability with newer Samsonite suitcases, their water resistance is still equivalent to older models. Ultimately, with Samsonite, you can choose from a wide range of suitcases ranging from water-resistant to weatherproof to entirely waterproof, with different price points and designs for each.


Are Away Suitcases Waterproof?

Away The Medium: Aluminum Edition

The most popular hard shell suitcases are made with tough but light polycarbonate, which makes the main compartment waterproof. However, due to the outer pockets of some models and the zipper system, these suitcases may be able to protect themselves against rain but not a prolonged downpour. The Away Aluminum collection, however, is made of waterproof pieces.

As for the soft side cases, they are made using water-resistant nylon. But, even these feature a zipper system and multiple pockets, which make them only water-resistant, not waterproof.


Are Rimowa Suitcases Waterproof?

Rimowa ORIGINAL Cabin

Rimowa’s line of luggage is seen as very expensive as compared to other brands. But there’s a good reason for their lofty prices. Rimowa offers entirely waterproof luggage made with unorthodox materials. A good example of an expensive, but completely waterproof suitcase is Rimowa’s original cabin case made out of aluminum. This case goes the extra mile by including built-in TSA locks with a completely sealed opening.


How to Waterproof a Suitcase

As we’ve discussed earlier, the majority of suitcases advertised as “waterproof” are water-resistant instead. A hard shell zipperless suitcase is the best choice if you’re looking for waterproof luggage, but can also be a more expensive type to purchase. So, instead of spending time looking for a waterproof suitcase, why not just learn how to waterproof an existing one? This wouldn’t only save you time but a good amount of money as well. Here are a few suggestions on how to secure a suitcase against water as much as possible.



Get a Luggage Protector Cover

Out of all the accessories available to waterproof a suitcase, a waterproof suitcase cover is the easiest one to find and put onto your suitcase. Some are meant solely to prevent your bag from getting any scuffs or scratches which won’t help much in wet weather situations.

JenKin Luggage Protector suitcase cover

An actual waterproof luggage protective cover is made from PVC and has a cut-out at the top for the handle and Velcro located at the bottom to secure it onto the suitcase. PVC covers like these can help keep your luggage dry even in very heavy rains and will last for a very long time. Don’t worry about sizes either, as these covers come in multiple designs, just like this JenKin Luggage Protector suitcase cover.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that a suitcase cover by itself doesn’t make a suitcase entirely waterproof. It helps if the suitcase is a hard shell type and if the zippers are lined with a water-resistant coating.


Use a Waterproofing Spray

Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield

For soft-sided suitcases, in particular, a waterproofing spray can come to good use. While some cases come with a water-resistant coating all around the fabric, a few hits under heavy rains and you’ll find the coating to be wearing off. But by using a waterproofing spray like the Scotchgard Heavy Duty Water Shield, you can still keep your suitcase water-resistant without the use of any kind of extra cover. To use it effectively, spray it onto the fabric and let it dry well before you start packing and moving it about. It can be used on any kind of fabric and leather.

However, there are a few drawbacks to using a spray. It won’t make a suitcase waterproof, and it isn’t long-lasting either. It works very well as a water repellent, but it will have to be reapplied every few trips. If your suitcase has zippers, then water could still seep in, as this spray only works when applied to the shell. To make the spray method of waterproofing as effective as possible, then you might want to put extra effort into securing the zippers.


Apply a Wax Coating to the Zipper

The zipper of a suitcase is quite often the main entry point for water and the main reason why items in a “waterproof” hard shell suitcase won’t be safe when under the rain. But, with a wax coating on the zipper, this issue can be resolved. Silicone wax or beeswax are good options with which to coat a suitcase’s zippers, and this method of waterproofing is also fairly simple. Take a small piece of wax and apply it properly onto the exteriors of the zipper. This means rubbing it up and down without skipping over any of the teeth. To get the wax into the insides of the zipper, the most crucial part, run the zipper up and down a few times to make sure that any excess wax at a particular point gets evenly spread throughout.

EricX Light Beeswax

EricX Light Beeswax is an efficient and cheap option for waterproofing a suitcase zipper, available for around 8-10 Dollars for a pack of 7 wax bars. This isn’t a greasy product, and it can be used in multiple ways outside of waterproofing your suitcase zippers. If your suitcase already comes with waterproofed zippers, then using beeswax may not be necessary.


Use Waterproof Dry Sacks for Packing

A waterproof dry sack is another great option when it comes to affordability. While it doesn’t really secure a whole suitcase, it can be used to protect any valuables you may be carrying with you during a stormy day. When you notice bad weather coming along, pull out your dry sack from your suitcase or handbag pocket and stuff any fragile items like electronics, documents, passports, etc, into the sack. You could also pack these items beforehand and place them inside the suitcase. However, the sack may eat up more space than you’d like.

Earth Pak waterproof dry bag

An Earth Pak waterproof dry bag is often used to protect any valuables against water. It is the ultimate waterproof dry bag as it’s used primarily for activities such as kayaking, boating, and camping. This particular dry sack can also compress well enough to stuff into a suitcase without taking up too much space. Even if you’re packing large items like a laptop or large cameras, an Earth Pak dry bag comes in 5 different sizes to accommodate such items.


Use Water Resistant Packing Cubes

Packing your things into compression packing cubes first and then placing them into a suitcase will greatly help in keeping all your items, especially the sensitive ones, bone dry. Packing cubes are zip-locked bags meant to be used to keep your suitcase organized but a few are particularly made for wet weather travel.

TRIPPED water-resistant compression packing cubes

TRIPPED water-resistant compression packing cubes are a great choice when packing for travel. Coming in different sizes, you have cubes meant to hold multiple items including electronics, shoes, and clothes. These are often used to separate clean and dirty clothes, and some even come in smaller sizes fit to hold undergarments and socks. However, not all packing cubes are necessarily going to be waterproof or even water-resistant. So, make sure to always check the specifications of the cubes.


Use Protective Packing Hacks

If you don’t have the budget to buy any protective accessories for your suitcase, or if they’re simply not available near you, then a little DIY waterproofing would be required. The first and best way of waterproofing luggage is to prevent the need for any extra waterproofing material to be purchased in the first place. Buying a suitcase that has been manufactured keeping waterproofing in mind may cost more than your average suitcase, but it will greatly help in the long run.

If you find yourself stuck in the rain but you don’t have a waterproof suitcase, then it’s always a good idea to carry a few large garbage bags with ties at the ends. You can quickly transfer any electronics you have into the garbage bag, tie it at the end, and put it back into your suitcase or backpack if you’re carrying one. This won’t be completely waterproof, and it is a bit of a hassle. But, you’re definitely better off doing this than leaving your laptop, passport, etc, in a non-waterproof suitcase.

Protecting sensitive items in a suitcase from rain starts by packing smart. Any electronics or other sensitive items you may be carrying should ideally be kept in the middle, cushioned between your clothes. This helps to absorb any hits or jerks the suitcase may endure, and of course, does a good job at preventing any water from getting to the sensitive items. During very heavy rains, line the zipper from the inside with your towels to protect your laptop, etc, even further. This would be necessary only in dire circumstances and especially if your suitcase doesn’t already have a cover over it, which is highly advised. If you don’t already have a suitcase cover, then covering it with a garbage bag or 2 is a good, albeit shabby-looking, quick fix.


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