Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L Review
The submersible Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L utilizes rugged materials and has an amply-sized main compartment to hold your gear from city to trail.
- Waterproof materials and hardware
- Harness system is comfortable and doesn’t hold water
- External attachment loops are helpful
- Main compartment lacks immersive internal organization
- The zipper can be difficult to open and close
- Only two colorways available
2.12 lb (1 kg)
21 in x 13.5 in x 9 in (53.3 x 34.3 x 22.9 cm)
Recycled Nylon, Recycled Polyester, Polyurethane, Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU), YKK Zippers, Woojin Hardware, Duraflex Hardware
Like many waterproof backpacks, the Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L can be challenging. The waterproof materials and hardware aren’t for the faint of heart, and using them in transit on the way to your water-themed destination can take some adjustment. However, once you arrive, it’s a splendid pack to use to keep your gear dry. Does it work as a travel pack, or should it only be used on the river? Let’s dive in (pun intended) and find out!
The primary pack material is a 14.4-oz recycled nylon plain weave with a PU face coating and a TPU coating on areas of the pack that see more wear. These materials are waterproof—and you can tell. They’re durable, hard to manipulate, and lack stretch. They aren’t as heavy as some we’ve tested previously, but don’t fret; no water has permeated them in our testing, at least that we noticed.
The interior liner is a 3-oz 200D recycled polyester with a PU coating. That might seem odd to talk about here, but it’s another line of defense against water for your gear. In usual Patagonia fashion, these materials feel premium. Like many of their other daypacks and travel backpacks, this pack is Fair Trade Certified sewn, which we think is a big plus.
At the time of writing, the Guidewater comes in Pigeon Blue and Salvia Green. The pastel colors are still outdoorsy. They aren’t what you’d expect from a fishing bag, yet they don’t look out of place on the river. We wish there were a black option, but if you follow our content, you could probably guess that!
The main compartment zipper is a large YKK model. It’s waterproof, and the pull is T-shaped. It’s easy to hold onto, and it feels like you’re yanking the cord on a pull lawnmower when you open the pack. However, instead of starting the engine, you’re grabbing gear, which we think is a better end product. The zipper is difficult to use but no more complicated than other models of this caliber we’ve tested. You get used to it fairly quickly, and there are so many attachment loops on the exterior that it’s easy to find something to grab onto when opening and closing the compartment.
This pack has an IPX7 rating, which means it is submersible in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes. That gives it good capabilities for fishing on the river, a trip in the canoe, or walking through the city in heavy rain all day.
The buckles are from Duraflex, and there isn’t anything negative to say about them. They work; it’s as simple as that. No issues to report!
There are lash points and various attachment loops around the pack. Depending on your preference, there are a few different sizes so that you can attach larger or smaller gear. The bag has an adjustable rod tube holder, but you can also easily attach trekking poles or other gear here. If you don’t want to use it, just remove it.
Last, we’ve got a top handle. It has no padding or aeration, but we didn’t expect it to. Nothing on the exterior of this pack will retain or soak up water, which is ideal for a submersible bag. The handle works and is easy to use.
The back panel is crafted from 4.5-oz recycled polyester and hydrophobic monomesh. Similar to the top handle, it doesn’t hold water, which is impressive from a rear panel as comfortable as this one. It doesn’t breathe very well; however, it’s much better than many waterproof packs and dry bags we’ve tested. The padding is comfortable, even on a longer hike to the river or across town.
The shoulder straps are the same material as the back panel, so they also repel water. They have a fair amount of padding and are comfortable on most trips. The straps have D-rings, lash straps, and various attachment points, so you can attach gear for your hike, to help you fish, or for your daily carry. The straps connect at the bottom with a clip so you can secure the pack to things, like onto the inside of your canoe, around a branch on a tree, or to your chair at a cafe for lunch.
The sternum strap has five points where you can attach it, so you can make adjustments, but it’s not as dialed in as it would be if it were on a rail. It’s comfortable, and you can remove it entirely if that’s not your thing.
The hip belt is removable too. It doesn’t have any padding, so it can dig in, but it helps shift weight around, which we dig. It’s relatively comfortable for most trips and has strap keepers, so it isn’t all over the place while hiking or wandering around the market.
Inside The Pack
There aren’t any secondary pockets on the Guidewater, probably because adding functioning waterproof zippers isn’t easy, especially for a smaller compartment. Can you imagine opening and closing a zipper like the one used for the main compartment to grab your phone from a quick-use pocket? Not having secondary pockets is a bummer, but considering the waterproof nature of this pack, it’s a worthy trade-off.
The main compartment is large and in charge. There isn’t much organization here, as you’ll see.
There’s an admin panel on the back panel. It’s removable and easy to attach to elsewhere in your life, but it fits best inside the pack or on the front attachment loops we went over earlier. If you connect it here, you can use it like the secondary compartment you never had. It isn’t waterproof, though, so keep that in mind.
The admin panel has a zippered compartment and two liner pockets to organize smaller gear. As we mentioned before, there isn’t much more organization inside, so if you don’t stow it here, the odds are that it’ll be loose in the main compartment.
On the back panel, there’s a liner pocket. You can stow a small laptop, tablet, book, map, or documents here. It’s crafted from stretchy mesh, so while you can store items that aren’t flat, they’ll bulge out awkwardly and affect how the admin panel sits, so we recommend flat items. If you have the removable panel on the exterior, the liner pocket is the only spot to secure gear inside the pack.
The rest of the compartment is open space; there’s no other segmentation to work with. However, you can bring your own.
Packing cubes and other pouches make this pack easier to use. These items make it much easier to find your gear and ensure that unlike things don’t intermingle. If you have fishing gear and loose clothing in the pack, your shirt might end up a little fishy. If you’re into that kind of thing, we won’t shame you, but the smell might not be ideal.
The Patagonia Guidewater Backpack 29L is a great pack for hiking or taking down the river; however, just because it’s waterproof doesn’t mean you can’t use it for travel. If you are okay with a lack of secondary compartments, a rugged main zipper, and using your packing cubes, this thing is durable, spacious, and comfortable to carry. Plus, your gear won’t get wet!
- The materials are durable and rugged to work with but waterproof
- The hardware feels capable of the jobs that they’re tasked with
- Comfort feels good, but we’re curious how it handles a hike
- Materials have held up well and retain their waterproofness
- The harness system is comfortable and easy to use
- Hardware can be difficult to use, but it works well and keeps water at bay