The newest addition to the company’s lineup of popular waterproof bags, the YETI Panga Backpack is a 28-liter, 100% submersible pack that’s built like a tank and designed to keep your gear totally dry — no matter what. As you’d expect with any YETI product, the Panga Backpack 28 features top-shelf build quality and the best design we’ve seen on any waterproof backpack to date.
We’re huge fans of YETI’s Panga waterproof duffel bags, and when we heard that the company was expanding their bag lineup with a brand new backpack, we knew it was going to be a total game changer as far as waterproof packs go. In this review of YETI’s Panga Backpack 28, we’ll take an in-depth look at the bag’s features, construction, included accessories, optional add-ons, warranty, and the best places to buy it. We’ll also share a few interesting hacks that we came up with for paddle boarders and photographers.
YETI Panga Backpack 28 Review: Bag Overview
A versatile waterproof backpack that offers bombproof durability, YETI’s 28-liter Panga Backpack is ideal for paddleboarding, adventure travel, mountain biking, kayaking, fishing, boating, and just about anything else you can imagine. While this bag lacks internal padding, the Panga Backpack is also great for creators who carry around expensive camera gear and need a reliable way to keep costly cameras, lenses, drones, and laptops clean and dry (more on that in a minute).
Unlike most of the other waterproof backpacks on the market which feature the commonly-used roll top bag design, YETI used a high-quality HydroLok zipper that combines 100% airtight performance with the convenient access offered by a zippered design. While roll top dry bags typically perform pretty well when it comes to keeping gear dry, they’re inconvenient to use and require a lot more time to open and close. The Panga’s zipper gives you quick and easy access to the bag’s interior without having to mess with rolling, unrolling, and securing clips and buckles.
As far as appearance goes, this is a really nice looking bag. While there are some external grab handles and lash points, they don’t detract from the bag’s clean overall appearance. At the moment, YETI only offers the Panga line in their Storm Gray colorway — we’d love to see new tan and black color options added in the future.
|Available Colors||Storm Gray|
The front of the Panga Backpack features two rows of durable looped attachment points which can be used to secure accessories. These loops are also great for tying the pack down to the deck of your SUP.
Both sides of the backpack feature heavily reinforced carry handles as well as strategically placed grab loops which really help when zipping the bag open and closed. Due to the fact that it’s totally waterproof, the HydroLoc zipper offers a bit more resistance than normal zippers and there’s also a U-Dock terminal at the end of the zipper that requires more force to close. This brilliant waterproof zipper system not only ensures that the bag’s seal is completely airtight, it also makes the zipper more difficult for would-be thieves to open — a great security feature for travelers.
In addition to the two side handles, there’s also a heavy-duty carrying handle on the top of the bag. Carry handle failure is all too common on backpacks, and YETI did a great job of reinforcing this vulnerable area.
On the back of the bag are two fully adjustable backpack straps that each feature four nylon webbed attachment loops for securing small accessories. The Panga’s backpack straps are comfortable and cushioned with a dense padding — the cushioning isn’t soft and “puffy” as you see on many other bags. Also, the bag comes with a removable sternum strap and waist belt for additional stabilization when the bag is on your shoulders.
The rear of the backpack also features a firm back pad that is branded with the YETI logo…
Our only real gripe with the Panga Backpack is the fact that the pull loops at the end of the backpack straps are way too small — these definitely need to be enlarged to allow thumbs and fingers to slide in and out more easily.
Inside, there’s a zippered mesh storage pocket attached to the front flap which is perfect for stashing your keys, phone, camera and laptop accessories, etc. There’s also a velcro patch sewn into the back of the interior for attaching pouches and accessories as well as a convenient sleeve slot for securing a notebook computer or tablet.
While some may find the Panga Backpack’s internal organization to be a bit lacking, it’s absolutely perfect in our opinion. The bag’s design allows you to easily keep small items and a laptop organized, and the velcro patch and external lash points open up a world of possibilities when it comes to adding pouches, pockets, and other customization.
Lastly, we love the bright, high-visibility blue interior that YETI used on this backpack. Nothing’s more frustrating than being unable to find something inside your bag, and the bag’s high-contrast blue interior makes it super easy to find what you need when you need it.
Materials and Construction
As mentioned, YETI’s Panga Backpack is bombproof — exactly as you’d expect. The bag’s tough ThickSkin shell is designed to be resistant to punctures and abrasions, and it’s made from high-density nylon and thick TPU lamination.
Also, the fit and finish of this bag are impeccable and all stitching and hardware is top-notch…
As it goes with all of their rugged outdoor gear, YETI designed the Panga Backpack for serious, real-world use. This is an incredibly well-built dry bag that’s as nice as they come and we have no doubt that it’ll perform well for many years.
For nature lovers, travelers, photographers, and outdoor adventurers, a dry bag is one of the most important purchases you’ll ever make — more than just an accessory, a waterproof bag is an insurance policy. When you’re carrying valuable gear and need to be certain that it’s always kept clean and dry, this obviously isn’t the time to cut corners — you only want the best as dry bag failure can (and often does) result in thousands of dollars of ruined gear. While you’ll find cheaper waterproof backpacks on the market, you won’t find anything nicer than the Panga in our experience.
The Panga Backpack is quite comfortable on the shoulders, and the adjustable straps are well-designed and make it super easy to dial in the perfect fit. While the bag itself is not heavily padded, we’re pleased with how it feels on the back.
While many other “waterproof” bags only promise to keep your gear dry during heavy rainstorms, YETI’s Panga Backpack is a 100% airtight, waterproof vault that’s completely submersible. Whether it’s strapped to the deck of your paddle board or thrown over your shoulder during a torrential Caribbean downpour, this bag delivers the highest level of waterproof performance.
Included with YETI’s Panga Backpack 28 is a nice little bundle of accessories. Inside of the bag, you’ll find an adjustable sternum strap and waist belt for added stabilization, user manual, YETI sticker pack, warranty registration card, and zipper lubricant.
An additional accessory that we highly recommend picking up is the versatile YETI SideKick Dry (available at Moosejaw, Backcountry, and Amazon). Currently our top-rated waterproof fanny pack, the SideKick Dry can also be quickly attached to the front of the Panga Backpack for additional organization and storage.
Like YETI’s Panga Backpack, this 100% waterproof pouch is insanely well-designed. The unique, airtight closure consists of a brilliant rubber strip that’s lined with magnets, and there’s also a fold over velcro flap for additional security.
On the inside is an open mesh storage pocket that’s perfect for organizing small items, and the back of the pouch has convenient velcro tabs that can be quickly secured to the Panga Backpack and several of the company’s other products.
Lastly, as far as SUP accessories go, the SideKick Dry is an awesome standalone dry bag pouch for paddleboarding as it can be used with MTI’s new 16g PFD belt pack. The belt’s smaller buckles are a perfect fit for the nylon webbed loops on the rear of the SideKick Dry, allowing you to add a convenient waterproof pouch to your belt PFD. This hack will give you ultimate setup for paddleboarding, and you can simply slide the SideKick Dry around front whenever you need to pull out your phone, camera, etc.
In the future, we wouldn’t be surprised to see YETI launch a range of additional accessories for their Panga Backpack, including internal storage options and possibly even a padded camera insert. This bag really is the ultimate waterproof camera backpack — all it needs is a cushioned insert to organize and protect cameras and lenses.
For now, the best option is to simply use a standard padded backpack insert or use the Panga as a waterproof shell for your existing camera bag. We picked up an AmazonBasics DSLR backpack and slipped it right into the Panga — this is another great hack that is actually cheaper than most backpack inserts, and you can simply cut off the AmazonBasic’s backpack straps and external trimmings to reduce weight.
You expect a great warranty with a bag of this caliber, and YETI covers their Panga Backpack for a full 3 years against manufacturer defects. While this is definitely a bag that’s overbuilt and should last a very long time, knowing that you’re backed by an outstanding warranty is great for added peace of mind.
Where to Buy it
YETI’s new Panga Backpack 28 is in stock and ready to ship at Moosejaw and Backcountry. We highly recommend comparing prices at both stores to see who is currently offering the best deal — they each offer great service, free shipping, and special discounts on your first order.
Certainly the nicest waterproof backpack we’ve reviewed to date, the YETI Panga Backpack 28 is an impressive bag that you can confidently take anywhere. Built from the highest-quality materials, this versatile bag is as nice as they come and will keep your valuables bone dry in even the worst of conditions. If you’re looking for the best waterproof backpack and can afford the premium price point, your search ends here.