Catalyst Waterproof 20L Backpack

The next product to land on the review desk is the Catalyst Waterproof 20L Backpack. Designed with the adventurer in mind, this dope looking little bag is great for toting your stuff around and keeping it safe from the elements.

It does cost a pretty penny, however, ringing in at a whopping $119.99.

But, is it worth it?

Let me give you the rundown and you can decide for yourself.

Before we get started, I’ll point out that this isn’t a paid or “sponsored” post. The folks at Catalyst sent out this backpack in exchange for my honest opinion in the form of a review here on the site.

So, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.

Catalyst Waterproof 20L Backpack features

  • 10,000mm HH waterproof tested coated nylon
  • Heat sealed waterproof seams
  • Roll top closure fits large items
  • Adjustable chest strap with whistle
  • 9’ deep side pockets for your water bottles
  • Breathable, quick-drying mesh shoulder straps
  • Front organization pocket with YKK water-resistant zipper
  • Tapered bag profile optimizes weight distribution for comfort
  • Compact carry pouch included
  • Carabiner attachment points

What’s in the box

  • 20L Catalyst Waterproof Backpack x1
  • Compact Carry Pouch x1


  • 20 Liters


  • Backpack: 160mm x 240mm x 460mm (6.3″ x 9.45″ x 18.1″)
  • Carry Pouch: 81mm x 129mm (3.1″ x 5.1″)

Who is this bag for?

I’ll start out by saying that the Catalyst Waterproof 20L Backpack is a totally different style of bag from the last backpack I reviewed. That bag, the Solo Boyd backpack, is more of an elegant piece designed for students and business folk. This offering from Catalyst is for people who find themselves out in less-than-perfect weather often.

Think hikers. Or campers. Maybe even someone who lives in a city and walks to and from the grocery store on a regular basis. If you’re one of these types of people, this bag may be the right one for you.

How does the waterproof claim hold up?

Storm season is already over here in Iowa, so I couldn’t test the bag in actual rain. I stuffed it full of clothes, put my Pixel 2 in the front pocket, and threw the backpack in the shower under running water to make up for that.

Unfortunately, the results weren’t great.

The inside of the bag did stay completely dry. The front organization pocket, however, did not. In fact, it literally filled up about halfway with water. Good thing my phone is waterproof, right?

I didn’t want to completely rule out the front pocket after just one botched attempt, so I figured I’d dry the bag out and try again the next day. Who knows? Maybe I didn’t zip it up all the way the first time? I mean, I thought I did – but there’s always a chance I’m wrong.

So, let’s do this again.

Dry clothes back in the inside of the bag, Pixel 2 in the front pocket. Into the shower, it goes for a good 15 minutes or so. Take it out – same results again. The inside of the bag is dry, but there’s a pool of water in the front pocket.

Second time’s a charm? Not quite.

At this point, I think it’s safe to say the front pocket is not waterproof, even with the fancy taped zipper. Nice try, Catalyst, but I’d be really salty right now if my phone wasn’t waterproof and I killed it testing a bag that claims to be waterproof.

In fairness, the tag on the backpack does say to use an extra dry bag (Or Catalyst Case) when storing electronic equipment, but I think that it’s worth pointing out to our audience to be on the cautious side.

For $119.99, I was expecting a little more in terms of water resistance that, unfortunately, this bag does not deliver on.

  • Lightweight
  • Super compact when stored in carrying pouch
  • Inside of bag does a good job staying dry
  • Outside of bag and shoulder straps dry quickly
  • Carrying strap on top
  • Looks great
  • Front pouch is not waterproof
  • Only one color option available
  • Pricey (At almost $120, this is an expensive bag that not everyone it will benefit can afford.)

Where to buy

Should you decide this is the option for you, you can pick up the Catalyst Waterproof 20L Backpack from the manufacturer website for $119.99.

It’s also on Amazon for the same price. Android Unfiltered is an Amazon Affiliate, so we get a small (yet hugely appreciated) commission off of any sales made using our links.

Free shipping is included either way you go.