How To Waterproof A Backpack: 4 Ways And Tips For Keeping Hiking Gear Dry And Clean

Want to learn how to make a bag watertight? A waterproof pack liner on the inside of your bag is the best way to waterproof a backpack. To provide them with additional protection from the rain and snow, you can also put crucial items in dry bags.

You’re out on a hike in the mountains on a bluebird day when the clouds start rolling in, and you’re there with us. The sun soon vanishes behind a curtain of heavy clouds, and a torrential downpour ensues.

You put on your rain jacket and protect yourself from the elements, just like any good hiker would. But, what about your luggage? That occurs to you just as quickly. You’re going to get drenched in everything you own!

Know that you aren’t alone if you’ve ever been in this position. Any outdoor adventurer who gets caught in a rainstorm has completed a rite of passage.

Pack liners, pack covers, and dry bags are all things you can do to protect your gear while hiking in the rain. We’ll show you step by step how to waterproof a backpack so that you can spend more time outside and less time thinking about your stuff.

The Importance of Keeping Hiking Gear Dry

You’re bound to get wet from time to time if you spend enough time outside. Yet, getting wet on the path is unavoidable, and especially if your whole kit gets drenched in the process.

While hiking to avoid hypothermia and other cold-related problems, it’s vital to stay dry, but protecting your equipment from the rain is equally vital. Wet gear, on the other hand, is prone to failure when you’re out and about.

If your sensitive electronics, such as a GPS or headlamp, get wet with rain, they may no longer work for you in the woods. Curling up in a warm, dry sleeping bag at night is significantly more comfortable, as anyone who has ever slept in a soggy tent can attest.

It’s also worth noting that if you get your insulated garments wet, they won’t keep you warm, such as down coats. When wet, those little down tufts in your puffy jackets clump up and can’t trap air next to your body to help keep you warm, so they can’t clump up. As a result, the hypothermia recipe is flawless, which isn’t what you want when hiking.

The moral of the tale is: When you go outside, keeping your gear dry should be a high priority. As a consequence, it’s critical that you recognize the numerous strategies for waterproofing your bag before purchasing anything.

How to Waterproof A Backpack

Any outdoor enthusiast should be able to waterproof a backpack. Yet, there are a variety of ways you may keep your camping equipment dry while you’re out and about.

Interior and exterior waterproofing solutions are the two broad categories into which these various techniques can be divided.

Materials, such as dry bags, must be placed on the inside of your backpack to protect your belongings from the rain while interior waterproofing solutions are required. These approaches have the advantage of not being able to be blown away or stolen from your bag while hiking. However, they do allow your pack’s exterior to get wet, which may be a letdown.

In order to protect your goods from the rain, interior waterproofing products, such as dry bags, need to be placed inside your bag. These approaches are advantageous because they don’t get blown away or ripped from your bag while you walk. They do, however, allow your pack’s exterior to get wet, which can be a bummer.

Pack covers, for example, are waterproofing accessories that wrap around the exterior of your bag. Although they’re more likely to rip or get blown away in a storm, these have the benefit of protecting your entire pack from the elements.

Next, we’ll examine the four most common inside and outside backpack waterproofing methods to help you choose between them.

Option 1: Pack Liner

Your greatest bet is to utilize a pack liner like the Osprey Ultralight Pack Liner if you want to keep your gear dry while hiking.

Pack liners are heavy duty waterproof fabric that resemble huge stuff sacks. From the inside, they’re intended to cover the whole bottom of your bag. By preventing water from reaching your equipment while you’re hiking, this prevents your stuff from becoming drenched.

For protecting your gear, using a pack liner is a tried-and-proven strategy. Pack packers are particularly suited for windy locales since they can’t be blown away or ripped. In addition, trying to pack a slew of smaller stuff sacks into a backpack can be more difficult than dumping loose gear into a pack liner.

Pack liners are expensive, which is a negative aspect of them. Nonetheless, since pack liners are Recyclable, a single model can typically serve you for many years.

You may alternatively use a garbage bag instead of a purpose-built pack liner if you prefer to save money. Nevertheless, each hiking expedition yields a lot of plastic waste because of the use of a new garbage bag. After a few days of packing and unpacking your bag, garbage bags tend to rip.

Our recommendation is to take it easy and try not to hurry. Whenever feasible, choose a pack liner that’s been designed for the purpose. Later, you’ll be grateful we did it.

Option 2: Waterproof Stuff Sacks or Dry Bags

The second technique on our list is a effective strategy that you may use alone or in conjunction with the other techniques we’ll discuss in this article.

Kayaking and other water sports like to use waterproof stuff sacks (also known as dry bags), but they are equally useful for hiking. They’re little stuff sacks equipped with waterproof textiles that can hold any items placed inside them from the rain.

  • Small stuff sacks for specific equipment
  • For the best waterproofing system, combine it with a pack liner.
  • These are a lot better than ziploc bags

It’s worth noting that certain kayaking dry bags are waterproof. However, most hiking sacks, including the popular SealLine Blocker Dry Sack, are only suited to withstand heavy rain.

All of the equipment you want to keep dry should be packed into dry bags using this method. Before hiking, put all of your dry bags into your luggage. You may stuff your dry bags into a waterproof pack liner if you want an additional layer of protection.

Dry bags can get expensive

The waterproof stuff sack technique is really great if you only want to keep a few important things dry, like your sleeping bag. However, buying all those stuff sacks might get costly, and attempting to cram them into your bag might be tough. You could alternatively use Ziploc bags instead of dry bags, although this results in a lot of plastic waste and Ziplocs aren’t 100% waterproof.

Generally, we suggest using this approach in combination with the pack liner approach for maximal waterproofing rather than relying on stuff sacks on their own.

Option 3: Pack Cover

A pack cover, such as the Osprey Ultralight Raincover, is one of the most common methods for waterproofing a backpack.

These bag covers are created to fit over your whole bag and are constructed from waterproof fabrics like ripstop nylon. When it starts to rain, they’re simple to put on your pack and waterproof your equipment in a matter of minutes. In reality, standard pack covers are now included with certain backpacks, allowing for fast access in the rain.

  • Durable material was used to make it.
  • It takes little time and effort to install the packaging.
  • The whole pack is protected, not just the equipment

The convenience of using a pack cover is the most important advantage. Your whole pack is also kept dry by packaging, not just your stuff.

  • Built only for rain and not anything beyond (heavy stormy weather), river crossing and hiking off-trail

However, in windy or stormy areas, pack covers aren’t ideal. Trust us when we say that we’ve seen a lot of pack covers fly away in strong winds.

Since they get caught quickly on branches and other debris, packs often rip when hiking beneath treeline or off route. Your whole waterproofing system may be doomed if one hole in a pack cover is exploited.

It’s also worth noting that while river crossings are covered, pack covers aren’t very effective at protecting your equipment. They’re effective for rainy weather on the trail, but they have limited abilities to keep your stuff dry throughout your travels.

Consider using a pack cover in conjunction with some dry bags if you want to use one. In the event your pack cover fails, always keep your most important pieces of equipment (i.e., anything that cannot get wet) in dry bags.

Option 4: Waterproof Backpack

Using a waterproof bag is the final option for waterproofing a bag.

We understand that this isn’t really a technique of waterproofing, but it is an excellent method to keep your stuff dry while hiking.

Because they are expensive and uncomfortable to carry over long distances, waterproof backpacks aren’t very common in the hiking world. Certain models, such as the SealLine Bigfork Dry Daypack, were originally created for paddlers but may perform unexpectedly well for brief day excursions.

  • Waterproof backpacks have proper waterproofing mechanisms and systems.

It might get costly at times, though.

For lengthy treks, waterproof backpacks aren’t ideal.

For longer backpacking excursions or any expedition where you must carry a lot of heavy gear, waterproof bags are not a good option. However, when there is a lot of rain in the forecast, they may be a good option for short day trips.

Five Tips for Keeping Hiking Gear Dry and Clean

One aspect of maintaining your hiking equipment clean and dry while you’re out is using a pack liner, pack cover, or dry bags. While hiking in the mountains, here are five more essential advice for protecting your equipment.

1. Double Bag Important Items

Dry bags are an important item to have on the go, as we previously said. Even if the weather is bad, using the appropriate dry bags will keep your delicate electronics and other important pieces of equipment safe while hiking.

So, if you want to keep your gear dry, you may want to pack two bags for your most crucial pieces of equipment. Knowing your belongings are protected from the elements as you hike can be achieved by using two dry bags for your GPS, phone, camera, and sleeping bag.

Any equipment that can’t get wet while you’re outside should be double bagged. When you’re outdoors in a rainstorm, the second layer of gear protection may come in handy.

2. Have a No Shoes & Backpacks in the Tent Rule

We commonly concentrate on protecting our equipment from the wind and rain when we think about methods for keeping our gear clean and dry. Yet, more often than not, we are our own worst enemy in the hunt for dry stuff.

Inside our tents at night is one of the most common ways our equipment gets wet and filthy. When they bring their hiking shoes and backpacks inside for the evening, many campers track a lot of mud and water into their tents.

There’s no need to bring your boots and bag inside since they’re already covered in water and mud. soil the rest of your gear. During the night, tuck your belongings into your tent’s vestibule, but do not bring them inside to avoid getting wet.

3. Always Use a Pack Liner

The most important piece of advice for hikers concerning waterproofing is: utilize a pack liner!

Among the most undervalued pieces of gear on the trail are pack liners. Pack covers may appear to be more fashionable and stylish, but they aren’t as effective.

Those that want to waterproof a bag should commit fully to the pack liner lifestyle, and instead use smaller dry bags to protect important belongings. When used properly, no pack waterproofing technique works better than the humble pack liner, as we are about to show you.

4. Use Seam Seal & Waterproof Spray on Your Pack

Seam seal and waterproofing spray are commonly thought to be able to transform a standard hiking bag into a fully water-resistant container for all of your stuff. Unfortunately, no amount of spray-on waterproofer will keep water from seeping through your pack in the event of a downpour.

Seam seal and waterproofing spray aren’t completely ineffective, though. Seam seal and waterproofing spray may significantly boost the natural water resistance of your pack’s fabrics when used properly.

As a result, before heading out for an additional layer of protection for your stuff, remember to seam seal your pack and spray it with waterproofing spray if you’re going hiking in a rainy area.

5. Take Advantage of Sunny Afternoons

Finally, whenever going backpacking or hiking, remember that some of your equipment will get wet, despite your best efforts.

Don’t be concerned if your equipment gets wet while you’re out. Make the most of any lovely afternoons you have on the trail to dry off your belongings.

After a day of heavy rain, getting to camp early enough to set up a makeshift clothesline for drying your equipment might allow you to relax in the afternoon. Arrange all of your wet stuff so the moisture can evaporate with the help of sunlight, and try to locate the brightest spot in your campground. However, make sure that your equipment doesn’t blow away in the wind by keeping a close eye on it.

Final Thoughts

It’s critical to keep your gear dry while hiking. To ensure that your gear stays in good working order when you need it most on the trail, use a pack liner, pack cover, or dry bags to waterproof your bag.

Waterproof Backpack FAQs

Here are our responses to the most frequent waterproofing backpack questions:

How can I make my backpack waterproof?

Use a tough garbage bag or pack liner to line the inside of your bag to make it rainproof. For an extra layer of rain protection, you may pack all of your stuff into tiny waterproof dry bags or use a rain cover on the exterior of your bag.

Can you waterproof spray a backpack?

Spraying a bag waterproof isn’t the same as making it fully waterproof. Your backpack will only become slightly more water-resistant after waterproofing spray. Line the inside of your pack with a garbage bag or a pack liner, which is a better option for waterproofing. This will keep your equipment safe in even torrential downpour.

How do you seal a backpack?

Seam sealer may be used to the inside of all of the pack’s seams to seal it. This is a laborious, sometimes monotonous process that may provide your gear with another layer of security. It’s important to note that simply drying your bag isn’t enough. When hiking, make sure to bring a pack liner or pack cover to protect yourself from the rain.

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