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A Good waterproof backpack is essential when spending any length of time outdoors, Especially if the weather may change or be unpredictable. Do you have electrical items or medical supply’s that could easily be damaged by water? Not to worry, There are two ways to keep your possessions safe from damage by water.
1) A waterproof backpack. These packs are better at keeping moisture out than standard backpacks, But I still recommend either a cover or putting your essentials in zip lock bags, Just to be sure.
2) Waterproof covers such as Ponchos, Tarps, Or Bin bags, can offer good protection from the elements And you can even buy cheap water proof covers (Normally measured in Liters), That fit over the top of your backpack. In some cases (E.g snow or rainy conditions) You might want to to think about using a waterproof backpack along with a waterproof cover for maximum protection.
Preparation is key, When traveling make sure you prepare for the worst weather possible and bring a waterproof cover and a good quality backpack. This way you can rest assured your kit will remain nice and dry for when you need it. The last thing you need after a days trek is to find the thick warm socks you packed earlier at the bottom of your bag soaking wet because you put your pack down on wet ground. Backpacks that have a splash cover are best.
Most good waterproof backpacks have similar features to standard backpacks allowing for comfort, Lots of space, And good weight distribution, Ill go into more detail shortly.
How waterproof are they?
This depends greatly on the quality of the bag, Some will be more suited to light rain or the odd splash, Some are Waterproof so tight that they float, Some can even be submerged to up to 12 feet (Some go further but these are aimed at water sports enthusiasts).
Types Of Packs
Waist/ Lumbar/ Hip Packs
Volume: up to 10 liters
A Light weight and easy to carry small simple pack consisting of a pouch and a few pockets, These are useful for day trips/ hikes and are normally worn on the waist, Useful but not normally waterproof, Can be worn under a rain mack or poncho.
Volume: 10 to 35 liters
Day Packs are small packs with shoulder straps used for short hikes, The smaller ones do not have hip belts but may have a chest strap. The larger ones usually have both but are not intended for carrying more than a few items. Handy to have and great to keep enough food and water to keep you going for the day.
Volume: up to 15 liters
Hydration Packs are great for “on the move” scenarios, They include a “bladder” that is connected to drinking tube that hangs over the top of your shoulder for easy access, Meaning you can drink on the go. Hydration Packs can be just the bladder and shoulder straps, While others may have a main compartment and one or two side pockets for items such as food or a small medical kit. Great for long walks on hot days. Please note that drinking tubes and bladders can freeze if used in extremely cold climates.
Med size Packs
Volume: 30 to 70 liters
Slightly larger than the Day Pack, A med size waterproof backpack is intended for day walkers, Backpackers who prefer to carry extra equipment on there travels. These make for a good survival backpack as there are many different kinds on the market suited to different needs, E.g some have room for a hydration pack, While others may have more pockets for inventory. Storing Between 30 and 70 Liters, These are in my opinion the best all round packs.
Volume: 60 liters and up
An Expedition waterproof backpack is among the largest of all the backpacks, They include a hip belt that transfers the weight from the shoulders onto the waist (The waist is the strongest pivot point on the human body, Wearing an expedition pack that is full up and having all its weight on your shoulders would strain your upper body and tire you out much quicker), The weight is distributed evenly and the lumbar pad located at the bottom of the waterproof backpack protects the base of the spine from the strain. A good balance makes these packs Perfect for week long hikes or survival situations where you may need to carry a lot of equipment.
Chest Straps Straps that fasten around the users chest with a standard clip-lock, Insures that the pack does not slip off the shoulders. Standard on many waterproof backpacks.
Internal or External frame backpack If carrying heavy loads in one of the larger packs, I recommend a pack with a sturdy frame for better support. If a backpack has a frame it will be either one of two styles, An internal or External frame waterproof backpack. Internal frame packs are pretty much what the name suggests, A backpack with a metal frame on the inside of the pack so it cannot be seen, This type is in my opinion the better of the two as the External frame backpack can be a bit chunky, Although the external frame backpacks are good for attaching equipment such as tents and other bits to. The frames are made from a lightweight but strong metal, They distribute weight evenly and are very sturdy.
Splash Cover A Splash cover is a handy feature for unpredictable weather or tackling wet terrain. These are built into the backpack and are used as a cover that will quickly waterproof your survival backpack to some extent, They should cover the entire pack and not just the top.
Hip Belt A hip belt spreads most of the weight from the shoulders onto the hips, Thus closer to your center of gravity. This generally makes the load lighter and easier to manage. The heavier the load the more important it is to use a Hip belt. A thick hip strap that is sufficiently padded will make the waterproof backpack more comfortable so I suggest going to your local camping store and trying a few on. Do not buy cheap, If you do you may find when carrying a heavy load that the pack becomes too painful to carry for any length of time.
Bungee Cords & Equipment Straps Bungee Cords & Equipment Straps for attaching equipment such as tents, Sleeping bags, Crampons, Or hiking staffs. Some backpacks selling points include what they can carry, Such as snowboards or Ski’s. Think about what you will be attaching to it.
Spindrift Collar The flexible fabric collar found at the top opening on a backpack. Used to fit in a few extra items and secured by a drawstring.
Waterproof Backpack Tips
I recommend buying your waterproof backpack after you have all other equipment, This way you will know how much weight you will have with you.
I also recommend waterproof backpacks that have hip belts. My reason for this is your hips can take much more weight than your shoulders. many army backpacks have hip belts.
Take care of your pack and your pack will take care of you. Check the seams regularly. The number one cause of a leaky pack is tears, Rips, or worn down seams.
A good waterproof backpack must be comfortable and strong enough to hold all your clothing and equipment, It must have a comfortable hip belt if carrying heavy loads. Adjustable webbing is best and a internal or external frame backpack distributes weight better and will be easier to stow. Choose the best you can afford. A good waterproof backpack will last you years, Although you may want more than one for different situations. Why not go down to your local Camping store and have a look at there backpacks, Even if you are planning on buying a pack from the internet you can have a look to see what pack best suits your needs, Make a note of the make and model you like and browse the net for a bargain. You cant always check the little details like seam stitching when buying online so be careful and make sure you know what you are paying for before hand.
Material is important when buying a backpack. When buying a backpack for hiking or camping, it is best to purchase one that is waterproof. This way your clothing and supplies will not get wet if you are caught in the rain.
A backpack is only as waterproof as the seal and sealing design. Seam sealer can further your waterproofing efforts, If not using seam sealer then a pack cover will be sufficient. For keeping items such as sleeping bags, Electronics, And clothing nice and dry I recommend waterproof zip bags.
Keep you pack organized, Packs with lots of compartments are useful for this purpose, The smaller pockets can be used for knives, Fire steel, Space blankets, And will be easily accessible.