Backpacking the Dusky Track through the Pleasant Range, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand.

7 Pro Tips For Keeping Your Backpacking Gear Dry

In Backpacking, Skills   |   Tagged , , , , , , ,   |   5 Comments

By Michael Lanza

From the rainforest of the North Cascades and Olympic National Park to New England, from the Tour du Mont Blanc to New Zealand (lead photo, above), I’ve carried a backpack through many fierce, sustained downpours. I’ve tried virtually every strategy imaginable to keep my clothing and gear inside my pack dry—some which have failed spectacularly, and some which have worked flawlessly, no matter how wet I got. In this story, I share my seven top tricks for how I keep the rain from getting anywhere near my dry clothes, sleeping bag, and other contents of my pack.

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5 Responses to 7 Pro Tips For Keeping Your Backpacking Gear Dry

  1. Mike Chirlston   |  August 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm

    Nice article with great tips for keeping your gear dry. I particularly like number 7 – packing gear/tent. Thanks.

  2. Chris Miles   |  August 23, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Good advice, although if you are trying to lessen weight then minimising the amount of stuff sacs is useful, and you really don’t need a pack cover. Using a water repellant spray can reduce any issues with the bag wetting out and thus adding slightly more weight to your carry, or you can use a poncho. The best advice though on top of what you have provided is to use the trash compactor bag only for you clothes, sleeping gear and anything else that is critical not to get wet but is not used until end of day. That way if you have to open your pack on the move or while you are getting gear out to set up camp, your critical gear is not getting wet. Additionally, if your shelter is wet the next morning, you can still store it inside the bag but outside the compactor bag until you get a sunny period to allow a little drying time ( if it is sunny and you have a mesh pocket on the outside, store it there to allow more drying capability).

    • MichaelALanza   |  August 23, 2017 at 6:32 am

      Thanks, Chris. I agree that I don’t use very many stuff sacks (I’m not carrying all that much in clothing). The other benefit of a stuff sack for your sleeping bag is to prevent the bag from expanding and occupying too much pack space.

      • Chris Miles   |  August 24, 2017 at 4:09 am

        I have tried a few packing methods, and have not settled on a single solution as I think there are too many variables. However, the argument for not using a separate stuff sac for the sleeping bag is that it allows you to fill all the little nooks and crannies in the pack better (within the protective confines of the trash bag, and still compressed somewhat by the weight of your gear). It does work to an extent, but I find it is very dependent on how big your pack size is and how you layer your items. I am not at the ultra minimalist with a very small size pack (25-35 litres) where this sort of approach to fill every nook is required, but I don’t usually take a stuff sac specifically for the sleeping bag in most cases just to lighten up and test efficiency. I think I will still be testing different approaches until I stop walking, which I hope is a lot of years away.

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