How to Waterproof Your Backpack

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It’s inevitable. At some point, your backpack is going to get wet. Whether you’re caught in a rainstorm or accidentally drop it in a puddle, water can quickly damage the contents of your backpack. 

It’s no secret that waterproofing your backpack is a must-do for any outdoor enthusiast. Whether hiking, camping, or just out on a day trip, it’s essential to keep your belongings safe and dry. 

In this blog post, we will discuss the best ways to waterproof your backpack and ensure that your gear stays protected from the elements!

Why Do I Need to Waterproof My Backpack? 

If you’re like most people, you depend on your backpack to keep your gear safe and make it easy to store. It’s likely that your backpack contains items you rely on such as the 10 essentials, camera, clothes, and more. So, keeping those items dry is essential.

Waterproofing your backpack is an essential step for any outdoor enthusiast. Not only does it protect your gear from the elements, but it can also extend the life of your bag by preventing water damage. When exposed to moisture, many materials used in backpacks, such as leather and cotton, can swell and begin to break down over time. Waterproofing your bag will help ensure it stays in good shape for years to come.

In addition, waterproofing can also protect the contents of your backpack from getting wet and damaged. This is particularly important if you are carrying delicate items like cameras, battery packs, and food, as water can ruin them beyond repair, or food items can get soggy. Waterproofing your backpack will give you peace of mind knowing that your items are safe and secure.

When it comes to outdoor activities like hiking, camping, or skiing, waterproofing is even more important. Whether you get caught in a rainstorm or accidentally drop your backpack into a stream, having it properly waterproofed can prevent your gear from getting wet and damaged.

What Are the Best Ways to Waterproof My Backpack?

There are several ways to ensure that your backpack stays dry and survives any adventure. From spray-on coatings to garbage bag liners. The best way for you will depend on the materials used in your bag and the type of protection you need. Here are some of the most common ways to waterproof your backpack: 

Backpack Cover 

A backpack cover is a great way to keep your backpack dry when you’re out in the elements. These covers are usually made from waterproof materials like nylon and often have drawstrings that can be pulled tight around the bag for added protection. This type of cover will shield your belongings from rain, snow, and other moisture and can also help protect against dirt and sand. 

Pros

  • Backpack covers are made out of durable materials
  • Provides good water protection against rain, snow, and other moisture.
  • You can easily take the cover off and on when needed.
  • Many covers come in a variety of sizes and shapes to fit any type of backpack.
  • Pack covers are incredibly easy to use, especially during last-minute rain.
  • These covers also protect the entire backpack, not just a few pieces of gear.

Cons

  • Built for heavy rain only and may not keep your backpack dry if you drop it in water.
  • Can fly away.

Bottom Line

Backpack covers are an excellent way to protect your bag from moisture and dirt. They’re lightweight, easy to use, and can be used in a variety of situations. They’re also fairly inexpensive, making them an ideal option for any outdoor enthusiast. Just keep in mind that backpack covers are built for heavy rain and won’t keep your bag completely dry if it’s submerged. 

Spray and Seam Sealers

Spray-on coatings like silicone sealant or polyurethane are an easy way to waterproof your backpack. Simply apply the coating to the outside of your bag and along all seams, then let it dry. When applying this spray, make sure to clean your backpack beforehand since these sprays will cling to clean surfaces better than dirty spots. 

Although it’s important to know that if you want your backpack to last, make sure it’s constructed from water-resistant materials. Seam sealing and spraying a cotton drawstring bag or tote will only do so much.

Also, since water is most likely to get through seams like zippers and holes, it’s important that you get a seam sealer in addition to waterproof sprays. 

Pros

  • The waterproof spray comes in handy when you’re unexpectedly caught in a sprinkle or light rain. 
  • You won’t have to scramble to protect your belongings every time it gets cloudy.
  • Cheap to purchase.

Cons

  • While this method is great for light rainfall, it’s not ideal for heavy rain or submersion. 
  • These sprays provide a good level of water resistance, but you may need to reapply them often to stay waterproof.
  • It can be time-consuming to apply the spray and seam sealers.
  • Not fully waterproof.

Bottom line

The spray and seam sealers are a good choice for light rain protection and can be used on most materials. This would be a great tool in combination with another method to make your backpack waterproof.

Pack Liner 

Another way to waterproof a backpack is by using a pack liner. This type of liner is inserted into the main compartment of the bag and protects your gear from water and dirt. It can be made out of a variety of materials such as plastic, nylon, or polyester. Pack liners are often used in combination with a cover or spray to ensure that your gear doesn’t get wet. 

Pros

  • Pack liners are made out of durable and waterproof fabric.
  • They are reusable and repairable.
  • Built for intense weather.
  • Easy to pack your items inside.

Cons

  • They can get pretty expensive.
  • They add more weight than some other solutions.

Bottom Line

Pack liners are great for protecting your gear from water and dirt. They’re also great for serious outdoor adventurers, as the fabric is built to withstand extreme weather. However, they can be quite expensive and add more weight than some of the other options. If you’re doing day hikes and backpacking trips where it’s essential your gear stays dry, this is a great option.

Waterproof Sack, Dry Sacks, Ziploc bags

If you’re looking for a cheaper option to keep your gear dry, then using waterproof sacks, dry sacks, or Ziploc bags may be the answer. These can be used both inside and outside of your backpack and are great for smaller items like electronic devices or cameras. 

Dry sacks and zip blocks

Pros

  • Cheap way to protect your gear from water.
  • Highly durable and waterproof.
  • Easy to pack items inside.
  • Lightweight and portable.

Cons 

  • Not ideal for intense weather conditions or submersion in water. 
  • Can be difficult to get smaller items out of the sack without tearing it open. 

Bottom Line

This is a great option for keeping a few small things dry.

Garbage Bag Liner

Odds are that you already have some of these stored away somewhere. The simplest and least expensive way to waterproof your backpack is with a garbage bag liner. Upgrade to heavy duty bags to increase the durability.

Using a garbage bag as a backpack liner

Pros 

  • Cost-effective.
  • Lightweight.
  • Extremely easy to use.

Cons

  • Flimsy and not as durable as other options. 
  • One-time use.
  • Can rip pretty easily.

Bottom line

Garbage bags can keep your belongings dry, whether you use them as a pack liner by placing them inside your backpack and filling them up with gear, or as an external cheap pack cover.

Buy a Waterproof Backpack

If you don’t want to go through the trouble of waterproofing your backpack, look for one that has been factory-treated with a waterproof coating. This will usually be advertised as water-resistant or waterproof fabric on the label and is often made from nylon or polyester materials.

Pros

  • They provide a higher level of water resistance and protect your belongings from all the elements.
  • Reliable waterproofing.

Cons

  • These backpacks are usually more expensive than regular ones.
  • May be uncomfortable for long hikes.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a reliable waterproof backpack, buying one that has been factory-treated with a waterproof coating is the way to go. Although they may be more expensive than regular backpacks, they offer much better protection against water and other elements. 

Tips to Keeping Your Gear Dry

Now that you know how to waterproof your bag, here are a few tips to help keep your gear dry in wet conditions. 

Keep your backpack away from water

This may seem obvious, but it’s the best way to prevent any water damage. Whenever possible, try and keep your bag at least a few feet away from large sources of water like rivers and lakes. 

Double wrap your valuables in a plastic bag

Another way to keep your electronics, foods, and other valuables dry is to keep them in a sealed plastic bag. This will provide an added layer of protection from the water and help prevent any damage. 

Make sure your backpack is properly sealed and stored

Even if you waterproof your bag, it won’t do much good if it isn’t properly sealed. Make sure all pockets and zippers are securely closed and keep your bag away from any sources of water when not in use.

Use a water-proofing spray and seam sealer

If you’re heading out on a long hike or taking part in a water-based activity, it’s important to make sure your backpack is adequately waterproofed. Using a spray-on waterproofing coating and seam sealers, in addition to other waterproofing methods, is the best way to protect your gear from water damage.

Use a pack liner or cover

Finally, consider investing in a pack liner. This is basically a large waterproof bag that fits inside or outside your backpack and provides an extra layer of protection from the elements. It’s a great option for those who are often caught in the rain and need to keep their gear dry. And it doesn’t need to be expensive. A simple garbage bag will do!

Final Thoughts

Waterproofing your backpack is an easy and affordable way to protect the items you carry around in it. With the right tools and materials, you can make sure that your backpack is dry and secure. From spray-on coatings to wrapping your bag in a liner, there are several ways to waterproof your bag and keep it safe from the elements.

Don’t forget that you can choose multiple methods in order to increase the overall protection of your backpack. When it comes to waterproofing, there’s no such thing as too much caution! 

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