protecting your pack contents from water

7:57 p.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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Here's another of those "basic but time to check in on current best practices" questions :)

What do you all consider "best practice" for protecting your pack contents from water?  Growing up I was taught to line my pack with plastic bags.  I have also heard of trash compactor bags being used.  I have also used a pack cover as another layer of protection.

This seems a bit redundant.  I've seen hikers with pack covers recently but don't know if they also have bags lining the inside.

The question, of course, is what you're protecting against.  In the Sierra, where I'll be, in the summertime, I'm mostly concerned with heavy downpours from afternoon thunderstorms.  It's also been known to precipitate in other forms during every month of the year.  But if I end up hiking in "days of rain" I'll be very surprised.

There's also the threat of falling & dropping a pack during a creek crossing.  This year, at least, it doesn't' seem like it'll be a major threat.  But it could happen.  But short of zip locked bags for everything I'm not sure there's a solution to for this.  I suppose plastic bags lining the inside might protect against a quick dip, though I've never tested this - but certainly not for a prolonged dip.

What's your practice for protecting your gear for similar conditions, and more importantly, what have you found to be the most effective?

9:31 p.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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I put a garbage bag inside my pack (top loading), uncoil the air mattress inside that, and then stuff everything else in. The sleeping bag (down) always goes in the bottom with its own Sea to Summit dry bag. As to a prolonged dunking in a river crossing well, I just try to avoid doing that.

9:35 p.m. on June 28, 2012 (EDT)
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I use a combination of methods. First off I keep my under and top quilts in a small dry bag, my extra clothing is in a silnylon stuff sack, first aid kit and toiletries and other misc items are in ziploc bags. My pack is lined with a black contractor garbage bag. I also use a s2s pack cover. I have been through some nasty storms and severe heavy prolonged rain and everything has always stayed dry.

I keep my tarp on the outside of my pack so when I hit camp I can get my tarp rigged up before exposing my pack contents.

So far this system has proved reliable over the past several years.

3:08 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Zip locks for select pack contents; a pack cover or large trash bag over the pack when it rains.  Never had problems.


4:23 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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If you can get them, large volume polypropylene autoclave bags make great pack liners, they're a lot tougher than LDPE.

7:49 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I use dry bags or ziplock for all contents. (I used to use a pack cover but it was just too much hassle.)

9:35 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I second the trash bag inside the pack method, plus I always use Ziploc bags to repack all my smaller gear and food in. Larger Ziploc style bags can be found in many department store where the travel bags are or those sealable vacuum clothing bags are.

A packcover can also be made from a trash bag cut to fit around the shoulder straps.

10:47 a.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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I use a combination of Ziplock style bags and commercial dry stuff sacks, like those made by Sea & Summit.  If something absolutely has to be kept dry (my First Aid kit, for example) I double bag it in Ziplocks.  Sleeping bag goes into a waterproof compression sack.

A few years back I hiked the Narrows Top Down and encountered several pools of water that were chest deep.  Consequently, my backpack was half submerged for up to a minute.  Everything remained dry even though there was standing water in the pack that had to be dumped after each dunking.

I do some canyoneering as well and often have to swim a pothole.  Some have been over 100' long.  Backpack (a daypack, really) comes off and you float it across.  I've never had a problem with wet gear using the above method.

12:42 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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pack cover (something from outdoor research that stuffs into a small, attached pouch), and anything i really have to keep dry is inside a silnylon dry bag.  food is usually in ziplock bags anyway. 

sleeping bag is in a stuff bag - if i expect really wet weather, i might line the stuff bag with a trash bag.  usually, the stuff bag plus the pack cover works fine. 

12:57 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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Trash bag FTW! My book(s), kindle and notepad go into a ziplock bag. Camera is on my hip in a Lowepro bag, and if it rains I gotta dry bag nearby waiting for action.

I do like the rambler's idea with the tarp on the outside to set up before unpacking!

7:35 p.m. on June 29, 2012 (EDT)
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eVent bags

11:36 a.m. on June 30, 2012 (EDT)
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From my military days (long time ago) I got use to an actual waterproof pack liner to store all items that needed to remain dry.  When my liner finally gave out I found one from Seal Line called an ILBE pack liner.  It is one great piece of gear.  It comes in two variants, a 65 liter and and 55 liter, is heavier than a garbage bag but many times more durable and has a roll top closure that seals completely.  The bag has a sturdy air valve that you can open when you are ready to compact the contents and then close when done.  The bag can be used as a flotation device if needed and lastly, the bag is emergency orange inside if needed as an emergency panel.

Overkill for an overnight hike, probably, but for an extended hike you won't have to worry about keeping contents dry. 

5:54 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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I use three Outdoor Products lightweight dry bags (from Wally Mart). They come in a three pack of sm., med., and lg. So I got two packs B/C of the low price and better choice of sizes.

Large> WM Megalite overfilled 20 F. down bag

Medium> Eddie Bauer down jacket (the one in my avatar photo)

Medium> all my other clothing except eVent parka. (Becomes my pillow at night.)

1st aid kit in a ziploc freezer bag. TP and bottle of hand sanitizer also goes in a 1 qt. freezer bag.

For downpours and all day rains I use a very light silnylon pack cover in addition.

And then there's my REI Kimtah eVent parka to keep #1 dry!

6:23 p.m. on July 6, 2012 (EDT)
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Dry bags and ack doesn't rain much here.

3:00 p.m. on July 19, 2012 (EDT)
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This seems like a moot point in the Sierras, but in Canada, the Rockies or Alaska it is no joke.  A pack cover, trash bags, or dry bags for the sleeping equipment and the warm clothes.  I learned the hard way after a 36 hour drenching in Alaska, and slept in a wet down sleeping bag.  It was the first and last time.

April 24, 2018
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