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What are the essentials of choosing a waterproof backpack?

A serious hike requires some serious waterproof gear. Although a waterproof backpack may not be necessary for the average stroll through the park, they are absolutely essential for those of us who like to stray from the beaten track. In this article, we will take a look at the factors that you need to consider before buying a waterproof backpack.

The most important thing to consider when buying waterproof backpacks is their degree of water resistance. Some of them will resist water more effectively than others, so make sure that your product is well-sealed. You should also think about durability so that your backpack will survive for years to come.

If you want to know more, read on. In this article, we will cover all the essential factors that you need to know before selecting a waterproof pack. Our goal here is to help you spend your money wisely.

Waterproof Vs. Water-Resistant

When choosing a product of this type, it is essential that you understand the difference between “waterproof” and “water-resistant” items. A backpack that is advertised as “water-resistant” will not provide the protection that is needed for wet environments. You should especially avoid such backpacks if you are boating or kayaking.

A fully waterproof backpack should be capable of being submerged in water without damaging its contents. Obviously, most people will try to avoid submerging their backpack, but you may not have a choice in some situations. The label of the product should tell you if the product can be submerged.

One good indicator of good waterproofing is a roll-up top. These kinds of backpacks have a top that is meant to be rolled up and then buckled into place. These tops are excellent because they keep water out with much more effectiveness than zippers or buckles alone.

There is an easy way to test these products to see how well their surface will shed water. When you go to the store, bring a water bottle along with you. Obviously, we can’t just pull the pack from the rack and pour the water on top. Instead, just put a few droplets on your hand and flick them onto the backpack. The water should form beads rather than soaking through the material. Put your hand on the inside of the backpack, and feel if the water is going through.
The Essentials on Waterproof Backpacks

General Durability

If you are looking for waterproof backpacks, you are probably the kind of person who enjoys rigorous outdoor recreation. Whether you enjoy rock climbing, caving, boating, or serious hiking, the elements are just part of the bargain. While we are mainly concerned with water resistance, you should think about the other hazards that your pack will face.

It’s a good idea to check out the stitching and make sure that the pack is properly reinforced. If your backpack fails in a remote place, you want to make sure that it is still usable. Thus, double-seams or even triple-seams are preferred. That way, if one of them fails, your backpack will still hold together until you can get home and repair the damage.

It’s also a good idea to avoid thin fabric, even if it is waterproof. All it takes is one thorny branch or one jutting rock to compromise the water resistance for which you paid. When you have to worry about your backpack, it adds an element of stress to the experience. A backpack made of thick and durable material can remove a lot of that anxiety.

When thinking of durability, you should pay special attention to the clasps and buckles. These are the components that hold the whole thing together, so they must be strong. Buckles and clasps made of thin plastic should be avoided, even if the manufacturer claims them to be “space-age polymer” or something like that. Thick plastic is usually fine, and can actually be better than metal. Metal clasps should be coated with a rust-resistant layer and should be strong enough to handle the body weight of a human being.


It is important to have a pack that fits in a comfortable way. Once again, you are probably using this thing for recreational activities, and you don’t want to ruin your fun with distraction. If your pack doesn’t fit comfortably, you will probably have a tendency to remove it whenever you stop for a rest. While this probably isn’t a big problem, it does present a greater opportunity for your gear to be lost, damaged, or stolen.

Many hiking backpacks have metal frames and/or load belts. You will have to decide whether or not you need one of these, and your decision should be based on how much weight you expect to be carrying. If you aren’t going to be hauling a lot of gear, frames and belts become somewhat pointless. However, they are very helpful for those carrying heavy loads.

If you have opted for a backpack with a frame, make sure you try it on before you buy. Sometimes, those metal frames are not adequately padded, and this can create discomfort. Although this comfort may be relatively mild at first, it will get worse as the pack continues to move around and chafe your skin.

Some packs will also come with a chest strap. In our experience, these straps are not really necessary, but they do provide a tighter fit. If you are moving fast and you want to keep your bag from shifting and swinging, a chest strap can be helpful. However, it can also restrict your breathing and cause you to get tired more easily.

You will definitely need the load belt if you plan to run while wearing your backpack. Without a belt, backpacks tend to bounce around as you run. This is very annoying and has a tendency to throw your balance out of wack. However, that belt will make it a little more difficult to bend your body at the waist, so it may not be a good option for rock climbers and cavers who need to maintain good flexibility.

Floating Bags

If you enjoy water-related activities like boating and fishing, you need to be even more careful about your choice in a backpack. Waterproof gear is pretty much essential for these activities, so make sure that your backpack is made to float. You probably think that you’re too smart to allow your backpack to fall in the water, and you may be right. However, it is unwise to leave this sort of thing to chance. If your pack falls into the water and sinks, there is probably no chance of recovery.

Related Questions

Can A Waterproof Backpack Lose Its Waterproofing Over Time?
Yes. In fact, most waterproof backpacks will eventually lose their waterproofing. The surface of these packs are normally treated with some kind of water-resistant substance, but it won’t last forever. Even worse, there is no way to know exactly how long it will last. Certainly, the manufacturer has this information, but that doesn’t mean they will necessarily share that information with you. The best way to determine the lifespan of a potential purchase is to look at the warranty.

What About Rain Covers?
Some non-waterproof backpacks come with a waterproof covering. These are intended to fit over the pack and keep rain from penetrating the main compartments. Although these are a decent option, they will never take the place of a true waterproof backpack. A rain cover will only protect your gear from a moderate amount of water. In heavy rains, it will probably. Of course, if your bag falls into the water, these things will do no good at all.

Why Do Some Backpacks Have Frames?
External-frame backpacks are preferred by some for their superior weight capacity. By distributing the weight more evenly, a frame increases the total amount of weight that you can carry. This kind of thing is not necessary for everyone, but those who like to pack a lot of gear will find an external frame to be a very handy thing indeed.


To summarize what we have learned, let’s look at a list of all the major factors that you should examine when you are buying waterproof gear like this. This handy checklist should save you some time:

  • Zippers should be covered with a waterproof flap
  • Buckles should be thick and strong
  • A roll-up top is preferred
  • All stitching should be heavily reinforced
  • Make sure it’s large enough for your needs
  • Should be comfortable and well-padded
  • Able to be submerged without damaging your gear
  • Should be capable of floating
  • Fabric should be thick enough to resist ripping

We hope that this article has been helpful and that you are able to find a waterproof backpack that meets your needs and allows you to enjoy the great outdoors with a mind that is free of worry.

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