You have all this fancy gear that is going to make your next adventure awesome! Well, I have some bad news for you, it ain’t gonna be pretty or fun if your gear is wet!
Keeping your gear dry is an important component for your safety and happiness on the trail. Here are a couple of ideas and cheap items to consider using to keep gear dry.
I gave up on a pack cover about 4000 miles ago. The pack cover was just one more item that I had to manage and it never kept anything dry. Water that slipped between my rain gear and the pack eventually worked its way into the pack. I just ended up with a wet pack and a wet pack cover. Leave the pack cover at home and just acknowledge that your pack is going to get wet, but your gear doesn’t need to get wet!
Trash Compactor Bags
Instead of using a pack cover, I am a proponent of using trash compactor bags (18 years as I have been using these!). I don’t ever leave on any trip, short or long without my gear inside of a trash compactor bag. At less than a $1.00 a piece they are a great investment and can be found at grocery stores or home improvement stores. These make great stocking stuffers for your friends at Christmas!!! Trash compactor bags are strong and much more durable then regular garbage bags. I have seen many a backpacker using garbage bags to protect their gear, but I have yet to see a garbage bag that didn’t end up with hole in it after 3 or 4 days. Regular garbage bags just won’t hold up to the demands of the trail. There are also other alternatives to the trash compactor bag, but they are more costly. If you have a little money to burn then go ahead and spend the $30 on a fancy Dyneema (Cuben Fiber) pack liner. I’ll stick with my hiking trash ways and continue with a cheap but proven method for keeping my gear dry!
I know that you have gone out and purchased that rain gear that looks great and keeps the rain off of you. Unfortunately, you may stay dry but your pack is going to get wet and there is a good chance that the contents inside of it will collect moisture throughout the day. Consider buying a cheap poncho that you can wear over your pack as a secondary means for gear protection in addition to using the trash compactor bag. For around $10.00, a poncho is a great way to help insure that your pack and gear stay dry. Even with some crappy bushwhacking and nearly continuous use last summer, I was still able to get 240 miles out of my poncho before retirement. Out of 12 days on the trail, 8 days were filled with rain, and I had no issues. I am sure that I could have gotten many more miles out of my poncho if my hike stayed solely on blazed pathways and did not cut across dense vegetation to connect to other trails. My personal choice is the Frogg Toggs Ultra-Lite Poncho because of the weight (70z), the hood and price.
Have any trips or tricks that you want to share? I am always looking for better ideas, so feel free to share what has worked for you!