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Waterproofing a Backpack – how to make your hiking bag waterproof

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How to Waterproof a Backpack

Any hiker, camper, or outdoor enthusiast will tell you there’s nothing worse than an unexpected downpour. Sadly, I’ve been in a few situations where I’ve been three hours into a hike that was expected to have clear skies, just to have rain suddenly ruining my backpack.

A little preparation and a few supplies can save you (and me) from the headache of having a soaked backpack.

Rain isn’t the only reason to waterproof a hiking backpack, there are plenty of other reasons! If you’re planning on kayaking, boating, or even hiking through waterfalls, a waterproof backpack is a must.

Thankfully there are a few ways to waterproof your backpack to prepare for any of the previously mentioned activities. So, let’s get to learning how to waterproof any backpack.

Method 1: Waterproof Spray and a Seam Sealer

waterproofing spray

A waterproofing spray is must have for multiple reasons other than a backpack, so keep it handy even after you have your backpack waterproofed.

The function of a waterproof spray is to coat or re-coat a materials already natural ability to resist water. Some backpacks are already water resistant, so adding a waterproofing spray will just improve its ability to avoiding leaking.

There are a few steps to take before you waterproof your bag. First, properly clean the bag and all surfaces that are going to be sprayed. This way all dirt and grime won’t be stuck to the bag after applying the spray. After the backpack dries it’s ready to be waterproofed. Apply a single coat to the backpack and allow the coat to settle, more coats can be applied if necessary.

After the spray is dried, a seam sealer can then be put over any seams of the backpack. Note that a waterproof spray will only make the fabric waterproof and that liquids can still get through any open zippers or holes in the bag.

Method 2: Using a Backpack Rain Cover

A waterproofing spray will help immensely when keeping the contents of your backpack safe. But there are other options to maintain the integrity of your backpack. Another option is to have a dedicated backpack rain cover to seal your backpack in.

Some hiking backpacks come with a dedicated rain cover when they are bought, but that’s not always the case. If not, there are a few that can be found on Amazon to fit whatever backpack you may have.

Method 3: Using a Dry Bag to Secure Your Backpack

dry bag hiking

A dry bag is essentially a bag to keep the contents of your backpack or whatever else you put inside of it, dry. Big surprise I know, but this is a very secure and safe way to keep all your goods dry.

These bags come in a variety of sizes, so there should be one for whatever backpack size you have. It’s important to ensure the bag is properly closed though, because it not it defeats the purpose of using the bag at all.

Extra: Using Plastic Bags to Secure Your Items

This isn’t necessarily a way to waterproof your backpack, so it’s not being listed as an actual number. Instead, this idea is to help protect your items in case your backpack hasn’t been waterproofed.

Fairly often I’ll carry some plastic shopping bags when I hike or camp to keep food in. If you expect your backpack to get wet enough that water may seep through, placing your valuables in a plastic shopping bag will easily keep them dry. The important part here is to tie the bag properly and ensure that no water can get through the opening.

If you have more than one shopping bag, it would be even better to wrap the first one into the second. Having the second bag covering the opening of the first bag means no water will drop through it and the second bag can be tied underneath the first.

Stay Dry!

Hopefully this guide helped and gives some idea on how to ensure your backpack stays water free. If there are any further questions on waterproofing a backpack, then please leave a comment below!

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