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Pack covers - how many use them?
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David Poston
(dgposton) - F

Locale: Texas / Colorado
Pack covers - how many use them? on 06/28/2008 21:28:30 MDT Print View

Last year I used a Sea to Summit pack cover (size medium, 3.6 oz) for my Gregory Z55 pack. This year I am contemplating dropping the pack cover entirely, but I do not relish the thought of getting my backpack soaked. I'm fully aware of the pack liner option, but I find this rather cumbersome and redundant given the fact that my important gear (down bag and clothes) are already in waterproof stuff sacks. What really concerns me is a soggy pack with excess water weight. Also, if you have stuff hanging off your pack or in the quick stash pocket, then no pack liner will protect it.

I'm curious to hear others' thoughts on this matter, particularly how those relying on a pack liner deal with the outside getting soggy.

Ryan Gardner
(splproductions) - F - M

Locale: Salt Lake City, UT
Pack covers... on 06/28/2008 22:38:40 MDT Print View

Hey David,

I use MLD pack covers (2 oz on the dot) if my pack is big and sticks out a ways. If I am on a shorter/lighter trip and using a smaller pack I just rely on my poncho to cover it. I too have tried the "pack liner" thing and find it annoying.

First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
No pack cover here on 06/28/2008 22:59:26 MDT Print View

No pack cover or really even pack liner. Instead the two items that need to stay dry, my sleeping bag and camp / sleeping clothes are together in a trash compactor bag inside my pack. Nothing else really suffers in the rain: cook kit, rain jacket, map + compass, food bag. The pack itself is silnylon and doesn't soak up much if any water.

The foam on the backpack belt and straps however do soak up a little water, but this would be the same if I used a packcover (although a poncho might avoid it.)

John Kays
(johnk) - M

Locale: SoCal
deluge on 06/28/2008 23:43:59 MDT Print View

Hi Kristen! Why do you prefer a trash bag over a pack liner sized specifically for a particular sized pack??

Paul Cronshaw
(beemancron) - F

Locale: Southwest US
Pack cover vs pack liner on 06/28/2008 23:47:35 MDT Print View

As Kristin reported, you can save the weight of separate sleeping bag and clothes stuff sacks by stuffing your sleeping bag and clothes into a sturdy garage bag. Everything else is fair game for becoming soaking wet.

I prefer the combination of a pack liner and stuff sacks. Pack liners can be a sturdy garbage bag or the discontinued GG pack liners ( basically turkey baster bags):

The combination of pack liner and stuff sacks creates a double bagging system.

I have used homemade cuben fiber stuff sacks:

but now prefer the new GG Stowlights:

These new stuff sacks have a nice look and feel, and compact nicely into a pack liner.

The best pack cover is a large plastic garbage bag (cheap) with slits (reinforced with packing tape) cut out to accommodate the straps and hip belts. The design template is similar to the one that my hiking friend Rik made out of cuben fiber (expensive):

FWIW I am testing out the new GG pack cover on my upcoming JMT trip.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Pack covers - how many use them? on 06/29/2008 03:57:15 MDT Print View

Silnylon poncho over pack and me
Custom pack using Dimension Polyant waterproof X-Pac fabric, seam sealed
Silnylon stuff sacks for *all* clothing and much food
Plastic bags inside stuff sacks, tops closed

Paranoid? Yep, but that doesn't mean the rain/sleet/snow isn't wet, and when river crossing I don't have to worry either.

Pack liners tend to be either too heavy, or they snag and get holes when I am packing. But I may use a big garbage sack (inside) for a serious river swim.


First Last
(snusmumriken) - F

Locale: SF Bay Area
Why not a pack liner on 06/29/2008 10:01:47 MDT Print View

I pack the sleeping bag and clothing separately in a garbage bag and keep it untouched in the bottom of my backpack until I have my tent set up in camp.

Everything else can get packed and unpacked, wet or dusty without problem. If I used a full packliner then my sleeping bag might get wet when I opened up the packliner in the rain to get to my rain jacket.

Packing this way also allows me to close the garbage bag by rolling up the excess "material" drybag style for a more secure closure then is possible for the top of a bag liner.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Why not a pack liner on 06/29/2008 13:37:08 MDT Print View

I tried pack liners (garbage bags) and also found them to be very annoying. I couldn't find anything in the fold of the bag. My sleeping bag and dry clothes are in dry bag type stuff sacks. My food is in O.P. sacks inside freezer bags all in a silnylon stuff sack. Everything else can get wet.

A pack cover is also annoying. It is hard to fit, gets snagged on everything and only partially works.

If it is not summer, I wear a homemade poncho that also covers the backpack; works great. In summer's heat, me and the pack get wet, but in summer, I'm not carrying much weight anyway.

My $0.02

John Sixbey
(Wolfeye) - F
used to use them on 06/29/2008 16:59:49 MDT Print View

I started off using a pack cover as well as a garbage bag as a liner, plus stuff sacks & ziplocks to organize the items inside. (I did/do most of my hiking in rainy SE Alaska.) After years of hiking, though, I dropped both the cover and liner. I didn't notice any difference without them other than that my pack would get a little wet. Most new packs seem to shed water well without soaking it up very much.

I still put my pack in a garbage bag or drybag if I'm going to take it on a canoe or fishing boat, though.

Eric Noble
(ericnoble) - MLife

Locale: Colorado Rockies
Re: Pack covers - how many use them? on 06/29/2008 19:17:50 MDT Print View

If I'm using my ULA Arctic Dry Pack I don't use a cover or a liner. Otherwise, I pack like Kristin does. The stuff that needs to be dry is protected and the rest doesn't really matter.

Edited by ericnoble on 06/29/2008 19:19:09 MDT.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
POE dry bag on 06/29/2008 20:02:51 MDT Print View

Take off of the artic pack concept, I use a POE dry bag for my clothes and sleeping bag. I like this set up because I can expell out all of the air when I compress the bag. At first I used a compactor trash bag, but found it limiting when I tried to compress (or stuff) my pack. With my bag and clothes dry, everything else can get wet or be packed wet if it is still raining. The POE bags come in many sizes and are fairly bomb-proof.


JR Redding
(GrinchMT) - F
Sea to Summit on 06/29/2008 21:47:49 MDT Print View

I am a firm believer in the Sea to Summit cover. It's the only one I have had that actually works and does it well. I used mine extensively in New England and found it to be a lifesaver on many occasions, whether the pack was on my back, hanging in a tree, or on the ground.

This year during winter trips it shed the snow for me overnight.

I do keep my essentials in silnylon stuff sacks even with the cover. Just gives me extra comfort.


Edited by GrinchMT on 06/29/2008 21:48:32 MDT.

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Pack covers - how many use them? on 06/29/2008 23:01:36 MDT Print View

I own a couple sizes of Sea to Summit pack covers that fit everything I own. However, more often than not, they are left behind.

In summer, I usually carry a poncho, so no pack cover required. In rare early spring or late fall trips, or locations that are reliably rainy, I may switch to a full rain jacket and pants in which case I will bring a pack cover.

I always double up with silnylon stuff sacks for non-essential stuff, and silnylon drybags for sleeping bag and clothes.

With a pack cover, my hip and shoulder belts get wet from rain of course, but they are mostly mesh/foam and dry fairly quickly.

I have soaked nylon pack bags themselves when not using a pack cover during prolonged rain. Not to the extent of problems with keeping contents dry inside silnylon bags, but I found it annoying none the less.

When rafting or kayaking, I use a full drybag pack.

Edited by jbrinkmanboi on 06/29/2008 23:12:31 MDT.