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Do I really need a pack liner?
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John Vogel

Locale: East Bay
Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 11:08:00 MDT Print View

To start...I pack out west, mostly Sierra right now. I do not normally shelter for rain, just keep going. I am scrutinizing my gear and have come to the inner liner that is on most of the gear list I have found. I cannot seem to justify the liner.

So hear is my thinking about the need for a pack liner (trash compactor bag). I use a waterproof bag for my ditty, sleep clothes already, I also use a waterproof stuff sack for my down sleeping bag and puffy.....with that said, why do I need a liner?

Food is in the bear can and or it's own bag,
Toiletries get a zip lock
Who cares about the rain gear if it's raining it is about to get wet..right?
Tent gets stuffed into the outside pocket, most mornings it is still damp or wet anyhow...
The pack is dyneema and somewhat water resistant anyhow...right?

Am I missing a fundamental need or unseen reason for the extra protection? Am I foolishly placing faith in those waterproof stuff sacks (you know, the ones that fold up with the buckles)?

Thanks in advance for the input,

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 11:24:03 MDT Print View

If you have your essential items in waterproof bags then no, you don't need to line your bag with a trash compactor.

Gerald L
(Mtngeronimo) - F

Locale: SoCal
Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 12:31:43 MDT Print View

+1 ^

I use a compactor bag for a liner with an adapter I installed to use as a pump sack for my inflatable pad. Total weight with inflation valve adapter is 2.5 oz. i could probably figure a way to reduce weight on the adapter as well. What is the combined weight of your waterproof stuff sacks? Could be a consideration if you count oz’s.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 12:56:36 MDT Print View


Only in the interest of lightness...

Does your pack have any place that you could store the items in from your ditty bag?

If you already use a liner do you really need the waterproof stuff sack for your down sleeping bag and puffy?

For full disclosure my pack contains a few silnylon drawstring type stuff sacks. They contain food, cook kit and clothes. They are there for organizational purposes. The entire pack is lined with a trash compactor bag. My shelter rides in an outside pocket in a silnylon drawstring stuff sack.

When it is raining I wear my rain gear but only if it is cold. If it rains and the temperature is mild to warm I just get wet. ;-)

Any wet gear gets hung on the outside of the pack to dry if possible.

My pack is made of Xpac material and has a dry bag type of top closure.

Party On,

Newton ;-)

Glenn S

Locale: Snowhere, MN
Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 13:12:58 MDT Print View

It's my understanding that it's really more of a matter of what type of pack you have and how you pack it as to whether to use stuff sacks or a liner. Redundancy would be the only reason to use both.

Maybe you have a good frame and want to keep your bag and puffy compressed to minimal and constant size.

Or you might have a frameless pack that needs the dynamic addition of expanding down gear in a liner that can keep the pack full and give it body as the contents lessen from eating your food.

I have a neo xlite, so I don't need an adapter to use a pack liner as aninflator. I can just cup my hand around the mouth of the expanded liner and place it over the protruding nozzle and fill my pad without any gimmicks or gizmos.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 13:38:54 MDT Print View

I never ever use a pack liner. Where I operate in the Sierra Nevada, the weather tends to be cool and dry, but once in a while I will get rained on for five days in a row. Whenever I purchase any new pack (other than cuben fiber), I turn it inside out and do some waterproofing. At a minimum, I make sure that the seams are waterproof. Sometimes I have sprayed waterproofing on the inside surfaces, but I doubt if the total weight added is more than a quarter of an ounce. Then, I just use it without any pack liners. I don't think that I have ever gotten more than about one drop of rain inside. Pack liners are just unnecessary weight for me.


John Vogel

Locale: East Bay
Re: Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 13:42:36 MDT Print View

Very good points about pack style. I am using an open top Jam 50. I compress my bag to make room for my BV300, then clothes and ditty on top of the can in a bag alongside my cook set. My xlite is folded and goes lengthways in the hydration sleeve. Misc gear in side pockets and pants pockets as needed.

I have been using the mfg stuff sack for my bag in a compactor liner. Clothes and ditty are in an OP fold top bag. To shave 2 ounces total I could order a couple zpac Cuban roll top sacks. My big concern was by doing this setup I am missing a fundamental technique that would jeopardize my safety.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Not really on 04/21/2014 14:41:00 MDT Print View

Given your current setup you should be fine. If you are doing tough stream crossings or serious hiking in snow, glissading for example, that would be different and I would reco a liner in those cases.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/21/2014 14:44:19 MDT Print View

I have been heavily influenced (as I think a few other people on here have) by this old article/blog entry from Jim Wood:

The principle espoused there is your critical gear should be safe under complete submersion for a minute or two. However, as klutzy as I am I have never fallen into a stream with my pack when making a crossing, let alone have a pack wash down the river. My sleeping bag is in an actual dry bag but the rest of my stuff is inside a bag liner where I assume the chance that it would get wet is large if the pack was submerged.

Has anyone on here actually dunked their pack on a trip? I feel like you might want to have your bag %100 protected, then no matter what happens, short of loosing everything, it will suck, but you will survive until you can dry stuff out.

If I was going alone in Alaska somewhere and making lot of tricky river crossing in cold weather then I might go for the drybags inside of drybags extreme.

Edited by millonas on 04/21/2014 17:54:30 MDT.

Jake S
environment... on 04/21/2014 19:10:33 MDT Print View

There's plenty of environments where it's arid enough that many of us wouldn't recommend taking more than a wind jacket. If that's the case you probably don't need any sort of pack liner.

I really think a large compactor bag is overkill in most cases. If you open it up to get frequently used items, You risk getting water in it. So eventually it's just holding your sleeping bag and puffy and sleep underwear (I know, but I have to when with the old lady) anyways.

So with that being the case, I bought a Zpack's large rect. drybag and saved 2.5 ounces.

Edited by spags on 04/21/2014 19:12:31 MDT.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
"Do I really need a pack liner?" on 04/21/2014 22:28:13 MDT Print View

Based on your system, I'd say no. I use a liner because I don't use a separate stuff sack for my sleeping bag- I stuff it in the bottom of the liner, everything else goes on top, and the sleeping bag expands to envelop everything and keeps things from shifting in my pack. Also I don't have that hard lump of a sleeping bag digging into my back. So I use a liner. Your system, no, it would be redundant.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/22/2014 04:02:53 MDT Print View

Pack liners work well for a couple nights out, maybe three or four. But I find that they are prone to getting holes, even the tough compactor bags.

I switched to a compression/dry bag for my sleeping cloths. And, another dry bag for my food and other things that need to stay fairly dry. The rest can pretty much get wet and I don't really care. Pads don't soak water, stove, cookwear doesn't matter, tarp doesn't matter, and so on. If I get soakd, I won't melt. Mostly I use my rain gear, but like so muc of that stuff it is only good for a couple hours of rain. After that, I am mostly wet anyway.

In the ADK's, getting wet is mostly normal. on any given day, I expect about a 50/50 chance of rain. In high summer, maybe not. Then spring and fall can shower, sometimes with thunder and lightening, most days. After a week or two, a liner is pretty destroyed. Also, when I take a canoe in, there is a chance I can flip it. I HATE to have my sleeping gear and food all water soaked.

Marko Botsaris
(millonas) - F - MLife

Locale: Santa Cruz Mountains, CA
Re: Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/22/2014 09:07:03 MDT Print View

"I switched to a compression/dry bag for my sleeping cloths."

James, can you recommend one, I'd like to take a look.

Ideally I'd like to get my down jacket and quilt into one. In that case, like you, I really wouldn't have any worries, even in a "flipped canoe" type scenario. I find I am right at the capacity with my bear can in my pack - every time I repack I get a satisfactory/ unsatisfactory result (%70/%30). Removing a few more water-resistant security blankets might be just the ticket. I just started having this problem when I switched to putting the down stuff on top of the bear can (instead of under it), so it seems my compression efficiency is probably the main source of the variability.

Do you like the GG ones?

Edited by millonas on 04/22/2014 09:14:13 MDT.

BJ Clark
(bj.clark) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/22/2014 11:52:37 MDT Print View

I think a lot of this is no more than personal preference. I went to a liner from LiteTrail and ditched the dry bags. Now anything I want to keep dry is stuffed in the liner. The liner weighs an ounce and 2 bags cost about $5. I have used the same liner with no problems for about a month's worth of hiking. Cheap, lighter, and it works for me. Which ever you choose, I don't think you need both.

(ardavis324) - F

Locale: High Sierra
turkey roasting bags on 04/22/2014 12:02:33 MDT Print View

Just picked up some Turkey roasting bags for $3 at Walmart. They weigh .5oz each and hold my quilt and puffy jacket. They feel pretty sturdy and have a strong looking seam. I'm going to see how it holds up this summer.

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: turkey roasting bags on 04/22/2014 12:16:31 MDT Print View

The turkey bags that I have work well and last. Only drawback is they make noise when packing and rolling them - no biggie, but NeoAir haters will die if they have to pack in one!!!!! :)

Rex Sanders
(Rex) - M

Locale: Central California Coast
Re: Re: turkey roasting bags on 04/22/2014 12:49:30 MDT Print View

Big difference between sleeping 8-12 hours on a NeoAir (too noisy for me), and packing stuff in turkey bags for a few minutes once a day (that's me).

-- Rex

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: Re: Do I really need a pack liner? on 04/22/2014 14:17:41 MDT Print View

Sea to summit eVent bags in small or medium, depending.
I also have a couple GG sil ones that leak. They do not work very well because they hold air, then any compression blows them out. They weigh about 4oz but it is well worth the extra peace of mind if you get swamped or hike in rain for 3-4 days. These last a while, I still have the first pair I bought when they came out, what...5-6 years ago?

I just use cheap wally world/chinese stuff for plain dry bags (food.) I go through about one every two years so I quit buying expensive ones. Cheap ones are an ounce heavier. Food is odd shaped, sometimes and I just dump stuff in there. It also adds a lumbar "shelf" to my pack for easier carrying, unless I bring a bear ball.

I also use the eVent bag as a pillow. I turn it inside out and throw boots, extra cloths in for a pillow.

Liners work well for short trips. But after several days, they get punctured from something: saw, fishing rod, stakes, map edges, ... something. I was using a larger 3200CC pack that weighd 22 ounces. With compression sacks, I went to a 2200ci pack (Murmur) at 11ounces. This MORE than paid for the extra weight of the two sacks. For longer trips (2 weeks+) I have been using a Miniposa with three sacks at about 17oz.

My bag got wet in a bad rainstorm before I got to camp. I spent a rather uncomfortable night under about half the bag, using pack liners. (We were in the High Peaks of the ADK's.) With sacks, I no longer worry about it. And they work really well for canoeing. Last spring I dumped my canoe on a very high river and got everything wet. My sleeping cloths were still dry. Also, the pack acts like a flotation device. It will hold air and float.