Gear

Best Waterproof Backpack

Traveling light is a huge advantage when you’re out in the wilderness. Having less means you can move more quickly and have less to worry about, and it also means you can get up and moving a lot more easily when it is time to head out of camp. That’s why having a backpack in which you can put everything you need is the best way to hike and camp, but one disadvantage to backpacking is that most of your gear is exposed to the elements. If you get wet, your stuff gets wet.

Luckily, though, there are plenty of packs out there designed with this in mind. Getting a waterproof backpack means you won’t need to worry about your stuff getting destroyed, and it will also prevent you from having to wear wet clothes—something that can be both uncomfortable and dangerous—or wait around for things to dry, which can really slow you down. Here are some things to consider when looking for a waterproof backpack:

Material

Any piece of gear you buy is only as good as the material from which it is made. If it’s made from a subpar material, expect it to fail or break quickly, so make sure to look for something that will last.

Leather is one of the most common natural waterproof materials, although it’s not find in lots of backpacks. It can be heavy and it is expensive, but if you find one you like, this is one of the best materials out there to keep your stuff dry. The other materials you find will likely be the traditional fabrics, such as nylon or polyester, treated with some chemical, usually silicone, to make them waterproof. Nylon tends to be a bit stronger, but there are large differences between the different types of nylon, so make sure you are getting what you paid for.

Also, some backpacks will be advertised as being waterproof, but really they are just regular backpacks with a cover that you can put over it to keep it dry. These will work in a pinch, but they are not completely waterproof and will eventually fail. Look for something a bit more durable than this.

Size

Backpacks are usually measured in liters and can range from 20L daypacks to 80L metal frame packs designed for weeks out on the trail. Decide what you are most likely to use your pack for, and don’t overdo it. Remember, less is more. Metal frame packs are useful if you are going to carry lots of equipment such as tents and sleeping pads, but if you don’t plan on taking this stuff with you, they probably aren’t necessary. The bigger the backpack, the more stuff you’ll end up bringing, which means a heavier bag and a sore back.

Fit

Your backpack is going to spend a lot of time on your back, so make sure it’s comfortable. Go to a local store and try a few on. You want the bottom of the bag to sit on the small of your back, right above your hips, and you do not want to put too much pressure on your shoulders. Each bag will sit a little differently, so spend some time finding one you will be able to carry around for hours at a time.

Finding the right backpack is like finding the right travel companion. Spend some time picking out the one that is right for you so that you can bring all you need, and nothing more, when you head out on the trail.

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