In the last post I reviewed how you can utilize a bin liner to keep some of your gear dry on a very wet day. The main point I was getting at in the post was that, as a general rule, a bin liner can be handy thing to have with you in your pack while out on a day hike for multiple reasons.
On top of that, if you really want to keep gear inside your pack dry, it's a really good idea to put it inside a bin liner or a dry bag. When you're out on the trail, if the rain is heavy enough, no pack will stay dry so it's a good idea to have some extra protection for the stuff inside your pack.
When it comes to keeping rain off your pack, another option that can help is to use a rain cover.
What is a Backpack Rain Cover?
Backpack Rain Covers are purpose built covers that fit over your pack. They come in varying sizes and and are waterproof, so the idea is for them to keep the rain from getting into your pack. They have an elastic type draw cord around the outside which can be adjusted using a cord lock fastener.
They also have a tie cord or two which can be used to tie the cover to your pack. This feature is very important as many times when there's bad rain on the trail, heavy wind will accompany it. These tie cords help ensure that if your rain cover gets blown off your pack in the wind they stay attached to it, so at least you don't have to chase after it!
Many backpacks will come with a rain cover built in as part of the make-up and features of the pack. However, you can also buy them separate to use for any pack.
How Much is a Good Rain Cover?
When you buy a rain cover for a day or back pack as s stand alone item, the price will vary a bit. Overall a good one should not be more than $10.00 / $15.00. They will come in differing sizes and so the price will vary upwards slightly as you increase the size.
Where Can I Get a Rain Cover?
Any Outdoor gear shop will have them but you can probably get the best deals online. Click on the picture above or here for some good rain cover options available from CamelBak.
What Size To Pick?
Obviously, the smaller rain covers are for day packs and the bigger you go up in size, the bigger the pack you can use the rain cover for. Rain Covers come in specific sizes so simply compare the size of the rain cover to the capacity of your pack.
It can be worth getting a pack that stands out color wise. While Fluorescent yellow may not be your normal color of choice, it can make sense to have something that stands out while out on the trail if, heaven forbid, you get into any difficulty. A search and rescue team might spot a bright yellow pack easier than a dark blue one for example.
Finally, to mention again, most good day packs and backpacks these days come with rain covers purpose built in as part of their make-up and design. So if you're in the market for a new pack, it can be worth factoring this in. For more tips on buying a day pack check out the day pack buying guide.
If you're just starting out hiking and already have a day pack of sorts, you should get along fine by utilizing a bin liner. Put your stuff in a bin liner or two inside your pack and it should keep it pretty dry in heavy rain.
Buying a separate rain cover can be an additional way to help keep your gear dry. They're not too expensive so they won't break the bank, they're also very lightweight and so can be tucked away compactly in your pack until needed.
When I buy packs, I wouldn't be too bothered if there was no built in rain cover. I think it's a nice to have and they're handy when you get caught in a shower but they're not critical. I have used separate rain covers on packs that didn't have them built in and while they can work to some degree, they can be a bit of pain in heavy winds as they tend to flap about a fair bit and if they're not attached well, they can easily blow away.
Even though I have built in rain covers on my packs, they aren't perfect and they won't keep rain out indefinitely. I utilize dry bags and bin liners to be sure of keeping stuff in my pack dry. When it comes to bin liners, I like to use the tougher variety, ones that are used for gardening or building refuse. I like them as they're much tougher and stronger than standard bin liners.
I hope you found this short post on a backpack rain cover useful. Please like, share and / or comment.