A waterproof backpack is different to a water resistant backpack. A water resistant backpack will keep your kit dry when it is raining but if it were to drop into a river when kayaking for example, then it would not keep everything inside dry.
There are many advantages to a waterproof backpack – who wouldn’t want to make sure all their kit and valuables stay dry whatever the circumstance? A waterproof rucksack of course keepsyour gear dry, but also tends to be stronger and lighter. As the seams on a waterproof rucksack are welded it means that they are not sewn together with a needle and thread. This makes the bag more durable, and there are no seams for the water to seep through. This can actually reduce the weight of your bag by 30%.
When looking for a waterproof backpack it is important to check the materials. The backpack should be made from nylon/polyester blends as they are strong materials, and should definitely have welded seams. Without this they will only be water resistant.
Waterproof backpacks are great for many different activities, here’s why:
Running – When running you don’t want anything big and bulky, so saving on weight is a must. The kit you may have in your bag when running you may still want to keep dry, especially if you are running to or from work. A waterproof backpack will be the lightest option, and with its more durable design its a better investment than a rain cover over a regular bag.
Cycling – When cycling you do not need a massive bag, and therefore a small roll top waterproof bag will be sufficient to carry your supplies. A waterproof backpack for a cyclist can be m much easier due to its lighter design. If you’re out on your bike and the weather changes its mind, you do not need to worry about stopping and putting your rain cover on! And you also do not need to worry about your rain cover falling off.
Hiking – When hiking, you never know what the weather will be like. There are some arguments that most of the kit in your bag will get wet eventually anyway (tent, jacket etc.) and other items will still work when wet. The few items that will need to be kept dry are things like your spare clothes, first aid kit, toilet roll, sleeping bag and food. These could b stored in a dry bag inside your rucksack so perhaps a fully waterproof bag is not as essential in comparison to other activities, but it will be far more of an enjoyable hiking trip if you don’t have to put up a went tent.
Canyoneering – A fully waterproof backpack is absolutely essential for anyone canyoneering. It is when you jump into a fast flowing mountain stream, and you allow yourself to be carried downstream at high speeds. Because your backpack will be submerged into the water, a rain cover will not be sufficient enough at all.
Caving – Caves are dark and damp, and there can be waterfalls and other water which could penetrate your rucksack. Even putting your rucksack on the ground for a long period of time could allow water to soak up the bottom of it. A rain cover and dry bags may be sufficient if you know your location very well but to be completely sure your kit will be dry and safe then you should definitely invest in a waterproof backpack.
Some fully waterproof backpacks can be on the pricier side, and in a few cases a waterproof rucksack may not be the most practical choice. Some backpacks have a full length zip which allow the backpack to open like a suitcase – usually featured on larger backpacks great for travelling. Due to the direction of the seam it is far more difficult to make the backpack waterproof, and therefore a rain cover will be better to keep the bag waterproof on the outside. Separating and organising your kit into dry bags will keep all your gear inside your backpack waterproof and can be a cheaper alternative.