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Inside The Outdoors

How to Waterproof a Backpack

18.05.2015 | Hiking How to Guides

There are many reasons why you may wish to waterproof your backpack. Walkers who regularly hike in the rain or canoeist that may capsize need to keep their kit dry. Most rucksacks won’t be 100% waterproof (unless there are no seams or zips) but there are several ways you can ‘waterproof’ your rucksack to keep everything inside dry.

  • Rucksack LinerRucksack liner
    A rucksack liner is a large waterproof bag with fully sealed seams that goes inside your rucksack before your kit is put in. A rucksack liner is best used in conjunction with dry bags to separate out kit. Can’t find a rucksack liner? Heavy duty compost or bin bags can be used instead. Check there are no holes in the bag and be cautious when packing sharp objects!
  • Dry bags
    Dry BagDry bags are commonly used for kayaking, canoeing and other extreme sports where there is the chance your backpack will be fully submerged. These bags seal tightly at the top and have fully taped seams to keep everything watertight.
    If you allow enough air into them they also act as a great buoyancy aid – another reason they are ideal for canoeing. They come in a variety of sizes which make them great for splitting up your kit to help you pack more efficiently.


  • Ziplock bags Ziplock Bag
    Ziplock bags can be used to keep smaller items dry. They are most often used for phones, cameras and cash. As ziplock bags are clear you can often still use your phone whilst they are kept in the bag, useful if it is raining. Make sure there are no holes in the bag and they are fully sealed.
  • Waterproof containers
    Waterproof containers are useful for keeping items waterproof as well as safe from damage. They are most commonly used by sailing and canoeing enthusiasts. Waterproof containers are available in a variety of sizes, from larger containers to hold all your kit to smaller ones to fit inside your backpack.
  • Raincovers
    A rain gives your pack some water resistance- enough to keep your kit dry should it rain. Larger rucksacks will come Prooferwith a rain cover attached but are easy to obtain if not. They are generally elasticated around the edge to ensure that your bag is kept completely covered.
  • Proofer Sprays
    In the same way you might re-proof a waterproof jacket; waterproofing sprays are available for rucksacks. Although they will improve the fabrics water resistance it’s important to remember that no spray will make your rucksack 100% waterproof as water can still leak through the seams and zips.


Ultimately, few backpacks are 100% waterproof, but if you’re looking for a bag that will keep your kit dry even when fully submerged under water, it’s worth considering these features:

Single compartment packs
Choosing a backpack with a single compartment means there are less zips where water can penetrate (as most rucksacks do not have waterproof zips.)

Roll top opening
This helps to keep the water out in a similar design to a dry bag. It provides an airtight seal to keep your gear dry. Fully waterproof rucksacks will have a roll top in place of a zip.