Ways To Waterproof a Backpack – Easy Methods

Last Updated: October 14, 2021

If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, then you probably already know that waterproofing a backpack is a must. Whether you’re trekking on a rainy day, climbing a mountain or backpacking, crossing waters, and camping for a night, you always need to keep your belongings dry.

Just like you have to learn all the dos and don’ts of outdoor adventure, you also need to know about waterproofing your backpack. There are times when you are out on trekking trips, and surprise, it starts raining. You start thinking it will stop raining soon, it’s just a drizzle, but unluckily the rain intensifies into a heavy rainfall. You get all wet, even your rain jacket not helping you much, then you decide to camp, in anticipation of wearing your dry clothes, but when you open your backpack, you see that everything is soaking wet.

This incident might not be your first, and many others have at one point experienced the same, not only a novice but experienced hikers as well.

Luckily by waterproofing your backpack, you can avoid this unfortunate experience.

How Can Waterproofing Your Backpack Help?

Waterproofing your backpack is one of those sure ways of making your outdoor adventure experience much better. Some of the reasons why it is a good idea are:

  • Your equipment stored in the backpack will stay dry.
  • When it rains or when you are crossing a river, you can be worry free knowing your equipment is safe from getting soaked.
  • Even when it rains, you get more time to hike until you reach your camping spot or destination. So fewer chances of letting the rain ruin your hiking experience.

Ways To Waterproof Your Backpack

Seam Sealer and Waterproof Spray

Using seam and spray sealer is an effective method to boost your backpack’s already existing water resistance. However, note that this method doesn’t work if your pack is not made of water-resistant materials. So spraying or seam sealing your tote or cotton drawstring bag will not be much effective in the long run.

For this method to work, you first need to get some waterproofing spray and seam sealant. Then make sure that your backpack is fully clean; if not, wash it with soap and water. When your backpack gets dried, use the waterproofing spray and spray it on your pack, following the instructions given on the product.

Commonly, this spray is applied one or two times and then hanged to dry. After the pack is dried, you can seal all the seams in your backpack using the seam sealer. This process might take long but is worth it when you go on your next adventure. And yes, make sure that the backpack is completely dry before you seal those seams.

Durable water repellent or waterproofing spray avoids letting water droplets soak your backpack, and instead, it helps in letting it drip off. But this doesn’t make your backpack fully waterproof. While seam sealant helps in not letting water get in through your backpack seams.

Therefore seam sealer and waterproofing spray may be effective working more as a water-resistant solution, it doesn’t make your backpack completely waterproof. So it’s always better to use other methods as well along with this.

Garbage Bag

Garbage bags are made of plastic, and they are the cheapest way to waterproof your backpack. For this, you will need two unused garbage bags, wrap your backpack and tape it and use the second garbage pack to line the insides for extra precaution.

This has proven to be one of the easiest and quickest ways to keep your staff dry effectively, plus it is also really affordable.

Backpack Liners

Like its name, backpack liners do just that; they are used to line the internal part of your backpack. Known to be one of the best ways to protect your backpack equipment, they are made from waterproof materials and are seam-sealed. A pack liner are very simple to use; you have to put them inside your pack and put your gear into it. Now your waterproof backpack is ready.

Different types of backpacks are made from various materials, and they are usually rectangular; this shape makes it easier to use. In addition, backpack liners are reusable, durable, and effective in keeping your equipment dry.

Dry Bags

Dry bags are available in many different materials, sizes, and shapes; that’s why before you buy one of these, you first need to know what you’re going to keep in it. These bags are best for keeping single items or many sets of small things to keep them dry. Or you can even buy a larger size and waterproof your whole backpack.

Note that dry bags are not to be used in place of a backpack as they are mainly used to keep things dry.

Rain Cover

With the advancement of technologies, rain covers have improved even more. Now they are more compact, cheaper and lighter, making them a favorite of outdoor adventurers. Rain covers are made of waterproof material and are very thin, covering the outer part of the backpack. Rain covers are simple and come in either nylon or other waterproof materials, and have an elastic band around them that helps keep the surface secure on your pack.

The drawback is that it isn’t effective in keeping your backpack dry during big storms as it tends to come off. However, some rain covers come with other attachments to keep them intact.

When you buy a rain cover, remember to consider the size of your backpack as it isn’t precisely universal to use.

Ziploc Bags

If you want to keep just a few pieces of your equipment dry, like headlamps and phones, then this method will do the work. Ziploc bags are bags that can be sealed and reused if not damaged.

These bags come in different shapes and sizes, and they are not only affordable but also lightweight. But, unfortunately, some drawbacks, like negatively impacting the environment, are present, just like garbage bags, and they are not durable.

Old Raincoat

One of the DIY methods of waterproofing a backpack is using old raincoats. What you can do here is first cut your raincoat and then line them inside your backpack, covering all the corners, making sure there are no gaps or holes. You can now stitch this lining in its place using a nylon thread, you can also use waterproof tape or glue, but the first method is better.

So, next time don’t throw away your old raincoat when you get a new one.

Frequently Asked Questions

how to waterproof a rucksack

How Do You Waterproof a Polyester Backpack?

Polyester is both waterproof and breathable, so it cannot be 100 % waterproof. As a fabric, it is not waterproof, but its threads are. Even in this case, water can still seep in between the gaps making it not that suitable during persistent and heavy rains.

Making polyester ultimately waterproof is pretty time-consuming and expensive. One of the most popular ways to boost water resistance of polyester is by applying an outer coat to the fabric. It helps in letting the gaps get closed, which in turn makes it water-resistant.

How Do You Waterproof a Nylon Bag?

Nylon is lightweight, cheap, and durable, but no waterproof. But just like polyester, the nylon threads are water-resistant, so unless there are gaps between the threads, water won’t penetrate.

For nylon backpacks to be waterproof, you need to use extra linings, water repellent spray, and other waterproofing products mention above.

Can You Waterproof a Rucksack?

Not all rucksacks will be 100 % waterproof because of their zips and seams. To make it waterproof, you can use methods like packliner that comes with sealed seams. You first have to insert the liner and then put your equipment in it.

One of the most followed methods is using a dry bag. It covers your whole bag externally and seal it tightly from the top. It helps in keeping your rucksack and equipment dry. Also, if you allow for some air in the dry bag, this can help you keep your sack afloat when you’re crossing rivers. They come in many sizes, so you won’t find it challenging to find one that fits your rucksack.

So, to some extent, we can waterproof a rucksack if we use suitable materials.

Final Thoughts

When it comes to waterproofing a backpack, there are several methods, while some are not that effective, there are some highly efficient ones too. Here we’ve given you a combination of both, but it’s always recommended that you use various options for best results.

A good waterproofing result also depends on the amount of money, time, and effort dedicated to it. While it is not always easy and feels like a hassle, it will give you a good result.