How To Choose a Backpack Rain Cover to Keep Your Gears Dry

Getting stuck in the woods in bad weather can catch you off guard if you don’t have the right equipment. If your pack gets wet, it increases the weight on your back, making that hike a painful one. This can happen to even the most experienced hikers, backpackers and hunters. Backpack rain covers are an important piece of equipment to have. In this article, we are going to talk about how to choose a backpack rain cover. Wouldn’t you like to be prepared for everything out there? Ok. Let’s dive in, shall we?

If this hasn’t happened to you yet, consider yourself lucky. Picture it. You’re out on the trail enjoying a hike with the sounds of nature to keep you company. The sun is blazing down on you keeping you warm. You hike another mile and suddenly the sky clouds over and you’re hit with a flash rainstorm. You don’t have a backpack rain cover because you didn’t think you needed one and now you’re kicking yourself.

Why Do You Need a Backpack Rain Cover?

All backpacks have some element of water resistance but they are not necessarily waterproof. Having a backpack rain cover is essential if you want to be prepared for all weather contingencies. But not all rain covers are the same and it’s important that you have the right cover for your specific backpack type and size.

If you carry equipment attached to the outside of your backpacks, such as a tent or stove, having the right cover will keep your gear from getting soaked during an unexpected storm.

What to Look For When Picking a Rain Cover for Your Backpack

Your backpack is a strong piece of equipment. But even if it’s waterproof, it’s still vulnerable to leaks due to needle holes in the seams, zippers, and pockets. 

It’s important to find the right cover for your specific backpack and your specific needs. The first decision you’ll need to make is if you want a cover just for your backpack or to include yourself as well. Start by making a note of the dimensions of your backpack. Check the capacity range such as 30-40L, 40-50L, etc.

  • Decide if you want a reflective cover or not. This will depend on what type of exposure you face when you go backpacking.
  • Do you need a waterproof cover or will a water-resistant cover do the job?
  • Does the color matter? This could be important so we’ll discuss that in more detail below.  
  • How heavy is the cover? 
  • Can it be folded away for easy storage?
  • Are the seams sealed to prevent water from leaking in?
  • Does the cover have adjustable straps for a better fit?
  • Do you need a cover with a drainage hole in the bottom?
  • Will the cover serve other purposes? For instance, can you use it also for a pillow or blanket?
  • Does the cover come with any type of guarantee? Check for any guarantee terms. 
  • What is the return policy?

You want to choose a cover that fits your needs yet is lightweight, durable and stows away easily.

Material Quality

The materials used to make rain covers are, at the very least, water-resistant.  There are a number of different materials used to make backpack covers such as:

Nylon: lightweight, stretchable, water-resistant and durable. In some cases, you may find a nylon cover that is double layered providing added protection. Nylon is softer yet stronger than its polyester counterpart.

Polyester: less flexible, fast-drying,  than its nylon counterpart.

Tear Resistant: helps protect your backpack cover from being torn by branches or high winds.

Polyurethane Coating: some covers will come with this coating making the cover water repellent.

Taffeta: a stiff fabric sometimes used as a second layer for added protection.

PVC Coated Polyester:  this is the best material to protect your backpack. This coating makes the backpack cover waterproof and resistant to oil, dirt, mildew, salt, UV rays and chemicals.

Most covers are designed to be waterproof and tear resistant no matter what material they are made from.

Size Matters

There are a variety of different sizes available so it’s important that you buy the one that will completely cover your backpack and provide a nice seal against the elements.

Kid Covers: If you hike with children, their backpacks can also benefit from rain covers and there are specific covers for smaller backpacks.

Backpack Rain Cover - Two Boys on a Forest Road with Backpacks

If you plan to attach items to the outside of your backpack, it’s advisable to buy a bigger cover to accommodate this.

Does Color Matter?

Rain covers come in a variety of colors. The colors can be a personal preference or chosen based on need.

Having a high visibility cover in the winter or during the hunting season can ensure that you are visible. There are many high visibility colors to choose from–orange or yellow would be the most popular.

For hunters, choosing a camouflage cover helps you to blend in with your surroundings.

Different Types of Rain Covers

There are many different types of covers that have different features. When deciding on which is best for you, take in the following considerations:

Waterproof: these covers are 100% waterproof and can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Water Resistant: these are not waterproof, but can withstand light rain.

High Visibility Covers: these covers are specifically used to ensure that you are seen by hunters who you may be sharing the woods with.

Poncho Style: hooded rain ponchos protect you and your backpack from getting completely soaked in a rainstorm. Some ponchos are universal and will fit most anyone. Hooded ponchos are great for all over protection.

Hybrid Rain Covers: these backpack covers are ponchos and also have other purposes. They can be used as a camping blanket if the ground is wet or as shading from the hot sun. Some can even be used as a pillow when inside a pouch. Hybrid rain covers are usually ponchos.

Reflective: these have reflective strips so that you can be seen at night. Useful in the woods or walking on roads in the dark.

Whatever type of rain cover you choose, make sure it will protect your gear from all weather conditions.

Final Thoughts

Backpack rain covers are an essential piece of kit to protect your expensive gear from the elements. They are reasonably priced,  lightweight and don’t take up much room in your pack. Depending on the one you choose, it can also have a multitude of uses. Most will come with a handy pouch for easy storage. Not all backpack rain covers are 100% waterproof so be sure to check the fine print.

If you have any questions about buying a backpack rain cover, be sure to leave a comment below. I will get back to you immediately.

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4 thoughts on “How To Choose a Backpack Rain Cover to Keep Your Gears Dry”

  1. It’s very good to know about backpacking, it makes your trip more easier and interesting, also having a good backpack rain cover will give you a good shelter during the raining weather and keeps backpack safe from the water. I like the fact that some backpacks are always made with this feature,it is really nice.

    • I find that a backpack rain cover is a must-have because the weather can change quickly! Even if my backpack is made of water-resistant material, I still want to fully waterproof my backpack, so I add a waterproof rain cover just to make sure that my gears stay dry.

  2. This is a piece of excellent information, and now I see the importance of having a backpack rain cover since it is an important piece of equipment when going for a hike in the wilderness.

    I have a question: Can you simply buy a waterproof bag over your backpack? Will it do the job effectively, or do I really need the backpack rain cover?

    • The thing is if you put a waterproof bag over your backpack, is it the same as a rain cover for your backpack? You have to make sure that the bag is really waterproof and not too small or too big to fit your backpack snugly.

      Personally, I would buy a backpack rain cover as they are well-priced, between $15-50 depending on the size. I hope it helps.


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