How to Waterproof a Backpack?

person wearing a rain cover over backpack

A waterproof backpack is a great way to keep your stuff dry on a rainy day. But, how to protect your most important items from outdoor elements if you don’t own one? Many packs are not completely waterproofed, meaning that your gear can easily get wet.

Here’s the deal:

The first thing you need to do when hiking in the rain, kayaking or canoeing is to protect your dry clothes, food, iPad, cell phone, sleeping bag and other important pack content. The best thing to do that is to waterproof your backpack.

Want to know how?

In this article, we will explain how using a pack liner, dry bag, rain covers and other items, will help you to keep your stuff dry. Follow these 7 easy tips to learn how to waterproof a backpack.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

1. Try with The Ziplock Bags

“No end of uses for those great Ziploc bags. From holding games to keep the young occupied on the long drive to the mountains, to safe storage places for cosmetics, first-aid supplies, and food. Even your wig will be happier in a Ziploc.” according to Vogue in November 1973.

You can use it for everything because they come in different sizes and shapes. It is a cheaper option for keeping your important items dry. They are usually used for cash, cameras and cell phones.

This is a great way to protect your bag when hiking in the rain, kayaking or canoeing. Just make sure there are no holes in it and your gear will be well protected.

2. Use a Pack Liner

It is a plastic bag that is waterproofed with completely sealed seams. Put it into your backpack before you place your stuff in it. Just make sure that it’s taller than your pack.

This way you can easily seal it with some rubber bands after you put your gear in it. There is another great way to use this plastic bag. If you get really cold use it as a vapor barrier.

If you wear it over your legs, it will trap the heat from your body and warm you up. You could also make two holes in one bag, for your arms, and use it as a vapor barrier for your body. This is a great option if you find yourself in some extremely cold conditions.

Before you put it in your pack, make sure there is no hole in the liner. Also, be extra careful when placing some sharp objects in it. You can use a heavy-duty compost if you don’t own a rucksack liner.

3. Use a Dry Bag

They are generally used for some extreme sports, like canoeing and kayaking. It is a waterproof bag that will keep your gear safe and dry. Make sure to properly close a bag so it can work correctly.

Most of them have taped seams and are made of waterproof covered material. With a roll top closure, these bags are an excellent option for canoeing, sailing, kayaking or hiking in the extreme conditions. The best part is that you can purchase it in different sizes.

Use a waterproof pouch for storing small items like a camera or cell phone. Or you can use a lightweight bag. They are excellent waterproof storage bags for hiking and camping made from coated material.

There are several ways of using a dry bag than just protecting your items in wet situations. You can use it as a makeshift pillow, water bucket or for storing the cut wood.

4. Use a Waterproof Container

They are generally used by canoeing and sailing enthusiasts. It is an excellent choice for keeping your gear dry. They are also great for protecting your stuff from getting damaged.

You can purchase it in the variety of sizes. Choose a large container, to pack all your gear. Or you can use a small one to protect your stuff, like keys or cell phone.

It depends on your personal preferences what bag should you choose. Make sure to purchase the right size for your items.

red waterproof container

5. Food

Choose a well-sealed bag or zip lock bags to properly store your food (source). Make sure it is watertight and odor-proof. To find your meal easily, label the content of each bag.

6. Rain Covers

In almost every backpack you will find a rain cover. They are usually in a small pocket at the bottom of your bag. When used, it will cover the entire bag and protect it from outdoor elements.

It is water resistant, so it won’t keep your bag dry completely if you find yourself in some extreme conditions. But, it will serve as the first line defense against the water. And it’s always good to protect your bag as much as it is possible to ensure the best results.

7. Proofer Sprays

When using this product, spray evenly on the outside of the pack from approximately 8 – 10 inches away. Hang it on a washing line so it can be easier for you to spray it. Make sure to check the bag to ensure no areas of it have been missed.

If there is any excess wipe it off with a damp cloth. Let the pack dry naturally. If there are some abrasion areas apply a second coat of this spray.


In this article, we explained what is the best way to keep your backpack dry. Most multi-day or overnight packs are not fully waterproof. So, it is important to know how to keep your gear dry in some extreme conditions.

Following these easy steps, you will quickly learn how to do that. It is always better to use rain cover to protect your stuff from outdoor elements or to line your backpack with a heavy trash bag. For a better effect try to use all these tips in extreme conditions.

Of course, you can always purchase a fully waterproof pack or follow this guide to learn how to do that by yourself.

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