Do I Need a Rucksack Cover?

What is a Rucksack Cover?

They are usually made from lightweight, waterproof, ripstop fabric and are secured around your rucksack with elasticated drawcord. When not in use they can be packed away into their own little stuff sack.

Snugpak Backpack Covers are available in small, medium and large to fit different sizes of rucksacks. Small fits uo to 25 litre rucksacks, medium fits up to 35 litre rucksacks and large fits up to 45 litre rucksacks.

Do I Need a Rucksack Cover?

The purpose of rucksack / Backpack covers is to protect your rucksack from the rain, but are they really necessary?

A wet rucksack is heavier than a dry rucksack, so the rain cover will help keep your rucksack lightweight. It will keep most of your backpack bone dry, although it does not cover the shoulder straps or hip belt. If you have been out all day hiking in the rain, bringing a soaking wet rucksack into your tent can make the rest of your outdoor gear damp. If you are staying at a hotel or guest house, or simply going home you will still need to dry out your rucksack if it is soaking wet. The rain cover will dry out much faster than a rucksack.
Waterproof rain cover for keeping your rucksack dry
When packing a rucksack most people would use a rucksack liner, Mountain Equipment Wet & Dry Stuffsack or plastic bags to keep their outdoor gear dry. Therefore the rucksack protector is normally unlikely to keep your kit much drier than it would otherwise be. However, water does have a knack of finding its way into places, so if you are on a long hike and unfortunate to be in constant bad weather, the rain cover might be the difference between damp or dry camping gear. Camping can be bad enough in the rain, without having a soggy sleeping bag!

One thing to watch out for is that since the cover does not form a watertight seal, water can get inside the rain cover where it collects in a puddle at the bottom.

Rucksack covers do not only protect your rucksack from rain. If you are cycling with a rucksack, the cover will provide protection from mud on splattered up from your bike’s rear wheel.

If your rucksack has garish colour that is just too bright, then a black rain cover can be used to keep your back pack looking more sombre.

One of the cons of using a rucksack protector is that they are a hindrance if you want to carry things on outside of rucksack. Items like sleeping mats do not fit easily underneath rain covers.

In high winds the rucksack cover can get blown off. Therefore, after putting the cover over your rucksack and pulling the drawcord tight, it is worth tying the drawcord to the rucksack’s grab handle. Then if the wind blows the cover off, at least your cover won’t blow away down the mountainside.

In my experience, using a rucksack protector is worthwhile, but they are not everybody’s cup of tea.

Rucksacks with Built-In Covers

Some rucksacks have the covers built into them, for example, some Lowe Alpine and Berghaus rucksacks have built in rain covers. The raincover is normally zipped away in a pocket. When it starts to rain the cover can be pulled over the rucksack and is normally held in place with elastic. These covers are a much better fit that the generic rucksack covers since they are designed to fit a specific rucksack. They also have the benefit that they will not get blown off your rucksack in high winds.

Rucksack Covers for Travelling

Rain and transport cover for rucsacs made by Life Venture
If you are travelling a Life Venture Combi Transporter Rucksack Cover would be useful. This type of cover is not only a rain cover but also a transporter cover. It keeps all of your rucksack’s straps tidied away, preventing them from getting snagged and broken during flights or train travel.

Another worthwhile product if you are going travelling with a rucksack is a Pacsafe Luggage Protector. This is a wire mesh which prevents thieves gain access to your rucksack by slashing it open with a knife.

Review a Rucksack Rain Cover!

What is your opinion of rucksack rain covers? Are the worth the bother or are they your kit’s saviour from the rain? Let us know, click on comments below!


2 thoughts on “Do I Need a Rucksack Cover?

  1. Glad to see Adrian’s comment above as I was thinking about similarly cheap solutions – a binbag was springing to mind for me!


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