Our Guide to Backpack Protection Devices

Backpack cover

Our mission is to get people outdoors. Since most people aren't enthusiasts who venture outside regularly, you can buy or rent backpack covers. Specifically, about our backpack cover rentals:

  • We rent backpack covers that are higher end than those rented elsewhere, but still offer competitive pricing
  • We offer a rent-to-buy program so you don't have to worry about losing money from renting
  • Our self-service allows you to hire backpack covers whenever is convenient for you

Core function: Most hiking backpacks are water repellant, but this does not mean that they are waterproof (read more about the difference). You may need something extra to keep your gear dry.

Do you really need it?

Check the weather forecast! If it's just light precipitation, the water resistance of most hiking backpacks may be sufficient. If, like many people, you avoid venturing out in the rain, but precipitation is unexpectedly forecast for an upcoming trip, you can easily rent a backpack cover for a few dollars .

For more info, read our 'what you really need' protip

What we carry

Type or Style Backpack cover
Model Osprey backpack cover Sea To Summit backpack cover
Osprey backpack cover
Covers a single capacity, e.g., 60L
Sea To Summit backpack cover
Covers a range of capacities, e.g., 50-70L


MSRP with tax

value, depending on capacity
Rent $5+
Capacity 50-90L backpacks
Weight Regular weight-class, exact weight depends on capacity, ~5oz (139g)
General Notes
  • We choose what we carry based on extensive research on what's the best value to our customers (e.g., price given performance & durability features) across all the top brands. We specifically do not carry every brand & model; for details on why we do/don't carry certain items in the following What To Use & How To Choose section
  • Buy prices a grayed out box indicates we don't sell it (we may only rent backpack covers of this model)
  • Rent prices are the starting prices; enter trip dates on our Catalog to get exact prices (based on total trip length, not per day!). We also don't charge sales tax, an automatic savings of almost 10%!

When you hire backpack covers online, you can select from available options or we'll pick out something for you. You can also write-in any preferences on the last page of checkout. This section describes the majority of our models & options, but sometimes we carry others.

What to use & how to choose

Sometimes it's easy to get lost in all the hype of something new (over-spending often happens on features). Our guide focuses on the fundamental factors you should always keep in mind (thus, this short list is similar across all items). Then only at the end do we have some questions to get you thinking about other minor features. Also take advantage of renting backpack covers to try out what works for you!

We highly recommend reviewing Type or Style first, where we review what you can use to address the Core function--a regular item you have at home may work! The other factors are secondary & depend strongly on the Type or Style you've picked; in fact, for other factors data charts are generally only for a specific Type or Style that we carry (e.g., as a gear shop, would be outdoor-specific products).

We've organized the most commonly used items people use to address the Core function below, with example images, characteristics, features, etc.

Name Exterior cover Interior liner
Hiking backpack specific Heavy duty trash compactor bag
Example images Backpack cover Backpack liner Trash bag
How effective is it? There are inevitable entry points for water. Even if just the shoulder straps are getting wet, that moisture can transfer to the inside of your pack. That said, unless it is raining really hard, generally these are sufficient to protect most gear Since they directly cover your gear, they perform better
Is it durable?

Similar technical fabric used in backpack itself

Does it protect gear strapped to backpack exerior?
Does it protect backpack itself from getting wet?
Does it keep contents separate for easy retrieval?
Covers don't affect how gear is organized in pockets

Once things go in a liner they all go in! That's why see-through liners are more popular, or some people bag up items individually for easier retrieval
Effect on other factors Price $20-55 $1-5
Weight 1.7-6oz (48-170g) 1-2oz (28-57g)
Rationale More technical (similar material to tents) Less technical (basically a plastic bag)

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell

Easy to use with less planning. Also many people who would go with a liner would choose a trash bag, which we explicitly don't carry

Not specific enough for outdoor use & there may be issues with durability

If you don't go very often, of course you're going to want to spend less money, but this often means real trade-offs in terms of the experience that you will have with the gear. Even if you do go often & are ready to invest in quality gear, having the upfront funds can be hard!

Now, it may seem like this price & quality trade-off is disappearing, because you can find a cheap version of almost anything for tens of dollars that still has good reviews (assuming the reviews are real). So you might be thinking: I'll just buy something cheap, and because the price is so low it doesn't matter if it's less featured or heavier or whatever compared to something higher end. When that breaks, I'll buy something cheap again, and so on. Just remember:

  • Many reviews are written after only a trial use or first use: We've seen entire review videos of gear done at home, which is very different than actually being outdoors! And reviews after the first use don't tell you about durability at all
  • You're headed outdoors to relax and enjoy life! Saving money only to have a trip ruined due to quality issues will feel terrible. Our program to rent backpack covers is designed to help you avoid this trade-off: you get to rent high end, quality backpack covers for around the same price as buying cheap ones (sometimes even for less!)

For this item specifically, the price vs. quality trade-off issues center around performance & durability.

For backpack covers, performance & durability are linked (ripped fabric lets in water!). Fabric-wise, lower end items tend to be made with polyester, which is less durable than nylon (more info in our clothing guide, see section on Durability); and of course, if the fabric tears, performance is compromised. Finally lower end items may not have or may have less effective waterproofing

Methodology notes on prices shown on this page

Cover: should have around the same Liter capacity as your backpack

  • What if it's bigger? The cover will be super "baggy" over the pack, which may make it easier to catch on a branch & pull off (especially if it can't be cinched down enough)
  • What if it's smaller? The cover won't cover everything! It'll also be easier for the cover to fall off if it can't cinch tight over the pack

Liner: should have around the same Liter capacity as the compartment within the backpack that it needs to fit into. If you have a 60 liter backpack, where the brain is 10 liters and the body is 50 liters, you may want a 50 liter liner for the body and a 10 liter liner for the brain. Some people also have many smaller liners to separate contents

As you can imagine, as capacity increases, so does price and weight & size.

If you're thru-hiking 20+ miles (32+km) per day, every advantage counts! In this case, size refers to compactness.

Exterior cover Regular Ultralight
Nylon Nylon Dyneema
Weight 4.9oz
Effect on other factors Price $33 $25-40 $55
Rationale Though the "denier" (thickness) of ultralight nylon is lower than regular nylon, it's not that much more expensive More technical fabric

Why we do/don't carry it

= we rent
= we sell

Standard for most outdoor uses

Most people who care this much about weight would choose the liner (specifically trash bag), which we explicitly don't carry (see Type or Style section)

Here, we give you a list of questions to start thinking about other features. We hope our approach of savings these features for last gets you to more critically think about what you need & not get caught up in the hype of what's cool and over-spend your budget. Remember, we allow you to hire a backpack cover so feel free to try out various models with different features.

  • Does it come with a carrying case?
  • Does it have a drainage hole at the bottom for any water that does get inside?
  • Is there a drawstring to cinch the cover tighter or just an elastic band?

Usage tips

Cover. Be sure to cinch it as tight as possible. You may even want to bring clips to ensure the cover doesn't slip

Liner. If an actual liner, use it like a dry bag in terms of rolling the top down. If a trash bag, twist off the end and keep it from accidentally opening with rubber bands or clips.

Maintenance tips


We can either provide parts or repair services (and discounts on renting backpack cover while you wait) for the following issues:

  • Holes, rips, or tears

Waterproofing: Repairing issues with waterproofing requires careful diagnosis of exactly what the problem is. We have a list of visual cues & solutions in our guide on waterproofing

Cleaning & Storing

Gear not in use should be cleaned & dried and then stored loose & in a dark environment, check out our entire protip on the topic here.

We have a general protip on how to store & maintain gear that we highly recommend reviewing as well. If you send us video or a good photo series, we may be able to help you evaluate your repair needs.

The exact numbers (e.g., weights, dimensions, prices, etc.) used were updated as of September 2019 .