Do I Really Need a Pack Cover for Bushwalking?

What is the purpose of a pack cover? Do I need a pack cover if I have the contents of my pack inside a waterproof bag ? What are the disadvantages of using a pack cover?

Ultralight Sn240  (Sea to Summit)

I started using a pack cover not long after I started bushwalking. Back then I had a secondhand Lowe 60L cordura pack, which absorbed water very easily and soon became quite heavy. I had a small tent and always needed to leave my pack outside in the rain. My pack liner was usually one of those orange garbage bags, and because I always packed tightly, it often got holes in it.

My pack cover was almost essential in those circumstances!

More recently, I purchased a simple Goretex bivy sac (mummy shape) for emergencies and also used it as my pack liner.  No longer did I need a plastic garbage bag liner. Then I purchased a 3 season MacPac Eclipse (1 pole) which had a single moderately sized vestibule which was large enough to drag my pack into overnight. When I am sharing the tent, I still use my pack cover to store my pack out in the rain. About 5 years ago I bought a MacPac Minaret (2 pole, 4 season tunnel tent, a miniature version of the MacPac Olympus) which was lighter than the Eclipse and able to withstand stronger winds, heavy rain and snow. When I am on my own, I drag my pack inside to keep it dry.

I have moved on from my Lowe backpack to an 85 litre MacPac Torre, which I bought just before my last Western Arthurs expedition. The padding on my Lowe was quite inadequate when it was filled to its maximum capacity and I was grateful for the greater size and comfort of the Torre on longer bushwalks. No longer did I have to compress each individual item to fit them all inside my 60L pack.

It is still mainly cordura, and will still absorb lots of water when it loses it water repellency. While I no longer need it to keep water from getting inside my pack, I still use it to keep my pack from absorbing too much water and on the occasions when I can’t get it into my tents, to cover it while its propped up against a tree.

Pack covers have their problems! They can often tear or get pulled off in thick scrub. The more recent models have a carabiner which you can use to attach them to the top loop of your pack, so you should not lose it.

If I had a pack that did not absorb water and had a durable waterproof liner, I don’t think I would take my pack cover anymore and in the process save a 130 gms.
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This article by Bush Walker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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