How To Waterproof A Backpack (The Complete Guide)

If you are on an outdoor trip, you need to be prepared for a sudden turn of weather. Rain and the wet can ruin your trip, so you want to make sure you have a waterproof bag for your things. So here is our guide on how to waterproof a backpack.

Benefits of Waterproof Backpacks

  • Total Gear Protection
    Waterproof backpacks are great to have when you are on the trail because they can keep your possessions dry and safe from the elements. Whether you have food items, extra clothing, or equipment in your pack, keeping water out will make sure your trip goes off without a hitch.
  • Built To Last
    Waterproof backpacks also tend to be tougher than your average backpack. They can take a beating without tearing or ripping. A waterproofed backpack will last longer than a non-waterproofed one, all other things being equal.
  • Enhanced Comfort
    Waterproof backpacks are also meant for wearing on the trail, so they are comfortable and feature a low-impact design that is easy on your shoulders and back. You can wear a good waterproof backpack for hours at a time with minimal fatigue.

Waterproof vs. Water Resistant Backpacks

There is a difference between water-resistant and waterproof backpacks. Water-resistant backpacks are merely resistant to water. They will repel much of it, but water can eventually still get through and potentially damage anything inside. A water-resistant backpack will easily stave off some rain but might have trouble with more inclement weather.

A waterproof backpack, in contrast, is 100% waterproof and does not let any water in. you can put a waterproof backpack underwater for a bit, and it should still keep everything inside mostly dry. Waterproof backpacks are great if you do heavy-duty camping, or plan on backpacking and spend multiple days in the wilderness at a time.

How To Waterproof A Backpack

How to Waterproof Your Backpack: 7 Tips & Tricks

Waterproof backpacks are a popular item nowadays, but you can also waterproof an old backpack you have. Here are some ways you can waterproof a backpack.

1. Use a rain cover

Rain covers are large tarps designed to cover your backpack and block out any water or debris. You can find a rain cover for your backpack at virtually any sporting goods or outdoor equipment store. You could also fashion a makeshift cover out of an old tarp.

2. Use a dry bag

Dry bags allow you to pack individual gear pieces in a water-tight bag. These can be useful to buy if you can’t find a waterproof backpack you like but still want to waterproof individual items. You can find dry bags at a sporting or outdoor equipment store.

3. Use a garbage bag

You can also go the simple route and use a garbage bag. Heavy-duty garbage bags are essentially waterproof, so you can line the inside of your backpack with one to keep any moisture out. The only problem with garbage bags is that they can rip and tear.

4. Use a rucksack liner

A rucksack liner is a special vinyl-like pouch that is meant to line the inside of your bag. The liner repels water that might seep in, keeping your gear safe and dry. Rucksack liners can be taken out and used with other backpacks as well. Some rucksack liners can be used on their own. 

5. Use Ziploc bags

If you are in a pinch and have no other alternative, then you could also get away with using Ziploc bags to seal your gear. Ziploc and similar brand plastic bags are highly water-resistant, and there are heavy-duty versions you can buy for large items. Ziplocs can be used too.

6. Use an old raincoat

If you have an old raincoat you no longer wear, then you can turn it into a pack cover or pack liner. Old raincoats made from rubber and polyester make great bag liners, and they give a use for that old raincoat instead of just throwing or giving it away.

7. Use a spray and seam sealer

You can also buy a special spray sealer that creates a water-tight seal when sprayed on your backpack. Spray sealer often will not make something 100% waterproof, but it can make it highly water-resistant and suitable for most circumstances except for torrential downpours or submersion in water.

How To Waterproof Your Backpack: 7 Tricks & Tips

How to Wash a Waterproof Backpack

Not all waterproof backpacks can be machine washed, so make sure you check before you try washing anything. Most of the time, you will want to wash your backpack by hand with natural soap and cool water. Do not use very hot water, or this could make the material expand and let water through. Also, always let your backpack air dry when finished cleaning it.

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Do I need a waterproof backpack?

If you like camping for days at a time, then yes, a waterproof backpack would be a smart buy. They are also a good choice if you live someplace where it rains frequently. water roofing you camping or hiking backpacks should also be considered when doing outdoor activities during wet season also needs 

How do you waterproof a nylon backpack?

You can waterproof a nylon backpack with a cover, rucksack liner, or with some spray sealant.

How do you waterproof a leather backpack?

There are special liquids and creams made specifically for sealing and waterproofing leather. For example, beeswax is a common natural solution to waterproof leather clothing and items.

What are waterproof backpacks made of?

Most heavy-duty waterproof backpacks are made out of nylon of some kind of nylon-like material.


Having a waterproof backpack can be very useful, even if you do not hike a lot in the wilderness. A waterproof backpack can keep all your possession safe and dry when the weather decides to take a turn for the worse and you end up camping in the rain!

  • Updated November 3, 2021