Rating: 9.2 / 10
Value for Money 2.2 / 2.5
Versatility 2.3 / 2.5
Weight 2.4 / 2.5
Durability 2.3 / 2.5
The first question many people ask is why bother to use a pack liner? Surely a pack cover will do the job and keep the rain out of my pack? Maybe!
My best response is by way of an experience relayed to me by another hiker I came across last year. This hiker was undertaking a two week long trip and due to recent heavy rains had to traverse a gully on the Larapinta Trail that involved him wading in water almost up to his chest level. He held his pack up above his head but part way through the crossing dropped his pack into the water. He quickly managed to retrieve the pack but not before it had submerged. While the majority of his gear managed to survived, albeit a little damp, his SLR camera wasn’t so lucky. Even worse it wasn’t his camera, he had borrowed it from a friend.
In this instance a pack cover which is designed to keep rain off the pack wouldn’t have helped. The other issue with pack covers is that in torrential sustained rain they will not usually prevent water entering your pack as the water will run down your back and soak in through the pack from the outside in.
For me a pack liner is a non negotiable piece of equipment on all overnight hikes as well as those day hikes where I am expecting rain or know that I have watercrossings. If used correctly they will prevent water entering your pack, not only preventing your expensive bits of technology such as cameras, phones and iPads from getting wet but also ensuring you have dry clothing and sleep gear at the end of the day. In addition to providing a waterproof layer, these pack liners also provide protection from fine dust and grit which is all too common in arid Australia.
These pack liners come in three sizes; 50 litres, 70 litres and 90 litres and you match the dry bag size to the corresponding pack size. A word of warning here. If you have a full 5o litre pack and a 50 litre pack liner, you may well be cutting it fine with the roll top closure. As it sounds, the roll top needs to roll over to provide the water protection and if the dry bag is overly full then you won’t be able to get a complete seal. I am currently using an Osprey Exos 48 pack (51 litres capacity for the large size). When my pack is full to the brim for a long trip, the 50 litre dry bag is not quite large enough so I will usually use the 70 litre size to ensure that the top is rolled over enough to provide a decent water proof seal.
I have been using this dry bag for over 12 months now and while I haven’t dropped my pack in the river, I have been through some periods of torrential rain and at the end of the day everything inside my dry bag is bone dry. Now I’ll fess up here and say that I also pack all my gear within my dry bag into smaller Exped Zip Packs. While I mainly use these smaller packs to keep my gear organised they also provide an extra layer of waterproofing. This means that in the unlikely event I do have to get gear out when its raining there is minimal risk of everything getting wet.
Some ultralight hikers will use heavy duty garbage bags but these have to be replaced regularly as they don’t last that long and you need to keep an eye on the wear because they can fail with little notice.
I can’t stress strongly enough how important pack liners can be. For the minimal weight addition and small price addition (compared to your expensive water sensitive gear) this is one item that is well worth the outlay.
Sea to Summit 70 Litre Ultra-Sil Pack Liner, green
Sea to Summit 70 Litre Ultra-Sil Pack Liner with the bag mouth folded over ready to close
The top rolled down to provide a waterproof seal
Sea to Summit 70 Litre Ultra-Sil Pack Liner inside the pack ready to fill
For hikes where rain, dust or river crossings are present. Oh wait, isn’t that most hikes?
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This review was done with product purchased from a retail store by the reviewer