Do I Need A Hiking Pack Cover?

Nobody wants to hike with more gear than they actually need. It’s not always easy to distinguish between necessary and unnecessary hiking gear, though. You may have heard that a hiking pack cover is one of those redundant items that adds weight without adding real benefit. While it’s true that they aren’t always necessary, pack covers can actually be quite useful.

The arguments

Why do people take issue with pack covers?

  • A pack cover adds weight and takes up space. It just sits in your pack, though, rarely getting much use.
  • If it does end up raining, pack covers come up short. They don’t provide much water protection in heavy rain because they don’t cover the space between your back and the pack panel of the backpack.
  • With exception of food, electronics, and your sleeping bag, most of your outdoor gear can get wet and still function just fine. You’re better off putting these select items in waterproof stuff sacks instead of getting a separate pack cover.

The counter arguments

  • Most pack covers are made of compact, lightweight waterproof materials. The weight and space they take up is minimal. If you can’t bear that thought of packing anything that isn’t necessary, however, you can leave the pack cover at home for those trips with perfect weather.
  • It’s true that even with a pack cover your gear can still get wet in heavy rains. Pack covers prevent your pack from getting saturated with water, though. A waterlogged pack, tent, and clothing can add a lot of extra weight.
  • It’s generally a good idea to keep sensitive items – such as your sleeping bag – in a waterproof stuff sack. This is true regardless of whether or not you have a pack cover.

If you know that you’re going to hike in heavy rain – or if you think that heavy rain is a possibility – it’s a good idea to pack a rain cover. The weight of the pack cover is negligible when compared to the added water weight of a dripping wet backpack. Plus, even though most of your gear can still function wet, you probably don’t want all of your belongings to get soaked.

Ultimately, a pack cover isn’t necessary, but it can go a long way towards improving your experience on the trail. Stop by Uncle Sam’s Safari Outfitters and check out our selection of hiking packs, backpacking packs, and pack covers!

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