Easy Tricks for WaterproofIng Gear (no dry bags needed)

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Technical Tip Tuesday

Welcome to Technical Tip Tuesday! On Tuesdays, I provide thrifty tips for exploring the outdoors. Today’s post is about waterproofing your backpack without having to spend money on expensive dry bags. All you need are 2-3 trash bags and some twisting skills to keep your gear dry while your backpack is submerged in water. This method works great for canyoneering, canoeing, and packrafting. Read on to learn more!

I chose the 800-mile Arizona Trail Race as my challenge because training for it requires creative high-mileage adventures. My goal is to use the race as a platform for rebuilding my life, and the variety of outdoor skills I get to incorporate in my adventure training is therapeutic and empowering. This week, I dusted off my canyoneering skills and put this backpack waterproofing trick to work for swimming through long pools. I won’t be swimming on the AZT, but I will be waterproofing my bags in a similar way in case it rains.

The Cheap Trash Bag Method for Keeping Submerged Gear Dry

People usually look concerned when they see me twisting up trash bags in place of dry bags to waterproof my backpack. “You really trust that to keep your gear dry?” they want to know.

I’ve been using trash bags to waterproof my backpack for a decade, and as long as I do it right, it never fails. Compactor trash bags work the best. I generally use 2 for day trips and 3 for anytime risk for putting a hole in them seems high, such as rugged multi-day adventures. Regular trash bags rip easier than compactor bags, but they can work as as long as you are careful about the objects you put inside.

  • Step 1: line backpack with 2-3 trash bags.
  • Step 2: reach inside and squeeze all the air out of the inner most bag
  • Step 3: once all of the air is squeezed out, twist the top of the bag
  • Step 4: keep twisting, this is what keeps the water out
  • Step 5: stop twisting when the twist holds itself in place and can’t be twisted any more
  • Step 6: repeat steps 2-5 for the next compactor bag(s) — don’t forget to squeeze all the air out before you begin twisting!

I hope you get out to play in the water and use this trick for waterproofing your backpack. Tomorrow, I’ll be back for the first edition of Ask Chase where I answer gear and training questions. I’ll be kicking it off tomorrow with a question about camp stoves from my younger brother..

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