When you’re out on a hike there’s nothing worse than a sudden downpour. Your socks get squelchy, your clothes get damp, and worst of all, you pack can begin to soak through. Carrying a quality rain cover is an essential part of preparing for a hike. Today we’ll be reviewing the best waterproof backpack covers on the market to find the perfect one for your needs.
- 1 Best Backpack Rain Covers
- 1.1 Kelty Rain Cover
- 1.2 Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover
- 1.3 Osprey Ultralight Raincover
- 1.4 Unigear Backpack Rain Cover
- 1.5 Osprey Hi-Visibility Rain Cover
- 1.6 Deuter Waterproof Rain Cover III
- 1.7 Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover
- 1.8 CamelBak Pack Rain Cover
- 1.9 Mountainsmith Backpack Rain Cover
- 2 Buyers Guide to Choosing the Best Waterproof Backpack Cover
- 3 Final Thoughts
Best Backpack Rain Covers
Rain covers serve a single purpose, keeping your backpack dry in the rain. Cyclists, runners, and others participating in outdoor sports use them often, but hikers are the ones who need them the most.
When you’re out in the backcountry warm, dry clothes can be the difference between a pleasant trip and a dangerous situation.
The waterproof backpack covers below cover the full range of features, price, and materials. Read on to find the best one for your needs.
Kelty Rain Cover
The Kelty Rain Cover is a lightweight and highly durable rain cover. The main body of the rain cover is made from 190T taffeta nylon ripstop with treated 600D polyester to protect your pack from the rain.
It’s available in a medium and large size, with the medium fitting packs up to 3000 cu in/49L and the large fitting packs between 3000 cu in/49L and 6700 cu in/110L. They weigh just over 5 oz and pack down into a very small bundle that will fit in any pocket on your pack.
High use areas are reinforced with 610D cordura nylon. The Kelty has an internal adjustable pull cord that allows you to fit it tightly around your pack for secure placement even in high wind conditions.
The Kelty Rain Cover is a quality line of pack rain covers at a reasonable price. They work well on just about any size pack.
Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover
The Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Pack cover is an ultra lightweight rain cover made from 30D Ultra-Sil nylon. This makes it incredibly lightweight but somewhat more fragile than other rain covers.
Ultra-Sil is a siliconized version of ripstop woven nylon. It’s actually a lot more durable than you would expect given its silky smooth texture and lightweight. Strands of cordura are woven into a ripstop pattern and treated for water resistance.
The Ultra-Sil Pack Cover is available in four sizes to better fit your specific pack. The small, medium, and large covers have built in keeper straps to tightly conform the rain cover to the body of your pack.
The biggest draw of the Ultra-Sil Pack Cover is its low weight. Even the largest rain cover is under 4 oz. They each stuff down into an included carry sack that’s about the size of a soda can.
If you’re looking for the lightest possible rain cover that’s still durable enough for use in the backcountry, the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Pack Cover is the one for you.
Osprey Ultralight Raincover
The Osprey Ultralight Raincover is a range of pack covers designed for hiking and camping. They’re made from 40D ripstop nylon and capable of protecting packs from 30L to 110L in capacity.
It uses a wrap around design with a cinch attachment that securely places it on your bag. It also has harness and hip belt attachments that protect every element of your bag. Despite its high potential capacity the Osprey Ultralight Raincover weighs just over 3 oz.
It’s designed to pack down into an included stuff sack about the size of a tennis ball. Other cool features include reflective strips along the body and a blinker style light for added nighttime visibility.
The Osprey Ultralight Raincover is a lightweight and highly adjustable rain cover. It’s a great option for ultra light hikers and others who prize weight reduction.
Unigear Backpack Rain Cover
The Unigear Backpack Rain Cover is an inexpensive option for keeping the rain out of your pack. It’s made from 70D nylon and is available in several different sizes that fit packs from 15L to 90L.
It has small drain holes at the bottom of the cover to allow any water to quickly exit the body of the cover. The cover attaches to your pack with a pair of buckled straps and an elastic band. This gives you excellent and secure coverage.
It’s available in a variety of different colors and has a reflective logo for added nighttime visibility. The whole thing packs down into a small stuff sack for easy transport when not in use.
The Unigear Backpack Rain Cover is a value priced pack cover that gets the job done. It isn’t the lightest or most durable rain cover available but it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Osprey Hi-Visibility Rain Cover
The Osprey Hi-Visibility Rain Cover is a brightly colored pack cover designed specifically for smaller bags. It comes in a single color, electric lime, and fits packs from 10L up to 35L.
It’s the cyclist’s and day hiker’s answer to the celebrated Osprey Ultralight Rain Cover. The body of the cover is made from 70D ripstop nylon and weighs under 3 oz. It uses a wraparound style cinch attachment to securely attach it to your pack.
The electric lime coloring is enhanced with reflective graphics and a blinker light. For cyclists sharing the road with inattentive drivers this is a significant set of features. Once the rain goes away the cover packs down into an included carry pouch.
The Osprey Hi-Visibility Rain Cover is optimized for cyclists, runners, and others who need high performance and high visibility. It’s ultra lightweight and includes tons of features to make you as visible as possible to drivers.
Deuter Waterproof Rain Cover III
The Deuter Waterproof Rain Cover III is the company’s large capacity rain cover for packs between 45L and 90L. It’s made from 70D polyamide fabric with a water resistant PU coating.
This gives it excellent rain resistance at a very light weight. The Rain Cover III weighs just over 4 oz despite being made from high-capacity packs.
It attaches to your bag with a drawstring cinch. The exterior of the rain cover has several reflective logos and patches to aid in nighttime visibility.
When the storm passes you can pack your Deuter Rain Cover III into the included carry pouch, about the size of a small water bottle. If you find the Rain Cover III to be too large for your pack they also offer a I and II version that fits smaller bags.
Overall the Deuter Waterproof Rain Cover III is a great pack cover option from a highly respected outdoor brand.
Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover
The Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover is a value priced pack cover designed for casual use. It’s made from 300D nylon and available in a variety of sizes and color choices.
The cover attaches with a pair of buckled straps for a snug fit. The cover itself is made using a triple layer approach that combines a water repellent outer layer with a breathable inner liner and sturdy middle layer.
This gives it excellent strength and pretty good water resistance. Each pack cover includes a velvet carry pouch that allows you to stuff it into just about any nook and cranny of your backpack.
The Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover is a no frills pack cover available at a very affordable price. It gets the job done and costs just a fraction of similar rain covers.
CamelBak Pack Rain Cover
The CamelBak Pack Rain Cover is a high visibility pack cover designed for cyclists and runners. It fits perfectly on CamelBak’s line of hydration packs and most any pack between 25L to 38L.
It comes in one color, a blindingly bright yellow, and has multiple reflective logos and patches. It uses a hook and loop closure system paired with a drawstring elastic cinch.
This allows you to get a customized fit for your specific bag. When the clouds have cleared it packs down into an included stuff sack that fits into the palm of your hand.
The CamelBak Pack Rain Cover is perfect for CamelBak’s line of hydration packs or any small backpack under about 40L.
Mountainsmith Backpack Rain Cover
The Mountainsmith Backpack Rain Cover is a lightweight pack cover available in a variety of sizes. It’s made from 190T taffeta nylon and has fully taped/welded seams.
This helps prevent water intrusion at the seams and provides overall better protection for your pack. Depending on the size you get it will cover packs from 15L all the way up to 100L.
They attach to your pack using a pair of hook and loop closure straps and a drawstring cinch. This gives you a snug fit no matter what size your bag is.
They weigh between 3.8 and 4.2 oz depending on the size and are designed to pack down into an included stuff sack. This makes it easy to stow them in just about any pocket of your backpack when not in use.
The Mountainsmith Backpack Rain Cover is a lightweight and high-quality line of rain covers. They’ll fit just about any size pack and offer several ways to fully secure them to your pack.
Buyers Guide to Choosing the Best Waterproof Backpack Cover
Picking out the perfect waterproof backpack cover is a lot easier than you’d think. There are tons of options to choose from, but relatively few features and metrics to look at.
Hiking rain covers are very affordable. Even high-end models from very well known brands rarely break $50. When compared to the price of a good hiking pack waterproof backpack covers are almost negligible.
You can find quality rain covers for a steal of a deal if you look hard enough.
The bulk of rain covers are water resistant rather than waterproof. In order to qualify as a waterproof cover it would need to be able to stand up to at least partial submergence.
Most rain covers only protect the part of your bag that’s exposed to the elements and do nothing to protect your stuff from submergence. That’s not really a bad thing though.
Water resistant rain covers are perfectly adequate for protecting your gear from a downpour while out hiking and camping.
Should You Use a Water-Resistant Spray
The materials used in your rain cover go a long way to making them water resistant, but they aren’t perfect. If you’ve noticed that your rain cover has started to seep a bit, especially around any seams, it’s not a bad idea to give it a thorough coating of an outdoor waterproofing spray or wash.
We’ve done a review of several great tent and gear waterproofing sprays. Check it out to find the best one for your rain cover.
Material Denier and Durability
The bulk of waterproof backpack rain covers are made using either nylon or polyester. Nylon is slightly more expensive on average but is very durable and can stretch slightly for the best possible fit.
Nylon rain covers are highly water resistant and easy to clean. They will wear out eventually but only after a long working life.
Polyester is a bit cheaper than nylon on average and is also highly water resistant. It’s not quite as durable as nylon but does offer acceptable performance at a reasonable price.
Denier is the metric used to measure the toughness of a bag. For a hiking backpack rain cover you want to balance durability with flexibility and weight.
If you’re doing light hiking across relatively smooth terrain 150-200D is perfectly acceptable. If you plan to do long duration hikes across rough terrain you should go for a rain cover that’s more resistant to damage.
300D is a good place to start, though you’ll see examples that are 400D, 500D, and even 600D. You may also encounter rain covers measured in Tex units. A Tex is a unit similar to a Denier but based on an actual volumetric measure.
A good way to roughly compare the two is to multiple Tex by 9 to get Denier.
Whatever material you decide to go with we highly recommend you choose a ripstop version. Ripstop fabrics are specially stitched to prevent a small tear from becoming major damage.
Because the majority of rain covers are made using woven plastic strands they’re often coated with a waterproofing material. Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coatings are extremely common, as are similar coatings such as siliconized nylon and polyurethane (PU).
You’ll likely need to replenish the strength of these coatings on a regular basis.
Sizing your rain cover is one of the most important factors to consider when picking one out. You need one large enough to fit your backpack without being too big for a snug fit.
General purpose rain covers not designed for a specific bag usually offer a method to cinch down the body of the cover against your bag. Rain covers will give you a range of pack sizes that they’ll protect.
This is generally shown in liters or cubic inches. If you aren’t certain what size you need for your pack we recommend you go a size up just to be safe.
It’s always possible to cinch in or strap down a too large rain cover. If it’s too small though you’re pretty much out of luck.
Straps and Adjustable Drawstrings
General rain covers designed to fit a range of packs often have straps, drawstrings, and elastic strips. This allows you to customize the fit of your rain cover to better match your specific hiking pack.
Common methods include a criss-cross style pair of straps that fit along the back of your pack. This prevents the rain cover from sliding off.
You can choose from a vast array of colors and patterns depending on the rain cover brand you choose. If flying under the radar is important for you many manufacturers offer camouflage rain covers.
For hunters, or those hiking during hunting season, a bright color such as blaze orange or red helps draw attention to you and prevent accidents. Some hikers prefer earth tone rain covers that allow them to hide their packs on the side of a trail while going for a wash or taking a break.
Rain and water aren’t the only things to worry about when out hiking. If you’re in the desert or a similarly dusty, windy area sand, dust, and dirt can be a big concern.
The last thing you want is to find out your clean clothes and comfortable sleeping bag were filled with sand during the day. Check prospective rain covers to find out if they offer protection against dust, dirt, and sand.
This also makes it a whole lot easier to keep your expensive hiking pack clean. It’s a lot better to get mud and grime on a $20 rain cover than a $200 pack.
Rain Cover Pockets
Many rain covers are designed with quick-access exterior pockets. This allows you to put items like snack bars or waterproof maps within easy reach.
It allows you to access them without removing the rain cover from your pack when it’s raining.
When it comes to choosing the best waterproof backpack cover you have to consider where and how you’ll use it.
If you’re a cyclist or runner you’ll likely need to prioritize visibility and compactness. A distance hiker needs performance, durability, and packability above all else.
As long as you know how you intend to use your rain cover it’s easy to pick out the version that works best for your needs.