Non-waterproof vs. Waterproof Hiking Backpacks

A trail is a challenging place for hikers, which is why each item being brought along, from the clothing down to equipment, is well thought of. Everything is an essential piece for the trip because things, like the boots and backpack they use, will either make or break their experience. The durability of a bag is a big factor in every hike. Their build should withstand the unpredictable weather conditions in the journey. Below are factors to weigh, in choosing which type of backpack to bring:

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Waterproof Hiking Backpacks

All hiking backpacks are created to resist wet conditions. However, not all are made to fully protect your things from getting wet. Equipping yourself with a waterproof hiking backpack can prepare you for a lot of possibilities. Having one makes you ready for water rafting, kayaking, and fishing activities. Backpacks like these, assure the safety of your electronics like laptops, cameras, and mobile phones. 

Key Features of Waterproof Hiking Backpacks

Backpack designers will often sacrifice some features to adjust to the waterproof build of the bag. What separates most waterproof hiking backpacks from its non-waterproof counterpart is its closure or closing mechanism. They utilize this type because of its innovative feature.

Waterproof hiking backpacks with roll-top closures will float on water, which makes it an airtight container for your belongings. Another key feature is heavy-duty fabrics and zippers. These components provide physical durability that can endure abrasion and keep your gear dry.

Another thing that makes them waterproof is the welded thermoplastic. Instead of the traditional sewing process, designers use welding technology to melt together the fabrics. However, not all fabrics are meant for welding. Thus, the limited availability in materials makes the backpack less functional.

Pros and Cons


  • Floats on water
  • Protects electronics
  • Heavy-duty fabrics and zippers


  • Limited options for aesthetics and functionality
  • Unnecessary closure system

Non-Waterproof Hiking Backpacks

Although they are unable to fully protect your gears from getting wet, most fabrics of non-waterproof packs are water-resistant or water-repellent. You can always bring a non-waterproof pack if you are certain that there will be no heavy downpour. However, using one for water sports is not a good idea. Non-waterproof hiking backpacks are typically good for mountain trekking, cycling, or rock climbing. 

Key Features

Water-repellent and water-resistant backpacks have a different set of features compared to its counterpart. Water-repellent variants can also keep your gear from getting wet unless it is submerged in water. They are made of polyurethane burly fabric, taped seams, and waterproof zippers. And they have (DWR) Durable Water Repellency and thermoplastic polyurethane treatment.

On the other hand, water-resistant hiking backpacks come with common Cordura nylon and strong grade polyester. Your belongings will be fine with light rain showers. However, it will eventually soak on a heavy downpour. 

Pros and Cons


  • Numerous zippers and pockets
  • Variety of designs
  • The main compartment is typically not rolltop 


  • Susceptible to water penetration
  • Works best for only one weather condition

The Winner: Waterproof vs. Non-Waterproof Hiking Backpacks

Investing in waterproof hiking backpacks is a crucial choice for every backpacker. Waterproof packs withstand the unpredictability of the weather. If ever you are caught in a rainstorm while pedaling your way to a nearby village, you do not have to worry about your things getting wet. However, you can still resort to non-waterproof hiking backpacks, depending on the environment of your adventure.