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  1. #1
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    Default Rain cover for pack VS trash compactor lining

    Can anyone advise the pros and cons of using a pack cover vs lining the inside of the pack with a nylon bag? Please share your experiences ...thank guys!

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    I've tried both over the years and have decided a white trash compactor bag is best by far. Of course, you decide for yourself.

    A pack is basically a rectangular box. A pack cover only covers 5 of the 6 sides of that box. 'Nuff said, except I will add that no fabric is truly waterproof, thus even those 5 sides are not actually fully protected. Not to mention the wear-and-tear on the fabric. Plus, everything in your pack is in one big bag, unless you also use waterproof stuff sacks.

    A white trash compactor bag is thick plastic, truly water proof, not pretend. Big advantage is you can actually see down into the bottom of your pack; it's not a literal black hole. It keeps the stuff you actually need to keep dry separate from the stuff that doesn't need to be dry at all. It'll keep stuff dry even if you fall into a creek. It's multi-function, too.

    A white trash compactor bag costs a few cents. A pack cover costs much more. Pack covers also tend to blow away in a strong wind and/or get left behind.

    One big advantage that a pack cover can be ... used during hunting season, but only if it's blaze orange, otherwise it's not even good for that. I do have super light weight pack covers, blaze orange, that I use during hunting seasons.
    Last edited by Rain Man; 03-02-2016 at 12:40.
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  3. #3
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    I also use a trash compactor bar inside the pack.
    For rain protection, I use a Poncho with string added to the back corners. This allows me to put the poncho over the back of the pack and tie it around my waste.

    (rain protection keeps you form getting soaked, not dry IMHO. If it's truly waterproof and tight, you get wet from perspiration anyway)
    Grinder
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  4. #4

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    I used a roll top syl bag for inside, I don't know why people insist on the compactor bag, but anyways, I use that and then a pack cover. Back is always dry even in thunderstorms. Of course the back of the pack gets wet but otherwise good
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  5. #5
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    TC bags for me as my primary method of keeping my stuff dry, but I also use a UL cuben pack cover, its main purpose is to try to keep most of the pack itself dry, and as a fairly sketchy first line of defense. No pack cover I've ever seen will keep your stuff dry in the kind of continuous rains common on the AT (I'm talking about fitted pack covers, not huge ponchos that go over everything, which can work).

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    TC bags for me as my primary method of keeping my stuff dry, but I also use a UL cuben pack cover, its main purpose is to try to keep most of the pack itself dry, and as a fairly sketchy first line of defense. No pack cover I've ever seen will keep your stuff dry in the kind of continuous rains common on the AT...
    +1 I don't perceive it always solely in terms of either/or. In very wet weather I may use both a TC liner and the lightest wt pack cover I can find. I like that the pack cover keeps stuff I store outside my pack somewhat protected and reduces the pack from absorbing as much water. I will occasionally wash in or spray on a DWR or WPer on Dyneema/non treated fabric packs though and go without a pack cover and just TC it. I do sometimes use a CF Hybrid pack though which changes things up to a lighter wt coverage protection system where I may eliminate a TC liner or pack cover altogether and just protect specific pieces or gear like down sleeping bags/quilts with WP or just reg UL stuff sacks or just go with the seam taped CF hybrid pack to protect gear in rather dry conditions like a PCT NOBO. When I do use a TC liner and/or pack cover they do double duty as a ground cloth so I likely will do away with a polycro/cellophane ground sheet or CF/polycro bathtub floor.

    Look for the non "fragrant" versions of TC bags. Some have an unnatural flowery chemical odor to my senses that I've sometimes transferred to gear. Yuk.

  7. #7

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    Pack covers make ideal small bathtub like ground clothes to store all my gear on when it's wet and then gets cold. They have a modicum of insulating ability too that decreases the likelyhood of unfolding frozen maps which can damage some maps or having to remove rime from gear especially electronics like cameras in the morn. I never let anything I carry go to waste. A pack cover or TC bag under my feet adds a tiny bit more ground insulation and protection from the ground that can make a difference in comfort. A pack cover/ TC bag draped underneath a thinner bright colored CF tarp helps provide shade and bit more privacy on hot dry days.

  8. #8
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    Both. I like the Zpacks cuben fiber pack liner with the roll top closure - easier for me to seal versus a compactor bag, and lasts longer. Easy to patch with duct tape if necessary. Then I use a cuben pack cover to keep the stuff in the outside pockets from getting soaked. Some pack fabrics absorb water, too, which makes the pack a lot heavier and it can take a long time to dry.
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    I used a roll top syl bag for inside, I don't know why people insist on the compactor bag, but anyways, I use that and then a pack cover. Back is always dry even in thunderstorms. Of course the back of the pack gets wet but otherwise good
    Likewise on the dry bag inside - I actually use a few - a compression dry sack for our sleeping bag, a large dry sack for the main compartment, and a couple small ones for things like electronics and toilet paper that I keep in more accessible pockets. All Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil. I never understood why everyone's so fascinated with trash compactor bags when there are nice durable ultralight waterproof options out there. They don't weigh much and I like the convenience of multiple bags.

  10. #10

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    It depends on the trip. If I am expecting a lot of rain, I will put a trash compactor bag inside my (mostly water resistant) pack, and then a ZPacks cuben pack cover over it. This is overkill, but for one extra ounce, a lot of extra protection.

    If it is not going to rain or only a little rain, I will just use the trash compactor bag.

  11. #11
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Casey & Gina View Post
    ... I never understood why everyone's so fascinated with trash compactor bags when there are nice durable ultralight waterproof options out there. ....
    Really simple answer for TC bags: dirt cheap (maybe a quarter?) and pretty darn light. One TC bag lasted me my first 950 AT miles, two more completed my AT.

    I personally have never understood the fascination with dry sacks; never once used or needed one in 45 years of backpacking. Zip locks, a TC bag, and a couple small UL sacks, done. PYOP!

  12. #12
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    Large trash compactor-type bag. Then either a poncho or Packa for rain/pack protection.

  13. #13
    Registered User gbolt's Avatar
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    Like BigCranky = TC in bag to keep specific items as dry as possible. UL Pack Cover on outside to keep all other nondescript items fairly dry, keep the pack itself lightweight and not holding water weight itself and finally for other multipurposes. I hammock so the pack cover serves as a storage hammock, ground cloth and possibly an underquilt protector. I use it at night, when hanging from a nearby tree rather than with me, to keep the dew off of it. I wanted the Orange color but wasn't willing to pay the weight penalty for this purpose. UL is a key word for a Pack Cover. Part of the Cost / Benefit ratio game we play with all gear. I fear wet as much as I fear cold so I pack that fear in the form of a pack cover. I understand those that approach this question differently.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    Really simple answer for TC bags: dirt cheap (maybe a quarter?) and pretty darn light. One TC bag lasted me my first 950 AT miles, two more completed my AT.

    I personally have never understood the fascination with dry sacks; never once used or needed one in 45 years of backpacking. Zip locks, a TC bag, and a couple small UL sacks, done. PYOP!
    Oops, I was going to mention the price, but the same folks using TC bags are carrying thousands of dollars in gear! There really doesn't seem to be such a fascination with dry sacks - you hardly ever hear of them being mentioned but TC bags get brought up all the time...

    PYOP indeed.

  15. #15
    Registered User gwb's Avatar
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    I use both. TC bag for my sleeping bag and a dry set of clothes to sleep in, all the time regardless of the forecast. I use a sea to summit ul cover and I like it as it keeps the majority of the pack from getting saturated. I also use the pack cover at night to keep my bag out of the dirt and mud.


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  16. #16
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    Great info, thanks guys!

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