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  1. #1
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Charleston, SC

    Default Bag liner vs Multiple dry bags

    What are your thoughts on using a bag liner (commercial or contractor's bag) vs individual dry sacks while on the trail using a bag that is not waterproof (aka Arcteryx Altra 50) ?

  2. #2
    Registered User kestral's Avatar
    Join Date
    Melbourne, Florida


    I use both. I guess I’m a belt and suspenders kind of girl. Never had a wet sleeping bag or night clothes stored this way. On cold nights this is not just comfy but also safety. The compactor bag doesn’t weigh that much, and doubles up as a way to blow up air mattress. To each their own.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Fuquay Varina, NC


    Nyloflume liner and a dry sack for quilt. HMG pillow sack for night clothes.

  4. #4


    Multiple stuff sacks any day, can't stand liners. Using a liner over multiple stuff sacks might save you 2 ounces, might.

  5. #5


    I don’t bring enough stuff w me to warrant several sacks. I’ve used gallon size ziplocks before for “dry bags” but never a compactor bag and sacks.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Golden CO


    Weigh the two options and decide. When I switched to using a compactor bag, individual dry sacks were noticeably heavier.

    And they can be more difficult to pack. Multiple round objects in a round bag are going to leave some unused gaps.

    Those who like to be more organized will gladly accept those penalties.

    Compactor bags are easy to check for leaks, and patch easily with duct tape. And the white color makes it easier to see inside.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  7. #7


    It doesn't hurt to use a bag liner and it can certainly help. I don't much use a pack cover anymore, lost too many of them. The pack liner is the next best thing. Critical items always go into dry bags.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  8. #8

    Join Date
    state of confusion
    Journal Entries


    Only thing needs to stay dry is insulation, clothing, sleeping pad, bivy/innernet
    Thats about the bottom 10-12" of my pack when packed

    Sleeping pad is somewhat optional. Its non absorbent, and folded up, but sometimes when wet you just cant wipe dry, with a damp bandana, so i try to keep it dry. Not huge deal, clothes you wear are damp in rain conditions anyway. stuffsak/ziplocks can get damp
    Miscl small ziplock is protected
    Tarp, stove/pot....can get damp

    Raingear...obviously can get damp

    What else you got thats not in ziplocks that must stay dry? What else you got period?
    Not water filter
    Not tent stakes
    Not water bottles

    Most small things, fak, battery, etc are in a ziplock. Ill put in pack liner if looks like rain .

    Everything i need to keep dry, takes up room of 2 small loaves of bread. At most. Put in liner at bottom of pack.

    Point is...think of what really needs to stay dry....its not much.
    But you also dont want a soggy pack full of water.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 06-09-2019 at 04:28.

  9. #9


    Like Garlic I'm always weighing options literally and figuratively. My advise is to let the trail conditions and your style(s) dictate the choice of kit rather than attempt to impose one way on everything. You don't have to back yourself into a one approach corner. It's not brain surgery or super costly having available different long as you don't cede to pricey UL/SUL DCF or eVent liners, covers, and stuff sacks. OR, consider combining approaches.

    With that pack I think it helpful to first assess how regularly on a rainy or slushly wet snow filled day you may typically access your pack's interior main compartment, and for what, what egresses on that pack you tend to use, and how you tend to organize your pack...both the interior and exterior on those days.

    The discontinued? ArcTeryx Altra 50 has tons of bells and whistles. If I'm recalling correctly you have top and two zippered side accesses. POW, holy access Batman. It's an unusually designed access pack IMHO...if that's accurate, designed for someone wanting regular and multiple access options! With the top brain and oodles of outside zippered storage pockets I don't see why you couldn't develop your style to never access the interior until camp set up time. Short version, IF that is the situation I'd go with a top access pack liner for the main compartment and WP stuff sacks for the exterior non WP zippered storage compartments.

    From what I perceive, with two side zip access pts it makes little sense to pair it with a top accessing pack liner if you typically access the packs main interior compartment during the day's hiking hrs trying to get at items deep in the main compartment using either of the two side zips. I think you'd still have to be careful using stuff sacks if you organize the main compartment that way entirely though if you tend to use those side access zips during the day because those two side zippered access pts and the Altra 50 itself is not a WP pack. Water can enter those side zips even with the fabric zipper overlay without a pack cover being used! AND, using side zips or a center zip accessing pack for backpacking/hiking one tends to lay the back down horizontally to access the main compartment. I'd strongly suggest not habitually using side access zips in torrential rain. All that access comes at a price. IMHO it's rather redundant but I'm top access biased. And, if you're not using a rain cover 1) strongly suggest you WP or DWR all that fabric including zips regardless if using a pack liner and/or WP sacks 2) wish access to items you don't want wet while in transit using WP or highly WR stuff sacks for those items stored in non WP exterior zippered non main compartments.

    So, the nitty gritty is you may use both a top loading pack liner and stuff sacks depending on YOU.

    I may use a pack cover, pack liner and WP or highly WR stuff sacks for a few things in exceptionally foul weather conditions if using a non DCF non seam taped backpack. Since I store gear and other things on the outside of my pack not wanting it all in stuff sacks or Ziplocs desiring access to it on the fly, and since I avoid taking my pack off during hiking(moving) hrs, I still like using a pack cover to offer protection for those items and the pack yet I can reach underneath to access these things as none of my exterior storage compartments other than hip belt pockets are zippered. For you, if storing gear desired to be accessed in the lid(brain) you'll likely have to remove your Altra 50 pack to access it unless you're a Cirque du Soleil contortionists. I'd suggest trying to limit your on the fly gear storage access needs to the two spacious side zip pockets. Personally, with minimalist style(s) with less to account for and protect constantly on the move with little need to stop to access my pack's interior I've started moving away from stuff or compression sacking my bag or quilt and maybe even tarp and bivy so use a nylofume or oven bag liner increasingly with a seam taped DCF pack. I've even used a pack cover, for the reasons detailed, over a seam taped DCF pack with the combo adequately protecting everything on wet weather endeavors. The stuff sacks I do use, like for food, may not need be WP now. The electronics sack is always WP.
    Last edited by Dogwood; 06-09-2019 at 16:19.

  10. #10


    I had a pack with front access zipper and for the longest time I resisted trying a pack liner because I didnít want to lose that extra access. Eventually I tried it, got some white trash compactor bags and I absolutely love it, makes much more efficient use of space to stuff insulation to the bottom and let it fill evenly. I didnít even miss the front access zipper.

    For how cheap and easy it is to get a pack liner IMHO itís well worth it just to try it out, pack and unpack your bag a few times and see how you like it.

  11. #11
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
    Join Date
    Essex, Vermont


    I just switched to a liner, and I still use a pack cover. The liner is a Hefty white 18 gallon trash compactor bag. Comes 5 to a box, so I used another to make a pack cover. Took a 4 day hike with plenty of cold rain and everything was bone dry. I'm a convert - it makes packing easier than trying to make a bunch of lumps fit.

  12. #12


    Currently using a pack liner(OR's old ultralight 45 and 55L versions or Exped Schnozzel) AND a stuff sack for clothes that doubles as a pillow, plus a stuff sack or dry bag for food, rolltop cuben one for valuables, freezer bag for FAK/repair kit/hygiene, etc.

    The Exped feels clammy and damp when wet, so only gets used when rain isn't expected. The OR liners are actually dry bags, and submersible. Those are my go-to for longer trips, or when rain is expected.

    When it's dry, my quilt, pad and puffy go in the liner with the top folded down, and everything else on top for ease of access. In wet weather, everything goes in the liner.

  13. #13
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Washington, DC


    Nylofume liner, and one dry sack for my electronics. I pack everything loose in my bag.

  14. #14


    Compactor bag, and ziplocks, which are see through to let me find little things quickly. The compactor bag, with a little nozzle in the bottom, does double duty, in that I can use it to inflate my air mattress. No real wasted space as the sleeping bag/loose clothing gets smushed in around the gaps, and I can use a smaller pack.

  15. #15
    Registered User egilbe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Lewiston and Biddeford, Maine


    I have a Cuben Fiber Unaweep and use a trash compactor bag as a liner. I use my Exped Schnozzle as my only stuff sack because I'm using it anyway to blow up my air mattress and pillow, so why not? Stuffed into the Schnozzle are all my clothes and quilt if I'm carrying one. I can go swimming in a river with my pack and I'm confident that the contents I need to stay dry, remain dry. Food is in ziplocks in my Ursack, tent is wadded up on top of the trash compactor bag. If the tent is wet, it doesn't matter, it's on top of the pack so I can take it out and dry it if the sun is shining, or it's the first thing available if it's raining and the contents of the pack still stay dry. It's worked hiking in hurricane Arthur when it blew through here a couple years ago.

  16. #16
    Registered User
    Join Date
    WMNF, New Hampshire


    People are now getting by with neither. So keep that in mind.

    I will pretty much 99% of the time have a pack liner on me.

    Sometimes Ill add a dry sack for my quilt as well if I know its going to be really wet.

    After using a seam taped hybrid DCF pack.. im sold for really wet environments. Not just for the waterproofness, but also how little water it retains on the outside. It dries in a flash as well.

    Ive never used a pack cover. A poncho adds significant rain protection to the outside of your bag.

    But... everything on the outside of my pack i dont care if it gets wet.

    The only time im worried about my stuff getting wet is stream/river crossings.

    Keeping your stuff dry from the rain is pretty straight forward.

    I've seen down bags get wet inside of silnylon dry sacks for being against water too long. Inside a pack.

    Cuben Fiber Pack Liners are a waste of money. A heavy duty cuben fiber dry bag like ones from MLD or Hyperlight or better than the thinner dry bags from Zpacks.

    Most people go DCF to save weight. In this case DCF dry bags are the same if not more weight than an lightweight silnylon bag. But... 1.43 cuben fiber is bomber. Waterproof. And will last a long, long time.

    In the end.. my last thru hike I carried a seam taped DCF pack and a liner and had zero problems.

    Sent from my SM-J737V using Tapatalk

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