Waterproof Compression Backpack Packing

Waterproof Compression Backpack packing requires the use of trash bag, preferable a durable trash bag. Make sure there are no holes in it. This method of packing not only it waterproof all your gears in the backpack, it also creates more storage space in the Backpack. 

Why This Idea
This idea came to me when many years ago, we had a bad experience on Tioman Island, West Malaysia. We had so called rain proof Backpacks. During the off-beaten trail along the coast of the island, we had to back track when the tide came up. Still then, we had to jump into the sea to clear the obstacle. Threw our backpacks into the water and swam with it until we realised the backpacks were taking in water and sunk, nearly drown and it was a close call. We had a hard time pulling up the Backpacks from the cliff's edge as it were all filled with seawater. All our gears were soaking wet including the camera. 

How It Can Be Done
I have seen Taiwanese River Tracers, in their backpack they would purchased another waterproof bag such as Sea-Line and they do not come cheap.

Problem with Hiking Backpacks used for such activity is that they will still take in water as they do not have any drainage holes at the bottom unlike Military Backpacks which comes with drainage holes. I would make a hole to drain the water if I am doing such activity but to make a hole on an expensive Backpack, I rather invest in Military packs. 

Waterproof Compression Backpacking
Method is rather simple, I would first identified items that I would take out last from the day's hike till make camp. Example of items will be taken last from the Backpack

  1. Sleeping Bag
  2. Inflatable Mattress 
  3. Tent Fly
  4. Tent
  5. Second Day Ration
  6. Spare Clothes
  7. Cookset
  8. Ration
  9. Warm Clothes
  10. Rain Gear

After identifying the items, the first item to be placed in the Backpack is the hydration bladder, I would stored  in the Backpack's hydration pocket. Next placed the trash bag in the Backpack and starting from the first item on the lists. I started packing sleeping bag with the compression sack removed and stuffed to the bottom of the Backpack. No need to roll or fold, just stuff everything below, then follow by the inflatable mattress. I would ensure the sleeping bag is wrapped around the mattress. 

65 Lts REI Flash Backpack and gears to pack

The only items folded in this packing was the tent and the tent fly because of the size but still squeezed to the bottom filling all the Backpack void spaces. As for all the clothings, I would stuffed without folding and filled around the remaining items void spaces. 

example of sleeping Bag compressed and packed around the mattress  

Other items not stuffed in the trash bag are items needed to access easily such as First Aid Survival Kit, snacks etc, they are placed in other Backpack's pockets or compartment. The Tent Foot Print is also placed outside the pack so it can be used as a ground sheet when taking a break. 

After all the packing was done, compressed the packing, tight up the neck of the trash bag, tighten all the compression straps around the Backpack and you will notice the Backpack will come to full shape.  

 with only tent, sleeping bag and mattress, it took 1/3 of the space in the Backpack

2 sleeping bags, 2 mattresses and tent took half the space in the Backpack

This is a messy packing, by doing this method all my gears are packed tightly and there is little void spaces. Previously I would spent on stuff sacks and organiser packs for individual items. After using it for a while, realised there were void spaces in the Backpack, example sleeping bag packed in the compression sack would have an oval shaped and it created void spaces so is the tent in the stuff sack. Removing all the stuff sack will also lighten the weight on the Backpack.

Next Morning breaking camp do just the same, pack sleeping bag, mattress etc.  

Backpacked fully shaped and little void spaces.
Last trip to Syue Shan Backpacking, notice how the bottom have shaped out
 Not too oversized for 3 days hike and still more space to go in the Backpack

My 2 cents
I would carry another trash bag as a backup and it is also handy in many ways, can be used as ground sheet or storage bag to place all items when setting camp, use as emergency shelter or extra storage space, etc.   

If two person is sharing the same tent, have one person carry the tent and sleeping arrangement. The other person can carry ration and cookset. So one person can take care setting up the tent and sleeping arrangement while the other can prepare to cook from their own Backpack.

I do not secure any sleeping mattress or tent outside the Backpack. If your mattress are long type such as foam mattress, I used to fold it and place inside the backpack towards the Backpack stiffener frame. Reasons are sometimes the strap come loose and you might loose an item, another is that it creates an obstacle if needed to crawl through undergrowth. 

Tent poles can be secured outside the Backpack so long the backpack has side pockets and compression strap to hold it down.

In my years of hiking, I hardly use a Backpack Rain Cover, I only use Backpack Rain Cover if the trail is really muddy or there is a lot of undergrowth that I have to squeezed around. Then again the spare trash bag can be used as a rain cover to protect. Otherwise I mostly used when checking-in Airport. To me carry a rain cover just adds another weight and space. Hiking Backpack are made water resistance. 

Every grams counts in hiking unless you are willing to carry unnecessary weight in the hike. The lighter your Backpack, the merrier you can enjoy the hike. 

Happy Hiking.

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