7 Best Backpack Rain Covers Reviews

The backpack has become an extension of our shoulders. It is perplexing, then, protecting the gear it holds usually comes in hindsight. One too many hikers have lamented their cameras in hopeful denial being soaked didn’t do them any damage. What makes it even more curious, is that the solution has been there the whole time. For, a simple Amazon peruse for a backpack will inevitably lead you to backpack rain covers. Perhaps, the answer lies in our tendency to treat addictions as something immaterial. And, acquiring a rain cover to protect your gear seems to fall at first glance in that category. Well, we are here to change your mind. Why is a backpack rain cover an essential tool?

Best Backpack Rain Covers Comparison

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Why Protect Your Backpack From Rain?

The most likely scenario is that you bought a backpack without a rain cover. The reality that was a fallacy sinks in at the first downpour you will meet. Or cycling your bike in muddy road holes, renegade sprinklers and the rare sight of a broken fire-hose. For, besides the weekend journey through the National Park of Your Region the backpack has become an integral part of the urban life.

In fact, we need to have a serious discussion about unprotected small bags in urban environments. In 2015, there were 1000 cyclists fatalities and 467,000 bicycle-related injuries. One of the main risk factors was the low visibility at nighttime, which can blend a cyclist with the dark surroundings. They are usually fitted with reflective strips that help a driver recognize you in the night.

As for their waterproof properties, it helps to know your belongings that probably cost a couple of month’s salaries will be safe. Especially for nature seekers, whether that may be hunting, trekking, or hiking, who have become adept at carrying expensive equipment on with their backpacks.

Considerations Before Buying a Backpack Rain Cover

Size

For the uninitiated to the world of backpack rain covers, the sizes might appear slightly confusing. It helps to know the reference point is the capacity of a backpack, which is measured in liters. The average duffel bag can hold 10-35 liters and corresponds to a small size for a cover. A run of the mill hiking backpack for a weekend trip will have 35-55 liters and matches a size medium. Then, 55-75 liters will be considered large and finally, you enter the extra large realm up to 100 liters.

There are two caveats, however, when it comes to picking the size for your backpack’s protection. Depending on the manufacturer, some covers might be a smaller fit than anticipated. You might also want to consider the option of getting a size an order of magnitude larger. With a tight fit cover, your paraphernalia like water bottles, axes, sleeping bags, tents, and cameras will get wet.

Type of Materials

The majority of these breeze sheets embrace the numerous benefits of synthetic fibers. There is a strong liking toward nylon. It must be its stretchability which is a testament of its durability. The elongation of nylon is mostly attributed to its tendency to absorb moisture. This little habit also enables nylon to shed stiffness in favor of toughness.

Occasionally, you will find a manufacturer who employs polyester. Unlike nylon, it is by rote hydrophobic and consequently doesn’t have the same flexibility. It does make though for an economic cover, as it costs far less to manipulate.

Beyond the standard form of these fibers, it is not uncommon to find a few twists. Impregnated with silicone, they become the reigning champions in the lightweight category. Or, coupled with taffeta, a crisp and stiff fabric, they become highly strong and useful outdoors. There is, as well, subtle differences enforced by the way they are woven. Ripstop, for example, is a technique that augments resistance to tears and rips. The use of your backpack will always inform the material needed for a rain cover.

Straps

The waterproof qualities of your rain cover will matter very little if it doesn’t sit on your backpack. Especially, with the appearance of a wheezing wind. Most companies provide with much-needed support by featuring a strap in the back. This can be a simple velcro, or a more sophisticated buckle.

Waterproof or Water Repellent Cover?

The word waterproof communicates an idea of indefinite performance. Which is a tall order to meet for any company. What rain covers do in the waterproof category is to create an impervious waterside. That doesn’t imply they will do so indefinitely, however. In the water-repellent category, materials inhibit water ingress. The operative word here is inhibiting, as a downpour will find a way. The unpredictability of a long hike will always favor the properties of waterproof covers. If the concept of protection, though, doesn’t include any heavy rain then there is no reason to overlook the hydrophobic qualities of the water-repellent materials.

Colors

First, day; the reaction of fluorescent colors with ultraviolet light gives them the characteristic glow. The sight of bikers fashioning 80s neon attire is common in cities. And while your stylistic choices might prohibit regression into the rave culture, being reclassified from the road to human should take precedent. The same can be said for the average hiker (where the road, insert deer).

Second, night; fluorescent colors fall short in the absence of a high energy source to reflect upon. While under city lights they might offer some visibility, they are not fit for purpose. Particularly, compared to the visibility enabled by reflective tints. They bounce light back into the eyes. The directness of the light source (say, car headlights) denotes the effectiveness of the reflection.


Reviews

BTR Backpack Cover “Top Day Cover”

BTR High Visibility

Daily commuters in urban jungles are enamored by the BTR rain cover. The reason is quite simple as strapping the lime yellow neon cover on your back makes you a beacon of attention. There is also an orange fluorescent alternative for those who want to stray from the herd. When it comes to materials, BTR shows a preference for the economic oxford polyester. To strengthen its water-repellent properties, the rain cover is coated with polyurethane. It will keep your stuff dry for most of the time, although you need to be careful in strenuous rain conditions. One of the most useful features of the rave attire is the large velcro straps running like a cross on the back. There is no wind strong enough to separate cover and bag.

What do we like about it:

  • High daytime visibility in two different neon colors
  • Good against rain
  • Straps in the back allow for a secure fit
  • Lightweight
  • Full circumference drawstring cord for adjustability

Cons:

  • It comes only in two sizes, covering bags up to 30L.

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Osprey UltraLight Raincover “Top Ultralight”

Osprey UltraLight

There is only one caveat with the Osprey rain cover. It has a volume range of 30-50L. If that doesn’t deter you then its features combined on its 0.2 ounces body will make you fall in love with it. The nylon fibers are enhanced by the ripstop method, so the Osprey will hold its own against any kind of weather. Especially when for the weekend festival the announcement came heavy rain is imminent. For practical purposes, the lightweight champion can be folded into its own bag and have the size of a tennis ball. This particular design adopts a reflective graphic print to establish its adaptability in the dark.

What do we like about it:

  • Nylon Ripstop fabric makes a good case against water protection
  • A secure hip-belt and harness attachment for a secure grip
  • Minimal weight
  • Reflective graphic print for visibility
  • Easily adjustable wrap-around clinch attachment

Cons:

  • Its size range is rather limited

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Mountainsmith Backpack Rain Cover “Top Extra Large”

Mountainsmith BlackMountainsmith Extra Large

With Mountainsmith there is a range of sizes that cover a wide spectrum, from 10-100L. The main focus is its ability to protect backpacks of 70 liters and more. Despite the ascend in sizes and inevitably length of material, the product stands at a mere 4.3 ounces. Considering the fact the company employs the properties of nylon taffeta to do its bidding, the weight to size ration is outstanding. The materials used, also, make the extra large portion of the rain cover extremely durable against harsh environments. It will be able to fend off a monsoon-like downpour. The heavy-duty cover comes with an integrated pouch, which is a handy addition for those of us who suffer from clumsy hands and will probably misplace the much-needed pouch.

What do we like about it:

  • Nylon Taffeta body makes it waterproof and durable
  • Full circumference draw cord keeps cover cinched tight
  • Hook-and-loop strap
  • There is an angled cord attachment point for adjustability 
  • Lightweight cover

Cons:

  • While this is not a disadvantage per se, be on the lookout for the Mountainsmith sizes. Users have commented they can be larger than you think.

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OUTAD Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover  “Top Cheapest”

Outad Orange

When it comes to finding the cheapest rain cover among the bunch, the calculations become difficult when you have to account for size and quality. Which lead us directly to the Outad polyester oxford masterpiece that ranges between 35-55L and 55-80L. It encompasses the needs of a hunting trip, as well as the daily struggles of riding your bike to work. The economic appeal is facilitated by the polyester material. In comparison to its nylon cousins, it is outmatched against water ingress, although it can still hold its own against a sudden cloudburst. Outad strengthens the cover with a double bottom to resist rips and the occasional drop in a tarmac pond. As this rain cover’s cut-price versatility might entice a larger audience,  it is fitted with a reflective strip. And for a stylish dismount, it comes with a cool drawstring bag. Of course, depending on your levels of absentmindedness the separate bag can turn from stylish to absent.

What do we like about it:

  • It’s price range fluctuates between 9 and 13 dollars
  • Lightweight, with 3.5 oz  and 4.9 oz depending on the size
  • Good against water ingress
  • There is a drainage hole at the bottom in case water collects on the inside
  • A draw cord that allows adjustability
  • Reflective Strip allows visibility at night

Cons:

  • It doesn’t feature a fastening strap on the back

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Joy Walker Waterproof Backpack Rain Cover “Top Waterproof Cover”

Joy Walker 15-90L

Joy Walker’s protection offered by the nylon fibers of rain cover extends to 5000mm of water. Given the fact your not-so-average cataclysm pours 3000mm of water, the Walker is the best waterproof cover on the market. The company, also, boosts the performance of its product by incorporating three different layers of fabric. The first two are tasked to protect against rain, while the third is the last stand against rips and punctures. We could say one of its drawbacks is the separate pouch that stores the rain cover, but that’s outclassed by offering a deal at any given size. And, it’s nice to know Joy Walker offers a free exchange if it doesn’t fit, coupled by a 2-year warranty. There is, though, one flaw with this rain cover. While it incorporates a reinforced rim with an elastic material that clings to your backpack, there is no strap. Things might get tricky as your ride your bike to work or get caught on a windy walk.

What do we like about it:

  • Best waterproof cover by far
  • The nylon material, powered by a double construction, makes it extremely durable
  • Lightweight material
  • Comes in 5 different colors
  • Covers all sizes

Cons:

  • Features no strap
  • Despite its bright colors, the Walker doesn’t offer any high visibility or reflective features

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PAMASE Backpack Rain Cover “Top for Hiking”

PAMASE 30L-70L Nylon

Pamase’s top drawer rain coat for your backpack ranges from 30-70L to cover most sizes you will encounter among hiking enthusiasts. What’s particular about this product is the unique elastic buckle it employs as a strap. There is little to no chance of losing your cover when things get though. The Pamase cover uses the advantages of nylon for its primary purpose to protect against water. It also incorporates a reflective strip for a safety measure in heavy rain. And since a hiking journey means at the 15th mile calves will burn and sweat will pour, the largest size of this rain cover merely adds 2 more ounces on your shoulders.

What do we like about it:

  • An elastic buckle strap that secures the cover on the backpack
  • Nylon fibers make it waterproof
  • Lightweight
  • Offers high visibility at night, in the fog, and in a downpour
  • Durable with reinforced seams
  • Excellent against rain

Cons:

  • The only con for the Pamase is its reluctance to cover for sizes larger than 70L.

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Sugoi Zap Pack Cover “Top for Duffel Bag”

Sugoi Zap

When looking into the best for small bags there’s one major consideration that comes into play. The pecking order of primary purposes shifts from waterproof to high visibility. The reality is cities are packed with buildings and shelters so you wouldn’t stay long in the rain for any serious damage to happen. The amalgamation of polyester, with a coating of polyurethane for the Sugoi rain cover might not be able to compete with the rest on this list in water ingress, but it will be more than enough for the potential dangers of the urban life. Which, leads us to its primary purpose. There are two distinct colors you can choose from, black and yellow, both embroidered with microglass lenses. Light bounces off from the glass beads and makes sure you are noticed at the next intersection. Since bikes have been making their steady comeback at the turn of the second decade of the 21st century, the Sugoi comes with a loop to be attached at your two-wheeled vehicle’s rear light. Plus, unlike its competitors in the 15-35L category, it remains simple in its design.

What do we like about it:

  • Nighttime visibility thanks to its innovative technology
  • The PU (polyurethane) coating makes the cover water repellent
  • Barely weights 0.3 ounces
  • A drawstring offers a tight fit
  • Can be secured on the rear light of your bike

Cons:

  • The polyester fibers don’t make it as durable as backpack rain covers

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Final Thoughts and FAQ

Is a backpack rain cover a necessary addition after all? Well, given it costs next to nothing and will keep you and your stuff safe, we vote yes. In fact, we would go as far as to say it is even more important than your backpack. Before we leave you, though, there are a few considerations we would like for you to take:

  • It is important to measure you backpack and match its size to the rain cover that has caught your eye. Remember, a size bigger might be best if there are paraphernalia attached to the side of your bag.
  • Being a daily commuter requires different specs from a rain cover, than being an adventurous hiker. Consider the imminent dangers your backpack will meet according to your lifestyle and adjust the rain cover accordingly.

FAQ

Q: Where is Gore-Tex and Columbia?

A: Two of the most popular brands in outdoors wearables is absent from our list. And there is a good reason for that. The companies are focused on producing rain covers for you, rather than your backpack. As it stands, we couldn’t find any backpack rain covers on their roster.

Q: Are there any “DIY” options available?

A: For those who like to do things themselves, you will be pleased to know the DIY market has infiltrated backpack rain covers. There are kits you can find online that come with all the necessary materials, from fabric to straps. And there is a plethora of online how-to videos so you can weave a good cover.

 

Scott Moey
 

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