Waterproof backpacks for trekking tours: buying tips

Waterproof backpacks for trekking tours: buying tips

rain protection
Waterproof backpack: You should pay particular attention to these criteria

Hiking can be fun even when it rains or snows. Provided you are prepared for the bad weather. This includes a waterproof backpack.

© bingokid / Getty Images

It doesn’t matter whether it’s summer or winter: Hikers and bikers are always surprised by snow or rain showers in the mountains. Then it is particularly important that the luggage stays dry. But how can you tell if the backpack is waterproof?

Along with comfortable, non-slip shoes, the rucksack is the hiker’s most important tool. Even on bike tours, a small model is usually enough to stow the bare essentials for the day. Some provisions for the rest at the summit, personal documents and, depending on the season and weather conditions, a dry shirt, hat and gloves. It doesn’t take much more to be on the safe side. But what if the weather changes on the way and dark clouds gather? Then a waterproof backpack is worth its weight in gold.

Was waterproof means what the water column and which rucksacks hold tight on short and longer tours on foot or by bike, you will find out in the following article.

What does waterproof actually mean?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a rain jacket, backpack, cell phone case or hiking boots: waterproof means nothing other than that no water penetrates through the material and thus onto the smartphone, into the socks or inside the hiking backpack. As a rule, special membranes ensure that only the surface of the backpack or jacket absorbs the water, so that even large amounts of rain “stay outside”. Like this one Provincial modelwhich is also made of 100 percent reflective material.

Now you might ask why there are additional items of clothing whose material is declared as “water-repellent” or “waterproof”. The decisive difference: Waterproof fabrics allow the raindrops to ricochet off. In the event of continuous and heavy rain, however, they will eventually have to admit defeat to the masses of water. This calls for standards that customers can use as a guide so that they don’t suddenly end up in the woods like watered poodles on vacation. At this Lightweight by 4Monster the zip should be waterproof, and the fabric itself should at least be water-repellent.

Water column facts and figures

The hydrostatic head is the international standard that the textile industry uses to make transparent how the water permeability of a fabric is measured. Or to put it another way: how long it takes until a certain material or membrane can no longer hold back. In Europe, DIN EN 343:20210-05 is authoritative. To determine the water column, the substance to be tested is exposed to water in the laboratory and the pressure is gradually increased. The so-called Suter test ends as soon as the third drop has penetrated the material and is visible on the inside. If this happens at a water pressure of 0.5 bar, this corresponds to a water column of 5000 millimeters. In Germany, textiles are considered waterproof from a water column of 1500 millimeters. At least if no additional pressure is exerted on the fabric. For example, the straps of the backpack press on the rain-soaked shoulders, a larger water column is needed to get home dry. The wind can also play a role.

Waterproof backpack: what does IPX6 stand for?

For some backpacks (here is a model of Earth-Pak) instead of the water column, an IP class provides information about how well the material protects against impact and water. For example, protection class IPX6 means that the processed material is protected against water jets and temporary flooding. Read here what the protection classes mean in detail. A waterproof backpack is also important for outdoor fans who plan tours with a canoe or other boat. But be careful: Only very few backpacks hold tight even during a longer dive. This YEAZ backpack for day trips was made of tear-resistant tarpaulin. It is said to be extremely water-resistant, but not completely waterproof. The weak point in such backpacks is often the so-called roll-top closure. With classic backpacks, the zippers are usually the first to lose the fight against the water.

Anyone who already has a good-weather backpack (without a water column) in their closet does not necessarily have to buy a new one. To be prepared for unexpected rain showers, all you need is a rain cover that is pulled over the backpack and secured with a rubber or drawstring on the back (here’s a flexible model from Vaude). Before you buy the rain cover, however, always check the volume and pack size of your backpack so that the cover fits properly.

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