By Michael Lanza

From the rainforest of the North Cascades and Olympic National Park to New England, from the Tour du Mont Blanc to New Zealand (lead photo, above), I’ve carried a backpack through many fierce downpours and endless showers. I’ve tried virtually every strategy imaginable to keep my clothing and gear inside my pack dry—some which have failed spectacularly, and some which have worked flawlessly, no matter how wet I got. In this story, I share my seven top tricks for how I keep the rain from getting anywhere near my dry clothes, sleeping bag, and other contents of my pack.

I’ve learned the tricks described below over three decades of backpacking all over the U.S. and around the world—formerly as the Northwest Editor of Backpacker magazine for 10 years and even longer running this blog. The seven simple tips in this article will help you keep your gear dry through the wettest adventures.

See also my ”10 Expert Tips for Staying Warm and Dry Hiking in Rain” and ”How to Prevent Hypothermia While Hiking and Backpacking.”

Click on any photo to read about that trip. Please share any tips of your own or your questions in the comments section at the bottom of this story; I try to respond to all comments.


Hi, I’m Michael Lanza, creator of The Big Outside. Click here to sign up for my FREE email newsletter. Join The Big Outside to get full access to all of my blog’s stories. Click here for my e-guides to classic backpacking trips. Click here to learn how I can help you plan your next trip.

A trekker on the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.
” data-image-caption=”Fiona Wilhelm trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.
” data-medium-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?fit=300%2C200&ssl=1″ data-large-file=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?fit=900%2C600&ssl=1″ width=”900″ height=”600″ src=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?resize=900%2C600&ssl=1″ alt=”A trekker on the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.” class=”wp-image-47446″ srcset=”https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?resize=1024%2C683&ssl=1 1024w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1 300w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?resize=768%2C512&ssl=1 768w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?resize=150%2C100&ssl=1 150w, https://i1.wp.com/thebigoutside.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/TMB1-063-Fiona-above-Refugio-Bertone-on-the-Tour-du-Mont-Blanc-Italy.-3.jpg?w=1200&ssl=1 1200w” sizes=”(max-width: 900px) 100vw, 900px” data-recalc-dims=”1″ />Fiona Wilhelm trekking the Tour du Mont Blanc in Italy.

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