Water-Resistant vs Waterproof and Your Backpack

by | Aug 19, 2018 | Gear, Backpacks & Packs

Water-Resistant vs Waterproof and Your Backpack 1

Image Source: Go Ruck


Here at Gear Primer, we’re pretty crazy about our gear. Whether it’s that brand new AI powered drone or the backpack we’ve chosen to put it in, we buy the best stuff possible, so the thought of moisture potentially penetrating our packs and into our expensive gear is a bit gut wrenching.

As such, we’re pretty sympathetic when we get questions from people asking “Is nylon waterproof?”. So, today we’ve decided to answer the question once and for all, talk about waterproof vs water-resistant, and finally close it off with some tips to make your backpack a bit more impervious to water.

Water-resistant vs Waterproof

Before we dive into what water-resistant means, let’s talk about waterproof. If a company lists their bag as waterproof, then it’s pretty much going to be completely submersible and the stuff inside stays dry. These waterproof bags¬†usually look like a cylindrical sack because it’s a lot easier to completely seal one side of a bag than seal multiple places on the bag leaving the potential for water to get in. These bags are usually made with some synthetic material such as tarpaulin which gives it the waterproof ability.

Water-resistant on the other hand is as its name describes. The backpack can resist water for a period of time, but eventually with enough water or submersion, the water will seep through. Water-resistant rather than waterproof is typically what backpack manufacturers will advertise on their backpacks because nylon inherently is water resistant just by the way that the fibers are intertwined. Generally speaking, the heavier duty nylon such as 800D or 1000D it will be a bit more water resistant than your lighter nylon such as 100D or 200D.

While this is the case for most backpacks, some backpacks such as the 5.11 Tactical Rush Series are also coated using a water-repellant material on the nylon, but it’s still not completely submersible and the hope is that the rain would stop well before the bag is completely soaked.

Waterproofing Your Backpack

So ultimately the question is… is your backpack waterproof? Chances are slim. Is it water-resistant? Probably. Does it matter? Well, it depends.

For everyday carry, going to the school, work, etc. you probably don’t need¬† anything waterproof. Unless you plan on walking around in a downpour for more than an hour, water resistant will probably keep things in your bag just fine. However, what if you want to stand in a downpour for a while or more likely what if you want to cross a river without the contents of your pack getting completely soaked?

Well, the trick is simply to line your backpack with a waterproof bag and put all your stuff in there. As far as waterproofing sprays, don’t even bother. Those wear out very quickly and unless you’re actively planning to get wet right after applying the spray, you’re much better off packing a waterproof bag and quickly throwing the contents of your pack into the waterproof bag before getting completely and utterly soaked.

Bottom Line

Your backpack probably isn’t waterproof, but it’s likely water-resistant. This should be fine in most cases even in a rainstorm, but if you’re planning to be stationary in a major downpour or you want to cross a river, you probably want to use a waterproof bag just to be sure. Hope this helped!

<a href="https://www.gearprimer.com/sam-chen-biography/" target="_blank">Sam Chen</a>

Sam Chen

Sam is a Southern California native and an avid tool and gear enthusiast. When he's not working his day job, he enjoys spending his time working on remodeling projects, cars, and the outdoors. Follow him on Twitter @realsamchen


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