Comparison of five ultralight backpack liners

Backpackers can use a backpack raincover or line their backpacks with a bag or backpack liner that is specifically designed for this purpose. Backpacking was something I tried when I first started. I initially used a rain cover, but it made me uncomfortable so I switched to a backpack lining. In the 10 years since then, I have used five different backpack liner styles and it has been a great experience comparing their strengths and weaknesses. They all work well, but there are pros and cons to be aware of if you’re considering using one.

  • Hyperlite Mountain Gear Dyneema DCF roll top stuff bag (44L).
  • Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag & Pack Liner (45L).
  • Gossamer Gear Clearwaterproof Pack Liner (48.6L).
  • Nylofume Liner Bags (51.9L).
  • Hefty white trash compactor bag (68L).

Consider first what are the most important attributes for waterproof backpack liners.

  • Volume: All your stuff can be contained.
  • If you carry a lot of luggage, durability is important.
  • If you count your ounces, weight is definitely a factor.
  • Price is always a factor
  • Closure: For very wet trips, a roll-top is important.
  • Easy Repair: Liners are susceptible to abuse, so it is important that you can easily repair them.
  • Multi-Purpose: Can it be used for multiple purposes to reduce the gear’s weight?
  • Interior Visibility: Is it easier to locate your gear in a backpack with a liner?

Let’s use these criteria for the following backpack liners.

1. Hyperlite Mountain Gear Liner (44L).

Hyperlite’s Pack Liner, a 44L (XL) roll-top stuff bag made with Dyneema Composite fabrics, is available in 44L. The roll-top is sewn while the rest of liner is taped. The liner weighs in at 2.1 ounces. However, the price is quite high when compared to other pack liners. This liner was initially used for packrafting trips. However, it developed many pinholes quickly. DCF can be fixed with tape but I was skeptical about its long-term viability. It was also too small for my needs, and it made it difficult to find my gear in my backpack due to its dark color.

2. Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag (45L)

Exped Schnozzel Pumpbag, a 45L pack liner/pump bag that can be used to fill Exped sleeping pad with flat stemless valves. It is also compatible with Sea to-to-Summit or REI pads. The bag is made of durable silnylon and weighs in at 2.3 oz. It’s easy to locate gear in dark-colored backpacks thanks to the bright color. It’s not something I would trust for full immersion trips (like packrafting), however it is sufficient to keep your gear dry in the rain. It’s not expensive and a great addition if you have a compatible sleep pad.

3. Gossamer Gear Clearpack Liners (48.5L).

Clear plastic pack liners from Gossamer Gear are very durable. I have used them for years and only had to replace one bag per year. They weigh 1.2 oz and are lighter than trash compactor bags. If you poke a hole in one, clear tape can be used to repair it. You can fold them up at the top or twist tie to keep them closed. However, they do a great job of protecting your gear. They are also very affordable. They are clear, so they can be seen through the interior of your bag. These pack liners were no longer needed after I decided to stop sending my retirement savings through Gossamer Gear. I started using backpacks made by another company. However, I still think they are a great option.

4. Nylofume Liner Bags (51.9 L)

Nylofume’s Pack Liners Bags weigh just 0.91 ounces each and are extremely tough. They are 51.9L and can hold most of my regular packs. I also have some extra to fold the top over to seal out moisture. They can be easily repaired with packing tape. They are also odor-proof which could make them useful as food bag liners. They have one problem in my opinion. The bags make a horrible sound like a potato chip. These pack liners are a great solution.

5. Bags for compactor bags of heavy white trash (68L).

My current pack liner, a Hefty white Trash Compactor bag, is it. These thick plastic bags weigh 2.2 oz and are heavier than regular trash bags. They are also harder to tear. These bags are lightweight and easy to repair with tape. They are durable and I usually only use one to two per year. They are large in volume but can be used for multiple purposes. A trash compactor bag can be used as a bivy bag to keep warm during a cold night. They are also easier to locate gear in a backpack that is dark because they are white. It’s important that you get “unscented bags” when you purchase them if you plan to hike in bear country.

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