While all tramping packs have a water-resistant outer layer - a coating placed over anything from canvas to cotton polyester - you should never assume that they're totally waterproof. Water can always find a way in, particularly if you need to do river crossings - swollen streams are easy to fall over in. Always pack assuming your gear is going to get drenched.

Stuffing everything into your pack can be difficult. But there are a few important tips to know before putting your food in with your socks.

  • Always start by putting a liner inside your pack. You can buy one for a few dollars at any tramping store or on the Mountain Safety Council website - they're generally tougher and last longer than the alternatives. (And they can be used as a bivouac if you get caught out in the bush.) If you can't get to a store, use a rubbish bag.
     
  • Pack everything into individual waterproof bags. As Chris Tews points out, "it's hard to believe your best efforts are sometimes not enough to keep your load dry. Prolonged heavy rain will soon teach you to be more careful".
     
  • Have a bag for the clothes you'll wear at the hut or around the tent. Have another for your dinner food. But most importantly, stick your sleeping bag in at least two waterproof bags - it's one of the most important things to keep dry!
     
  • Place heavy objects higher up and closer to your back - to stop you getting dragged backwards by your pack.
     
  • Put anything you might need during the day close to the top. This might include a waterproof jacket, snacks and lunch food, and hats or gloves.
     
  • Try not to put anything on the outside of your pack. Walking sticks, billies, or sleeping mats might get wet, caught on branches, or simply fall off.
     
  • A good indication of a well-packed pack is that it either sits upright on its own, or falls in the direction of the harness. If it falls the other way, you may feel more of a strain on your back when wearing it.

More information

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Report by Tristan Clark

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