What item in your pack weighs ...
- less than an ounce
- is arguably the most important item in your pack
- has multiple uses
My attempt to avoid waist deep water in Redfield Canyon is about to come to an unceremonious end.
It’s not uncommon for ultralight backpackers to try to use the ratio of dollars spent to weight cut from their kits, and I’m sure even if you’ve never consciously approached a purchase through this lens it’s still “weighing” on your mind. In the midst of this never ending struggle to attain the perfect kit there is one item that costs only a couple of dollars and stands above all the rest.Most ultralight backpacks are made of expensive laminate fabrics, many of which are waterproof in the sense that the fabric alone has an extremely high hydrostatic head, possibly even more so than your tent rainfly.
This does not make your backpack waterproof.
Repeat after me: This does not make your backpack waterproof.
It’s one of those things that is worth repeating. The construction of a backpack can achieve an extremely high level of water resistance, but all hiking packs that are not a dedicated true dry bag will eventually succumb to sustained rain or submersion.
The lightest, cheapest, most foolproof way to know your gear will be dry at the end of the day when you make camp is to use a Nylofume pack liner. This is the reason I make the claim that it’s arguably the most important piece of gear in your pack.
Consider the number of critical things you carry that depend on being dry to function — insulation, lighters, electronics (even if they’re IP68 rated you won’t be able to charge them while wet), and food. A warm, well fed, cozy night in camp is completely dependent on having certain gear dry. (Cold soakers, shush!)
The video below shows some places a packliner is critical
- A trip through the Redfield Canyon Wilderness with tons of unavoidable deep water
- Wading through chest-high water in the Dry Creek Gorge
- Waist-high snow on the PCT south of Big Bear
- Packrafting on the John Day River
- A snow storm in the Oregon Canyon Mountains
- Walking into a storm in the Wind River Range
But, wait there’s more ….
- There are several excellent Youtube videos on using your Nylofume as a pump sack for your sleeping pad.
- I also often use mine as a little front porch ground cover under my vestibule when the ground is wet or sandy, and I want to lay a few items out and keep them relatively clean.
- When I know that extreme unavoidable condensation will happen during the night I will stuff my down jacket and any clothes I’m not wearing back into the liner, preserving them for a chilly morning.
- Cutting a Nylofume down to size and using a twist tie to seal it can be a handy way to segregate food in your pack, and is lighter and just as odor proof as expensive ziploc style bags purporting to do the same.
But, can’t you just use a trash compactor bag, you may ask? Nylofume bags are a better pack liner than a compactor bag for a few reasons …
They’re clear, making it easy to locate items. They’re more durable and lighter than trash bags. And, they’re cut to the dimensions that match the long cylindrical nature of backpacks.
I typically go through two Nylofumes a year in use that averages around 100 nights outside, which is pretty impressive durability.
The Bottom Line
About to cross the Owyhee Reservoir
Nylofume is an ultralight, durable, inexpensive, easy-to-use pack liner. It gives me confidence that if I’m wading through deep canyon water, packrafting across a river, or suffering through a day of non-stop rain, the essential parts of my kit I depend on will be dry at the end of the day.