Welcome! Ultralight backpacking is my passion, and keeping up on new technologies, gear, and techniques relevant to UL backpacking is what floats my boat. I'm always looking for the lightest, most functional gear to improve a lightweight or ultralight backpacking kit, and report my impressions and field testing results here. For hikers wanting to keep up on the latest and greatest ultralight backpacking gear, this is a good place to hang out. Also, there is a lot of information here (and on our informational website Southwest Ultralight Backpacking) on useful techniques and backcountry etiquette -- food for thought for hikers wanting to lighten their load and their impacts.

My goal for Ultralight Insights is to understand, test, and report on new technologies and gear of interest to lightweight and ultralight backpackers. It's a passion after all, so we just plain enjoy talking about it. I hope readers will add their own wisdom and comments, respond to my questions, ask their own questions, and correct me if I get something wrong. Happy hiking! Will

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Backpack Front Pocket Liner

By Will Rietveld

This tip may be a ho-hummer for some hikers and a head slapper for others.

Many ultralight backpacks have a large, stretchy mesh pocket on the front of the pack, which I use to hold numerous items I want quick access to while on the trail. The problem is: how do I keep those items dry if it decides to rain?

My solution is to use a liner bag in the front pocket to keep the contents dry. This has several advantages:

  • It pulls out and slides back in easily.
  • It keeps things dry during a light shower, so you don’t have to put on a pack cover.
  • Combined with a liner bag inside the pack, a pack cover is not really needed.
  • In camp, it keeps your small items in one place so they don’t get spread out and lost.
  • It’s also handy in your shelter to keep things together and handy.

The lightest liner bags are a Cuben Fiber stuff sack or drybag, a turkey roasting bag, a simple plastic bag, or a large Aloksac. A large gusseted Aloksac works well because it has a leakproof airtight zip-lock seal. A turkey roasting bag is very durable, but it doesn’t have a way to seal the top other than tying a knot in it, so it’s less convenient.

 A large Aloksac containing all my small gear items slips easily into the front pocket of the new Gossamer Gear 2012 Murmur pack.

In camp or inside your shelter, the liner bag holds all your smaller gear items so they don’t get spread out and lost.
My personal favorite is a Cuben Fiber drybag, such as the 10 liter Granite Gear Uberlight Drysack.

You can apply the same trick to a side pocket by using a tall slender waterproof bag. With a gear bag you can get more items in the pocket, keep them from falling out, and keep them dry.

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