Monday, March 29, 2010

Packing List: Backpack Covers

Surprisingly overlooked, backpack covers are practically crucial when traveling anywhere, much less to a country that is almost half rainforest.

The purpose is obvious: rain protection. (For traveling nomads, it can also be helpful to prevent instant petty theft.)

Now, to answer the ever-famous common question posed by incoming students for every packing list item, "Do I really need this?"....

Our answer is: "It's up to you."

What we will tell you, however, is that it can make or break your enjoyment while on course. The backpack cover is clearly not a survival item, but you won't have much fun if all of your clothes and gear are wet. (See image on the right to get an idea how a backpack cover is applied to your backpack.)

If you decide to protect your backpack with one of these, you can find one at any outdoor retailer on and off the internet. Costs range from $10-25 depending on the material quality. Basically you want to invest more if you'll use it for a long period of time - a backpack cover can go through a lot of wear and tear, as it is removed and applied every time you open or close you backpack. Plus, it will take the brunt of anything hitting, rubbing, touching, or scraping your backpack as you hike and travel.

For students on shorter courses (under 15 days), you could go a cheaper route: large black trashbags (click here to learn how) or ponchos (covering both you and your backpack). These alternative options may not cover the bottom of your backpack, which easily gets wet when splashing through puddles or putting your backpack down in the rainforest's muddy environment. Again, it's up to you.

But whatever you do, be sure that your cover is big enough to cover the backpack! Students use our Jansport backpacks with a capacity of 5000 cubic inches, but of course you are always allowed to bring your own.

And remember: A dry camper is a happy camper. (Cheesy? Yes. True? Definitely.)

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