River Crossings with Backpack


When it comes to dry sacks do you only put your gear that musn’t get wet into a drysack inside your backpack and cross river and end up other side with a wet backpack?

Or do you remove backpack and put entire backpack into drysack and then wade the river?

I am looking at option 1 with a lightweight drysack like this

I think if you go with option 2 you may need a thicker material as you must be careful not to pierce drysack on sharp sticks etc. That means more weight.

What’s your inputs on this? Thank you


I always have my sleeping bag and thermals in a lightweight dry-bag, irrespective of whether I’m doing a river crossing or not. For a river crossing where there is a chance of my pack being submerged, I put the entire backpack with contents inside a survival bag: https://www.takealot.com/coghlans-survival-bag/PLID29424561


It depends on the type of hike or river crossing I do. If it is a short river crossing but my bag will be submerged then I will put my backpack in a strong bag and tie it securely and float it over. Your pack soaks up a lot of water so it becomes very heavy if it becomes wet.
If it is a kloofing trip and I need to carry the pack on my back then I will put all my belongings in a drybag inside my pack. I do prefer the stronger Big River Drybags from Sea to Summit for this.
If it is a dry hike and there is a chance of things getting wet then I will put my important belongings in a smaller lightweight drybag.




main reason i am asking is just look at todays rain, rivers are flowing full steam ahead. I am doing Otter Trail next year March and I know people ensure they cross over at low tide, but should there be a sudden strong rain and the river is coming down quite a bit i would hate to do the long journey over to the top and around.

If a river crossing is safe i need to weigh in the good and the bad of gear protection.


Get yourself a good raincover for your backpack, one with elastic that fits nice over your pack. Then you just put your bag onto the water and the cover will keep all water out and your whole pack dry. That is the best way for crossing a river. It is also a very good flotation - you just hang onto it and kick yourself across.


If you don’t want to go through buying expensive gear…
Line your pack with a black bag. Wrap your sleeping bag with a black bag.
When crossing the river, put your whole pack in a black bag and just drag it through the river with you.
We did that when we were students and didn’t have money for waterproof gear. Works like a charm!


Can’t agree more with the last two guys: I’ve never owned a dry bag (love to however, it’s a cool nice to have gadget…) been kloofing since the late 80’s, only to realise in the 00’s that a rain/splash cover for the backpack (we did no have them back then…) does the trick: water repelling and floating device! For the rest e.g. sleeping bag and your essential clothes a couple of good/thick (!) “black bags” and ziplocks for food or electronic stuff will do the trick. Arno’s Coghlans - Survival Bag or French Polony is your classic (and cheaper at R80.00 than an uni-splash cover, if your backpack has none yet) South African solution, but will eventually puncture …on your second or third water crossing. But most of all: enjoy your Otter!!!


Now this looks like a great idea.
Bit small for the Otter Trail though