Over the holidays, my wife gave me an ultralight cuben fiber backpack cover from Zpacks.com. Weighing 1 oz, it replaces a silnylon Equinox pack cover I’ve been using the past few years that weighs 3.2 oz.
A backpack cover is an important piece of gear that you should have if you’re hiking in an area where it can rain heavily. While pack covers often suffer from condensation that will make the surface of your pack wet when it is raining steadily, they prevent it from getting saturated and becoming even heavier. In addition, they provide excellent protection from branches and thorns if you plan on bushwacking or walking on poorly maintained trails, that would otherwise perforate your pack or rip external mesh pockets.
What is Cuben Fiber?
If you are not familiar with cuben fiber, it is a synthetic fabric made using polyethylene molecules that are arranged in very long chains at a microscopic level. This translates into a fabric that is extremely tough and resistant to abrasion, but also very lightweight (0.6 oz/sqyd). These properties make cuben fiber ideal for making sailboat and windsurfing sails and now, ultralight backpacking gear. Spectra and Dyneema are two other fabrics made from these long strand polyethylene molecules that are already used widely for making cord/rope and backpacks.
Zpacks makes the cuben fiber backpack cover in two sizes: a small ($32) and a medium ($35). The medium is large enough to fit my largest 4,000 cubic inch pack, when full. It is held onto the pack using a shock cord drawstring with a cinchable cord lock. It also includes a lightweight strap that clips under your pack’s haul look or shoulder straps to prevent the cover from being blown off in the wind.
Disclosure: The author owns this product and purchased it using their own funds.