Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack Size Guide

Stuff Sacks help compress and organize the gear in your backpack

Stuff Sacks help compress and organize the gear in your backpack

Stuff sacks are an important part of any hiker’s or backpacker’s packing system. Unfortunately, most of the stuff sacks that manufacturers include with their sleeping bags are just awful in terms reducing volume or quality and you’re better off buying a better one.  The purpose of this article is to review the best stuff sack types and sizes for different types of sleeping bags, so you can buy the right stuff sack for your down or synthetic sleeping bag. A comparison of different stuff sack types: compression sacks, dry bags and dry sacks, and draw string stuff sacks is also provided below.

Recommended Stuff Sack Sizes for Down Sleeping Bags

Down sleeping bags are far more compressible than ones filled with synthetic insulation and require smaller volume stuff sacks. You can almost always use a regular dry sack for a down sleeping bag, except for very cold weather sleeping bags where a compression sack is needed to reduce volume that the sleeping bag takes up in your backpack. The following size recommendations are intended for mummy style sleeping bags. If you have a rectangular shaped sleeping bag, you’ll want to err on the larger size of the size ranges recommended below because rectangular sleeping bags use more fabric and insulation.

Temperature
Rating
(Fahrenheit)
Recommended VolumeExamplesWeight (oz)
40 degree6-8 liters6.5L Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack0.6
7L Granite Gear eVent Uberlight CTF3 Dry Sack0.53
20 degree8-12 liters8L Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack1.1
8L Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack2
10L Sealine Black Canyon Dry Bag7
0 degree14-20 liters20L Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack3.3
20L Outdoor Research AirPurge Dry Compression Sack5.7
-20 degree22-30 liters22L Granite Gear Round Rock Solid Compression Sack6.1
30L Sea To Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack4.1

Recommended Stuff Sack Sizes for Synthetic Sleeping Bags

Synthetic sleeping bags don’t compress as well as sleeping bags with down insulation and therefore require higher volume stuff sacks. You’re also more likely to need a compression stuff sack to shrink the amount of space taken up by a synthetic sleeping bag in your backpack. The following size recommendations are intended for mummy style sleeping bags. If you have a rectangular shaped sleeping bag, you’ll want to err on the larger size of the size ranges recommended below because rectangular sleeping bags use more fabric and insulation. Subzero synthetic sleeping bags are very large and few third-party stuff sack manufacturers make products that will fit them, so your best bet may be to use the compression sack provided by the manufacturer.

Temperature
Rating
(Fahrenheit)
Recommended VolumeExamplesWeight (oz)
40 degree9-13 liters9L Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Stuff Sack0.7
13L Granite Gear eVent Uberlight CTF3 Dry Sack0.67
20 degree16-20 liters20L Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack1.8
20L Sea to Summit eVAC Dry Sack3.0
20L Sea-to-Summit Hydraulic Dry Bag16.0
0 degree25-35 liters30L Sea to Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack7.4
35L Outdoor Research AirPurge Dry Compression Sack6.6
Types of Stuff Sacks: Compression Sack, Roll Top Dry Sack, and a Draw String Stuff Sack

Types of Stuff Sacks: Compression Sack, Roll Top Dry Sack, and a Draw String Stuff Sack

A Comparison of Different Stuff Sack Types

Compression Sacks

Compression sacks are designed to reduce the volume that a piece of gear takes in your backpack. They’re best used to scrunch up large down-filler winter sleeping bags or bulkier three-season synthetic sleeping bags. While most compression sacks use external straps to mechanically compress a bulky sleeping bag such as the Sea-to-Summit Ultra Sil Compression Sack, some also have a panel of breathable fabric which will vent air as you compress them by pressing on them. While these can be lighter weight, they also tend to be significantly more expensive, such as the Sea-to-Summit eVent Compression Dry Sack.

Waterproof Dry Bags and Dry Sacks

Waterproof dry bags are required for canoe or kayaking trips in order to prevent your sleeping bag from getting wet if you flip or swamp your boat. The best dry bags for river or ocean trips are PVC or urethane-coated submersible dry bags, such as the Sealine Black Canyon Dry Bag, with roll-top closures that are airtight and will even float on water. For camping and backpacking, you can use lighter weight silnylon or cordura dry bags. While these will keep your sleeping bags dry if it rains, such as the Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Dry Sack, they’re not designed to be submerged and often leak under pressure.

Stuff Sacks

Regular stuff sacks, often made with silnylon, cordura, or ultralight cuben fiber, such as the REI Lightweight Stuff Sack, have draw string closures that provide less compression and water protection than compression sacks or dry bags and dry sacks. They’re still a good option for storing warm weather sleeping bags or backpacking quilts where your focus is on gear organization rather than compression. Very small stuff sacks are often called ditty bags, such as Outdoor Research’s Mesh Ditty Bags, are mainly used for storing first aid kits and other personal items.

Additional Resources

Recommended Stuff Sacks

Written: 2009. Updated 2014.

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11 Responses to Sleeping Bag Stuff Sack Size Guide

  1. Dave January 24, 2013 at 5:22 am #

    I have a few of the Outdoor Research AirPurge DryComp Compression Sacks, and found them to be a great way to separate and compress both clean clothes and dirty laundry. They also did double duty with the dirty laundry by preventing the smell (especially that of dirty socks) from permeating the rest of the items in my backpack.
    I also liked the Outdoor Research Ultralight ditty sacks, and found them great for storing my camera, wallet/travel documents, etc while being extremely light. Just wish they were more water proof.

    Cheers, Dave

  2. David (@Fellbound) November 24, 2014 at 2:12 am #

    Hi Philip

    Sorry this comment is only indirectly related to your post. I get irritated by shelters that do not come with a big enough stuff sack. For example my Tarptent Scarp 1 came with one that is absolutely fine when you first check out the tent on your living room carpet. It’s easy to fit it in when you are able to kneel down indoors in the dry. But when it’s raining and windy and you are on a hillside and you need to pack up in a hurry tents never seem to roll up as tight. Then you just need a little bit of extra space in the stuff sack. Or perhaps it’s just me and my incompetence!

    • eddie s. November 24, 2014 at 9:43 am #

      You are not alone in your Complaint David….We have been making that exact same complaint to the Manufacturers since 1970 that I am aware of…They ignore it because they know that sooner or later your going to buy a bigger bag for it..So they more or less force you to buy another bag and spend more money…Same with today’s Coffee Machines..Their all designed to force you to buy additional items with which to make a cup of coffee. But me being me I went back to the Old Perculator Model and I love the taste of the Coffee instead of some barely colored insipid waterey cup of what they call coffee..

  3. eddie s. November 24, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    Phil can you recommend a pair of Waterproof bags for a 0 Degree and a 20 Degree Regular sized, Mummy shaped Goose Down bags from Western Mountaineering? I might also remind your readers that they should never Store a Goosedown bag in the bag they carry it in on trips to the wilds. Most quality Goodsedown bags come with a large net bag for storage.. I hang mine in the Closet off a Wood Coat Hanger..

    • Philip Werner November 24, 2014 at 10:15 am #

      Do you really need a waterproof stuff sack bag? I don’t bother with a waterproof stuff sack when it’s under 30 degrees (freezing) since I’m less worried about water getting to the bag. I like these http://www.backcountry.com/sea-to-summit-ultra-sil-compression-sack because they are very lighweight, have a draw string closure on the inside and then an external compression sleeve to scrunch them up. You’ll want the 20 and 30 liter bags for those big WM bags.

      But if you *do* want a waterproof bag (probably just more water resistant because its not a canyon or river bag and won’t take submersion), I’d recommend stuff stacks with a dry sack inside like the http://www.rei.com/product/730882/sea-to-summit-event-compression-dry-sack or the http://www.backcountry.com/outdoor-research-airpurge-dry-compression-sack. You may need to shop around though because it can be difficult to find the very large size stuff sacks in stock. I guess they sell a lot less to winter campers and backpackers.

      • eddie s November 25, 2014 at 9:58 am #

        You’ve never experienced a sodden downpour that was supposed to be a drizzle, I mean is it not standard that you pack for a drizzle and you get a down pour..So just to be on the safe side I always, no matter what, even in summer from 12,000 feet to Sea Level, protect my Down bag…I am asking because the last two I bought are literally falling apart..

        • Philip Werner November 25, 2014 at 5:06 pm #

          See below – I misread your comment. I thought you were asking about a MINUS 20 degree bag.

    • Walter Underwood November 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm #

      My Western Mountaineering Alpinlite (20º) fits very nicely into an 8 liter Ultra-Sil dry sack. The Alpinlite is the wider of their two 20º bags and mine is a long.

      • Philip Werner November 24, 2014 at 9:38 pm #

        Oops – sorry about that eddie. I thought you meant a MINUS 20 bag. My +20 degree WM also fits into an 8 liter Sea to Summit Ulta-sil dry sack. Thanks for catching that Walter!

  4. Mike Henrick November 24, 2014 at 12:46 pm #

    I think you should add a section for quilts – I can stuff my 15 degree down quilt (former sleeping bag) into a Sea to Summit 5L dry bag, but juuust barely.

  5. Jarrett November 24, 2014 at 2:17 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this. I don’t usually use any stuff sacks, but the few times I’ve considered it, I couldn’t find all the information compiled into one guide like this.

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