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Should You Pack Your Sleeping Bag in a Waterproof Stuff Sack?

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

Do you pack your sleeping bag or quilt in a waterproof stuff sack when you go backpacking?

We polled Section Hiker readers and surprisingly, the vast majority don’t stuff their sleeping bags or ultralight quilts into a waterproof stuff sack. Instead, they line their packs with trash bags and mostly stuff in their sleeping bag loose. I must admit, I was surprised by this. I thought the use of waterproof stuff sacks or compression sacks¬†was the norm, not the exception.

How about you?

Do you pack your sleeping bag or quilt in a waterproof stuff sack when you go backpacking?

  • Why or why not? Dig deep and explain your motivation for or against using one.
  • If you use a waterproof stuff sack, tell us which one you use.

Please leave a comment and share your experience with our readers.

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  • compression bag or trash bag
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266 comments

  1. I use a Sea to Summit eVent Compression Sack currently and it works great at keeping my bag dry. In addition to a cuben fiber pack cover the compressing sack keeps my sleeping bag clean and dry especially once its out of my pack in the tent.

  2. We just put our sleeping bags inside our packs with is lined with a compactor trash bags. Our sleeping bags are in compression sacks that they came with. We have limited funds for supplies so waterproof sacks have never been a priority. Are they a good idea- yes!

  3. I put the bag/quilt in a trash compactor bag, but generally not in an secondary waterproof bag.

  4. i use a waterproof compression sack – usually Sea to Summit – both to reduce size and ensure I have a dry place to sleep. I usually rely on a pack cover to keep the rest dry plus a small dry sack for my (turned off) cell phone.

  5. I despise stuff sacks! They are extra weight and tend to make my pack feel lumpy. I much prefer to just stuff all of my gear into my pack. My quilt lives quite happily stuffed inside a trash compactor bag alongside my down jacket and anything else I want to keep dry. For “normal” backpacking conditions, this setup keeps my gear dry and allows my down gear to fill up the extra space in my ultralight pack. For paddling trips or if I expect to be swimming rivers (not just wading), I would use a dry bag.

  6. I do not pack my sleeping bag in a separate stuff sack. I put all my items that need to stay dry (clothes, bag, electronics, etc) in a trash compactor bag within my backpack. Everything else stays outside the tough plastic bag.

  7. I try to avoid rain so I don’t waterproof my bag storage, but if it does rain, I’ll throw on my poncho to keep us all dry.

  8. I use the waterproof silnylon sacks from Walmart for the sleeping bag. I once read a review that the Walmart brand were as good as the Sea to Summit bags but are much cheaper. It has worked for me, and keeps the bag dry even in pouring rain. My backup of course is to line my pack with a trash compactor bag when rain is predicted.

  9. I use the Sea to Summit eVent Compression sack, both for the waterproofing and to save space in the pack. I have a 15 and 20 liter, and usually keep my sleeping bag and some clothes in one, and my tent in the other. It does a great job at compressing my clothes, the waterproofing is really an added bonus, though the seams are coming un-taped so I don’t know how waterproof it is at this point in life…

  10. generic stuff sack for my quilt. My GG pack bag liner.

  11. I use a “xsmall” size Sea to Summit event. I love how small I can compress my down bag and know that it is going to be dry!

  12. My opinion about stuff sacks is not very high. I use a trash compactor to line the inside of my pack and especially for the EE quilt I use, I jam it in the bottom of the bag and it sort of forms around the rest of my gear. I believe that by reducing the number of stuff sacks I have saved almost 5oz in pack weight. This seems to work for me. Cheers!

  13. I am just getting back into backpacking, with my girlfriend, after a long hiatus and trying to make some investments/move initially to lightweight and then to UL as the funds allow. Really enjoy reading the posts on your site. Grew up hiking and backpacking in NH before moving west. My old EMS down sleeping back and Granite Gear compression sack come out to over 4lbs so saving up some money to replace those. But, I was looking to replace the old compression sack with a lighter, dry sack too as I was worried about the down getting wet in our afternoon high country storms. A couple things stopped me from going the dry compression sack route, including cost especially if I am planning to replace that bag (and whatever new bag/quilt would no longer need to also/should not be compressed). And, I did some research and from what I read, the UL dry bags such as out of silnylon weren’t really waterproof like a normal dry bag for boating would be. And the consensus seemed to be that a good trash compactor bag with a properly wrapped topped was a solid, economical solution. The white trash compactor bag also separates the bag (and clothes) from water, fuel and food in the pack, and the white makes it easier to find things inside the bag that I might throw in loose. Two backpacking trips down this summer/early fall with the trash compactor bag but haven’t had enough bad weather to test it out. I haven’t decided that when I get the new bag/quilt whether I will go with a normal stuff sack or a dry one, along with the trash compactor bag as double insurance. It may depend if my girlfriend and I come up with trips where there is risk of submersion such as kayak packing or early season creek wading.

  14. Stuffsack? Depends on where I’m hiking. If I have my warmer down bag, yes I stuff it into a Sea-toSummit h2o-proof compression sack. Only in rainy New Zealand with a lot of river crossings did I double up with a liner as well. I’d rather save the weight of course but the insurance of dry gear when you get to camp is pretty sweet.

  15. Haven’t really decided yet. I am returning to backpacking after a 40-year hiatus. The answers posted have been a huge help, though.

  16. I wanted to do a slight tangent on compactor bags since they show up repeatedly in the topic. I switched to Reynolds Oven Bags-Turkey size. They are smaller then compactor bags so you end up using more than one. That and the fact that they are clear make if easy to organized stuff. Stuff that might be packed wet such as a tent go in one and other things fall into natural groupings.
    “discovering” oven bags came from Sections Hikers discussion of vapor barrier for feet. I do not winter camp but i was surprised how fast my feet can get cold in blowy rain now that I switched to mesh top shoes. So I use the Pot Roast size for anti-hypotheria foot protection. That use led to me trying out the larger size for other purposes.

  17. Things that must stay dry, clothes and sleep gear, go into cheap stuff sacks, then into a garbage bag tied off, then into another stuff sack to protect the garbage bag’s integrity. The weight of 2 extra garbage bags and 2 extra stuff sacks = bone dry. I’ve slept wet… no more.

  18. I stopped using a compression sack for my sleeping bag. While packing for a recent trip this past summer , I tested a theory I had and just shoved the bag in first and layered the rest of the gear on an as needed first/ most basis as usual. The theory was that I realized that a compressed sleeping bag was akin to putting a rock in the bottom of my pack…it wasn’t going to compress any more…the result was that it was much easier to stow my gear and it all ” settled” in the pack better. Upon repack I installed a trash bag , repacked as before…worked great for me …One less stuff sack to carry and way easier and quicker when it’s time to load up.

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