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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
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
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, 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

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28 comments

  1. 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. Is there a system to stuffing a down sleeping bag into a compression stuff sack? I’ve seen videos where it looks pretty abusive. Is there a method that protects the sleeping bag or jut “go for it” and stuff?

    • Try grabbing small handfuls and pushing them in. After that push down on it with your knee. That will let you get the top of the compression sack in place and you can crank down the straps.

  3. I'm a stuff sack addict. I'm not sure of the exact number, but I think I have something like 15 of them in my gear closet, and that's only a fraction of the total number I've had over the years. When I'm backpacking, my clothes stuff sack usually becomes my pillow. I lay a fleece or t-shirt over the top to put my head on, because the fabric isn't too comfy against the skin.

    • Great suggestions. Thanks!

      • I make a comfy pillow out of my fleece vest or jacket by zipping it up, pulling the sleeves inside, and stuffing it with the clothing I will put in in the morning.

    • Looking for a compression sack but need a 5″x24′ or could use a 6″x24″ do you know if they make such a size? I need it for my sleeping bag so I can carry it on the bottom of my pack.

  4. I recently discovered Granite Gear's Ultralight Airspace Zip sacks. While "ultralight" is a bit of an exaggeration, the block-shape and top zip make storage and retrieval a breeze. Great for food, especially.

  5. For about the last 3 years, I have not used, nor needed, a stuff sack for my 3-season sleeping bag while backpacking. It goes in the bottom of my pack, which is lined with a trash compactor bag. I find the pack holds more this way because the bag can squish out to fill the pack’s volume more completely. It is probably loftier this way also. For kayak overnighting, I use a double waterproof bag system of a wp stuff sack inside of a kayak dry/float bag.

  6. I was told if I wanted to use a stuff sack for my 15F down sleeping bag to stick with a Large (15L) Sea-to-Summit Ultra Sil Stuff Sack to prevent from crushing down the sleeping bag too much. Always have decent loft in my sleeping bag.

    • If it’s down, it doesn’t matter what size stuff sack you use The down will spring back if you let it sit out for a bit before sleeping in it. You don’t want to store it between trips in the stuff sack, but I’d use a 8L stuff sack for a 15 degree bag and not think twice.

  7. Philip..I just purchased a Nemo Nocturne 30 Down bag partly due to your very positive reviews. My question is that it technically isn’t a mummy bag but rather spoon shaped and also 30 rated.not 20 or 40. Do you think it would fit into an 8 litre regular dry bag? If i still wanted to reduce volume further could I still use a compression type bag? If so what size? What do you use for your bag?

    Thanks
    Kevin

  8. This slick black stuff is not polyurethane. It’s an alternative coating that makes eagle creek stuff junk in a few years. Urethane is tough stuff and my old gregory packs and seal-line dry bags are doing fine, thanks

  9. 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..

  10. 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.

  11. Good article and information. I’ll probably get some kidding about this but here goes. Has anyone tried any of the small space bags that you roll the air out of. When staying in a cabin i was able to get a king sized pillow down to about the size of a thin sweater or sweatshirt.

  12. Hands tied beginner

    Live in Sweden. Of course want a type sleeping bag not available here; opted for the Coleman Oak Point (seems to be a 40F one from what I can gather, large at that: 39 in. x 81 in.) and will have it forwarded here. Of course also apparently happened to find the only one sold w/o a stuff sack. As the options are so many more in the US, I’ll be getting that too from online. This also means I’ve got to get everything right and fitting on first try (expensive shipping, kind relatives helping), and w/o being able to see/test anything in person. Coleman’s CS has been less than forthcoming in answering my question regarding what size stuff sack (in l) I will need for it, as I want one. Eventually, they came back saying it’s 38.8l (the bag, not the sack size needed … sigh). Could anyone here please advise what size stuff sack, respectively compression sack, I need for this? I’d like for the bag to fit snugly, w/o having to fiddle w/ it for 30 mins, yet not have much extra room either. Much thanks in advance for any help!

    • Ask Coleman. I can’t tell how stuff able the bag is from your description. Of course you don’t need a stuff sack unless you plan to backpack with this monstrous thing. In that case, I’d really recommend you buy a different sleeping bag, one filled with down. I can get my 40 degree bag into a 6 liter stuff sack.

  13. hi everybody,
    great article and useful comments.
    Can anyone help me with choosing the best stuff sack for my sleeping bag? its an Revelation 850DT 20° of the brand Enlightened Equipment.

    its a really good sleeping bad, with an awful sack.
    I would love to get some help about it.

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