How to Pack a Sleeping Bag

Partially unzipped Kelty Sine sleeping bag on wooden surface

Getting your sleeping bag to fit back into its stuff sack can seem like a magic trick. The perfect way it was packaged at the factory appears impossible to recreate without splitting seams in the stuff sack or damaging your valuable sleeping bag.

If you’ve already got a trusted bag, we’ve got a few tips on how to easily get your sleeping bag back into its stuff sack.

If you’re shopping for a new sleeping bag, let us help you choose. You can get more information about bag temperature ratings here.

Before You stuff – flatten

Flattening the sleeping bag before stuffing it will remove excess air. The air in your sleeping bag’s insulation creates loft and keeps you warm while you’re sleeping but it’s unhelpful when you’re packing up your bag. Spread the bag out and flatten it by firmly sweeping your arms across it before you attempt to stuff it.

Stuff, don’t roll

There’s a reason they’re called stuff sacks – most sleeping bags are designed to be stuffed, not rolled, back into the sack they came with. Whether your sleeping bag contains down or synthetic fill, stuffing it instead of rolling it will usually remove more air and allow for a smaller packed size.

Start at the bottom

The footbox section of many sleeping bags contains added insulation to keep your feet toasty while you sleep. This means more air gets trapped in this section compared to the rest of the bag.

Stack as you stuff

By ‘stacking’ the sleeping bag carefully, you can prevent damage the next time you pull the bag out.

Starting with the footbox, ‘stack’ your sleeping bag bottom by grabbing and stuff the bag from bottom to top. When stacked, the footbox is at the bottom and the hood is located at the top of the stuff sack. This packing method will prevent the bag from getting twisted or tightly wrapped around itself, which risks a tear when you pull the bag out of the sack.

Invest in helpful compression tools

A compression stuff sack can make things even easier and allow you to reduce the packed size of your sleeping bag further. These stuff sacks use straps to do the work of compacting your sleeping bag without any energy expenditure on your part.

Another benefit of utilizing a compression stuff sack is that you can place other soft gear, like your backpacking pillow or extra layers, in with your sleeping bag and compress everything together for additional space savings in your pack.

Long-term storage

We’ve talked a lot about stuffing your sleeping bag for the trail or the trip. Once you’re home and ready to put the bag away for long-term storage, the best course of action is just the opposite. This is especially important for down-filled bags but synthetic insulation also benefits from uncompressed storage.

Find a large mesh or fabric storage sack that will protect your sleeping bag without compressing it. Many sleeping bags include dedicated storage sacks, but any large sack made of breathable fabric will work.



Questions? Talk to a gear specialist.