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How to Stuff a Sleeping Bag into its Stuff Sack

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 possibly damaging your valuable sleeping bag. In this Expert Advice video, Backcountry Edge Gear Specialist Becky offers a few tips on how to safely and easily stuff your sleeping bag back into its stuff sack after a night’s sleep outdoors.

5 Helpful Hints for Stuffing your Sleeping Bag into its Stuff Sack:

1. Don’t roll…stuff!

There’s a reason it’s called a stuff sack -- most sleeping bags are designed to be stuffed, not rolled, back into the sack they came with for packing. 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.

2. Before you stuff…flatten

Flatten the sleeping bag before stuffing to remove excess air
Flattening the sleeping bag before stuffing it will remove excess air

The air that gets trapped in your sleeping bag’s insulation to create loft and keep you warm while you’re sleeping becomes unhelpful when you’re packing up your bag. Especially if you have an extra lofty sleeping bag (such as one with a lot of down insulation), spread the bag out and flatten it by firmly sweeping your arms across it before you attempt to stuff it into the stuff sack.

3. 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 than through much of the body and even the hood. When stuffing your sleeping bag in its stuff sack, start with the footbox first and compress as you stuff to move that excess trapped air up and out.

4. “Stack” it as you stuff it

Stack the sleeping bag starting with the footbox
Stacking the sleeping bag carefully will prevent damage when you remove it again

Starting with the footbox, “stack” your sleeping bag bottom to top so that the hood is located at the top of the stuff sack when you’re finished packing. This goes along with our previous tip, but takes it a step further and assures that the hood isn’t folded around the body of the bag in an awkward way. An added benefit of this packing method is that your bag can be deployed “in order” from top to bottom right onto your sleeping pad next time you unpack it (instead of in a crumpled heap).

5. Invest in helpful compression tools

A compression stuff sack allows you to reduce the pack size of your sleeping bag
A compression stuff sack can make things easier and allow you to reduce the packed size even further

If you’re still having trouble getting your sleeping bag to fit back into its stuff sack, or if you just need to create more room in your backpack by further reducing your sleeping bag’s packed size, you can purchase a larger compression stuff sack with straps that will do the work of compacting your sleeping bag with less energy expenditure on your part. A 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.