Nothing beats heading out to the backcountry and experiencing nature in its raw form. Whether you are camping or hiking, one of the most important considerations that you will need to make is how you are going to spend your nights.
A sleeping bag is often a great choice. It will let you enjoy those star-filled nights and wake up the next morning ready for the new day’s adventure.
The challenge with carrying your sleeping bag is in the carrying itself. They are still quite bulky when folded and will consume a lot of space. While manufacturers often provide stuff sacks for carrying the sleeping bag, these will not compress the bag in any way and offers no space-saving solutions for your backcountry adventures.
The solution comes in the form of a compression sack. Once you put your sleeping bag in, you can pull the straps on the side thus making the sleeping bag small enough for convenient carry.
How to Pick the Right Size Compression Sack
Before getting yourself a compression sack, you need to know the right size to ensure it is compatible with your sleeping bag. The first step will be to note the model of your sleeping bag and then search online for the compression sack sizes that are compatible with your sleeping bag.
After all, you don’t want to have a compression sack that is too small for your sleeping bag.
You can find the model size of your sleeping bag by checking the documentation that came with the purchase. If you can’t seem to find this, do not worry, a little bit of innovation will go a long way. Measure the size of the sleeping bag with a tape measure and you should be all set.
Often sleeping bags will come with their stuff sack for storage. A simple trick when doing your measurements is to put the sleeping bag in its stuff sack and choose a slightly bigger compression sack. This also makes it simple to put the sleeping bag inside the compression sack.
There are different ways in which manufacturers can provide the sizes of their compression socks. Some will give the volume of the sacks in liters or cubic inches while others will use the diameter in inches.
Now you know what to consider with your sleeping bag when searching for a sleeping bag compression sack. In a nutshell, you simply need to roll your sleeping bag and take the measurements.
What to Consider When Choosing a Compression Sack
The size, however, is not the only thing that you need to consider when choosing the best compression sack for your sleeping bag. You also need to take note of the fill type. Sleeping bags may be filled with down or synthetics. Some bags are filled with a mixture of both and these will determine how much the sleeping bag will compress.
That said, down sleeping bags are much more compressible and will require smaller compression sacks compared to their synthetic counterparts. This is especially so if you are using a synthetic sleeping bag that comes in a rectangular shape.
Fill power is another important consideration. It refers to the space in cubic inches that an ounce of down, in case of down filling, can occupy when it reaches its maximum loft. The higher the fill power the more the sleeping bag can be compressed.
Sleeping bags can be women-specific, made for men, or unisex. This will influence its compression capacity. For example, women-specific sleeping bags have a special way of distributing insulation. Sleeping bags can also be double-sized for two people or single, long or regular.
Polyester, nylon, and cotton are the most common fabric materials used in sleeping bags each of which has a different compression capacity. Generally polyester and nylon compress more than cotton.
The temperature rating of a sleeping bag will determine the amount of fill that is inside the bag. Those made for colder climates have more fill and the more fill, the less the bag can compress.
Then there is the material construction of the compression sack. Things can get rough out in the backcountry and you want a sack that not only saves you space but keeps the sleeping bag safe. In other words, the compression sack should be durable.
While it might sound negligible, weight is an important consideration. Trekking especially uphill will require you to minimize as much as possible the weight you carry on your back. What would appear small can end up feeling extremely heavy after a long time of walking.
Your specific needs will determine the type of compression sack you should go for. For example, if you are not worried about getting your stuff wet then you probably will not need a waterproof compression sack. And if you prefer the convenience and the idea of packing fast and hitting the road, then a compression sack with straps is easier to use.
Types of Compression Sacks
Sleeping bag compression sacks come in many different designs, sizes, and shapes. The most common sacks feature webbing straps that help users perform the actual compression.
The roll-top design doesn’t come with straps and requires the user to roll the top as he compresses the sleeping bag.
If you plan to kayak or use a canoe, a waterproof compression sack will come in handy. Not only will it help you save on space but will keep the sleeping bag dry. They are also ideal when camping in areas that experience spontaneous downpours.
Using the Compression Sack
A lot of people get frustrated when using their compression sacks which is often a result of using them the wrong way. The first thing that you need to do is to take the loft out of the sleeping bag before you can stuff it inside the compression sack.
Fold your sleeping back in half and push some of that air put by applying pressure on the top. Then fold it again and repeat the process. Then fold it a third time so it seems like you are rolling the sleeping bag and apply pressure as you increase it gradually.
Once you are satisfied that you’ve pushed out most of the loft, take your compression bag and slide the sleeping bag inside. You can keep the sleeping bag under your arm as you push it inside the sack. This prevents it from unrolling and sucking in more air.
Ensure that while you are stuffing the sleeping bag in the compression sack, that you are pushing it to the bottom of the sack. People will get frustrated when they push the sleeping bag to the bottom and still have a significant portion of it hanging out of the sack.
However, this should not be a problem and all you need to do is squeeze the air out of the hanging side of the sleeping bag and push it into the compression sack. Most sacks have a cord that closes the top opening which you can pull when the entire sleeping bag is inside. You can then tie this cord to keep the sack closed when you let go.
If your compression sack comes with straps and a hood, now is the time to put them on. Once you’ve put the hood nicely on the sack and all the straps are in place, the next step is to compress the sleeping bag.
Applying too much pressure on a compression sack that is not high quality might result in it ripping. Many people will make the mistake of yanking on the straps trying to pull down the sleeping bag. This will almost certainly cause the straps to break.
Instead, you should apply pressure on the top of the compression sack using your hands. Then with the bag compressed, tighten the straps. You will be using your body weight to perform the compression and not the straps themselves.
The main benefit of using your body weight to compress the sleeping bag is that you can push it as far as it can go, something you wouldn’t be able to do by just using the straps.
Globo Surf Overview
Compression sacks come in plenty of different designs. Some use straps, others use cords while others have a roll top. The right compression sack for you will depend on your personal preference as well as your requirements.
If you are planning on going out to places where it may rain or if you will be kayaking or using your canoe, you will need a compression sack that keeps the water out.
The size of your sleeping bag is perhaps the most important factor when choosing a compression sack. Simply push out the air, roll the sleeping bag, and take measurements to decide on the correct size.