How to compress a sleeping bag

Sleeping bags have been around since man started exploring and travelling the world, but whereas our ancestors were forced to carry bulky and heavy blankets and pads, we are blessed with convenient, compressible sleeping bags. Modern sleeping bags are made from lightweight, compressible and abrasion-resistant nylon and are designed specifically to be packed into compact tubes. Similar to vacuum packing, compressing a sleeping bag removes the air, which eliminates unnecessary bulk. When you are backpacking or travelling, it is important to minimise the space your belongings take up; this can be done by compressing a sleeping bag.

Get the correct sleeping bag. While most modern sleeping bags are designed to be compressible, not all of them are made specifically to compress into small spaces. Make sure your bag is "compressible" and is made from light fills, like synthetic fibre or down.

Prepare the bag to be stuffed. Lay the sleeping bag flat and make sure all the zippers are closed, the Velcro straps are sealed and any extra cords are tucked in.

Roll tightly. Fold the bag in half or thirds, lengthwise; starting at the feet, roll the bag tightly toward the head. When you're rolling, be sure to tuck excess fabric and compress all the air as you roll.

Place your rolled sleeping bag into the "stuff sack" and compress. Depending on the size of your stuff sack, you might need to really stuff in order to get the bag inside, but rolling the bag before placing it in the nylon compression bag will help ease the struggle.

Compress your sleeping bag in the nylon "stuff sack." Once the bag is inside the nylon sack, secure the straps. Most compression sacks have a series of straps--both vertical and horizontal--that act as a cage around the entire sack. Read the directions on your brand of sack to make sure you have the straps in the correct place. Pull tightly on the straps until the sleeping bag is reduced substantially in size.


Sleeping bags should only be compressed into stuff sacks during transportation and travel. You should not keep a sleeping bag compressed in a stuff sack for extended periods of time, like during storage, because it may damage the insulation.

Things You'll Need

  • Nylon compression bag or "stuff sack"
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Based in New York, Jillian Downer has been writing travel, fashion, and active lifestyle articles since 2004. Her work has appeared in "Travel + Leisure," "Outside Magazine," "Women's Health," "Footwear News," and "US News & World Report." Downer holds a Master of Arts in comparative literature from New York University.