View Full Version : Lose the stuff sacks?

03-08-2015, 21:17
Finished reading "The Ultimate Hang" by Derek Hansen. He says he doesn't use stuff sacks for his sleeping bag, hammock quilts, etc but instead lines his pack w a contractor-grade trash bag and uses the pack as one big stuff sack. This seems like it would really help w camp set-up & tear-down time. Anybody else do this? Thoughts?

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

kayak karl
03-08-2015, 21:24
yes. top quilt first then hammock with underquilt still attached. my suspension is all one piece . no tree straps or parts to leave behind. tarp last-in, because first out. cuben stuff sack for food and one for clothes.

03-08-2015, 22:49
So does Mike Clelland in his book "Ultralight Backpackin' Tips." I've never tried it. I have used trash compactor bags to line my pack and use waterproof bags for my sleeping bags & clothes. This redundancy ensures no moisture reaching stuff I want to remain dry.

03-08-2015, 22:53
I like having stuff sacks. I color code my different storage types (food, first aid, clothing) by the sack I store them in and the stuff sack is a second layer of defense against moisture in my pack. Dealt with too many rainy days on the trail to go with just a trash bag. They also hold water IN.

03-08-2015, 23:23
I don't use stuff sacks for sleep gear, it all wraps up into a water resistance bundle inside my tarp, then stuffed into the bottom of my waterproof pack .... I DO use stuff sacks for extra clothes, food, cooking gear, etc., mostly to stay organized.....

03-08-2015, 23:27
I'm using them for pretty much everything. Color coded for ease of use. I figure I'll try 'em and if I find them really not that useful, I'm sure someone will want 'em (hiker box, etc).

03-09-2015, 00:22
Turtle, what do you do if your tarp is wet? I keep my tarp separate on the outside mesh compartment on my pack. It can then be quickly setup by itself if needed and then I can deal with hammock and bag while underneath it. When I tear down its the last to go in and it doesn't matter if it's a bit wet.

Feral Bill
03-09-2015, 00:43
I've done it both ways. I prefer the order stuff sacks impose on my disorganized self.

03-09-2015, 05:43
I've been debating this myself. I know some UL-hikers may rain down on me, but I'll give up a couple ounces for 2-3 stuff sacks to keep things organized. throwing everything into a 50-60L single bag - for me - doesn't work.

that said, I also try to not go overboard. clothes, food, cookset (mesh bag), and I think a couple others is about what I use (think I have 5-6). I also do use ziploc baggies for hygiene kit, FAK, etc.

now, if you are a 10lb pack kinda guy instead of a 20lb pack kinda guy, then absolutely - every gram is critical. I've chosen to live in the 20lb pack world. probably something to do with being military for the past 28 years ;)


03-09-2015, 07:19
I'm with Feral Bill. I need organization imposed on me.

03-09-2015, 08:24
Turtle, what do you do if your tarp is wet?

Understand, just like Mark Twain said ... "what works for me might kill you" ...
SO, I do NOT present this as advice, just a response to the question "Lose the Stuff Sacks?"

But to answer your question, first since my tarp is Ultra-Sil it hardly holds any water, but even if it is raining while I take down. The inside is dry so the sleep gear folds into the dry inside, and I make sure the wettest part is on one side of the outside (hard to describe) ... the WETTEST part then goes on the bottom of the pack where it can't "drip" on anything else. The sleep gear stays dry on the inside. The next night I reverse the process and I'm still dry on the inside.

The ONLY time my sleep gear has gotten wet was last summer when I did not have it wrapped tight, and I had so little in my pack near the end of a 5 day that the cinch at the top of my Go-Lite Jam 50 was NOT pushed up like normal, rather it was sagging down and during a frog strangler the very foot of my quilt got a bit wet. Now I just cinch my side straps tighter so it is always full to the top.

03-09-2015, 08:35
Contractor bag lining and no stuff sacks for me.

03-09-2015, 08:53
I don't like pulling my stuff out on the ground.

I would rather have a different color food bag, dry clothing bag, and fluffy down bag.

I use dry bags. There are cuben dry bags, if you are determined to shave grams.

I just don't feel a garbage bag or an oven bag is enough, if I have stream crossings or hike in rainy Pacific NW.

03-09-2015, 09:02
I love my stuff and my dry sacks so naturally I use one to protect the other. I do chop them down a bit to be as small as needed to do the job and I always find the lightest I can to start with. Sil works for most items, coated nylon for my food bag with a few dots of reflective tape near the bottom to find it in the dark if needed, Cuban would be nice if I hit the lotto again some day. I use dry bags so I can stuff them into my kayak to make kayak camping just as easy.

03-09-2015, 09:44
I use a trash compactor bag as a bag liner to hold sleeping pad, sleeping bag, and cloths. Food is in its own water proof bag. Other items are are ditty bags for organization.

03-09-2015, 09:45
I once helped a hiker lighten his load considerably by pointing out (when asked) that he didn't really need the 30+ stuff sacks he was carrying. His stuff sacks were nested several deep--stuff sacks within stuff sacks within stuff sacks. It took a large stuff sack to hold all his stuff sacks, and they weighed several pounds all by themselves. His was an extreme case, but it illustrates the effect of adding things to your pack that "weigh nothing at all."

I carry two stuff sacks, one for food and one for clothing. Everything that needs to stay dry goes in the trash compactor bag liner, everything that can get wet or is wet already (food bag, shelter, rain gear) does not go in that bag. Very simple and effective. I never thought of it as a time savings, but I suppose it is.

03-09-2015, 09:45
Trash compactor bag for sleeping bag and sleep clothes.
A blue ditty sack for my water gear.
Mesh bag for clothes.
Tent goes in provided bag to keep everything loose clean.
ZPacks food bag for food, stove and first aide/hygiene.

Everything else goes in pack loose in the pack.
Come to think of it, there really is not that much left.

03-09-2015, 10:40
I sure like to keep them to a minimum, but not zero. Certainly don't use one for sleeping bag as the trash compactor works for that, but I do use one for my tent, a UL cuben sack, handy when tent is wet (a lot of the time), plus a UL mesh one for the few extra soft things (a few clothing items), plus one Sil nylon zipper sack for organizing all my small stuff (my UL pack doesn't have any zipper compartments). All in all, right about 2 ounces total of stuff sacks, plus the ~2 ounce trash compactor pack liner.

I swear I see folks out there that must have two+ pounds of various sacks. I suggest avoiding this and try to save some weight here.

03-09-2015, 11:01
Dry bag for clothes
Heavy duty trash bag for sleeping bag (which is in compressor bag)
One stuff sack for food
One very light net bag for pocket knife, headlamp, phone (in ziplock), small compass, spoon, wallet (in ziplock), lighter, toothbrush & paste. This all goes in pocket on top of pack, with first aid kit (in ziplock) and glasses case and my lunch for the day. I add my elevation map and whatever else is in my pockets at night (ibuprofen, for example). This way, all the small stuff is together and handy. My stove/cup goes in the pack, but not in a stuff sack.
Rain gear is in the big outside wrap around pocket of my GoLite. Tent and pad are strapped to outside lengthwize.
So far, never got the innards wet.

03-09-2015, 11:09
I use a compactor trash bag as a liner, but don't fully trust it's waterproof capability, so I use a cuben fibre stuff sack for my down quilt. On my thru hike, I used a ULA Catalyst for about half the hike. Even with a pack cover, I could not keep water from pooling in the bottom of the pack, due to the nice waterproof bottom of the pack. As with most packs, the water was entering the pack where the shoulder straps attach. I have since changed to an Osprey Exos, but if I were to use the ULA again, I would add grommets to the bottom of the pack to allow the water to escape. I know that it is redundant to use both the pack cover and a compactor trash bag liner, but at some point you will have to open your pack in the rain, at lunch or setting up camp / breaking camp.

03-09-2015, 11:10
I used to "sack" and itemize all my gear. It's nice for organization, but adds 8-12 oz or more, and it's unnecessary.

Try some of these ideas:

Sleeping bag in it's own separate dry sack; all other gear in a trash compactor bag.
All gear in a roll-top dry sack, not itemized in individual bags.
All gear in a trash compactor bag.
Small ditties in ziplock freezer bags or cuben sacks.
Pack cover (not the best plan for heavy rains, IMO)

...or any combination of the above.

I do think it's advantageous to have your sleeping bag in it's own separate dry sack, because this is a critical piece of gear you never want to get wet. Sure, a trash compactor bag does the same job, but I like that extra layer of security around my bed. Nothing worse than "surprise!!! there's a hole in your trash bag and now a wet spot on your sleeping bag".

Harrison Bergeron
03-10-2015, 10:04
Nothing irritates me more than hunting for something in my pack or losing something in camp. I'll take the 12 ounces.

Trash compactor bag liner in the main compartment of my Atmos.
Tent -- stuffsack it came with, in the "sleeping bag" compartment at the bottom of my Atmos.
Neoair -- inflation stuffsack it came with, in the "sleeping bag" compartment with the tent.
Situpon -- 18" square of blue foam, rolled up and strapped to the bottom, to protect tent and neoair.
Sleeping bag -- compression sack it came with, inside a small trashbag, inside the trash compactor bag.
Sleeping bag liner -- stuffsack it came with, inside the small trashbag with the sleeping bag.
Clothes -- large orange waterproof stuffsack, inside the trash compactor bag.
Hygiene -- small blue dry sack, inside the trash compactor bag.
Misc -- medium orange dry sack, inside the trash compactor bag.
Kitchen -- red homemade silnylon stuffsack, inside the trash compactor bag.
Food -- large zipper-freezebag, inside large green dry sack, on top of the trash compactor bag.
Garbage -- large zipper-freezebag, inside food bag.
Bear-bagging kit -- Gossamer gear Roksak with line and carabiner, inside the food bag.
Cold weather gear -- red homemade, flat, waterproof silnylon stuffsack, in pack back pocket.
Water filter -- black homemade nylon stuffsack, in left side pocket
Rain gear -- No stuff sack, stored in pack lid pocket.
Belly Bag -- one of the silly-looking tourist bags, for valuables, maps, and stuff I need to access to while hiking or in town.
Electronics -- heavy-duty plastic zipper bag, in belly bag.
Wallet -- Coglin's plastic wallet, in belly bag.
Coin purse -- tiny homemade nylon stuffsack, in belly bag.
Mojo bag -- small black homemade stuffsack containing a day's worth of gorp in a small ziplock, hung on shoulder strap.
Water bottle holster -- homemade nylon stuffsack clipped to packstrap. It has part of a larger water bottle inside to hold it rigid.

The dry sacks are a set of three "Outdoor Products" roll-top bags from Walmart that weigh about 1oz each. The clothing bag came from REI and weighs 2 oz. It's also my pillow. The homemade bags are much lighter -- the largest weighs 0.3 oz.

03-10-2015, 10:57
Using your pack as a giant stuff sack seems like a great idea until you have to find a small item and end up having to dump the contents out more than once a day. There goes your time savings. I know many people who have lost things in that vortex called their pack. They were convinced that they left it on the trail somewhere and then 3 weeks later it mysteriously turns up.

I, on the other hand use several small cubeb fiber stuff sacks for storing everything . All my stuff sacks only add 6.5 oz., including the food bag. I know where every item in my pack is and could find it in complete darkness.

Chaos vs order. People all have their own preference.

03-10-2015, 12:06
Nylon oven roaster bags.

20deg quilt and other down items go in the turkey sized bag.
During summer I use the large size bags for my 40deg quilt.

I use seamgrip along the bottom seam to keep it from blowing out. The sides are much more resistant to abrasion than cuben dry bags. Like cuben bags, one will not last you an entire thru-hike I generally get about 20 nights out of one. However, unlike cuben stuff sacks, two turkey sized bags only cost $4.50 and are available at almost any grocery store.

You really don't need a stuff sack for anything else. Future Food can go in 2.5Gallon ziplock bag. Todays food can go in their own ziplock. Ditty bag items, can go in their own ziplock. So can your phone. No, the ziplocks aren't perfectly waterproof, nor should you expect them to be. But as long as you don't lose your pack in a stream crossing, they should be water resistant enough, just like a drybag.

03-10-2015, 12:33
$500 sleeping bag. Thats enough for me.

03-10-2015, 13:42
... All my stuff sacks only add 6.5 oz., including the food bag. I know where every item in my pack is and could find it in complete darkness.

Chaos vs order. People all have their own preference.6.5 total is darn good, better than most, probably right where I'm at all said and done (I had forgotten, duh, about my food sack). Don't forget about good old zip-locks for organizing small stuff, they last long enough and the smallest ones weigh about 0.15 ounces. All it really takes is about 6-7 ounces (and a little bit of cash for a couple cuben sacks!) for excellent organization.

03-12-2015, 22:08
Wow! Thanks for all the great responses. My reason for considering this pack-as-stuff-sack method is because of the simplification of set-up & tear-down. I'm hiking my wife and some friends in April and on the last trip (my wife's first), I did all of that stuff basically by myself and we made our group late to hit the trail. I'm thinking about how to simplify and speed up the process. The first and most time-saving solution is to teach my wife to handle her gear (first round of training already done [emoji2]) I was just intrigued by the concept. The way I pack my gear, I'd probably be ok w one or two bags to keep stuff dry. I'd at least like to try it; may revert to stuff sacks later!

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

03-12-2015, 22:32
I don't use stuff sacks for sleep gear, it all wraps up into a water resistance bundle inside my tarp, then stuffed into the bottom of my waterproof pack .... I DO use stuff sacks for extra clothes, food, cooking gear, etc., mostly to stay organized.....
What pack do you have?

03-13-2015, 06:17
You've likely seen them, but Shug has a lot of great videos on hammock camping on YouTube and talks about this specifically. He's on the trash compactor bag side of the discussion. I took his advice and it's worked well for me and the family for the past year. Teaching the wife and kids to hang their hammocks, and as many other camp tasks is time well spent.

Good luck. Here's a link to the video I mentioned.

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

03-14-2015, 16:48
Like cuben bags, one will not last you an entire thru-hike I generally get about 20 nights out of one... I've seen a few people say that about cuben fiber bags and yet they do last me for a thru-hike for some reason so I'm using them or doing something differently with them. As an example, the only bag I tossed after my PCT thru-hike was my clothing sack which was also used as a pillow as it was starting to fray a little near the top. I'm guessing the zipper on my down jacket caused it from stuffing it every night to be my pillow. The other 5 stuff sacks I carried (food, quilt, toleitries, misc stuff, tarp) were still fine. My quilt obviously not having a zipper may have helped.

03-15-2015, 14:07
I used to be in the stuff sack crowd (one for mid weight layer, one for lightweight layer, both in clothes bag, etc.), but have since converted. I now use one cuben fiber liner with my sleeping bag (loose), clothes bag (loose), and sleeping pad in it, and then put my food bag and tent on top of that. I also have a small ditty bag that holds my wallet contents, first aid kit, cell phone, etc. Other small items that are used daily go in my hip pockets.

03-15-2015, 15:48
Stuff sacks all the way for me, as I much prefer having some organization and "pillow kits".
Checked, and my heavy duty OR(food bag), Katabatic(quilt), small S2S(clothes), ZPacks roll-top cuben(valuables), Thermarest ProLite and Tarptent Notch stuff sacks, plus another one from an old Sierra Designs windbreaker that I use for my water filtration setup weigh a combined total of 142g/5.0oz.

$500 sleeping bag. Thats enough for me.
No joke! My Katabatic quilt currently sells for $495, and it might be 100% fine, but just the thought of cramming all my stuff on top of it while loose is a bit sickening! My gear stacks and layers really well inside my packs with minimal gaps, though, so neither wasted space or extra weight is an issue.

I've seen a few people say that about cuben fiber bags and yet they do last me for a thru-hike for some reason so I'm using them or doing something differently with them.
Guess I'll be another. I've got a cuben stuff sack for my mug/cook kit that split open where the lid pushed against it the first time I put it in my pack, and has a layer of repair tape all the way around the inside. My 12L one that's had a sleeping bag or quilt in it half a dozen times is coming apart at the seam. That's .51oz/yd cuben, so I can hardly imagine how fragile something like ZPacks' .34oz/yd pocket tarp must be.
My 2.92oz/yd hybrid multipack, and a Solo floor/groundsheet and rolltop bag in 1.0oz/yd cuben are all fine after a lot of regular use, but the light stuff has been a disappointment.

03-15-2015, 21:29
I switched to no stuff sacks early last year and haven't looked back. Here is a look at how I do it. I hope this helps a bit.

- Rob


03-16-2015, 08:31
if i have a lot of food, i'll put some extra the bottom. then, all my fluffy night stuff is in a trash compactor bag. then i'll have shelter stuff on top of that, sometimes loose sometimes not. then food, usually in a plastic grocery bag. one for food, one for trash. dinky stuff in a plastic baggie. hiking clothing that i'm not wearing but might on top.

Don H
03-16-2015, 08:38
I had a trash compactor bag leak through the bottom seam.
Instead I use 3 different Sea to Summit UL dry bags which probably weigh less than the trash bag. A 13 liter one weighs 1.4 oz. and I know nothing inside it will get wet.

03-16-2015, 12:23
In general, if a gear choice saves weight without incurring unreasonable discomfort or safety, it is desirable. Whereas I do not carry any "extra" items, losing any of those items is unreasonable. It is unreasonable to have a wet sleeping bag. However, it is possible to keep things dry and found without having many stuff sacks. I use a 2mil trash bag as a pack liner. I have a stuff sack for my tent, my food, and my "smalls". I use a shock cord to keep the lid on my grease pot and to store my entire cooking system. Sleeping bag has no sack. My pad remains in my BA sleeping bag sleeve. Depending on what I am wearing, one of my clothing items is the clothing stuff sack. My "smalls" items continue to get smaller in size and number. They all fit in one sack. However what works for you is always superior to what someone else says works for them.