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Using Compression Sacks for a Tent
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Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Using Compression Sacks for a Tent on 05/23/2009 10:42:46 MDT Print View

I'm fairly new here and I wanted to get a few peoples thoughts on using compression sacks for minimizing the volume of my tent during a camping trip.

I know that it's done because I used the search function and found a few people writing about doing it. What I'm not sure is if this is hard on my tent at all. It seems like compressing it heavily might be creasing the fabric pretty hard. Is there no risk of harm when doing this? Or do you only compress it lightly?

Also, when doing this do you stuff or fold the tent? Stuff I presume....


Edited by dandydan on 05/23/2009 10:43:20 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Using Compression Sacks for a Tent on 05/23/2009 10:58:08 MDT Print View

Gotta Ask - Why?

If you compress it into a sphere or a cylinder you will have nooks and crannies around it that are difficult to fill. Hard to get to and to small for anything except a sock. Imagine filling your pack with softballs - lots of holes.

If you pack it loose, stuff can settle into into and it will pooch out (technical term) into whatever space it can find. Or it will moosh (technical term) into whatever volume is available.

This same approach is used for big fluffy stuff, like sleeping bags and clothing. Pack them loose, let them flow. (I use a Real Big stuff sack, then squash it.)

You end up by utilizing much more of your volume, leading to a medium pack rather than a large one.

And you're not carrying a 1 pound compression bag.

Edited by greg23 on 05/23/2009 11:01:36 MDT.

Art Sandt
(artsandt) - F
Re: Re: Using Compression Sacks for a Tent on 05/23/2009 11:16:45 MDT Print View

Back when I was getting into backpacking, I had trouble fitting everything into my backpack if I didn't use compression sacks. If you have a lot of gear, like I did, for instance a synthetic sleeping bag or even a down bag, cooking pot, food bag, extra clothes, inflatable pad, rain gear, a tent, plus miscellaneous stuff and want to fit all that into a backpack that's not enormous, compression sacks do help. Packing everything loose inside a pack works too, which is what I do now that I've got more compact gear, learned some packing strategies, and figured out what I don't need to bring on trips (2L cooking pot for instance). However, packing everything loose inside a pack just doesn't work if you've got a bulky tent plus all that other gear that needs to fit inside a pack. I tried it many times, and I had sore arms before I had everything in and then I realized the backpack was full and I didn't even have room for a small food bag! For instance now, I don't even use a tent anymore (use a tarp) so I save a lot of space just with that and everything fits in a small backpack really easily without compression.

Edited by artsandt on 05/23/2009 11:22:41 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Re: Re: Using Compression Sacks for a Tent on 05/23/2009 11:18:41 MDT Print View

I am thinking of using a lightweight compression sack like this:

It's about 126g....or 1/4lbs but then I'd save the weight of my tents stuff sack which is pretty big and probably around 80g's.

The reason I want to compress it is because I want to position it horizontally along the bottom of my pack. I guess I could just stuff it down there too though. I'm just a bit worried about volume since I have a fairly small pack. The supplied stuff sack is so long that I need to position the tent vertically which is pretty awkward and volume intensive.

I have a 49L Pack (Golite Lite-Speed) but I tent to have a lot of gear because I want my wife to have a good time....which means I carry most of the stuff :) I usually carry the tent, most of the food, fuel, stove, pot etc.

So basically, if I can fit everything in then no sack is best. But if it's going to be too hard then a compression sack is the way to go?

Edited by dandydan on 05/23/2009 11:23:44 MDT.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Using Compression Sacks for a Tent on 05/23/2009 11:35:40 MDT Print View

4th Choice - Sew a big, simple silnylon or 1.3 ripstop bag at under an ounce.

But, as you are just starting out, not aiming at UL, go with the supplied bag. And practice packing.

I probably practice pack my gear 2 or 3 times before I'm even out the door to see how and where things fit best. You can learn a lot.

Also, unless you are one of the blessed, you Are going to have a wet tent to deal with. A stuff bag will keep it contained and protected when you lash it to the outside of your pack.

Even though the supplied bag sounds huge, it and the tent will fill what ever space you give it. Just keep pushing it down as you load the next layer. Every cubic inch will get filled.

Get your gear together and practice packing. Allow an hour. Be prepared to sweat. Take it apart and do it again. You will be amazed at how much "extra" room you come up with between pack #1 and pack #3.

Edited by greg23 on 05/23/2009 11:39:42 MDT.

Mark Hurd
(markhurd) - M

Locale: South Texas
Re: Re: Using Compression Sacks for a Tent on 05/23/2009 15:47:53 MDT Print View


Great advice. I never really thought about it, but you're right. Taking the time to pack and repack until it all works is one of the best ways to learn.

When I downsized to an UL bag I remembering thinking, "All my stuff is not going to fit." And, of course, it didn't. So I rearranged and tweaked and pushed and shoved and it still didn't fit, but I was learning. Then I started to get rid of stuff. Wow! How liberating.

Hmmm- Let's see, three day trip- three changes of clothes. Wait, I'll bet I can do it with only the clothes I'm wearing- Presto-more space. The light was starting to shine.


Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
New: do you stuff or fold the tent? on 05/23/2009 20:20:10 MDT Print View

Dan, stuffing a tent is bad practice. Repeatedly cramming a tent into a stuff sack creates a lot of radius bends in the fabric. These small edges end up being subjected to far more abrasion and moisture than the coating would be if the tent were folded and rolled.

As others have pointed out, the best option is to loosly fold and roll your tent and use an oversize stuffsack. This also goes for your sleeping bag and clothes; that way you can flatten the stuffsacks or bend them to fit into a corner, etc. Happy trails!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

ok on 05/23/2009 21:40:26 MDT Print View

Thanks for all the advice guys...I really appreciate it. The supplied stuff sack is pretty big (probably 50% bigger than I'd need) so I guess I'll stick with that and roll rather than stuff the tent.

Edited by dandydan on 04/01/2011 15:22:15 MDT.