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Stuff Sacks- overkill?
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Jarrett Lambright
(jlamb) - F

Locale: Western PA
Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 13:37:35 MST Print View

I am trying to start and cut some weight from the wife and I's packs. We dont have the dough right now to buy new packs, tent, and sleeping bags. We are probably sharing a base weight of 20-25 lbs for a typical 3 day trip in WV or PA. I am trying to think of other ways to cut weight w/o buying new stuff this season. This got me thinking, do most people on here even use stuff sacks? I usually line my pack with a garbage bag for moisture protection, other than organization are stuff sacks really necessary? I cant say since I have never went without them yet. I would continue to put my sleeping bag in some sort of protection though.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 14:35:30 MST Print View

Silnylon stuff sacks? I have, and use, a stack of them. MYOG of course.


Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 14:47:31 MST Print View

I don't use a pack liner. I do use sil stuff sacks. One for my quilt (Or one each for my quilts when hammocking). One for my tarp when hammocking. One for my extra clothes. One for my camp down in winter (jacket/pants). One for my shelter (either cuben or sil, depending on shelter. This includes my hammock). And I've got my cooking kit in a small one.

And yes, I know, I don't need them all. But I use them anyway, since I'm not a S/ULer.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 14:58:36 MST Print View

My wife and I do it a little differently than than Rog and Doug.

We split the load according to use. She carries the clothes, and sleeping bags and toiletries. I carry everything else. Maybe this works for us cause I weigh twice as much as her (literally) so I carry twice as much weight.

This way, we just put all her stuff in a pack liner because we don't need to get to any of it until the tent is up. It doesn't matter if its organized much cause she'll just end up pulling it all out at once to make our nest.

I don't really need a pack liner because the caldera is in the caddy, the tent is in the stuff sack, and so on. This stuff either CAN get wet, or probably won't due to where I pack it.

Obviously if its gonna be rainy the whole time I'll use a liner.

The one thing I DO use a sack for is my 1st aid/ gear repair. I keep my AM drops in there so they are easy to get to.

Juston Taul

Locale: Atlanta, GA
Stuff Sacs on 02/28/2010 16:09:25 MST Print View

I use one for my quilt and that's it. My cooking system (Ti-Tri) has it's own container. Other than that, nothing. My neo-air, tarp, and bivy all get a rubber band or para cord.

Adam Rothermich
(aroth87) - F

Locale: Missouri Ozarks
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 16:21:11 MST Print View

I use one for my quilt/sleeping socks and one for my food. I also keep all of my misc. gear in a small mesh sack that came with my SP pot. That bag holds my raccoon bag rope (GG EZC), Dr. Bronners, a lighter, spare contacts, eye drops, Aqua Mira, and maybe a few other things. Since learning how to sew I have a hard time justifying buy stuff sacks. They are just too easy to make.


Unknown abc
(edude) - F
"Stuff Sacks- overkill?" on 02/28/2010 16:43:41 MST Print View

I have a comperession sack that came with my sleeping bag; the weight is worth the added compression factor. I use a mesh sack to keep most clothing together. The rest of my stuff either goes freely into the pack or into ziploc bags. If I need to really make sure to keep some things dry, I have some cheap dry bags for that.

I find that w/o any organization, items move too freely around and get organized. But ith too many organizational tools, things get hard to find and the redundancy and overkill gets annoying.

How many stuff sacks you use is all a matter of experience, preference, and varying circumstantial needs.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: "Stuff Sacks- overkill?" on 02/28/2010 17:34:58 MST Print View


I started out as a newbie with a stuff sack each for my pad, bag, clothing, food, and 'misc' -- five in all. I soon found that except for the one that houses my small, misc. type stuff, all the others were actually counter productive!

It took extra time and effort (esp. on cold mornings) to wrestle the bag and pad into their respective stuff sacks. And it just seemed really silly after a short while for me to continue doing that -- only to realize this took up more pack space -- not less! Ditto for the clothing stuff sack!

The last few years, I simply fold flat my sleeping pad and slide it into my backpack. I then stuff the bag directly into my pack -- then clothing and everything else -- to fully utilize all "nooks and crannies". Much faster and much more efficient space wise.

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
"Stuff Sacks- overkill?" on 02/28/2010 17:40:38 MST Print View

@ Ben:

Then why do you want all those white Granite Gear stuff sacs? :)

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
stuff sacks on 02/28/2010 17:44:24 MST Print View

You know the flimsy disposable shopping bags that many stores used to use. I save and reuse the ones that are boldly colored, and they weigh just about nothing.

There are three or four of different colors that hold the various items of "stuff" in my backpack. They are rainproof and durable enough to last for a few trips. The price is right.


Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re: "Stuff Sacks- overkill?" on 02/28/2010 17:47:47 MST Print View

Then why do you want all those white Granite Gear stuff sacs?

Eugene, that is a PERFECT question!

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 18:15:24 MST Print View

I used to use a trash compactor bag as a pack liner. I got disgusted with them for two reasons--first, more and more brands of compactor bags are being perfumed, with (to me) a disgusting odor and something I wouldn't want to have around in bear country. Second, I'd spend a lot of time shoving small items into the pack only to have them pop right back out at me thanks to the slippery plastic. Now I use two Sea-to-Summit Ultra Sil Dry Bags (I know they used to leak through the fabric several years ago when BPL reviewed them, but the ones I've bought the last two years hold up just fine to the turn-inside-out-and-fill-with-water test). One is for my sleeping bag and the other for my insulating clothing and extra socks. They will keep my critical insulation dry even if I fall in the creek, for about the same weight as the trash compactor bag. Stuff sacks are NOT waterproof! Anything else is either in plastic bags anyway (like food), or it doesn't matter if it gets wet. I have a mesh bag for my small pot and cooking gear (about 0.1 oz.), to keep the lid on the pot, and another for my toilet articles (too much small stuff all over the pack otherwise). Everything else just goes in the pack. If it's something I might need either during the day or if I get to camp late (headlamp) it's in one of my pack's outside pockets.

A large quantity of stuff sacks can really add to pack weight. I suggest that if you have that many itty bitty items, you find another way of organizing them or consider leaving them home.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
stuff sacks on 02/28/2010 18:29:27 MST Print View

Mary D mentioned that she took extra socks.

The old joke used to be that if you asked a woman what she carried for extra stuff, she would say "clean socks." If you asked a man what he carried for extra stuff, he would say "dry socks." Different priorities. I guess times have changed.

The comment about toiletries in a stuff sack is normal. One time there was a small backpack group with six guys and one woman. We started up the first steep hill, and within the first half-mile, the sole woman was dragging. At the one-mile point, she was out of sight in back, so I dropped my pack and went back to see if she was OK. She insisted upon continuing and carrying her own pack. The men were waiting at the lunch point about three miles up when she came dragging in, complaining about her pack weight. I lifted it up, and it did seem to be several pounds heavy. So, we asked her if we might examine the contents. She had all of the standard items in stuff sacks, and then there was this big six-pound stuff sack full of toiletries and cosmetics!

With her permission, each man carried about one or two pounds of her stuff, and that lightened her total by six or ten pounds, which was just the edge that she needed to offset the toiletries. After that, the trip was a success.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 19:02:19 MST Print View

The "extra" or "spare" socks start out as clean dry socks, but they are "extra" in that I'm not wearing them. Socks are the one duplicate item that I take. I try to rinse the dirty pair out each day. Obviously, if the socks I'm not wearing are damp and sitting in the mesh front pocket of my pack, they are not in the dry bag! For a damp trip, they may only be in that dry bag for the first day!

I definitely avoid toiletries and cosmetics. I take bug dope, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, baking soda (dentifrice plus other uses)--just enough for the trip, in those tiny dropper bottles; otherwise it's only my tiny travel toothbrush, lip balm, dental floss, a half Handiwipe (washcloth) and full Handiwipe (towel). I do take a small mirror (one of those cheap acrylic camping mirrors cut to 1/3 original size ), but more in case I get something in my eye (it has happened) than for admiring my reflection.

Edited by hikinggranny on 02/28/2010 19:26:03 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Re: Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 02/28/2010 20:28:13 MST Print View

> This way, we just put all her stuff in a pack liner because we don't need
> to get to any of it until the tent is up. It doesn't matter if its organized
> much cause she'll just end up pulling it all out at once to make our nest.

Neat! I like it!



Locale: South West US
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 03/01/2010 00:01:49 MST Print View

I use 5 stuff sacks for organization. 3 on the inside and 2 on the outside. All different colors for ease of identification. Each one is over-sized so they mesh well in the pack a fill any gaps. Well worth the extra weight even though one could get by without them. It helps keep track of all your gear too.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: "Stuff Sacks- overkill?" on 03/01/2010 10:30:08 MST Print View

"Then why do you want all those white Granite Gear stuff sacs?"

For traveling (hosteling) use: one for my netbook dudads (charger, cords, USB, etc.) and a second one for misc. first aid, etc. dudads. For hiking, I just use one for misc. items -- as stated above.

Edited by ben2world on 03/01/2010 10:33:12 MST.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 03/02/2010 09:04:58 MST Print View

I guess it partly depends where you travel. You'll never catch me just shoving my sleeping bag into my pack; first priority is keeping my insulation dry.

That said, I carry ~3 dry sacks. One for sleeping bag/clothes, one for food, and a small one for my "lunch stop" layer and first aid-ish stuff. Everything else just goes in the pack, b/c it doesn't matter if it gets wet. This system works really well for me; I pack everything in the order I'll need it, so even w/a "one big hole" pack I stay organized, and I don't need to carry a pack cover.

Piper S.
(sbhikes) - F

Locale: Santa Barbara (Name: Diane)
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 03/02/2010 18:19:09 MST Print View

There's not really that much to stuff.

I put my sleeping bag either in a pocket shower (a dry bag with a shower head on the bottom) or in a trash compactor bag or I just stuff it in my pack.

I have another trash compactor bag for clothing. If there's not that much clothing, I'll just put it in with the sleeping bag.

I put my food in a bag. I try to pick out a relatively sturdy shopping bag.

I have a small mesh sack for toiletries. I think it came with a pair of rain chaps.

The tent has its own little stuff sack, although it doesn't go in there if it's wet.

That's it for stuff that goes in sacks!

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Stuff Sacks- overkill? on 03/03/2010 12:49:50 MST Print View

just re: the larger question of cutting weight w/o spending $, do you already have and use a digital scale? Analyze ever item that might go in your pack. If you're looking at stuff sacks, you've probably been thru it all, but it doesn't hurt to take another look. Many people pack to many clothes, underwear, socks, etc. Ditch electronics (maybe 1 phone for both if it makes you feel better). Take a real hard look at your first aid and emergency kit. You might consider a cheap-ish tarp in place of the tent. You could also consider sewing up a synthetic-insulated blanket that would cover both of you, not too expensive to make, and would save some weight and bulk. Look at your h2o tx; still carrying a 3/4# filter, or have you gone to something like the Sawyer inline or AM drops?