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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.

Cheers

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
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
(Junction)

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.

Adam

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

Jarett:

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.

--B.G.--

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

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
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.
--B.G.--

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife

Locale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
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!

Cheers

R K
(oiboyroi)

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?

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 07:03:57 MDT Print View

I'm resurrecting this old thread as I work to decrease the volume of my pack. I seem to have the same gear lists as a lot of you, yet I struggle to fill it in my gorilla and you guys talk about how a zero or something just has waaaay too much space.

One of my theories is that by using stuff sacks (dry bags for quilt, insulation layer and sleeping clothes (usually my insulation layer - cap long underwear bottom and merino long underwear top), and a food bag. I also roll my exped synmat UL 7 into its stuff sack, my pot/cookset is in a cuben bag, and a small ditty bag, also made of cuben. So I wondered if trying to pack all these lumps in my pack is the reason I can't seem to get the volume any lower.

Frankly, I'd like to do the JMT with something like this:Teeny purse

But if not, I'll settle with just using that for my weekenders, as I'm not sure I can fit a bearikade in that.

Mike V
(deadbox) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
Testing your theory on 03/14/2013 07:38:40 MDT Print View

Jennifer, why not try throwing everything in your pack at home, sans the stuff sacks and see if there is any notable difference in volume.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 07:43:02 MDT Print View

"Frankly, I'd like to do the JMT with something like this:"

As would I, does she backpack?

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 07:43:54 MDT Print View

Dammit, Doug! You JUST beat me to the punch!

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 08:20:20 MDT Print View

I wondered if trying to pack all these lumps in my pack is the reason I can't seem to get the volume any lower.

Speaking as someone whose secret superpower is packing more stuff into a space than seems possible, it really has to do with if you can arrange the blocks to take up all the space, like tetris. A lot of times that's harder than just stuffing soft lumpy things in the pack and letting them take the shape of the pack. But it can be done, usually. Depends on how much you're willing to fiddle with your packing procedure.

Using larger stuff sacks can be one way to keep things organized but make the contents more flexible so they conform to the shape of the bag more easily.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 08:36:11 MDT Print View

Haha!! I knew I could count on you guys for a Thursday morning laugh!! Wow do I need to get out. I was, of course, referring to the bag she was carrying, but I should have known. The women see the bag, you guys see, well, whatever it is you see.

Travis Leanna
(T.L.) - MLife

Locale: Wisconsin
Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 08:44:06 MDT Print View

Well, since Doug already took dibs on the girl, I've got dibs on the shoes.



Jennifer, what quilt do you have and what size stuff sack is it in? Also, which shelter are you using? What extra clothes do you bring?

Edited by T.L. on 03/14/2013 08:46:16 MDT.

John Harper
(johnnyh88) - M

Locale: The SouthWest
Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 09:00:45 MDT Print View

I often put my quilt and any clothes in the "large rectangular dry bag" from ZPacks. Putting everything in one big dry bag keeps them dry and allows me to squish it all down for a pretty compact package that I stuff at the bottom of my pack - much smaller than separate dry bags for everything would allow. I would also try folding up your sleeping pad and placing it against your backpanel. Sleeping pads always end up much more compact when folded instead of rolled.

"Using larger stuff sacks can be one way to keep things organized but make the contents more flexible so they conform to the shape of the bag more easily."

+1 to this. I use a pretty large stuff sack for my shelter.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 09:03:25 MDT Print View

I've never quite understood shoes. Why is a closet full of shoes a good thing?

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 09:24:08 MDT Print View

For the quilt, I used to use a sea to summit sil dry bag...squished as much as I can to get the air out. My last few trips I tried the cloud packing idea for the quilt, using a garbage bag as a pack liner. But still using all those other stuff sacks.

As for extra clothes, obviously it depends on the length of the trip and the temps. A typical weekend affair I just bring a merino shirt to sleep in and depending on the temps I may bring my montbell UL puffy (which would go in the cuben stuff sack with the clothes). Longer trips or colder trips ill bring a pair of capilene long underwear bottoms and a spare pair of socks. For example, my 8 days in the winds last August I carried 1 extra pair of socks, 1 extra pair underwear, capilene 2 long underwear bottoms and a mid weight smart wool long sleeve top for sleeping.

I also am working on my rain gear, as I used to use a precip and a pair of 9 oz 2.5 layer REI rain pants. I've switched to a Rab pullover for real rain or a Houdini for drizzle, depending on location and season, and will be getting the montane featherlite pants. Wondering about a zpacks cloud kilt...seems like a great idea! But I digress...

So...

I'm taking a trip to the ozarks in MO next weekend and will try no stuff sacks at all to see if it helps. I'm also planning some packing practice this weekend....I just feel like I HAVE to be missing something big.

Mike Oxford
(moxford) - MLife

Locale: Silicon Valley, CA
Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 14:39:41 MDT Print View

Women collect clothes and shoes for the same reason that men collect tools, and both sexes collect UL gear.

It's the POSSIBILITIES that they represent, whether they ever get used or not, the options are available ... and you can never have too many cool new options and new possibilities!

I know guys with garages full of tools they never use, and while their wives are asking why the need all those tools the guys are asking why the women need all the shoes.... :)

-mox

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 14:46:23 MDT Print View

I have heard that some guys buy AR-15 and then buy cool accessories. "Barbie Dolls for guys". Same idea.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/14/2013 14:50:31 MDT Print View

When not packing my winter sleeping bag everything I want to keep dry goes in to an Exped Snozzle dry bag which also serves as the pump for my pad and as a pillow, triple use :-)

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 16:15:31 MDT Print View

General UL principles lean to minimizing as much as possible, and stuff sacks scan add up, especially the old tough PU coated Cordura bags. With the cuben and silnylon bags available, it's not as weighty a problem (nice pun, eh?).

The bags in my kit are there to organize and/or protect the items--- or to protect everything else from what is in the bag. Dirty cookpots and nasty-leaky stuff like DEET and peanut butter need to be corralled. I do end up with about 5-6ounces of stuff sacks and ziplocks. I like to have everything in it's place and not spending 15 minutes and the aggravation of turning my pack inside out to find one item. I have things separated in systems: latrine, hygiene, small clothing, insulation, essentials, cook kit, food, and a small ditty bag for odds and ends.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 16:35:55 MDT Print View

I usually take the clothing that I am only going to wear in camp and stuff it at the bottom of my sleeping bag. Once I have set up my shelter I pull out my sleeping bag and my camp clothing with it. This has worked really well for me.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 17:06:12 MDT Print View

IMG_0097 smaller

Two stuff sacks, one for the quilt and one for the Caldera Cone set up. Four zip lock bags.

This was a 3 day trip with rain and temps around freezing at night.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 17:26:28 MDT Print View

Nick,

A bit off topic but would you mind letting me know what quilt, pad and insulated clothing you where packing?

Cheers,

Stephen

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 17:57:11 MDT Print View

Stephen,

Quilt is a EE Ephinay Cuben.

Pad is a Suluk46 1/2" frame sheet.

Also note the doughnut looking thing. That is from a GG SitLite pad ala Mike Clelland for my hip. Did not workout well.

Carried a Montbell Ex UL Down Vest.

Also had a Smartwool Balaclava.

Cap 1 bottoms.

Mountain Hardwear Cliffer LS T was what I wore and slept in (merino/poly blend).

Gloves were Nike DriFit wind gloves -- wool would have been better.

Base weight 3lbs 9oz.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 18:03:15 MDT Print View

Thanks Nick,

Thats a fairly Ul setup, these days I am always over cautious with my sleeping/quilt and pad as I still have memories of been uncomfortable in my youth.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 18:06:50 MDT Print View

The quilt was right on the edge... I was a little cold my last night.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/14/2013 18:57:18 MDT Print View

I find it hard to sleep when cold, how about you?

I always end up packing about an extra pound of pad/sleeping gear than what is necessary but always keeps me warm.

Edited by stephenm on 03/14/2013 19:13:55 MDT.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/17/2013 02:09:13 MDT Print View

IMG_0097 smaller


Nick, where are how do you arrange your water bladders? Im thinking about getting a small zero without pockets. Zpacks does sell a hydration bladder and port for $20.

Edited by M.L on 03/17/2013 02:11:45 MDT.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate and pack organzation on 03/17/2013 06:26:20 MDT Print View

The 1 liter platys go in water pockets and the 2 liter platy in the main bag. I have never used a hydration bladder as they seem heavy and if I need this much water I don't want it in one vessel, should it develop a leak.

Zpack

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: Re: That ol' stuff sack debate on 03/17/2013 07:33:20 MDT Print View

"I just feel like I HAVE to be missing something big"

I suspect it's that there's not a very good relationship between a pack's weight, its carrying capacity in weight, and its volume, and that there's also a large range in various backpackers' gear density. It makes it hard to compare with others' experiences unless you match up all the details.

If I'm taking a synthetic quilt that I don't want to compress to death, a foam sleeping pad that I'm using inside the pack for support, a fleece for warmth, a Driducks jacket, and a bunch of crackers that I didn't crush first, I'm going to need more pack volume for a given base and food weight than if I have a highly compressible quilt of the same weight, an inflatable pad, more compressible outerwear and a ziploc of Grape Nuts.

If I have high volume and low weight, I might choose something like a Granite Gear Virga, which feels cavernous when I pack it. If I needed to carry a ton of water, but not a lot of gear, I might choose a relatively low volume pack but one that's designed for heavy loads - something like the Osprey Atmos 50 I used to have. About the same volume as the Virga, but easily capable of carrying twice as much weight (YMMV).

The cottage packs seem vary a fair amount in their density sweet spots, but in my experience, tend toward low-ish volumes relative to their weight-carrying capacity. (Interested to hear about counter-examples.) I'm guessing this is at least in part to avoid the half-full problems that the higher density users would experience, but that's what you're running in to. Other than getting more dense stuff or a higher volume pack (which need not weigh significantly more, as long as there's no feature creep), solutions include adding a longer extension collar and strapping stuff to the outside until food volumes shrink (with caveats related to bear can use).

Cheers,

Bill

Edited by sbill9000 on 03/17/2013 15:40:08 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Stuff Sack Strategy on 03/17/2013 07:56:52 MDT Print View

In order for me to carry a stuff sack it has to have a purpose other than just to hold stuff. (This is pretty easy to say since I don't carry very much random stuff.) For a multiday carry similar to say a thru hike leg, I will have three stuff sacks. Two are cuben food bags (more on these in a minute.) and the only other one is the bag for my extra clothes which serves as my pillow. Here are a couple of lessons I learned over the last couple of years.
1) I use an inflatable pad, xtherm. This needs to be protected from abrasion. I use a pack liner, trash compacted bag. If rain is not expected then I only pack my folded pad in the bag for protection and place it as the pack frame in the front.
2) I use two cuben food bags. One has the food that won't be accessed during the day. This goes in the bottom and is the highest density, solid mass in my pack. Next in is my quilt and bivy, loosely rolled to conform to space.. The hard layer is next, cook pot and tarp followed by the day food bag and the soft loose filled clothes bag on top. This gives me hard layer, soft layer, hard layer, soft layer. I think this approach help form a solid yet flexible mass without hard lumps from hard things.
3) I custom made my food bags to the inside dimensions of my pack. This was an added after my thru hike when I had one "properly sized" bag and one the was too long and narrow. The properly sized one was used in the bottom and filled out the pack much better. Now both bags fit the pack perfectly and this allows the loading to be like building blocks.

I should probably mention that my pack is very small volume, MLD Burn. Its low volume is a dream to carry but it has forced me to optimize the loading to find perfection for me.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Avoiding a Solid Mass on 03/17/2013 11:02:25 MDT Print View

"Now both bags fit the pack perfectly and this allows the loading to be like building blocks."

This is just my own comparison that convinced me to ditch stuff sacks with bag, pad, clothing and food. In my own experiment, one actually gains packing efficiency (i.e. the ability to pack more in the same amount of space) by avoiding the stuff sack's tendency to compress things into blocks. In my case, I found that simply shoving in the bag first, and then clothing, and then food, etc. items in all nooks and crannies was actually more efficient. I sometimes bring along a food bag. Even with that, I find shoving the pieces (including the bag) separately into 'the corners' more efficient than packing a solid block.

If you've tried this already and it didn't work for you, please ignore. But in case you haven't -- maybe give it a try. If you can avoid the effort of wrestling things into their stuff sacks -- esp. bag and pad -- and gain packing space as a result -- that can be a good thing, right?

Edited by ben2world on 03/17/2013 11:09:26 MDT.

Richard Mock
(moxtr) - M

Locale: The piney woods
Re: Re: Avoiding a Solid Mass on 05/09/2013 01:14:59 MDT Print View

That has worked for me for 40 years in principle however sacks can be convenient jn a large structured pack.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Avoiding a Solid Mass on 05/09/2013 03:32:03 MDT Print View

That has worked for me for 40 years in principle however sacks can be convenient jn a large structured pack.

were you meaning unstructured?

That is where I find stuff sacks worth carrying a couple ounces.

But I avoid the structured mass problem (mostly) by using sacks that are too large for their contents. That allows sacks of stuff to mostly assume the shape of available unused space in the pack. It also avoids the problem of a tightly stuffed sack (aka a "rock") abusing my kidneys or ribs when using a pack with no backpad.