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Best way to pack a sleeping bag?

When I was looking at sleeping bags at REI this summer, the very helpful REI employee suggested stuffing my sleeping bags inside out - saying that it's much easier to get them stuffed quickly and compactly. 

I tried it, and am not finding a huge difference. 

Do all of you stuff inside out or rightside out? Have you noticed a difference? More on certain kinds of bags or in certain situations?

7 Replies

I've never stuffed them inside-out, but I store them in their cotton bags inside-out to help air them out a bit. If you're not noticing a difference, it probably doesn't matter. My biggest advice is always stuff, don't fold and roll (breaks down the insulation in the fold lines more quickly, I believe).

If you have a summer bag, like the Marmot summer series, these pack into their small stuff sacks: I pack this at the bottom of the pack, along with clothes & other light-weight stuff. Winter bag I stuff into the bottom of the pack loose: no compression or stuff sack, then load clothes & other light stuff on top of it, pressing it down. You end up with the space at the bottom of the pack completely utilized.

I don't like equipment hanging off the outside of a pack, regardless what it is. If you can't get it into a multi-day pack, then don't bring it.

I find myself lately following many current through hikers and just stuffing the bag in the bottom of the pack, you can gain pack space but you will need to use a pack liner that will prevent rain / water.   I’ve always used external bottles for water, I don’t trust water bladders.   

The only reason I see for turning the bag inside out on the trail is to air it out which I generally do immediately after I get up while I get some breakfast.  I can't see how it would help with packing except that if you do turn it inside out in the morning to dry out then it saves some morning time if you pack it that way.  You still have to turn it right way out the following evening so there is no net time saved.  I woudn't do that because if any water gets through to the bag during the day or if it is raining when I set up I want the wet on the outside of the bag.  Some sleeping bags do have different material on the inside but from what I have seen the outside material is more slick.

Storing is a different matter but again it is about airing out the bag not ease of packing. really I have no idea where that "helpful advice" is coming from and I would ignore it.

Although it does occur to me that the inside of the bag is smaller than the outside so technically there is less exposed surface area if you turn the bag inside out and  theoretically that could result in less stuffing effort...but probably only if you  discount the effort you spent turning the bag inside out.  Possibly with overstuffed  or very puffy bags it makes a difference.

yeah I agree with what others below are saying. 

I switched to just stuffing my quilt into the bottom of the pack.  I also use a heavy duty trash bag inside my pack, and don't carry a pack cover (well, I did in Iceland, I caved in, worrying about hiking in all freezing rains, which fortunately didn't happen, much) 

I love stuffing the quilt, no wasted space.

It seems to me that if my bag(quilt) was inside out, it would be more susceptible to getting dirty on the inside, so I'm not understanding that "advice".

My advice is to try stuffing it, make sure you're keeping it dry, it's your last line of defense against hypothermia.

REI Member Since 1979

do not turn it inside out - it was sewn up to be  used in only one configuration - sleep mode.  Stuff it into its protective stuff sack bottom end first. 


I don't turn mine inside out. I do stuff it into my Schnoozle to help keep it dry. But I also have a 60L pack and most of my stuff is very small. So I don't compress much of anything.