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I recently upgraded to a modern backpack and I'm stumped as to how to tie accessories down to it. My previous backpack had tie-down points on the bottom of the pack that I could attach long straps to, which allowed me to tie down my sleeping back, tent, and a small sleeping pad.

My new pack lacks these generic tie-down anchors, and instead has two (smallish) straps on the bottom. They're perhaps large enough for my tent, but certainly not large enough for my sleeping bag.

There's a waterproof "top lid" that can bind down, it's not impossible to stuff the sleeping bag between the pack and the top lid and cinch it down, but this is sort of awkward and top-heavy.

What's the proper strategy here? Any tips for attaching my sleeping bag and tent to my pack?

Edit: I'm not totally opposed to putting my tent and sleeping bag in the pack, especially for short and light trips, but on a multi-week outing, I may end up with the lion's share of the gear and food to haul, depending on the company. If there's a clever way to have stuff outside my pack, it would be nice to have the option.

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Thanks everybody for the feedback - I'm now appropriately convinced that hanging this stuff on the outside is surprisingly atypical and that maybe I should give a fair shake to stuffing things inside my pack on my next outing. – Edward Thomson Jan 25 '12 at 15:00
up vote 9 down vote accepted

If your sleeping bag, or its compression bag, doesn't have straps around the outside, you'll need at least four pieces of twine to strap your bag down. Two to loop around the sleeping bag, and two more to link the loops on your bag to the loops on your backpack.

Make sure the pieces intended for linking the sleeping bag to the backpack are tied down by the pieces looping the sleeping bag.

It gets trickier if you want your bag and your tent to hang off those straps. The bag and the tent will have to be either lashed together or containerized, first. But then the same idea applies.

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That's been my strategy thus far, a jury-rigged compression strap setup. – Edward Thomson Jan 25 '12 at 3:19

Looking at the picture of your new pack, those 'smallish straps' appear to be compression straps to pull in your backpack once you've packed to stop the weight inside from shifting. I'd say they're definitely not for packing external gear.

I would avoid hanging anything below my bag - it alters the weight balance, and can strain your back.

After one particularly sodden hike in the north of England along time ago, I learnt that you really don't want to carry anything that absorbs water outside of your backpack - sleeping bags, especially.

All of my overnight hiking packs have had a bottom compartment, in which I stored my sleeping bag and warm change of clothes (both wrapped up in 'rubble sacks' for extra waterproofing). Tent canvas would be packed inside the main compartment, right at the top, for quick access - tent poles were strapped to the side of the bag.

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Please leave comments if you downvote – HorusKol Jan 25 '12 at 3:02
I usually stuff my sleeping bag in a heavy-ply trash bag and then in a stuff sack. So far it's avoided dampness in rain and hanging out in the wet bottom of a canoe. But you've got a fair point. – Edward Thomson Jan 25 '12 at 3:13
I think "you're doing it wrong" is a perfectly acceptable answer. – Edward Thomson Jan 25 '12 at 3:18
@mendota: in a roundabout way, I'm suggesting that you shouldn't - which is an answer. Also, I don't think there's any suitable way for this particular pack (and most other modern packs) to be modified to make it work. – HorusKol Jan 25 '12 at 4:32
Agreed -- the best answer is that you probably want a larger pack for a multi-week outing. – D. Lambert Jan 25 '12 at 15:36

This gets into the realm of "personal preference" but I would suggest only tie those things on the outside of your pack that you don't want at the end of the day.

Anything on the outside will tend to get chewed up by brush, be-thorned by cactus, ground into rocks and dirt every time you set your pack down, get soaked when you slip on that stream crossing, and... yes... fall off.

Your sleeping bag is a great item to pack FIRST inside the back to provide some padding in that lower lumbar region which will be rubbing against your body.

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I agree, it's probably personal preference - it's just always what I've done from when I got my first hand-me-down external frame pack. I'm open to trying new things, I just wondered if I was missing something obvious. – Edward Thomson Jan 25 '12 at 3:03
No - you aren't missing anything - its that Internal frames are designed to be sleek, and closer fitting so you are unencumbered when traveling off-trail, or scrambling. Thus, most manufacturers assume you won't be hanging stuff on the outside - except maybe an ice-ax or trekking poles (which is what it looks like those loops were designed for) – Lost Jan 25 '12 at 3:08
Also, why the downvote? – Edward Thomson Jan 25 '12 at 3:08
I'm wondering about that myself... Please comment if you downvote. – Lost Jan 25 '12 at 3:12

If you put a sleeping bag on the outside of the pack, you should have it in a stuff sack or something similar that is strong, waterproof, and has loops for straps. A sleeping bag is something you don't want wet or lost. You can strap the stuff sack with the sleeping bag anywhere, probably near the bottom or on top of the pack.

I usually pack the sleeping bag inside and put the pad, tent, and other cumbersome things (snowshoes, crampons, rope, extra shoes, etc.) I might have outside.

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