I have bought a down sleeping bag that comes with two bags: one for storage and one for packing. The packing bag is not as small as it could potentially be, and it is shaped like waterproof bags, where you close it by rolling the top part and then clipping the two sides together.

While I can manage to initially pack the bag pretty tight, I have noticed that it expands quite a bit, taking any free space in my backpack. While it is not a big issue when hiking, I would prefer to be able to keep it as tight as possible at least for the time I am taking flights, as there luggage dimensions could be crucial.

So is there a way to keep the sleeping bag packed as small as possible for at least a short period of time?

  • 2
    This is a new one for me, possibly because our backpacks are always packed so tight that there is no room for the sleeping bag to expand. Try packing more stuff. :)
    – ab2
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 19:48
  • 1
    @ab2 that's not helping when there are luggage dimensions to take into account, as mentioned in the question.
    – JAD
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 6:38
  • @JAD correct, I usually do not have my bag completelly full when I am taking flights, since I need to leave room for water and food that I will add later when going on actual hike
    – april rain
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 8:17

3 Answers 3


Get a special bag for the sleeping bag. Your special bag should have compression straps. If it's also a dry bag, it should ideally also have a valve.

I have bought the compression dry bag PS10 with valve and belt from Ortlieb. It's like other dry-bags, but with a valve and compression straps. I use it as follows:

  1. Open the valve.
  2. Insert the sleeping bag.
  3. Roll up the top.
  4. Close the top.
  5. Use the compression straps to compress it as far as possible.
  6. Close the valve.

After the closing of the valve, the sleeping bag can not expand. This way, not only does my sleeping bag stay dry even if I fall into a river, but it also compresses much smaller than I could otherwise get it to compress, due to exactly the problem you describe.

It can work for other dry bags as well, but my sleeping bag bag is by far the largest dry bag I have and the only (large) one with a content that wants to expand, although I imagine it would work for down jackets as well. I used to have the sleeping bag inside its own stuff sack, then the stuff sack inside a dry bag, but recently I've dispensed with using its own stuff sack.

If you get a regular stuff sack, you can save money and weight, as the compression straps will be enough to compress the packed sleeping bag even after it's been closed, but on a water- and airtight dry bag the valve is a big bonus.

  • any idea why my sleeping bag does not have a bag like that included already? I mean, all the other sleeping bags I owned had a bag into which it was somewhat hard to squeeze in my sleeping bag, and I could further compress it with the straps. All other sleeping bags, however, were synthetic. And the new one is by far the most expensive I have bought!
    – april rain
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 11:18
  • @aprilrain Strangly, my synthetic sleeping bag stuff sack has straps, but my down sleeping bag stuff sack does not. But after some poor experiences (such as a water container leaking inside my sleeping bag) I now have my sleeping bag always in a dry bag anyway, which adds an additional constraint. If you trust raincovers and the liquid containers inside your backpack, you can save money and weight by using a regular stuff sack rather than a dry bag.
    – gerrit
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 11:30
  • @april rain, I have Mountain Equipment Glacier Expedition sleeping bag. It has the same packing bag that you have. I pack sleeping bag to my backpack and backpack does not expand much especially if you have other staff in your backpack. I have never had any problems with luggage dimensions in airports (I have 80+20 backpack). Sometimes I wear my expedition boots and down jacket in airport to save space in backpack :)))) Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:23
  • Most sleeping bags don't come with a decent compression bag. I've worked 8 years in an outdoors retail shop and never had one model with a good compression bag. Aftermarket brands aren't that expensive (should be under $40 USD) and you usually have a range of sizes to choose from depending on how bulky your sleeping bag is.
    – Gabriel
    Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 13:44
  • The bag you link states it's rating as IP64--which if I'm reading it right isn't going to keep it dry if you get dunked. Commented Aug 28, 2018 at 23:25

Just put some straps around the packing bag (plastic clasps to not damage your bags). You probably have those lying around already ;-)

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Even (large) rubber bands can work, though they will have to re replaced for the next trip.


Going back more than 40 years, the answer is to have an air (and water!) proof portion of the packing system. I still use a black plastic garbage/garden trash bag liner inside the manufacturer-provided stuff sack. Then I can sit on the bag, forcing air out (and making the end product more rectangular rather than cylindrical for better packing) and seal the trash bag with a twist tie. No air goes in, so no expansion. No water gets in so comfy nights.

  • actually, not a bad answer, I already pack a couple trash bags for storing my backpack in while I am inside my tiny tent, just not sure how good they are in keeping the air out, but I guess I will have to try and see (:
    – april rain
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 8:23
  • @aprilrain Thicker trash bags can be easily used with a vacuum to compress clothing and other compressable stuff at home. Make it two layers for extra strength and it keeps out air nicely. This is more useful if you're simply travelling as obviously you won't have a vacuum outdoors
    – SztupY
    Commented Aug 29, 2018 at 12:03

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