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.

  • 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. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 15:00
  • dead link. Is it this one gregorypacks.com/backpacking/zulu-55/… ?
    – njzk2
    Commented Mar 24, 2017 at 14:33

6 Answers 6


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.

  • That's been my strategy thus far, a jury-rigged compression strap setup. Commented Jan 25, 2012 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.

  • 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. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 3:13
  • It was -1 for not answering the question: 'How do I tie a sleeping bag to my backpack?'
    – mendota
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 3:13
  • 10
    I think "you're doing it wrong" is a perfectly acceptable answer. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 3:18
  • 4
    @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
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 4:32
  • 2
    Agreed -- the best answer is that you probably want a larger pack for a multi-week outing.
    – D. Lambert
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 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.

  • 1
    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. Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 3:03
  • 2
    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
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 3:08
  • 1
    Also, why the downvote? Commented Jan 25, 2012 at 3:08
  • 4
    I'm wondering about that myself... Please comment if you downvote.
    – Lost
    Commented Jan 25, 2012 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.


I didn't see a photo of your new pack. As for where to pack it and tie it down... I use a survival pack myself, smaller but with a full molly system and compression straps. This allows me to use additional pouches or pockets and also rig additional strapping points in various places without messing with the weight distribution of the pack at all. I am also still able to cover it all, minus the sleeping bag, with my rain cover even though the pack is pretty water resistant itself both in design and what I sprayed it with.

The sleeping bag I use is a summer weight with compression straps and bag. I strap it to the top of my pack and here is why I do this. If my bag is on top it will get less of a beating and is less likely to get wet if I have to travel through any deep water conditions. I survival camp for a week or more at a time so I carry little and use my tools and what is around me so this less is more design works best for me. Being a summer weight sleeping bag it is lighter weight also so my pack doesn't become top heavy at all.

Inside my bag I keep items bundled inside small water tight boxes. This keeps things better in poor weather conditions and also adds the special bonus of making your pack a flotation device of sorts with several sealed, water tight boxes inside. Fishing tools, fire tools, cleaning tools (hygiene stuff), first aid tools, food tools, etc. Clothes inside a sealed plastic weather bag and used to fill odd space inside the pack. Anyway, you get the idea...


The link to the image of your pack is broken, so I'm going to generalize.

I still prefer my external frame pack (hard to find nowadays) I will gladly live with the extra pound to have pockets, and tie points, and enough frame to lash to.

  1. Many internal frame packs have compression straps on either side. Sometimes you can find pockets that can be attached by running the compression straps through them.

  2. Make a set of panniers for your pack. Take a dead pair of nylon pants, sew the cuffs to make each leg a bag, and cut along the back of the waist leaving about a 6" strip about the crotch. Sew up the ends of cuts so that it won't tear.

  3. In use: put stuff in either leg, keeping them balanced. A sleeping bag doesn't work well for this, as it's too big to go in one leg, and you probably don't have anything else the same bulk/weight. Food items work well, if in bags that won't soak up water. Fuel bottles are also ok. Socks, camp shoes, misc non-bulky clothing.

  4. When you pack up, let the panniers drape over your pack before you cinch the top hat down. Secure the midpoint of each leg to the middle compression strap.

Outdoor stores sell the plastic strap patches that you can sew to your pack. Consider carefully doing this: The stiches have stress on them, and will probably leak soon after applying seam-seal to the stitches.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.