Stuff Sack Vs. Compression Sack (Complete Comparison)

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Are you going camping and wondering whether to get a stuff sack or compression sack for your gear?

Getting confused about these two packing accessories is normal, especially if this is the first time you are coming across them.

In this article, we will compare stuff sacks vs. compression sacks. In the end, you should be able to find one that suits your needs.

Why Is It Called A Stuff Sack?

These bags are referred to as stuff sacks because users fill them with various soft things.

You can use them to stuff a sleeping bag, dirty clothes, heavy outer layers, and camping accessories. 

Stuff sacks are light cylindrical bags that store all the soft items you require when hiking or camping. You can carry them as they are or place them in your backpack.

What Are Stuff Sacks Used For?

Apart from storing soft backpacking gear, you can store your food supplies and camping utensils in a stuff sack. Separate your luggage, though, as mixing clothing with food can lead to spillage and smells. 

In addition, stuff sacks are great for packing shoes and handbags before placing them into your luggage.

They will come in handy if you want to avoid squeezing your expensive bags or shoes out of shape when packing. 

Advantages Of Stuff Sacks

For those going on extended-period backpacking or camping trips, stuff sacks will help separate your gear.

You can have one for light clothes, one for rain gear, and another for dirty laundry. You can also color code the bags for easy access.

Furthermore, stuff sacks are light material and simple to fold away when unnecessary.

Once you empty them, roll or fold them up, and they will occupy little space in your travel bag.

Stuff Sack Vs. Compression Sack

You can stack several stuff sacks together to get a neat pile and store them inside the largest one.

Cleaning them on the go is also hassle-free as they are made of quick-dry material.

If they get soiled, you only need to turn them inside out and shake the dirt off. Rinse them with dish soap and water to remove any spills and odors.

Disadvantages Of Stuff Sacks

The main downside to using stuff sacks is they do not compress items. While they may organize your clothes, they fill up quickly, making your luggage appear bulky and out of shape. 

Unlike compression sacks, they will take up more space, making travel cumbersome. For minimalist travel, luggage space is precious, and they do not serve this purpose.

Most stuff sacks have a drawstring closure. In terms of efficiency, roll tops, and zipper travel bags are better at keeping your belongings clean and safe.

However, stuff sacks have a cinch closure that may loosen easily, giving easy access to bugs and dirt.

Moreover, stuff sacks are not waterproof. Although the tough nylon material is water resistant, it will absorb water through the drawstring opening.

Chances of finding your items damp increase, especially if you expose the bags to direct heavy rainfall.

The Best Stuff Sacks

If you are shopping for stuff sacks, choose those made of the highest quality material for durability.

With the various types available, here are the top-rated stuff bags you should consider for your next backpacking trip.

Beegreen Stuff Sacks: Best As A Set

These polyester, lightweight yet durable drawstring stuff bags are perfect for all outdoor gear. They come in six different sizes and colors to easily separate your belongings.

You can use the smallest size for toiletries, cosmetics, and accessories, while the largest bags fit sleeping bags and clothes.


  • Tear-resistant and water-repellent material
  • Dust flap to prevent dirt and dust through the drawstring closure
  • Foldable for easy storage
  • Strong handle


  • Made of polyester and not nylon
  • May absorb water with extended exposure

Equinox Bilby Stuff Sacks: Best Value

These US-made 100% nylon rectangle-shaped cinch bags come in various colors and large sizes.

You can use them to pack your outdoor gear for every season. Your belongings will be secure and dry until you get to your destination.


  • Heavy-duty nylon material is durable
  • Reasonably priced
  • The largest size can accommodate tents and sleeping bags
  • Water-resistant fabric


  • Does not come in a set
  • Dust flap is small

Is A Stuff Sack A Compression Sack?

No, a stuff stuck is not a compression sack.

Stuff sacks are ideal for storing numerous items, while compression sacks compress luggage to reduce size.

Read on as we explain compression sacks and how they differ from stuff sacks.

What Are Compression Sacks?

They are bags one uses to squash items, making them smaller to fit into luggage.

For backpackers and campers, compression sacks will reduce the size of your tents, sleeping bags, and heavy outer clothing.

Once you flatten your gear, it becomes easier to fit and carry inside your backpack.

What Is A Compression Sack Used For?

While most people use compression sacks to squeeze sleeping bags, pillows, and down jackets, you can pack other clothes.

Bikers, especially, prefer compression sacks to hold their belongings when touring as they occupy less space. 

They also come in handy when going kayaking, snowmobiling, and fishing. Most outdoor travelers use them to store extra supplies such as dry clothes and food.

However, 100% waterproof, immersible dry bags are the best option in these situations. 

How Do You Use A Compression Sack For Clothes?

Packing a compression sack with clothes is pretty simple. Hold it upright and add all the items you will need.

The final look resembles a ball as the bag pushes everything down to fit. You can pack in outfits for four days, including a towel, and it will seem like you only have a pair or two.

Advantages Of Compression Sacks

The main benefit of compression sacks is that they conveniently help reduce your luggage size.

Therefore, you have enough space to pack the other essentials you need.

For instance, if you have a large sleeping bag, compress it to leave space for campsite treats.  

Compression bags are also waterproof, especially the dry bag, which is ideal for water activities.

You do not have to worry about getting your gear wet from sudden rainfall or accidental falls in the water.

Disadvantages of Compression Sacks

While compression sacks work well for sleeping bags and outer layers, they do not always work.

Even as they make things smaller, they still maintain weight, meaning heavy items remain dense.

You may also be tempted to over pack when you have plenty of space. However, when you add extra weight to your luggage, you risk increasing flight baggage costs.

Additionally, condensing your clothes will crease them, especially formal wear. Therefore, it is necessary to only pack those that are wrinkle-less, or those you won’t mind if they do. 

Compression bags are also more expensive than stuff sacks. Primarily, this is due to their capabilities, making them more packing efficient than stuff sacks. 

Another downside to compression sacks is they may damage your sleeping bags and pillows. Frequent compression weakens the padding, and avoiding leaving items in them long-term is important. 

At the end of every trip, always unpack your sleeping bag and fold away the compression sack.

But before you store it away, clean the sack per the manufacturer’s instructions for longevity.

The Best Compression Sacks

When buying a compression sack for your sleeping bag, consider the size, as they do not expand to fit. Here are the best compression sacks for every occasion.

Sea-to-Summit Compression Sack: Best Waterproof

These bags are ultra-light waterproof, with a roll-top closure that compresses down using straps. While this particular one is a medium 14-litre capacity sack, they are also available in extra small, small, and large.

The nylon material keeps your gear dry, and the sturdy seams hold tight for maximum compression. It also has a round base, which helps fit your rolled sleeping bag to size, leaving enough room for extra items.


  • Waterproof fabric
  • Durable
  • Lightweight
  • Roll-top closure keeps contents dry and dirt-free


  • Require extra weight to compress the straps
  • Medium size may not fit a large sleeping bag

M-Tac Compression Sack: Most Durable

The M-Tac sack is made of military-grade nylon and water resistant, perfect for the outdoors. You can safely use it in extreme weather, and it will hold up well. It comes in three convenient sizes, medium, large, and extra-large, to fit more.


  • Water and wear and tear resistance
  • Compresses small
  • Space saving to fit all essentials
  • Adjustable cord closure plus compression straps


  • May not fit extra-large sleeping bags
  • Has two straps instead of four

Stuff Sack Vs. Compression Sack: A Comprehensive Comparison

There are factors to consider when choosing between a stuff sack and a compression sack.

Below is a comprehensive comparison of the two, depending on which one has the best capabilities.

FeaturesStuff SackCompression Sack
DurableNot alwaysYes
Efficient NoYes


There you have it, a comparison of stuff sack vs. compression sack bags for your next trip. Before settling on one, check your luggage amount, trip duration, durability, and cost. You want a travel packing solution that offers the best of everything.

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