Best Compression Sack for Backpacking and Hiking

If you’re keen to maximize space in your backpack whilst ensuring the welfare of your pricey gear, this is the place to be. In this guide, we review some of the best compression sacks on the market, from ultralight models to bombproof affairs for bad-weather adventuring.

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Compression Sacks for Sleeping Bags, Puffy Jackets, and More

Looking for the perfect compression sack for your adventures?

You’re in the right place! In this guide, we will be covering the following:

    • A selection 9 awesome sleeping bag stuff sacks
    • How to choose a sleeping bag stuff sack
    • Our recommendation for the best compression sack for sleeping bags out there

A compression sack is a vital piece of gear for any outdoors enthusiast. By compacting your kit, they allow for efficient packing and help you reduce the overall bulk of your backpack. This is of particular importance when on backpacking trips where every cubic inch in your pack counts. These sacks also help to protect your gear from the elements and prevent damage.

There are a wide variety of compressible sacks on the market, so choosing the right one for your needs can be a challenge. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together a list of nine of the best compression sacks available. Whether you’re looking for compact storage or maximum protection, there’s sure to be a sack on our list that’s perfect for you.

Best Compressible Sacks by Category

Budget: REI Lightweight and Outdoor Products 3-Pack All Purpose Dry Sacks
Waterproof: Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Drysack and Outdoor Research Ultralight
Bucket lid: REI Lightweight and Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Drysack
Roll-top: Earth Pak Torrent Dry and Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack

Editor’s Choice

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sack

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Dry Sacks, Grey, 14 Liter

The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil CDS is the perfect choice for hikers and campers extra keen to provide their kit with the maximum protection whilst saving every possible cubic inch of space in their pack.

Made from waterproof, 30d Cordura nylon, this sack is good to go on any adventure, no matter how wild. It also compresses well, making it perfect for storing a sleeping bag or other bulky items.

The base is lined with an air-permeable fabric to allow moisture to escape, preventing mold and mildew from forming. This also saves more space as compared to using standard sleeping bag compression sacks by making it easier to expel air when squeezing your bag inside.

Bottom Line: A tough, waterproof compression sack that compresses better than any other.

At a Glance: Quick Recommendations

Best Compression Sack for Outdoor Gear Storage: Our Top 9 Picks

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Drysack

Editor’s Choice

If you want the best protection for your pricey kit and need to keep bulk to an absolute minimum, then the S2S Ultra-Sil Compression is a shoo-in.

This bag is made with tough, waterproof Cordura nylon fabric. Up top, there’s a roll-top closure that makes it completely waterproof and it also has straps and a lid that help to reduce its contents to around a third of their volume. The seams are also double-stitched and taped to reduce the risk of leaks at stress points.

The unique selling point of this bag is its air-permeable base, a game-changing feature that expels air without sacrificing its waterproofing capacity. This both aids with compressibility and also helps to stave off mold and mildew.

  • PROs

    • Waterproof
    • Space-saving design makes it easy to pack inside your pack
    • Dual roll-top and lid closure
    • Double stitched and taped seams
    • Awesome compression leaves you more room in your pack
  • CONs

    • Pricey

Bottom-Line: A well-made, intelligently designed bag that offers next-level protection for your kit.

REI Lightweight Compression Sack

Best Budget

While not as tough, waterproof, compressible, or lightweight as the top performers on our list, the REI Lightweight Sack is a great option for unfussy campers looking for a good bang for their buck.

This sack is made with tough ripstop nylon and has a DWR finish. While not waterproof, this water-repellent finish will fend off any light moisture that makes it through the fabric of your backpack. Three webbing straps provide decent compression, though won’t pack your gear as small as competitors like the S2S Ultra-Sil Compression.

  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Ripstop nylon fabric
    • Water-resistant coating (DWR)
    • Compresses well
    • Available in multiple sizes and colors
    • bluesign-approved fabric
  • CONs

    • DWR coating will wear off with time
    • Not waterproof

Bottom-Line: A basic but effective, low-cost option for occasional campers.

ALPS Mountaineering Compression Stuff Sack

Best Value

In a nutshell, this offering from ALPS Mountaineering does just about everything top-end sacks do, just at a far friendlier price.

It’s made with durable rip-stop nylon and has reinforced stress points to ensure longevity. Despite its burliness, it weighs just 2.9 ounces in the 20L model and 3.5 ounces in the 30L model.

While not waterproof, the fabric is water-repellent, and if you plan on venturing into wetter climes you can simply line it with a trash bag to save yourself a handful of $ on a pricier alternative.

A few cool features score this sack further brownie points, most notably the grab handle at the bottom, the D-rings that allow you to lash or clip it to the outside of your pack, and the small stash pocket in the base.

  • PROs

    • Affordable
    • Zippered pocket
    • Available in three sizes (10L, 20L, 30L)
    • Handy carry handle
    • Compression straps help save crucial space
    • Relatively lightweight
  • CONs

    • Not waterproof (only water-resistant)
    • A little too heavy for backpacking

Bottom-Line: A well-made, affordable compression bag with a design that’s a little more user-friendly than others on our list.

Six Moon Designs Packing Pods

Best for Backpacking

If you’re anything like the author of this post, and organization isn’t your forte, these super convenient packing pods could be a game-changer.

Each pack contains three pods, measuring 7L, 2L, and ½ liter. The largest pod is just large enough for a small, two-season sleeping bag and the smaller pods are ideal for extra clothing, toiletries, or a first aid kit. While none of the pods compress, they’re worth a place on our list for their ability to help you organize your gear.

Each pod is made with Sil/PU Coated 40D Nylon Ripstop and has taped seams for added water resistance. While not fully waterproof, they’ll keep your gear dry unless exposed to full submersion. These pods also weigh significantly less than standard stuff sacks, so are a great way to reduce weight on a backpacking trip.

  • PROs

    • Ultra-lightweight
    • Great for organization
    • Ripstop fabric
    • Water-resistant
    • Two-way, top-opening zippers
  • CONs

    • No compression
    • Not fully waterproof

Bottom-Line: Ideal for organizing the gear in your backpack.

Zpacks Big Stuff Sack

Best Ultralight

Zpacks ultralight backpacking compression sacks have long been considered the gold standard in featherweight packing solutions by ounce counters across the country. The Big Stuff Sack offers a prime example of why this is the case.

This sack weighs a piddly 0.35 ounces, making it the lightest option on our list by a longshot. Despite this, its Dyneema Composite Fabric construction makes it highly durable and waterproof, and its 10.7-liter capacity provides enough space for a two- or three-season down sleeping bag.

The only real downside is that there are no straps to speak of, just a drawstring closure, so you won’t be able to condense your gear nearly as well as with models like the S2S Ultra-Sil Compression or Outdoor Research Ultralight.

  • PROs

    • Tough Dyneema materials
    • Inherently waterproof fabric
    • Available in 3, semi-see-through colors
    • Ultralight
  • CONs

    • No straps for compressing

Bottom-Line: Has a few flaws but is still the best backpacking compression sack in the business.

Earth Pak Torrent Dry Bag Backpack

Honorable Mention

If waterproofing is more of a priority than packability, the Earth Pak Dry Bag is well worth considering.

This bag is made with extra-durable, 500D PVC and has a water-tight roll-top closure, so is a great option if your adventures tend to take you to particularly wet locations.

The 20L version of the pack has a handy shoulder strap for transportation, and the 30L model has a duo of backpack straps. These features make the Earth Pak the heaviest option on our list, and the stiffer fabric makes it one of the least compressible, but if you are particularly worried about keeping your gear dry, this lack of portability may be a price worth paying.

  • PROs

    • Waterproof
    • Floats – ideal for water sports!
    • Handy shoulder strap
    • Waterproof phone case included
  • CONs

    • Heavy
    • Not the most compressible

Bottom-Line: A little heavy and not the most compressible, but tough as nails and one of the most waterproof options on our list.

Outdoor Research Ultralight

Premium Pick

If you have money to burn and are happy to splurge on a sack that oozes quality from every stitch and seam, the OR Ultralight is well worth a place on your shortlist.

Like the S2S Ultra-Sil Compression Sack, this one has an air-permeable/waterproof panel that works in the same way as a waterproof-breathable rain jacket, allowing air to escape from inside while keeping water out. This makes it easier to compress and helps to prevent dampness and/or the build-up of mold or mildew.

The OR Ultralight is also fully waterproof thanks to its tough, hydroseal-coated nylon construction and taped seams. While a little on the heavy side, its use of both a roll-top closure and lidded compression straps means it condenses its contents better than most competitors of its size (10L).

  • PROs

    • Air-permeable panel expels excess air
    • Durable
    • Waterproof
    • Internal storage pouch
    • Roll-top closure and four straps ensure maximum compressibility
  • CONs

    • Pricey!
    • Quite heavy

Bottom-Line: One of the priciest sacks out there but a standout in every metric except weight.

Outdoor Products 3-Pack All-Purpose Dry Sacks

Bargain Buy

If you’re looking for a set of low-cost stuff sacks to organize your gear, you really can’t go wrong with the OP All-Purpose Dry Sacks.

This pack gives you not one but three sacks in different sizes – 2L, 4L, and 8L. The largest of these is big enough for a lightweight summer sleeping bag and the smaller sacks are ideal for anything from first aid kits, toiletries, or snacks to puffer jackets.

Despite their bargain-basement price, these sacks are very well-made. They are polyurethane-coated with watertight, double-stitched, tape-sealed seams for waterproofing and have a burly closure that can deal with regular rough treatment.

  • PROs

    • Lifetime guarantee
    • Great price
    • Waterproof
    • 3 sizes included
    • Double-stitched seams for added durability
  • CONs

    • Pu coating will wear off in time

Bottom-Line: Waterproof, well-made, and an absolute steal at the price.

Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack

Best Roll-Top

This sack is available in multiple colors and sizes, and scores top marks in every metric except for compressibility.

Unlike the winner of our review, the S2S Ultra-Sil Compression Sack, this one doesn’t have any straps to compress your load. Nevertheless, we’ve included it to provide an alternative for folks happy to sacrifice compressibility for affordability.

The Drysack roll-top stuff sack is made with PU-coated, siliconized 30-denier Cordura nylon, which makes it tough and fully waterproof. Available in a wide range of sizes and multiple colors, they’re ideal if you want multiple bags to help keep things inside your backpack not only dry but well organized too.

  • PROs

    • Very lightweight for the size
    • Waterproof
    • Durable fabric
    • Available in several sizes
    • Affordable
  • CONs

    • No straps

Bottom-Line: Tough, waterproof dry bags that are built to last a lifetime.

Things to Consider

Type: Roll-top Dry Bags, Compression Sacks, or Purgeable Stuff Sacks

When it comes to choosing the right type of sack, there are a few things to consider. 

First, think about what you’ll be using it for. If you’re planning on spending a lot of time in wet environments, then you’ll want something that offers excellent water protection. In most cases, this means a roll-top dry bag like the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack which have a tight seal designed to keep the sack’s contents dry, even in a downpour.

On the other hand, if you’re mostly concerned with saving space, then a compression sack or purgeable stuff sack with straps like the S2S Ultra-Sil Compression is a better option. Both types are designed to minimize volume, but purgeable sacks pack even smaller because they expel air from inside the bag, allowing you to easily compress its contents.

Finally, there are packing cubes or compression cubes, a relative newcomer to the field that are great for organizing your camping gear but not as good for condensing contents to save space.

Compression bags being packed away
A compression sack with a lid with straps helps keep the contents more compressed and secure.

Capacity

The bags on our list all measure ten to thirty liters, but most come in several sizes, ranging from one liter up to forty.

What size do you need? 

If you have a three-season sleeping bag, then a 15-liter sack will be big enough. For lightweight summer sleeping bags, 10L will do the trick, and if you have a four-season sleeping bag you’ll need a 30-liter sack. 

Backpacker packing away sleeping bag
The size of compression sack required will be dependent on the type of sleeping bag you have.

Waterproofness

The degree of waterproofing you need depends on how you plan on using your sack. If you’ll be using it to store your sleeping bag inside your backpack, then a non-waterproof or water-resistant bag will do the trick as your backpack should provide the required weather protection. 

If, however, you’ll be using the bag as a standalone to carry gear, or lashing it to the outside of your pack, then waterproofing is essential. 

Generally speaking, roll-top dry bags like the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack and Earth Pak Torrent Dry are the most waterproof, though certain compression sacks give them a good run for their money – the Outdoor Research Ultralight is a good example. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that the stiff material in these sacks makes them less compressible. 

Compression sack and a life jacket inside a canoe
While stiffer compression sacks may be more waterproof, they will also be less compressible!

Color

This might seem like a trifling concern when choosing your sleeping bag compression sack, but it’s something worth considering if you’re buying sacks for packing clothes, isolating dirty clothes, or organizing backpacking gear. In this case, having sacks of varying colors will help you keep things organized and locate the gear you need easier.

Weight

For car camping, this isn’t so much of an issue, but if you’re backpacking, every ounce counts…

The lightest sacks on our list are the ZPacks Big Stuff Sack and Six Moons Packing Pods, which weigh 0.35 ounces and 1 ounce respectively. If you’re looking for a backpacking compression sack, either of these two will serve you well. The Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Drysack 35L (2.3 oz.) is also a solid option given its high capacity.

Lots of camping gear sitting in front of a tent
When backpacking keeping the weight of your gear to a minimum is a top priority!

Durability

How do you determine how durable any sack will be?

The main determinant of durability is the fabric’s thickness. This is measured in denier, which is usually represented by a ‘D’ in product specifications, i.e ‘30D’, ‘70D’, etc. The higher the number, the thicker the fabric. And the thicker the fabric, the more resistant it will be to punctures and wear and tear.

The standout in this metric is the Earth Pak Torrent Dry, which is made with 500D PVC. It’s worth noting, however, that bags that are this tough inevitably sacrifice packability owing to the rigidness of the material.

compression sack
If lashing your compression sack to your backpack then durability should be a concern.

Best Compression Bag: The Verdict

Just in case you’re still undecided, let’s have a quick recap of our top picks.

For sleeping bags, there’s no better option out there than the Sea to Summit Ultra-Sil Compression Sack. The S2S Ultra-Sil Compression is waterproof, tough, and uses air-permeable fabric that lets it compress your bag better than any of its competitors.

If you need a collection of sacks to organize your kit, we recommend the Six Moon Designs Packing Pods and S2S Ultra-Sil Drysacks, both of which are ideal for backpacking trips or campers who just like to keep things neat and tidy.

If you liked this article or have any questions, let us know in the comments box below. And if you’d like to share it with your friends, please do!

Last update on 2022-12-06 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Kieran Avatar

Kieran James Cunningham is a climber, mountaineer, and author who divides his time between the Italian Alps, the US, and his native Scotland.

He has climbed a handful of 6000ers in the Himalayas, 4000ers in the Alps, 14ers in the US, and loves nothing more than a good long-distance wander in the wilderness. He climbs when he should be writing, writes when he should be sleeping, has fun always.

Kieran has taught mountaineering, ice climbing, and single-pitch and multi-pitch rock climbing in a variety of contexts over the years and has led trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the Alps, Rockies, and UK. He is currently working towards qualifying as a Mountaineering and Climbing Instructor and International Mountain Leader.

Kieran’s book Climbing the Walls—an exploration of the mental health benefits of climbing, mountaineering, and the great outdoors—is scheduled for release by Simon & Schuster in April 2021.

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