How to Roll Up a Sleeping Bag (the Easy Way!)

Find yourself in a fight with your sleeping bag every time it comes to packing up? Fear not! This simple, step-by-step guide explains how to do it with ease and provides further expert tips on storage and good bag care.

Monica Nigon Avatar
Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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Did you get a new sleeping bag and can’t seem to get it to fit back in the stuff sack in which it came? Or can’t get all that excess air out when packing and find it too voluminous to fit in your pack. 

Worry not! In this simple guide, we explain all you need to know to make quick work of packing away a sleeping bag so it stays in tip-top condition and ready for your next adventure.

What You’ll Need to Follow This Tutorial

  • A sleeping bag
  • A stuff sack/compression sack for your rolled-up bag
  • A dry surface
  • Roughly 3 minutes of moderate concentration

1. Pre-Roll Prep

Layout your sleeping bag on a flat surface. If you have a ground tarp from your tent, lay it out first as this will keep any gunk or moisture from the floor from getting into your rolled sleeping bag, which could eventually lead to mold or mildew. 

Sleeping bag laid flat inside tent
If possible lay out your sleeping bag on a dry surface to avoid rolling debris up with it

You may want to give it a good shake beforehand to remove any sand, soil, or missing socks from your last camping trip. 

2. Zipper Up

Remove any large air pockets out through the head of your sleeping bag by zipping it up completely. Smooth it out with your hands to get as much air out as possible as this prevents the tight, even roll that we’re looking for here. 

3. Fold

Fold it in half lengthwise, folding so that the two long sides meet together.

4. Roll

Starting at the feet, begin rolling the folded sleeping bag toward the head using both hands. You’ll want to tightly roll, as if you’re kneading bread, making sure to push air out of the head. If the head becomes uncentered, use a heavy object or a buddy’s knees to prevent it from unfolding. 

Woman rolling air out of sleeping bag
Roll the sleeping bag from the feet end so that air can leave through the head opening

5. Use Your Knees to Expel Air

Use your knees to keep the rolled-up section in place and tightly compressed. Help your hands out and crouch over the rolls with one knee to push any more air out. Roll out 2-3 inches at a time, using your fingers in the crease to keep it tight as you work your way up. 

6. Stuff

If your bag came with straps attached to the head end, wrap them around to keep the bag rolled. Tighten them down if they have a cinching mechanism. If your bag came with a stuff sack (most sleeping bags do), place the rolled-up sleeping bag inside the sack and tighten it well to save space in your backpack.

If you don’t have bag straps or a sack, you can use a belt, string, rope, or a large rubber band. 

7. Store

Protect your bag from moisture. Not only is a wet sleeping bag uncomfortable, but it can also cause hypothermia as moisture both impair the insulative power of the insulation and sucks heat from your body. If your stuff sack isn’t waterproof, you can find one at your local sports or outdoor store. 

Other Storage Tips for Sleeping Bags

1. Don’t keep your sleeping bag stored in a stuff sack long-term.

Only use the advice outlined above in steps 1 -7 when you’re heading into the backcountry and need to get your bag into a backpack or duffel. Many bags will come with a large mesh storage sack for when not in use. If not, let it air out in your closet or fold your sleeping bag lightly. 

Close up of rolled up sleeping bag
At home don’t store your sleeping bag rolled up inside a stuff sack, instead lightly fold it

2. If you have a waterproof bag, turn it inside out when storing.

This will allow it to dry entirely and not keep unnecessary moisture in, leading to mildew and general unpleasantness. 

3. Be sure to let your bags dry out after your trip.

Remove any debris, including leaves, dirt, and small twigs. Under no circumstances should bags be left in damp stuff sacks to deteriorate. 

Sleeping bags can also be left to dry out outside on a dry day. Just be sure to only leave it outside for as long as it takes to dry, as UV light can wear down the fibers. 

4. take extra care with Down bags

With a down bag, push any rogue feathers (not uncommon in down-filled bags) gently back inside the shell fabric to prevent further damage. 

How to Roll Up a Sleeping Bag = Simple!

Now you know how to roll up a sleeping bag the easy way, you’ll soon be well on your way to rolling like a pro!

If you have any questions or comments, please drop them in the box below. And if you’d like to share this post with your friends, share away! 

Last update on 2024-06-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Monica Nigon Avatar

Monica is a freelance writer, ski patroller, and raft guide based out of Colorado, and is passionate about mountain biking, rock climbing, and playing Irish music on her fiddle in her spare time. Growing up in rural Minnesota, she learned how to brave the cold in the pursuit of adventure from an early age.

In the winter you’ll find Monica skiing at her home resort of Wolf Creek, near Pagosa Springs, which she now calls home. In the summer, you’ll find her guiding the Class III-IV whitewater of the Arkansas River nearby. She’s also taught skiing, environmental education, kayaking, and canoeing. 

Her favorite adventures have involved backpacking the Rockies with her best friends and mountain biking the slick rock of the deserts of Utah. Even better are long meanders through the woods and mountains on her backcountry skis. She’s also done irresponsible things internationally like sledding down a volcano in Nicaragua and surfing off the northwest coast of Ireland. 

She holds certifications in avalanche rescue, professional ski instruction, and wilderness medicine. She enjoys reading and writing about all of the above.

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