We all know how stuffed your hiking backpack could be. I’ve over-packed gear in many of my campings until I realized what I should take exactly. Although, sleeping bags are among the more larger equipment you will be packing, so it is essential to pack it wisely. One solution is to tie it outside your backpack, using the pack loops and the carrying bag straps. Not all pack and sleeping bags feature these, and for that reasons, I’ve chosen to write this article. Let’s get into it and figure out how to attach a sleeping bag to a backpack.
There are six ways to attach a sleeping bag to a backpack:
- Connect the loops featured on your pack to the stuffing sack straps.
- Attach the carrying sack to the compression buckles on the backpack’s sides.
- Build your own tying system with two pairs of webbings and a buckle.
- Use the lid itself to compress the sleeping bag (internal frame backpacks)
- Use the tie points at the bottom (external frame backpacks)
Also, instead of tying it to your pack, you could store the sleeping bag inside the backpack itself – frankly, that would be my way to go. This would keep your sleeping bag dry and prevent it from swinging around.
Use The Backpack Loops & The Stuffing Sack Straps
The first method I will be talking about depends on two features.
First, your sleeping bag carrying sack must have straps, and second; your backpack itself should have loops on its back panel. Once you have both, you can merely pull the straps through the circles and tighten everything up.
The downside here is that not every backpack has these loops, nor not every carrying bag features straps.
I will discuss both of these scenarios later on in this article. However, I do find it necessary to mention that you can buy carrying sacks separately.
This option, in my opinion, is most useful when the carrying bag gets lost – which is usually the case. When you do buy a new one, besides proper, adjustable straps, you should make sure the bag is waterproof and durable. Stick to nylon, even though a meshed one does better regarding storage.
Use The Compression Buckles
One trick that I’ve learned during my journeys is to use the compression buckles as loops.
That solves the case in which the backpack itself doesn’t feature any of those in its back panel – most of the times it’s the old packs we are talking about.
Compression buckles come to answer a wide range of needs. Most commonly they are there to support fully loaded backpacks, giving them a stable load.
When you pack a little more than the maximal capacity, the compression straps secure the gaps, preventing load sway or pack float.
Since those straps are usually on the sides, I have found them useful with tying up your sleeping bag. What I like about this method is that the wide angle between the two straps prevents your sleeping bag from swinging. That would result with fixed weight distribution along the way.
Build You Own Tying System
This solution works best when there are no straps on your sleeping bag; however, your backpack does feature proper loops. What you have to do now is to build your tying system on your sleeping bag/carrying sack.
To do so, you first have to make yourself four pieces of twine, which you could buy cheap from Amazon. I’ve discussed the process elaborately in my article regarding sleeping bag loops. In short, the first two will wrap around your sleeping bag or sack, while the other pair would connect these to your backpack loops.
I will mention here that it is crucial to tighten everything up, to prevent your sleeping bag from swinging consistently.
Another technique is a little more complicated, however, far more endurable. With this you should get yourself a pair of two webbings, around 1’’ each and a buckle (Amazon links) – follow the video below to get the idea right.
Internal Frame: Use The Lid
Internal frame backpacks usually feature a one, long compartment structure which usually has tightening straps at the bottom.
With those packs, you usually pile your gear on the top of each other and many times have to dig all the way through to get something out.
Many people find this method exhausting; however, I believe it is the most supportive for your back. Other than that, you may take advantage of the lid on the top to tie up your sleeping bag.
This can be done quickly by using the straps which are connected to the cap itself and are there to keep the whole package stable. Place the sleeping bag on the top of everything and use the straps to cinch it down tight.
I will say here that this method does have a prominent con. What it does is leaving a gap between the lid and the rest of your pack, which is prone to water dripping. If you choose to go with this, please make sure you do have a nylon cover to close this gap up.
External frame: Tie Points at The Bottom
Frankly, external frame backpack is my favorite. It’s hard to explain, but I do get the feeling they provide better support and maintain the solid structure.
I’ve found this method useful especially with this type of packs. However, many modern internal frame ones may also do the trick.
The idea here is to use the tie points on the bottom of these packs. Internal frame ones usually feature loops on these points, which typically create a looser connection. External frame backpacks, however, very commonly feature straps on these tying points.
There is no question that straps get the job done better since a swinging package would end up with back pains and overburden carry.
If you use the loops – that is okay – I will merely recommend that you pay more attention in tightening things up.
Pack it Inside
The title for this article is about attaching your sleeping bag to your backpack – apparently from the outside. It is very common to do so, and for that reason, I’ve tried to gather some useful technique that might make your life easier.
Nevertheless, I do believe that packing your bag from the outside is the wrong way to go. In general, I would most definitely recommend you to wrap your sleeping bag inside your backpack, and I do have several reasons to support that.
The most apparent reason is that internal packing would be best concerning keeping your sleeping bag dry. Later on, I will discuss how damp may have a severe impact on it, so I will say now that it is crucial to keep it dry.
Second, packing it inside would allow you to hang wet gear from the outside – such as your hiking boots or tents.
Countless times I’ve made the wrong decision with hanging my sleeping bag next to my tent – the last has just kept moisten the first. I have found support for my sayings from experts and was even able to gather one more tip.
When using an internal frame backpack, you may use the straps at the bottom for additional compression, leaving more space for gear from above.
Moreover, both internal and external frame packs may feature a separate compartment for your sleeping bags. It’s very tempting to keep your footwear over there, yet, I do suggest that you leave it for your sleeping bag since it’s more important to keep this one dry.
Can You Bring a Sleeping Bag on a Plane?
Attaching a sleeping bag to a backpack is one thing, although during flights it might cause you some issues. In general, I wouldn’t get on a plane with the bag connected from the outside; it might exceed the size limits.
If you are planning on using the overhead cabin, try packing the sleeping bag inside your backpack instead. On that matter, I highly recommend that you read an article that I’ve written on how to take a camping gear on a plane. I’ve mentioned there 37 different airlines and their restrictions regarding dimensions and weight.
How Can I Know if The Frame is Internal / External?
There are many differences between internal and external frame backpacks, although the main one is their appearance.
While internal frames tend to be slim and usually feature a lid on the top, external frames are generally square shaped and can contain larger equipment.
In general, internal frames are more lightweight, although some exceptions may be found in the external section where ultralight designed have been implemented.
Should I Tie My Sleeping Bag to The Top / Bottom?
This one depends on where the straps/loops are featured on your backpack. In a case your back panel got these on both areas – my personal choice would be tying my sleeping bag to the top section – and here is why.
When tying it too low two things may occur –
First, when you take your pack down, your sleeping bag would probably get covered with dirt and damp over and over again.
Second, when you walk in trails which are narrow or perhaps got bushes along the way, it is more likely that your bag gets hit when placed low.
Another reason I would prefer hanging it low is my subjective feeling on the matter, and I am not sure it is well proven. Nevertheless, I’ve noticed that when I attach my sleeping bag low my lower back hurts less.
In general, I tend to develop lower back pains on long hikes, and I’ve experienced more pain when most of my backpack weight center in the lower parts.
How to Avoid Damp?
On this matter, it would be necessary to say that hanging your bag outside your backpack increases the chances of it getting wet significantly.
It’s even worse this way since going to sleep in a damp sleeping bag may quickly get you sick and end up your adventure.
For that, I suggest you use two layers instead of one.
First, place the sleeping bag in a thick, water-resistance trash bag, that would also protect you from punctures from broken branches along the way. For the outer section, merely use your sleeping bag carrying sack.
It will be an advantage if this one features its straps, this way you may attach it to your backpack loops as I’ve already mentioned above.
Does Damp Affect Sleeping Bags Performance?
Yes, damp is a severe problem, and it does affect your sleeping bag dramatically. Down-filled sleeping bags keep you warmer when comparing to synthetics; however, they also react worse to wet conditions.
The reason for that is the structure of the fine leathers. They insulate thermal conduction by trapping the atmosphere in their tiny air-pockets.
This way heat doesn’t move forward from your body to the surroundings. When the feathers are wet, the whole structure is being collapsed, leaving no chance for insulation.
Synthetic sleeping bags work differently and recover faster than down when wet. They also lower their performance when damp, so you should avoid it either way.
What is The Right Way to Store my Sleeping Bag?
By now you’ve learned how to tie your sleeping bag to your backpack and how badly damp affects your sleeping bag. Well, the work doesn’t end here; once you’ve finished camping, you still need to take care of your bag.
While carrying bags do good with hanging it outside your backpack, they aren’t suitable for extended storage. The reason here is that the filling tends to ruin when stuffed tightly for an extended period.
Instead, I recommend that you use a meshed sack, or even fold it loosely without a cover at all. Do not pick damp storages such as basements or attics, steak to closets instead.
There is a wide range of techniques that will assist you in tying your sleeping bag to your backpack.
If your pack features loops on its back panel, you may pull the stuffing bag straps through them and tighten everything up.
Another way is by using the compression buckles which are generally there to compress your backpack when fully loaded – use the sleeping bag straps for attachment.
If your carrying sack lacks adhesive straps, you can still build them on your own by using four pieces of twine, as previously described.
With internal frame packs, it’s easy to use the lid to cover your sleeping bag and its compressive straps to tight the whole package up.
External frame packs usually feature tying points at the bottom; however, you should keep in mind that low hanging might damage your sleeping bag when walking in narrows spaces.
In general, I believe that packing your sleeping bag inside is a better way to go since it ensures its dryness and leaves more options to hang out wet gear such as footwear and tents.
You should keep in mind that damp affects sleeping bags significantly, especially on those who are down-filled. To avoid it, you should use two layers to wrap your sleeping bag – an internal one to ensure water resistance, and an external one, which is usually the carrying sack.