Gear To Bring Portaging: Compression Sacks


I love these things. Compression sacks are handy bags that you stuff full of compressible materials (clothes, sleeping bags etc.) then yank on the built in straps to shrink them into a tiny little ball. It saves so much space – often a quarter or more of it’s size – and it also saves you from having to fold and pack.

What To Look For:

Another item that you get what you pay for, check the durability of the material and the straps. I prefer the cylindrical style (as opposed to rounded) because they fit in your pack better.

Why You Need It:

Space is precious for portageurs and backpackers. Compression sacks add greatly to your available space. At the very least you should get one for your sleeping bag because they take up a lot of space and compact significantly. You can also get one for other items, like towels, clothes and any other fabric items. You can go two ways: buy one bigger sack that will hold everything or a couple for different items. I prefer the second option. I have a small sack for my clothes and another for my sleeping bag, because two sacks are easier to pack into a cranny in my pack. When I go to sleep, I loosen the smaller sack so it’s not too tight and use it as a pillow.

How You Can Live Without It:

Not being a necessity, you can easily get along fine without one. If you’re an exceptional packer, you may not even think they’re necessary at all. Straps and even rope can also be used creatively to shrink sleeping bags and clothes at least somewhat.

On The Cheap:

This isn’t usually the type of thing you can borrow or get at a gear swap as easily as the more expensive items, but you can certainly try. I’ve seen plenty of sales for previous year’s models, and you can check for overstock or seasonal deals on various web pages. Buy one that that fits your exact needs, as they increase in price with size and materials used – if you already have a dry bag or use a barrel, you don’t have to spend the extra money for a watertight version.

What Will Make Them All Jealous:

A water tight compression sack that folds the top like a dry bag can be very useful, and like dry sacks with clips you can easily loop it and attach it to packs when necessary.

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