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Will a compression sack ruin your tent? Or is it okay to use one? I decided to do some research and find out the answers.
You can put a tent in a compression sack for short periods of time–however, it may cause damage to the tent if a compression sack is used for long-term storage.
It only makes sense that you’d want to take the best possible care of your tent, even when you’re not using it. Although a compression sack can seem like an attractive option, it may not always be the right choice for a tent.
Read on and you’ll learn the ins and outs of using a compression bag and whether or not it’s a good option for your tent.
Can You Put A Tent In A Compression Sack?
Tents can take up a lot of space, and who doesn’t want to save space?
However, when it comes to packing up your tent into a tight little compression sack, you may want to think about when and why you want to do it.
A compression sack for your tent may not be something you need if car camping is your adventure of choice. Typically, the bag the tent comes with is suitable enough. However, you may need something a bit tighter if you’re interested in backpacking.
Haven’t backpacked before? It might be worth trying out! If you’re curious about how backpacking compares to car camping, take a look at our article on the topic here.
If you want to save space in your backpack when you’re headed to or from a camping trip, then it’s often perfectly okay to use a compression sack to keep your tent in manageable shape.
However, storing your tent in a compression sack for long periods of time isn’t a good idea. The compression can actually end up causing damage to the materials or to any helpful substances that may be on them.
Some tents use specialized chemical treatments to allow rain to easily slide off and away. If your tent is stored for the off-season in a tight compression sack, those treatments may be worn away. Think about it, the tighter a tent is compressed, the more friction the tent is placing on itself. Although this is likely to be negligible for a few days, it is possible it could do damage over months of storage.
That said, many campers have found they can keep their tent in a compression sack during travel without much of an issue. If this works best for your storage solution while travelling, then it’ll do just fine.
While you can certainly use a compression sack, some prefer to avoid the cost and simply pack their tent into their backpack without any kind of bag. Tents are often made to be able to compress quite easily. According to the treelinebackpacker blog, you shouldn’t have a problem getting your tent to lay flat and fill up any little holes that may pop up between the other items in your backpack.
How Should You Be Storing Your Tent?
If you’re looking for a solution for storing your tent in between camping trips or throughout the colder months, a compression sack isn’t going to be the ideal choice. Tents need to be able to breathe in order to stay in good shape.
Instead of compressing your tent, you can lightly fold, roll or stuff it into a bag made from breathable materials. If you’re unsure where exactly you should store a tent, you can find more information on the topic in our article on the subject here.
Overall, tent storage is a lot less complicated than it may seem. For the most part, your tent just needs to be clean and dry while it’s waiting for the next adventure.
When Is A Compression Sack Necessary?
While you may not need to use a compression sack for your tent, there are definitely items you may want to compress.
If you’re planning a backpacking trip, you’ll likely want to be able to fit as much as possible into your backpack. This can be a tricky feat if you’re planning to be out in the wilderness for a few days or more.
One of the items that often gets packed up into a compression sack is the sleeping bag. Sleeping bags can be warm and comfortable, but they can also take up a lot of space if you let them. Consequently, backpackers may choose to use a compression bag to squish them down to a size that is easier to pack.
When you know you’re going to be spending your camping days under the hot sun, you might wonder if a sleeping bag is even something you need to pack. However, it’s worth knowing that no matter how hot it is during the day, you may still need some extra warmth at night. For more information on why a sleeping bag is important in any season, check out our article covering the topic here.
Depending on how long you plan to be camping, using a compression sack for your clothing can also be a great idea. Multiple outfits can easily add a lot of bulk to your bag. Storing your clothing in a compression sack can help you to avoid either running out of space or having to make other sacrifices.
What Size Compression Sack Should You Use?
You can’t just grab any compression sack and expect it to fit your sleeping bag. Some sleeping bags are thicker than others due to the temperature range they are designed to withstand.
Because of this, you’ll need to know more about your sleeping bag in order to get the compression sack that will work best for it.
Often, people start with the temperature range the sleeping bag is suited for. As you might expect, sleeping bags that are rated for 40 degrees and up will be potentially less bulky than those rated for -20 and up.
I say potentially, because some sleeping bags have higher quality materials that can insulate better even if they are less bulky.
In any case, with added bulk, you may need a compression bag with a bit more space.
However, it’s also important to have an understanding of just how bulky your sleeping bag is. This is often done by measuring it in liters. Once you know how many liters the bag takes up, you’ll be able to find a compression sack that meets that need.
If you’re unsure how to determine how many liters you’ll need for your sleeping bag, the SeaToSummit blog has a handy guide on finding that number. For those who have multiple sleeping bags for any season, you may want to make sure you have compression bags that fit then all.
All that being said–I’ve tried to stuff some sleeping bags in compression bags that require a lot of effort to get the sleeping bag in there. Remember that a smaller bag will require more effort even if it technically “fits”.
How To Use A Compression Sack
A lot of the time, we may choose to roll up things like tents and sleeping bags when we’re in the process of packing them or putting them away. However, this isn’t a necessary step you need to take when you’re using a compression sack.
It’ll actually be easier for the compression sack to squeeze out any air if the item you’re putting in there isn’t rolled up.
For example, when you’re packing a sleeping bag into a compression sack, you’ll want to have it mostly laid out flat. Working from the bottom to the top, you’ll then pack it into the compression sack little by little. That way, no air can end up trapped inside the bag, making it harder to fit. This video from NEMO offers a great example of packing up a sleeping bag into a compression sack.
Once you have your tent, sleeping bag, or clothing all compressed, you can add it into your backpack for the journey ahead.