MEC Habanero sleeping bag
Habanero (courtesy, MEC)

Can I store my synthetic sleeping bag in a compression sack?

Is it okay to store a synthetic sleeping bag in its compression stuffsack? I’m a member of a local mountain search-and-rescue group, and my pack needs to be ready to go at any time. The last thing I want to do is stuff my sleeping bag while the helicopter is waiting. Guy North Vancouver, British Columbia

MEC Habanero sleeping bag

Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.

For the most part, sleeping-bag manufacturers prefer you store bags in a loose stuffsack. In the case of down bags, long-term compression can crimp the framework of the down plumules, and they’re less apt to reform to full size. For synthetic bags, imagine a piece of paper folded and held in place. The fold becomes impossible to remove. A similar effect can happen to the fibers in a synthetic bag. So I would tend to discourage you from leaving a stuffed bag in your pack.

MEC Habanero sleeping bag

MEC Habanero sleeping bag Habanero

So what to do? I spent a number of years in a mountain rescue group and had a similar problem. For the most part, we had a little warning if there would be a guaranteed overnight, and we usually had to repack at that time anyway to accommodate the extra gear (you know, the search-and-rescue mantra is “hurry up and wait”). But on plenty of occasions it was a matter of just toughing it out minus a sleeping bag. I always carried a bivy bag for an emergency shelter, and that, plus the clothing I carried, got me through a few miserable nights.

As I see it, the options are threefold. One: Simply keep the sleeping bag in its storage sack near your ready-to-go gear, so when the pager goes off you can take a minute or two to stuff it into the pack. Two: Buy an inexpensive but adequate bag, such as MEC’s Habanero (from C$82; www.mec.ca), and more or less sacrifice it. Three: Buy a synthetic bag that claims it’s crush-proof, such as Wiggy’s SuperLight (US$175; www.wiggys.com). The bag has a proprietary synthetic fill called Lamilite, which Wiggy’s says won’t break down. It offers a lifetime warranty to back it up, so what do you have to loose? And the bag is perfectly warm and stuffable.

Check out this year’s more than 400 must-have gear items, including a comprehensive sleeping bag section, in the 2006 Buyer’s Guide.

From Outside Magazine, April/May 2021
Filed to:
Lead Photo: courtesy, MEC
sms