Stuff Sacks + Pods
We talk a lot around here about efficiency, but to clarify, it’s not solely about robotic, austere speed. More than anything it’s about knowing the contents of your kit inside and out, spending as little time as possible digging all the way to the bottom of your pack for a jacket when the drops start falling or having to empty out everything to perform one task. While unlocking the mysteries of a “junk drawer” in your kitchen at home can be a great way to jog some dusty memories, it’s far from enjoyable out in the wild. Stuff Sacks help you keep similar items together in ways that make sense for the ways you use them and just as importantly, add an extra barrier of protection against water-logged clothing and sleep systems – especially crucial in colder temps.
MIKE ST. PIERRE
HYPERLITE MOUNTAIN GEAR // CO-FOUNDER + CEO
When you’re out in the backcountry, and it rains, it’s tough to keep everything dry. With products made from traditional woven fabrics, this is even harder to do as the majority of the woven fabrics on the market absorb water making them harder to dry and heavier when wet. No matter how careful you are in the rain, things get wet from the rain itself, the humidity, and potential condensation in your shelter. For this reason, I want to ensure items like my sleeping bag, my puffy jacket, my pillow, and extra clothes will stay dry no matter what the weather brings.
To do this, you need stuff sacks. But not just any stuff sack. Again, most stuff sacks are made from woven nylon or silnylon which can absorb water. Silnylon is only woven lightweight nylon that has a silicone coating squeegeed over it in manufacturing. There are no standards set for the thickness of this silicone coating, and there is a lot of variation in quality between different manufacturers. To keep your essentials dry, I highly recommend the Dyneema® Composite Fabrics (DCF) Stuff Sacks or Pods. DCF incorporates the strongest fibers in the world within a waterproof plastic film, and it’s usually significantly lighter than nylon or silnylon counterparts. I keep my sleeping bag in a small roll-top stuff sack. I use a roll top so that after I stuff my sleeping bag into the stuff sack, I can kneel on it and remove the excess air still trapped in the sleeping bag. I quickly close the roll top to trap the air out and end up with a much smaller package to put into your pack. Little tricks like this make a big difference as the more you can compress your sleeping bag the smaller pack you might need or the more food you can carry. I don’t bother with the traditional compression stuff sacks you find on the market that feature excessive compression straps on them. They are overkill and weigh too much, and they’re not nearly as waterproof as a DCF stuff sack.
“IF YOU’VE ALREADY INVESTED IN A HIGH-TECH PRODUCT LIKE AN ULTRALIGHT SLEEPING BAG, QUILT OR PAD, WHY NOT PROTECT IT FROM THE ELEMENTS AND WEAR-AND-TEAR WITH AN EQUALLY HIGH-TECH PRODUCT THAT IS LIGHTER, WATERPROOF AND WILL ALSO LAST LONGER THAN ANY OTHER ALTERNATIVE?” // MIKE ST. PIERRE
Another important stuff sack is your clothing stuff sack. I use a Medium or a Large Drawstring Stuff Sack to keep my extra clothes dry. It’s simple, and I like an oversized stuff sack to use as a nice thin layer in the pack or to squish into a ball if I need to fill a hole or void in the pack.
Things like my packed sleeping bag, my tent, and my stove and fuel can are relatively fixed sizes, and in my pack, they’re kind of like softballs and a football oddly jostling around. With a few pieces like my clothing stuff sack and perhaps my rain jacket and or ground cloth, I can fill voids to create a well packed and well-riding pack.
BETHANY "FIDGIT" HUGHES
THRU HIKER // WORLD TRAVELER // HER-ODYSSEY.ORG
I have not found a gear maker to rival Hyperlite Mountain Gear's packing system. I use the Stuff Pack as a food bag, for side-hikes when on trail, and as a grocery and errands bag in town. I use two Large Pods (one for clothes and one for kitchen/camp gear). The clothes pod doubles as a pillow and the camp pod is usually packed up by the night before so getting going the next morning is much quicker than with previous packing systems.
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @WHERETHEHELLISMATT
I love the Pods. I only have one, and I find it holds all of my clothes almost perfectly. On the Greater Yellowstone Traverse, I carried socks, underwear, long underwear, puffy jacket, gloves, and a silk liner in it. The waterproof zipper is a nice feature that limits digging to find gear and allows ease of access assuming the bag is not full, at which point I have to worry about it snagging on the contents. As advertised, it slides perfectly into the packs too. Do take into account that the Pods are not completely waterproof and should not be submersed in water.
The Nano and Small Drawstring Stuff Sacks are another easy way to store most of your miscellaneous items. I used the Nano to store my wallet, knife, chargers, camera batteries, headlamp, and headphones when it was raining. These bags are not waterproof due to the drawstring closure, but you would have to dunk it for it to really matter.
KRYSTIAN "SNAP" REPOLONA
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @HIKES.CAMERA.ADVENTURE
I used both the Large and Small Pods for sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, Teton Crest Trail, and work in Wilderness Therapy to store clothes, camera film, food, anything that needs to stay dry etc. In combination with my 4400 Windrider pack, I don’t see a way for whatever is inside getting wet short of extended immersion in water.
NICK "CLICK" REICHARD
THRU HIKER // PHOTOGRAPHER // @NICHOLASREICHARD
I firmly believe in creating a system which works for you. I created mine around how quickly I want to be able to pack up and knowing exactly where everything is. I think of this as a layer system. I always put my sleeping pad at the bottom of my backpack rolled up and folded in half which creates a base. Next, I add my sleeping bag which is stuffed in a medium Roll-Top Stuff Sack, followed by a Large Pod that holds all of my accessories. That includes my camp clothes, extra socks, charging devices, spare batteries, etc. The fourth layer consists of another large Pod dedicated to food and kitchen supplies. (If I have a longer resupply which is more than five days, I bring a small Pod for my snacks that goes on top of my kitchen Pod. Finally, I just put my Feathered Friends Puffy on top and roll my bag closed keeping my raincoat out strapped down using the Y strap on top. My tent generally stays on the outside of my backpack so, if I hit bad weather, I can set up my camp without even having to open my pack and get my stuff wet.
BIKEPACKER // PACKRAFTER // @JESSI_GOES
I use an X-Large Drawstring Stuff Sack for my UltaMid 2 tent and its Mesh Insert. They are awesome - big enough that I don’t have to struggle or do some crazy origami to get the tent or insert in the stuff sack. I can just fold them up like a reasonable person and slide ‘em in. Easy peasy! I also have a small Roll- Top Stuff Sack that I use to store my emergency kit and first aid supplies. I know it’s not technically waterproof, but it hasn’t leaked yet despite taking it on multiple backpacking and packrafting trips in the rainy PNW.
LIZ "HANDSTAND" KIDDER
THRU HIKER // WORLD TRAVELER // @LIZKIDDER
I use the Small Pod for my extra clothing/layers. It’s AWESOME because it fits my stuff perfectly, and it fits precisely to the size/shape of the pack. I usually put this at the bottom of my pack to fill the space, and it sits really comfortably on my lower back/tailbone. It weighs nothing and has a convenient zipper around the sides so I can find things easily without taking everything out of it! For my sleeping bag, I use the Small Roll-Top Stuff Sack. Fits perfect, lightweight, and easy to use. I have two (x-small) Stuff Sacks, one for toiletries and one for electronics. Once again, perfect sizes and lightweight. I like keeping my stuff organized in different dry/stuff sacks because it makes things easy to find and I don’t have to worry about anything getting wet.