Can You Put A Tent In A Compression Sack? (Yes and No)

By: Derek Vitiello | Last Updated on May 2, 2024

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When it comes to packing your camping gear, space is often a premium—especially if you’re hitting the trail with just a backpack for company. One common solution that many campers consider is using a compression sack for their tent. These nifty bags can substantially reduce the volume of your tent, making it easier to fit into your pack alongside other essentials like sleeping bags, cookware, and maybe even that luxury camp chair you’ve been eyeing.

But hold on, my friend—before you start stuffing your tent into a compression sack and cranking down those straps, it’s crucial to weigh the pros and cons. While it may seem like a no-brainer to save space, the issue is actually more nuanced. Using a compression sack for your tent can be both beneficial and potentially damaging, depending on a variety of factors including the tent material, the conditions you’ll be camping in, and how often you hit the great outdoors.

In this article, we’ll dig into the nitty-gritty of using a compression sack for your tent—when it makes sense, when you might want to think twice, and some best practices for those who decide to go this route. So, buckle up and let’s get into it.

Can You Put A Tent In A Compression Sack?

The short answer to this question is yes, you can put a tent in a compression sack for short periods of time. That being said, compression bags are not designed for long term storage.

Compression bags are designed to reduce the size of objects that are placed inside them by minimizing the air trapped inside of soft or breathable materials like pillows, sleeping bags, and of course, tents. This makes them extremely useful for camping and backpacking because they allow you to make the most of the space you have available. Just be sure to never put your tent poles in your compression sack. By doing so you are putting yourself at massive risk of tearing the tent fabric.

Why It May Not Be A Good Idea

Although a compression sack is a great piece of gear to use when you are backpacking or in a situation where the space your gear takes up is a concern, they are not designed long term tent storage. Storing your tent in a compression sack can lead to a couple big issues:

  1. Damaging the tent’s fabric- When your tent is stored in a compression bag the material is creased and compressed in an unnatural way. These creases can create weak points in the tent body that could later turn into tears and holes quicker than they normally would. This eventually means that your tent fabric would become damaged and unusable a lot quicker when compared to storing your tent properly.
  2. Not allowing the tent to air out properly- Storing your tent in a compression bag doesn’t allow the breathable materials to dry as efficiently, or really even at all. Even if it didn’t rain while you were camping, there will always be a small amount of condensation and water on your tent. If your tent doesn’t dry properly, that moisture can cause mold and mildew, and eventually result in a smelly tent.
    For that reason, always make sure your dry your tent off and air out out completely before storing it. Using a mesh bag or breathable storage sack can be a great way to let your tent breathe while it is not being used.

When To Store Your Tent In A Compression Sack

can you put a tent in a compression sack

So you know when your shouldn’t store your camping tent in a compression sack. Let’s talk about when you should use a compression sack compared to your regular tent bag.

Backpacking

When you are backpacking and everything you need to survive for multiple days has to fit in your backpack, conserving how much storage you have is absolutely essential. A compression sack can remove all the trapped air from your tent, making the same tent fit into a much smaller form that is easier to fit in a backpack, and it conserves space for other essentials like food and a sleeping bag.

Airplane Travel

Flying to some far away land to camp and explore the outdoors? A compression bag is a great way to conserve space in your luggage so you won’t have an issue fitting everything you need.

Road Tripping with Camping Gear

Another place that storage space is a valuable commodity is in a car when you are travelling for longer periods of time with a whole load of gear. It makes packing for a camping trip much easier when you utilize a compression sack to conserve space where you can. Plus, that gives you extra space for other things.

All these options have a couple things in common that make compression sacks a great and usable piece of gear. They are great for storing your camping tent for short periods of time and conserving storage space when you need to. Just keep in mind that under no circumstances should your tent poles go inside your compression sack. Store those separately.

Other Outdoor Gear To Store In A Compression Sack

As previously discussed, compression sacks are not only great for storing your tent, you could also use one for your sleeping bag, clothing, towels, or really anything that is puffy. Compression sacks are great for these types of items as they can reduce the size and make them easier to pack.

The most common thing to store in compression sacks besides your tent is your sleeping bag. Since sleeping bags are basically designed to puff up to create insulation, they take up a massive amount of storage space. Compression sacks take all that insulation and flatten it into a more manageable size. This make storing sleeping bags and other bulky gear a breeze.

How To Know What Size Compression Sack To Use

When choosing a compression sack, it’s important to consider the size of the items you’ll be storing. Generally, it’s best to opt for a sack that is slightly larger than the item you’re storing to avoid the compression sack being stuffed. This will allow the item to fit comfortably inside the sack and ensure that it is adequately compressed. It’s also important to consider the type of items you’ll be storing. If you’re storing a sleeping bag, for example, you’ll want to opt for a larger sack as this will provide more room.

What Type Of Compression Sack To Use?

When choosing a compression sack, it’s important to consider the type of material it’s made from. Generally, it’s best to opt for a sack that is made from a lightweight and durable material such as nylon or polyester. These materials are designed to withstand the pressure of the compression and keep the items inside the sack protected. It’s also important to consider the type of closure the sack has, as this can affect how secure the items are.

How Compression Sacks Differs From A Stuff Sack

A compression sack is different from a stuff sack in a few key ways. A stuff sack is typically made of a lightweight material such as nylon and is designed to store items in a similar way to a ziplock or a backpack. Imagine having a few different stuff sacks to separate your electronics, toiletries, and snacks . It simply doesn’t serve the same purpose as a compression sack and is not designed to reduce the size of the items it holds.

A compression sack, on the other hand, is designed to compress the size of the items placed inside it and save space. It typically has straps or cords that can be pulled to reduce the size of the items placed inside. The material of a compression sack is usually much more durable than that of a stuff sack, as it needs to be able to withstand the pressure of the compression.

Compression Sack Vs Stuff Sack

When deciding which type of tent storage sack to use, it’s important to consider the purpose of each.

  • A stuff sack is designed as more of a mesh bag that is more for internal storage inside your pack.
  • A stuff sack can be a great way to keep rain gear or a wet tent away from other gear.
  • Stuff sacks create an organizational system inside your pack so you can have easy access to other items that would normally get lost or misplaced.
  • Stuff sacks don’t compress your camping tent, making it less likely to cause damage to the tent.
  • A stuff sack is lighter and less expensive than a compression sack, and it most cases your tent or sleeping bag with actually come with a stuff sack.
  • A compression sack is designed to save valuable pack space and cut down on bulk.
  • A compression sack is a great way compress extra clothes.

Drawstring Or Roll Top?

When choosing a compression sack, you also need to consider whether you want a drawstring or a roll top closure. A drawstring closure is a simple cinch closure that is easy to use and can be adjusted to fit the size of the item you’re placing inside the sack. A roll top closure works like a dry bag, with the top of the sack being rolled down and secured with buckles or clips. This makes it more secure than a drawstring closure, but it can take more time to open and close.

Conclusion

If you’re travelling and need to reduce the size of your tent for packing, then a compression sack can be a great option. However, if you’re storing the tent for longer periods of time, a stuff sack may be the better option. Regardless, it’s important to consider the type of environment you’ll be travelling in, the type of items you’ll be storing, and the type of compression sack you’ll be using. With the right compression sack, you’ll be able to make the most of your outdoor adventures.

FAQ’s

Can you put a tent in a compression sack?

Yes, you absolutely can put a tent in a compression sack. Compression sacks are designed to reduce the volume of various types of gear, including tents, by compressing them into a more compact size. However, they aren’t designed for long-term storage and should only be used for short periods of time.

Should you put a tent in a compression sack?

It depends on several factors like the material of your tent, frequency of use, and your packing needs. While a compression sack can save you valuable space, excessive compression can stress the tent’s material and seams over time, especially if it’s stored that way for extended periods.

How do you pack a tent in a compression sack?

Start by folding your tent loosely, paying attention to distribute its bulk evenly. Place the tent into the compression sack and begin cinching down the straps gradually, making sure you’re not over-tightening one area more than others. Once it’s compressed to your liking, secure the straps, and you’re good to go.

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About The Author

Derek, Co-Founder at Know Nothing Nomads

My goal with my writing and Know Nothing Nomads as a whole is to share my passions of hiking, camping, and a love of the outdoors with our readers.

Making the difficult and uncertain feel more approachable to people that might not know enough to feel comfortable taking their first steps into the wilderness is a driving factor for me.

When I'm not writing you can find me on a trail, in a forest, or next to a river with hiking shoes on my feet and a fly rod somewhere close by.

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