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Backpacking Gear for Beginners: Stuff Sacks

This post is part of the Backpacking Gear for Beginners course.

Why do you need stuff sacks? 

Jamming everything you need to hike for 4 days or a week into 1 big backpack can make it hard to find anything. 

Stuff sacks are clear or coloured bags of various sizes with a roll or clip top. Organizing everything in a stuff sack reduces the small items floating around in your pack and makes it easier to pull out the bag you want. 

I usually organize my pack with a bag each for:

  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag
  • Food
  • Cooking gear
  • Day clothes
  • Night clothes
  • Other stuff

When it’s time to pull everything out at camp, it’s only pulling 7 bags out instead of 100 separate items. 

Colored or Clear bags

Color code all your bags by getting different sizes and colours. When you pull out the large yellow bag, you know that’s always your food. Some bags even have a clear window which lets you quickly see what’s inside. 

Fleece lined

Some stuff sacks come with a fleece lining on the inside. What’s that for? Flip it inside out, stuff full of clothes and you have a pillow. I like to put soft things like clothes or sleeping bags inside so the fleece doesn’t get dirty.


Some kinds of stuff sacks are waterproof. I like having a couple of these around just in case you have to hang food in a tree or keep something dry. 

Go lighweight

Thick stuff sucks are more durable but they’re heavier. Use the lightest weight stuff sacks you can to save some weight. 

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