Pro travelers always make the best use of their backpack when it comes to packing for trips.
You might have seen those videos where travelers pull endless objects out of backpacks, and people be like, how on earth it’s possible to pack such a number of items inside a backpack?
Efficient packing is the key here.
When you go out for camping or hiking, the sleeping bag is the largest item that you carry with you.
Beginners often get confused regarding how to attach sleeping bag to backpack so that it doesn’t take much space and feels comfortable to carry.
If your sleeping bag takes too much space, then the space inside the backpack is highly compromised.
Attaching this piece of gear to your backpack inappropriately causes you to face some physical issues while carrying the backpack.
Luckily, there are lots of ways to attach a sleeping bag depending on your backpack size, attachments, carrying requirements, and comfort.
Why Is Attaching a Sleeping Bag Necessary?
Whether it’s pro travelers or beginners, a sleeping bag is something that people cannot think about their camping without it. You don’t want to sleep in a damp environment under the open sky. If you are out in the winter season, the difficulties are quite hard to describe.
A sleeping bag takes a lot of space if you are to carry it inside the backpack. You will end up with no space for essential camping gear. Therefore, attaching this gear to the backpack saves lots of space and allows you to take pretty much all you will need in the campsite.
So, when your backpack is fully packed with accessories, gears, supplies, and other stuff, attaching the sleeping gear is the only convenient option you are left with.
Another advantage of attaching the bag to your backpack is that it helps to distribute weight equally on your shoulders. If the load is only focused on your back, you will end up having strain issues, and will not be able to carry the load if reaching the campsite is a long walk.
How to Attach Sleeping Bag to Your Backpack?
You can try endless ways to attach the sleeping bag to your backpack. Due to the size, shape, backpack compatibility differences, you might not be able to attach it, trying all the ways that I will discuss here. Still, you will find the perfect and comfortable way to handle the sleeping gear.
Using Loops and Straps
The loops and straps on the back of your backpack have some purposes. One of the major purposes is to hold a sleeping bag or tent. Most people don’t know the use of these loops and straps until they are told what to do with these accessories.
This method is for the backpacks with loops on the back. Since most sleeping bags don’t have straps, you will find it a lot easier to attach the gear to your backpack without spending much time on it.
You probably have guessed the way of attaching the bag. Just get a sleeping bag inside the loops, and slide the straps through, then tighten the buckle, as simple as that.
However, if the loops are located at the lower back and aren’t too tight, the bag will swing when you move fast.
If your backpack doesn’t come with loops and straps, no worries, there are other methods.
Using Compression Buckles
Another great way to attach the bag is to use the compression buckles. In most large backpacks, these buckles come extremely useful when you overpack items, and you need to make sure the items don’t burst out while moving.
If you got no reason to overpack for a trip, you could make the best use of those buckles. Simply slide the bag in, and close the buckles.
Thus, when you move fast, the sleeping bag will not swing around much and make you feel uncomfortable.
If your backpack doesn’t have compression buckles, you can still follow this method if there are smaller buckles. Older model backpacks don’t have compression buckles on the rear panel. As the compression would make the sleeping bag more secure, it’s better to have something than not having anything at all.
Using the Bottom Tie Points
Most external frame backpacks come with bottom tie points to attach gears. A majority of pro travelers prefer using outside frame backpacks because these backpacks are great for providing overall support while walking down the track.
The tie points on the bottom of the backpack have only one purpose; to attach large gears like a sleeping bag. Not all the backpacks come with this feature. Ordinary people don’t even know why these tie points are there for.
You can take advantage of it and attach your sleeping bag to it. All you need is to slide the bag in then pull on the straps tight to make sure the bag is in place. No wonder why these straps are for; to secure the sleeping bag or other larger gears.
Be sure to tighten the straps well; otherwise, a hanging bag can cause backaches and neck pain once you reach the campsite.
Using Lid Tie
People find internal frame backpacks a bit difficult due to the cylindrical chamber formation. This design forces you to pile your stuff on top of each other, and if you are to pull out something from the middle of the pack, it becomes a matter of frustration.
These backpacks come with a lid on the top with strings to tighten things up once it’s fully packed. Once you are done packing all the way to the top, consider attaching your sleeping bag to the top as well. Put the sleeping gear on the top, and tighten it up using the same strings.
If you adopt this method, consider using a nylon cover as the method creates a gap between the bag and lid, which is vulnerable to moisture. When you use a cover, your belongings will be much protected from the elements.
Make Your Own Attaching System
Sometimes it’s hard to let go of an older backpack that you are fond of. If that favorite backpack of yours doesn’t have any loops or straps, which is most likely to be the case, you can improvise your own customized attachment system.
To do that, get four pieces of twine; you can make some if you can. Loop the sleeping bag tightly using two twines, and use the other two to connect your sleeping bag to the loops of the backpack. Again, use the loops or twine on the bag, and attach to the backpack’s loop that you have just added.
The Last Resort: Stuff the Sleeping Bag Inside
If all the methods above failed or something that you didn’t like or weren’t convenient for your purpose or requirement, you can keep the bag inside the backpack. Even though pro travelers always prefer attaching the bag in the exterior, when you have no option left, it’s totally fine to put it in.
Packing the sleeping bag inside has an advantage that any of the attaching methods don’t have. The purpose is to keep your sleeping bag dry and clean. When you attach it to the backpack, the bag gets exposed to elements. Even though you cover the bag, the durability is still compromised.
When you reach the campsite after a long hike, you might find the bag damp. This requires you to spend a few hours to get it dry and warm enough for you to sleep on it. Sounds tiring, right? Why not let the tent take all the hassle, and keep the sleeping gear out of such disturbance.
People go camping with both a tent and a sleeping bag and prefer putting the tent inside the backpack in most cases. You need to do the opposite. So, instead of the tent, consider putting the bag inside, and attach the tent to the backpack.
You can do the same with your internal frame backpack; the bag goes indoors, and the tent should be attached to the backpack. To keep the bag protected from moisture, consider covering it with a plastic garbage bag.
Even after putting the sleeping bag in an internal frame backpack, there will be enough room for the other equipment. Some bags come with straps that compress so that it doesn’t take much space.
If your backpack has a separate compartment for a sleeping bag, make sure you use the compartment for the very purpose it is there for. Many individuals use this particular compartment for packing footwear, which isn’t a good practice as the compartment keeps the sleeping bag dry.
Pack the Sleeping Bag Properly
As most people prefer attaching the sleeping bag to the outer part of the bag, this is the last item that you need to attach before you go out.
Once you are done packing everything else, and the backpack is fully packed, consider rolling the sleeping bag as tightly as possible. Make sure you zip the bag properly before rolling. Lay it completely flat, and zip it. Then start rolling it as tightly as possible from one end to another.
Leaving the bag unzipped will make it roll unevenly, and it will be too bulky to attach comfortably.
Rolling up the sleeping pad will make it easier to carry even though the bulk of the rolling will increase. The bulk isn’t an issue as long as the straps and loops easily fit around the roll. If you need more stretching, use bungee cords for this purpose. You can even leave the pillow on the pad and roll it all together for convenience.
It would be best if you place the bag into a waterproof plastic bag as you might encounter weather conditions. Sleeping on a wet bag could be the worst thing you would want to experience while camping. So, consider keeping the bag dry as a matter of priority.
Now, attach the bag to your backpack as you like. I have mentioned quite a few methods of doing that. Go for one that suits your requirements well.
However, you can also use bungee cords, rope, or twine to attach the bag if the backpack doesn’t have any straps and loops, or this is something you don’t prefer.
Regardless of the method you prefer to attach the bag, make sure the weight is balanced. Center the bag, and fasten the straps pulling as tightly as you can. For longer straps or cords, consider double wrapping around the sleeping bag for convenience.
Attach the bag more carefully than packing the other items inside the backpack. If the bag is poorly attached, it can drop anywhere, and you won’t even notice. So, secure this piece of gear properly.
Keep the Sleeping Bag Dry
Even though you sleep on a dry sleeping pad, it can get wet overnight due to fog, snow, and other weather conditions. Be sure to make it dry before you roll it up. If you got no time to dry it before rolling, once you reach the next stop or destination, consider unrolling and let it dry.
Leaving the sleeping bag wet will cause mildew or molds to grow. Therefore, always give importance to dry the sleeping bag out after coming back from the trip. Leaving the bag wet for a few weeks will make it smell horrible due to the moisture. Then you have to purchase another sleeping bag for the next trip.
As you know, how to attach sleeping bag to backpack, depending on the features for attaching equipment and gears that the backpack offers, you will be able to select the most suitable and comfortable one.
Make sure the weight is equally distributed; it will help you to carry the weights without any issue for longer. The bag should be tight enough, as well. Otherwise, any part of the bag can catch on tree branches and make you off balance.
So, see if the bag is snagging while you walk or hike. If, during any moment while hiking, you notice it’s snagging, consider stopping there, and tighten it properly to prevent injuries.
Brian Millar is the owner and author of Backpackreviewed. Brian spent every possible minute outside. His passion for the outdoors led him to earn a degree in Biology from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2010. A guy who is trying to get away from his desk so that he can fish, hike, travel and just be in outdoors!!! Find him on Twitter here. Happy reading!