I am wondering how others pack their sleeping bag.I have always put it in a stuff sack in the bottom of my pack. It seems that many others place it unstuffed in the bottom of the pack and let other items settle in around it. If so how do you stuff it, rolled, folded or random jam?
On somewhat the same subject, where do you carry your food bag? I have been putting it on top but that is contrary to the rule of putting the heavy stuff low. The heavy low rule was fine when we carried tall heavy packs but now my entire pack is below shoulder height so it is not as critical.
Loc: Portland, OR
I randomly jam my sleeping bag into its stuff sack. I pack it low in my pack, at the bottom. That locates it just above my hips. I think the rule, as I learned it, was heavy stuff near one's back, which seems slightly higher to me than the bottom of my pack. Back when I packed with an external framed Kelty-clone, the sleeping bag was strapped on at the bottom, too.
My food tends to go in near the top, but my clothes sack seems heavier to me than the food. Luckily, the entire pack is now much lighter than when I began backpacking, so the old rules seem less important now, too.
I line up with Aimless: sleeping bag is a random jam, no sack (unless prolonged rain is in the forecast), compressed as much as needed to fit in the rest of the load. Next is my rolled NeoAir and any clothing I won’t need during the day. Next is food and kitchen, against the back of the pack, with the tent (in its long narrow sack or two smaller sacks) filling the space between the food/kitchen and the front of the pack, locking it in place. A sweater or down jacket goes on the very top, in case I want them at breaks.
Rain gear goes in the top compartment, readily available. Water filter and spare 2-liter container in one side pocket; another 2-liter container (with one liter of water) in the other side pocket; sit pad, first aid kit, map, and other small stuff in the front pocket. (General pattern: stuff I use during the day outside the main compartment and stuff I'll use in camp in the main compartment.)
I always put my quilt in a stuff sack, and then in the bottom of the pack, followed by my Neoair, pillow and, usually, 1/8" foam pad. Food bag, in an Ursack, goes on top of that, against my back. Other stuff in front of the food bag. Shelter is almost always in the kangaroo pocket on the back of the pack.
I have seen a couple of references to folks leaving their sleeping bag loose in the bottom of their pack.I have always put it in a stuff sack and never even really thought about it.I guess that the next time I go out I will have to try it. I am not sure whether it would take up more or less room loose. In a stuff sack it certainly is a lump in the bottom and other items do not settle around it.
The rules have certainly changed since I started with this and so have I. My first trip was an overnight with about 45 pounds and the sleeping bag strapped to the bottom of the pack.
I put a trash compactor bag in my bag and then just jam my sleeping bag into that. I just jam it in randomly... I don't roll it or fold it first. I jam it down as much as I can then add my pillow, down jacket and any extra clothes I might have. I push it all down as much as I can and fold down the top of the trash compactor bag. I then add everything else on top. I pack food on the very top... because I want to eat during the day. Also, if I have things like crackers or chips I don't want them getting crushed.
edit: I want to add that I started doing this based on advice here and around the net. the idea being that the stuff sack is awkward to pack. Doing it this way, the equipment on top compresses the sleeping bag into a natural shape around your other equipment. I think that is true, but the final compression is much smaller for a just the right size stuff sack. With a stuff sack you have more dead space, but I am not convinced you have less room. I think both ways work out to be about the same amount of taken up space.
Like probably everyone over 50 here, I also started out with the sleeping bag stuffed into a stuff sack and lashed to the bottom of my external frame pack. (The pack bag didn't go all the way to the bottom; it was designed for the sleeping bag not to be inside the pack.)
When I got my first internal frame pack, designed to store the sleeping bag inside, I got rid of the stuff sack. This was partly because it made sense, but mostly because Colin Fletcher, in Complete Walker II (or was it III?) told us that internal frame packs were designed to have the sleeping bag tucked solidly into all the small corners of the bottom of the pack, to help the pack "work" properly. After all, if Colin said it, it must be true, right? (And he'd be the first to yell, "No, not necessarily!" )
I've been carrying my quilt in a DCF roll-top (dry bag) stuff sack in the bottom of the pack out of paranoia, and it does become a rock in the back at times. This probably is overkill, since I also carry a trash compactor bag (folded up) with the thermarest 'tap' in the corner which I use to inflate my Xlite pad -- so I'm grateful for the reminder to use the compactor bag for the quilt with the top folded over. My main pack is the HMG Windrider, so it would take a real gullywasher rain to cause any problems.
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
IMHO, the sleeping bag is the most important piece of insulation and needs to be kept dry at all costs. After taking a tumble during a dicey stream ford some years back, I found that my sleeping bag and extra insulating clothing kept in a dry bag were still absolutely dry, while everything else was exposed to the water (several inches deep in the bottom of my pack). Fortunately anything else vulnerable (like dry food) was in plastic bags.
Since the weather was cold and rainy, I would have been in serious straits had my insulation gotten wet!
I do see the advantages of a pack liner, but would switch only if the liner could be sealed against possible immersion and were not slippery. I tried a plastic liner one year, but it turned every morning's packing up into a fight, repeatedly stuffing small items down into my pack only to have them pop right out at me again. After that frustrating trip, I found that eliminating the slippery pack liner saved me at least 15 minutes and lots of frustration each morning.
Your vital insulation needs not so much defense against heavy rain (although that can be a problem) but the dangers of immersion. I found testing waterproof containers before each trip (in the bathtub) is an excellent idea.
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey