How to Attach a Sleeping Bag to a Backpack

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So you bought a backpack and the sleeping bag, but how do you attach the sleeping bag to the backpack? That is a simple question with just as simple an answer, one would think, but that is not true. There is more to the question than one can imagine and may come as a surprise because it should be so easy.

How can it be then that just one straight forward answer is not the only outcome from this answer? Here is one confusing answer: there are quite a few ways to attach a sleeping bag to your backpack. And that is the simple truth. With all the new designs of backpacks out there, it has become quite an art to attaching a sleeping bag correctly. So let's take a look at how to attach sleeping bag to backpack.

Old School Hikers

The old school way of attaching gear to the outside of the backpack is to use a simple and light wooden frame. This frame, sometimes called a board, is carried on the back like a backpack with shoulder straps attached.

Then there was the H-frame!

The H-frame, as we know it today, is based on this old wooden frame or board that was used earlier. In an H-frame design, much lighter aluminum alloys were used to make the frame, and the gear was attached to it when hiking.

Everything was just tied to the frame!

This way, all the gear is either tied to the top, the side, or the bottom of the frame. And then more items are attached at the back to balance all the gear and keep everything separated but together. This is a good way to spread the weight evenly over the whole board without hurting your back and tiring you out.

All these items can include food and water, as well as clothing and other gear, and are tied down using ropes. Sometimes, especially these days with all the new types of materials available, straps and special tie-downs are used for fastening. These modern ropes and straps, as well as the tie-downs, are made from many different types of synthetic materials.

Modern Ways

If you look at the modern backpacks that are available, you will see that most of the designs are copies. These copies are all imitations from the earlier, or old school hiker methods when modern backpacks were not around.

Most of the methods that are used today to attach the sleeping bag are dependent on the backpack designs that are available.

A sleeping bag is one of the essential pieces of gear when you go on a hiking or camping trip. It is also one piece of gear that will take up lots of space inside the backpack. So to have a convenient way to attach the sleeping bag to the outside of your backpack is very important and advantageous.

Let us take a look at some of the ways to attach a sleeping bag to a modern backpack.

1.) Attach the loops on your backpack to the straps of your sleeping bag sack

Your sleeping bag stuffing sack has some straps attached to it. You may use this to attach the loops of your backpack. If your backpack has those loops on the back panel and your sleeping bag sack has those straps, you have the solution.

The biggest drawback around this method is that either your backpack or your sleeping bag stuffing bag may not have the loops on them.

2.) Attach the sleeping bag to the backpack’s compression buckles

Some backpacks may have compression buckles attached to the sides of the backpack. The straps of the sleeping bag can be attached to it to hold the sleeping bag secured to the backpack.

These compression buckles are mostly used on the older backpacks. In some of the new ones, they may not have any. This may be a problem and will not allow your sleeping bag to be attached to your backpack in that way.

3.) You can build a tie-down system from scratch by yourself

You can build a tying belt or two for your sleeping bag if it does not have any straps. For this, you will need a length or two of a webbing belt to make your own straps with buckles.

Another option is to buy another stuffing bag for your sleeping bag from any outdoors or camping retailer. You will have to make sure that the new stuffing bag has the straps attached to it to solve the problem.

4.) Use your backpack lid as compression for your sleeping bag

If you have an internal frame backpack, you may use the straps attached to the lid to compress your sleeping bag. This way, your sleeping bag is simply right on top of everything inside the backpack, and the straps will pull it tight.

The problem here is that you will have to unpack the top part of your backpack when you need something. This way, you will have to put the items you regularly access into the side pockets or in the back-panel pockets.

5.) Attach your sleeping bag to the tie points at the bottom of your backpack

With an external frame backpack, you will have to use the tie points at the bottom of your backpack. Tie the straps of the sleeping bag sack to these straps at the bottom and pull it very tight.

A loose swinging sleeping bag at the bottom may unbalance your structure and may cause some backache problems.


These methods are some of the most basic ways to attach your sleeping bag to the backpack. There are other ways to get it tied to the outside of your backpack, but be sure that it is tight and balanced. You can also just put the sleeping beg inside your backpack at the bottom to provide a solid and balanced base point.

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Lily Rose - August 1, 2021 Reply

This is a great informative guide. Your writing style is very nice. Keep it up. thanks

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