The answer is simple: It's really up to you.
In the case of clothing, quilts or bulky items Ben McMillen, owner of Hilltop Packs, prefers to use stuff sacks primarily because they compress better inside your pack. Why? Stuff sacks do not hold in air like dry bags do.
However, as he explains in a helpful YouTube video (one of many videos created by Hilltop Packs that offers helpful advice on its numerous products), he understands that choosing a dry bag also makes sense to those who want to make sure that certain items stay dry such as toiletries and electronics.
Although the dry bag offers limited compression (inside your pack) compared to the stuff sack, the dry bag might be a better choice for those adventurers who know for certain they and/or their gear might be submerged in water during their trip.
However, those who are traveling with a more weather resistant pack or pack liner may be more inclined to choose the stuff sack due to the better packable compression.
In another video, McMillen also demonstrates how different degrees of quilts can fit into different sizes of both types of bags.
Fifty-degree quilts (as well as 40- and possibly 30-degree quilts) fit perfectly in Hilltop Packs' Jumbo stuff stack and Jumbo dry bag, with the stuff sack also providing plenty of extra room for amenities.
Twenty-degree quilts fit great in the Jumbo-Plus stuff sack and dry bag, with room to spare.
And zero-degree quilts also fit nicely in the Jumbo-Plus size for both; for the dry bag, McMillen suggests eliminating as much air out of the bag before fastening.
So which is right for you? Dry bags or stuff sacks? It is really personal preference. Just consider the conditions you will be hiking and make the right decision for you.
We encourage customers to contact Hilltop Packs for additional tips and tricks for the trail.