Tips for using a stuff sack:
Any time you wash a sleeping bag, you subject it to wear and tear and decrease the loft a little. Spot cleaning the shell with a paste of laundry detergent, water and a toothbrush is advised before washing the whole thing.
Focus on the hood and collar where hair and skin oils tend to accumulate. By holding the shell or liner fabric away from the insulation, you can wash and rinse the area without getting the inside wet.
If your bag is losing loft, is darkened with grime and basically no longer inhabitable, then by all means give it a full washing.
Many people prefer to have their bag professionally laundered. REI partners with Rainy Pass Repairs, inc., to offer a bag-laundering service.
Tip: Dry cleaning is not appropriate for sleeping bags, especially down. Solvents used in dry cleaning can strip the natural oils from down that help it retain loft. Solvents are also very difficult to remove from synthetic insulation.
If you decide to wash your bag yourself, use a gentle, non-detergent soap such as Nikwax Down Wash 2.0, which is made for washing down- and synthetic-filled items.
Air drying is the safest way to dry your bag, but obviously the longest. If you tumble dry your bag, use very low heat or a no-heat setting and keep an eye on it. Dryers have varying heat outputs, so you need to check periodically to make sure the shell and insulation aren't overheating, which can actually lead to melting. Add a couple of clean tennis balls when the bag is nearly dry. This will help break up any clumps of insulation and help restore the loft.
How you store your bag between trips affects its lifespan. When you arrive home from a trip, first air out the bag inside-out for a couple days to make sure it's dry. Then store in a large cotton storage sack—often included when you purchase a sleeping bag, but also available separately (note: REI Storage Bag is shown above).
Do not store your bag compressed in its stuff sack as this will eventually damage the fill. Watertight storage bags are also a bad idea. Condensation can build up inside them and result in mildew. In short, allow your bag come to its full loft with plenty of cool, dry ventilation.
The original DWR (durable water repellent) finish on a sleeping bag's shell eventually wears off. You can restore water repellency and help keep the bag cleaner if you reapply this finish. There are several products available to restore the DWR to your sleeping bag shell fabric.
Many, but not all, goose-down bags feature "down-proof" liners and shells made of very tightly woven fabric which prevent the down from getting through. If a few feathers escape through the shell or liner of your bag, don't become too concerned. This is normal, especially along the seams. The sharp quills of the feathers may poke through, especially when the bag is new and the down hasn't totally settled. Work the feathers gently back inside, pulling from the opposite side; the holes should be minimal and close back up.
For small holes or tears in the sleeping bag shell, a patch of nylon repair tape will do the trick until you get home.
REI partners with Rainy Pass Repairs, Inc., to offer a bag-repair service.
By T.D. Wood
Read Author Bio
Last updated: Wed Nov 28 14:18:37 PST 2012
In This Article
How are we doing? Give us feedback on this page.