Sleeping Bag Storage and Care
Proper care and storage will ensure maximum years of use and optimum performance of your sleeping bag. Make sure your sleeping bag is completely dry before storing, as any moisture in the down can allow mold and bacteria to grow. Always store your sleeping bag uncompressed, in a place that will not trap moisture (no plastic bags or bins). The breathable cotton storage sack that comes with your sleeping bag is ideal for this. Or you can hang it in a roomy closet.
Your sleeping bag is made from some of the lightest, most advanced materials available. These fabrics are very durable for their weight. However, care should be taken to prevent tearing or snagging these fabrics. Always use a ground cloth under the bag to prevent direct contact with the ground. When airing out the bag or drying it in the sun, be sure not to snag the fabric on sharp branches, etc. When washing your sleeping bag always check the washer and drier for any foreign objects or sharp burrs that could damage your bag.
Wearing light clothing to bed helps reduce contaminating the down from sweat and body oils. These contaminants will slowly reduce the loft of your bag. Properly washing your bag (see below) will remove these contaminants and restore the loft to your sleeping bag.
Washing your Sleeping Bag
Do not dry clean your sleeping bag. Wash your sleeping bag in warm water, either by hand in a bathtub or in a large front loading washing machine. Top loading washing machines or machines with agitators can damage your sleeping bag. Use a detergent specifically designed for down filled products, such as Nikwax Down Wash Direct. Other detergents strip the natural oils found in the down and will permanently damage your sleeping bag. Rinse your sleeping bag several times, as it is important to remove all of the soap from the down before drying. Be careful when moving a wet sleeping bag. The weight of the water in the down can tear the baffles.
Dry your sleeping bag in an oversized drier set to low heat. Too much heat can melt the shell fabrics of your bag. Periodically check the down for lumps and gently separate lumps that you find. Lumps in the down indicate that it is still wet. Using clean tennis balls in the drier can help in separating those clumps. Dry the bag until you are certain there is no moisture in the down (do not rely on the drier’s automatic moisture sensor). When you think it’s dry and all the clumps are gone, put it back in for another spin. Down can be sneaky about retaining moisture. This may take several hours. Get a roll of quarters and a good book, or better yet, pull out some maps and plan your next trip while you wait!
A Word About Down Leakage
The Pertex fabric we use is very down proof. However, by its nature as an ultralight, air permeable fabric, a feather shaft or down cluster may occasionally pass through. You may also see this along seams. This is best dealt with by gently pulling the down back into the bag by grabbing it from the backside. Gently massaging the area with your fingers will help the fabric close.
Even though it seems concerning to see some down escaping, keep in mind that there are tens of thousands of down plumules in your quilt (some have hundreds of thousands!). Losing the occasional piece will not affect the warmth of your quilt.
Take good care of that ultralight sleeping bag, and it will take care of you.