Your Down Sleeping Bag
Taking care of your down sleeping bag will provide you with years of service. When camping, your bag should always be placed on a waterproof ground cloth to keep dirt and other forest litter from soiling the outside shell.
You can protect the inside of the bag from sweat and body oils by wearing a tee shirt, shorts and socks. For extended periods of use a sleeping bag liner is a very good investment. Washable, it will do the same as sheets on a bed. (Shop Bag Liners)
Always store your bag in a large, breathable storage sack. These bags are about the size of a pillowcase and have drawstring closures to keep your down bag clean. Do not leave your sleeping bag stuffed in its stuff sack or in a plastic bag for long periods of time, as it will degrade the down quality. Always air-dry your bag in the sun or tumble dry before storing. If that is not an option, then fully unzip and open the bag, and drape it over an indoor railing or furniture. (Shop Stuff Sacks)
At some point you'll need to clean your bag. Don't let this frighten you! The best way is to hand wash it in a bath tub, or you can use a front loading washing machine. Never use a top loading or agitator machine as this can easily damage the baffle construction.
Only use a soap especially prepared for down products. Dry cleaning is not recommended since the solvents can strip away natural oils contained in the down. (Shop Down Care Products)
Washing: To hand wash, fill the tub with warm water, add down soap and put the bag in the tub. A tip here is to keep your bag in its stuff sack and put the whole thing underwater. That way air has already been forced out of the bag and you won't have to fight air filled baffles floating to the surface. A DryLoft bag should first be turned inside out before being put into the tub. Then, carefully pull the bag from its stuff sack and gently knead the soapy water through the bag. It may be necessary to change the soapy water more than once, but don't over do it.
Rinsing: When you are satisfied that your bag is clean, be prepared to rinse it with clear water several times. It is important that all of the soap is removed from the down before it is dried. If in doubt rinse again; five or more rinses are not uncommon.
Do not wring the water from your sleeping bag, instead drain the tub and then roll the bag up tightly and carefully to remove all of the water. Use both hands (and caution) when picking the sleeping bag up, as it may be heavy from any water still trapped inside the baffle chambers. A washing machine that will allow you to select additional spin cycles will remove more water and save dryer time.
Drying: Only use a large dryer with good heat control, setting the heat to low. If in doubt use the no heat setting. Be sure there are no nicks, burrs, or other sharp items inside the dryer that may damage the bag's shell fabric. Feel around inside the dryer with your hand to be certain.
Once you begin drying, watch for hot spots on the dryer drum that could melt the nylon shell. Towards the end of the dry cycle, take the bag out of the dryer, shake it out and put it back. That will make sure the bag dries evenly. A couple of clean tennis balls tossed in with the bag will help break up clumps of down and give you something to look at. Be careful! Don't just tumble your bag till it feels dry, that may not be enough. Carefully feel the down insulation. If you still feel lumps, no matter how small, then your down is still wet! Break a twenty and add more quarters. It may take two or more hours depending on your bag, but you will have a clean sleeping bag back to its original loft.
Re-treating the outside or shell
At some point it may become necessary to re-treat the outer shell fabric to restore water repellency. We have been the most impressed with the performance of ReviveX Spray On Water Repellent. The instructions for applying Revivex call for the product (sleeping bag, garment, etc.) to be placed in a dryer on medium heat after applying the spray. A small amount of heat in the dryer helps set in the treatment without diminishing the fabric's breathability. Please be cautious, however, whenever you use a dryer for lightweight down products with specialized shell materials. (Shop ReviveX Products) (Shop Waterproofing Products)
Again, check for small burrs inside the dryer and make sure there are no safety pins or other small pins or snags that could damage your valuable gear. Based on the different heat levels, sizes, and settings available on various commercial and residential dryers, its always best to remove your bag or garment periodically to make sure it isn't overheating.
|Click Here for Caring for Waterproof Shells by Marmot Video|
By its very nature, the shell fabric of a sleeping bag is porous. This is what allows the fabric to be breathable and as a result, it is possible for the small spines of feathers and down clusters to work their way through the fabric. It is important to realize that the fabric is not torn, but that the spines are passing in between the threads. The best maintenance in this situation is to reach behind the fabric and pull the offending down cluster BACK INTO its down chamber. The small space between the threads will close and reposition themselves. You may also gently massage the area to promote this "self sealing". Do not attempt to pull the cluster OUT OF THE BAG! Two things will happen if you do, 1) that cluster will be tangled with another cluster and it too will follow out of the bag in an endless fountain of down, and 2) the space between the threads will become larger and take longer to reseal.
Information kindly provided by Western Mountaineering.
Rules of the trail
- Carry out all garbage.
- Hike on marked trails, not across fragile alpine growth.
- Use existing campsites or sites away from water and trails.
- Respect and protect the wilderness.
- Tread lightly and only carry home photographs and memories.