Caring for a Sleeping Bag

Marmot SawtoothYour sleeping bag is one the most important pieces of equipment in your arsenal. It keeps you warm and cozy on cold nights, and it allows you some much needed rest for the day ahead. Since your sleeping bag takes care of you, you should return the favor. Here are some general tips on how to care for a sleeping bag.

Be mindful of where you place your sleeping bag. Don’t lay your sleeping bag over jagged rocks or sharp sticks that may cause tears or damage overnight. This won’t be a huge concern if you’re in a tent with a footprint, but if you decide to go cowboy and truly sleep under the stars, remove debris or objects that might puncture your sleeping bag. For absolute peace of mind, lay a blanket or ground cover down before placing your bag.

When you’re not using your sleeping bag, store it in a dry place out of direct sunlight. Damp cellars with lead to mildew and bay windows will bleach your bag. A nice closet or beneath your bed should work just fine.

Don’t store your bag in a compression sack. A bag that remains compressed over time can ruin the loft power of the insulation. This is especially true for down bags. The best way to store your sleeping bag is by hanging it, or by laying it out under your bed.

Air it out. Let your sleeping bag air out on a bright sunny day, especially after it’s been on a long trip. This helps prevent mold and/or a funky stench from developing.

Invest in a sleeping bag liner. Liners are an affordable way to protect your bag from getting grimy. It’s easier to remove a liner and wash it than wash the entire bag.

Change your clothes before bed. You wouldn’t wear a sweaty dirty shirt to bed at home, so don’t do it outside. Have clean clothes designated for sleep. This will help keep your bag clean and help it last longer.

Speaking of which, you should limit the number of times you wash your bag. Ideally, you would never have to wash your sleeping bag, keeping the insulation loft and bag rating true. However, after a decade of sleeping in the dirt, you may find that there’s no way around washing your bag. Hand wash and air dry with a mild detergent.

Don’t play with fire. We’ve heard some pretty wild stories about campers trying to hack their bag ratings. If you sleep next to a bed of coals, expect your bag to get some ember burns. If you decide to cuddle up with a toasty rock from your fire ring, count yourself lucky if all that burns is your sleeping bag.

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