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On the field there’s only so much you can do to care for your sleeping bag. Just remember to keep it clean and try to keep it away from anything wet including wet and dirty clothes.
At home you can do a lot more to maintain your sleeping bag so that it can last a little bit longer. These tips cover how to wash, dry, store and repair your sleeping bag in the proper way.
Washing and Drying
– Keep your sleeping bags clean by washing it frequently but only when it is necessary. Washing too much can break down the properties of both down and synthetic fills.
– Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions manual and use mild soap. You can hand wash or wash in the gentle cycle of a washing machine. If your sleeping bags are too large, bring them to a launderette and use a larger machine but never dry-clean a sleeping bag.
– When using the tumble dryer, use the lowest setting . Put a tennis ball into the machine to prevent the down from clumping. The ball will help dissipate the clumps.
– When wet, handle with extreme care. Do not dry on a clothesline. Find some place to that can support the weight of the bag so that the delicate baffles do not tear. Hanging it on the dryer is a common practice.
– Store your sleeping bag in a large cotton storage sack. Make sure the bag sit loosely in the sack. Avoid putting the bag in a stuff sack for long periods of storage because compressing it too much will reduce its loft.
– Don’t store the sleeping bag in a plastic sack as the moisture will be trapped and hence provide a suitable breeding ground for mould, mildew and bacteria. Only store your bag when it is completely dry.
– Tears need to be repaired immediately especially the ones on the shell and lining.
– For temporary repairs use a duct tape or Gaffa tape. Instead on cutting the tape in a square, cut it in a circle so that it doesn’t snag the fabric.
– Permanent repairs can be made with a nylon repair tape or patches that are sold in most outdoor stores.
– You can also ask a professional company that can do repair jobs for tears, separating seams and zip problems. There are quite a few of these companies around and they might even throw you a discount if you ask nicely.
On the Field
Remember that you should always keep your sleeping bag clean. Obviously washing your sleeping bag on the field would not be practical.
You might need to wash a little at times but if you use a down sleeping bag, drying would be a problem. Synthetics dry much faster and are easier to clean when you’re camping. Down bags lose their insulating properties when wet while synthetics retains at least some of it.
Even so, it is better to always have a dry sleeping bag. Give your sleeping bag a daily shake to keep it fresh and ensure that the filling remain evenly distributed.
When airing a sleeping bag, never put it on bare ground, which is likely to be dirty or wet. If you can find a large, dry and clean rock, use it to dry your sleeping bag.
Keep the sleeping bag away from anything wet including your rain gear.