Sleeping Bag Care Tips
Without a doubt, the question we get asked most about sleeping bags is "How do I properly clean my bag?" Following are a few guidelines:
Frequency: First of all, don't over clean your bag. You'll be amazed how well your bag will air out if you can just let it hang outside and let Mother Natures breeze work its magic.
Washing: Hand washing is by far the best, safest method. Use warm water and a mild soap or detergent, rinse in warm water, and air dry.
Alternate Washing: You can use a commercial, heavy-duty, front-loading, tumble machine on gentle cycle, with warm water and mild soap or detergent. A commercial dryer can also be used, but must be on the air only setting (no heat). Do Not Dry Clean
Aside from simply wiping off the shell, we don't recommend that you attempt to clean your down bag. Professional services like Rainy Pass Repair offer laundry facilities that specialize in down products.
General Care & Storage
One of the best things you can do for your bag is to store it in a cool, dry place and let it hang. Compression stuff sacks are great for minimizing bulk in your pack, but never store your bag in one. Depending upon the part of the country (or world) you may be traveling in, don't let your bag stay very long in over-heated car trunks or luggage compartments. Excessive heat can actually cause the fibers of synthetic bags to bond together, greatly reducing the loft and warmth
Sleeping Bag Selection
Right after "How do I clean my bag?", the next most often asked question is "How do I know what type of bag to choose?" While there may seem to be a lot of choices mummy or rectangle, what temperature rating, what type of fill it really isn't that difficult. Following are a few basic suggestions to help you decide.
Mummy or Rectangle Sleeping Bag?
While temperature rating isn't the only consideration, it has to be one of the biggest. Mummy bags, because of their more contoured shape and hood designs, are meant for colder weather use, while full-cut rectangles are more comfortable in more moderate temperatures.
Just like you probably can't get by with one pair of shoes for hiking, running, and getting dressed up, you probably will need several sleeping bags if you plan to camp in a variety temperatures. Generally, the temperature rating of the bag means you should be comfortable down to that temperature, and assumes you're in a tent or shelter for wind protection and on some type of pad so you're insulated from the ground. While we all want to make sure were warm enough, getting too much bag can also be uncomfortable. For example, using a 5-degree bag on a 35-degree night means you're going to be too warm and will need to ventilate, at the top or bottom, or both.
Down vs. Synthetic
We're not going to debate the differences of all of the synthetic fills. Generally, if the synthetic bag costs a little more than another one, it will have a little more loft and be a little more compressible. The real difference between fills is between synthetics and down. Down, with its natural insulating ability, is still the best fill, if you keep it dry. It is more compressible, has more loft, and best of all for me, naturally breathes to help moderate your body heat on those warmer nights. Sure, if you accidentally get it wet, its not going to insulate again until its dry, but so long as you're careful and use waterproof bags when you're around water and/or rainy weather, you don't have anything to worry about.