Practical Advice for Sleeping Bag Care and Maintenance
Sleeping bags go through a lot of abuse, and they can show signs of premature wear and tear after only a couple of excursions. However, you can dramatically increase the life of your bag, as well as your level of comfort, by following some very simple steps. Let's take a look at how a little bit of appropriate TLC can help you to enjoy your sleeping bag for years to come.
Keep it Dry
While it may be virtually impossible to keep a sleeping bag dry all the time, it's important to let it dry out every chance you get. Moisture, whether from rain, dew, humidity or sweat can ruin fabric, weaken seams and cause the stuffing inside to degrade or start to smell bad. Take every opportunity you have to hang it over branches, drape it near a fire or let it air-dry in your garage once you get home. Try to avoid keeping a moist sleeping bag inside of your tent or camping hammock after use, avoid packing them away until they have completely dried out.
Be Careful With Snags
Snags along zippers are bound to occur, but many people go about removing them the wrong way. Forcing the zipper up or down, yanking at the material or pulling at the snag will only cause it to become more embedded. You also run the risk of damaging the zipper or tearing the material around the affected area.
Instead, try to situate the source of the snag so it rests perpendicular to the zipper. Hold it firmly in place as you gently but firmly pull the zipper up and down. Pull at the snag at the same perpendicular angle in increments until it becomes free.
You should wash your sleeping bag after each use, and its important to follow manufacturer instructions. However, as a general rule of thumb, wash the bag in cool water on the gentlest cycle possible. Run it in the dryer on low heat, and be patient as it may take a few cycles for it to become completely dry. Break up any clumps of material with your hands between cycles in order to speed up the process.
Try to avoid compressing your sleeping bag as you pack it away. Doing so can cause the filling to permanently lose its bounce. Instead, either store it in the sleeve that it came with, or fold and place the sleeping bag somewhere where it won't get crushed. You also want to store it in an area where fresh air can circulate through the material whenever possible.
Following these simple steps can help you to keep your sleeping bag fresher, feeling fuller and smelling better. It can also mean the difference between getting years of use out of your sleeping instead of having to replace it after every few trips into the field.