Gear TLC: Sleeping Bags

hOutdoor gear is made to hold up against trail abuse and the elements, but the equipment we rely upon so much on the trail needs to be properly cared for to ensure it continues to do so. How you treat your gear off the trail says a lot about who you are on the trail. Today, we’ll take a look at how to properly care for one of the most important pieces of gear in your arsenal: your sleeping bag.

Even if it’s not raining, your sleeping bag can accumulate moisture in a number of ways. Sweat, humidity, or unforeseen spills can cause the bag to dampen. For this reason, it’s smart to dry out your bag immediately after every use. This will prevent it from potentially becoming moldy and will extend its life significantly. If your bag does become damp, never pack it away. Instead, hang it out to dry or tumble dry it on low heat as soon as you get home.

When it comes to washing your sleeping bag, always follow the care instructions listed on your bag’s tag or instruction manual. If you don’t have a tag or instructions, play it safe by washing your bag by hand with a mild detergent and tumble dry it on low heat. You can also wash it in a front-loading washer on the gentle cycle.

When you’re not using it, store your sleeping bag in a cool, dry place. Furthermore, never leave it jammed inside a stuff sack; this will cause it to lose its loft and can potentially damage its effectiveness long-term. If possible, use a larger storage sack that doesn’t compress your bag.

By taking good care of your sleeping bag, you can ensure that it lasts you many years—over a decade, perhaps. The tips outlined above will go a long way towards helping you accomplish this task, and will save you money in the long run, which is something I think every outdoorsman appreciates!