So you’ve finally found your perfect sleeping bag. You’ve had some of your best night’s sleep in it. It’s been to great places, you’ve carried it, you’ve thrown it into your hammock without a second thought.
But if you don’t care for it, it won’t stay that great for long…..and it will start to smell really bad!
Basic care between uses-
After each use be sure to air your sleeping bag. If it’s dry outside then hang it out and let the wind blow through it.
Turn the sleeping bag inside out and hang it out in the sun. The direct sunlight will reduce the chance of bacterial growth and will reduce the likelihood of you having a stinky sleeping bag.
What to wear-
As I’m sure many of you know, in some conditions the less you wear in your sleeping bag, the better. It seems you regulate your temperature better, you feel cosy but don’t seem to overheat.
The problem with sleeping with no clothes on in your sleeping bag is that the moisture from your skin is being wicked directly in to your sleeping bag material, yuk! This then increases the amount of moisture, and with it bacteria, in to the main structure of your sleeping bag, meaning that it will start to smell.
The moisture and oils from your skin will also build up on the inside lining of your sleeping bag too, which will attract dust and dirt and be a haven for bacteria. Delightful!
So now many sleeping bag companies recommend that you wear a light base layer. This then stops oils from your skin going on to the inside material but helps to regulate your temperature too. Also, a base layer is far easier to wash and change regularly, making it a more hygienic option.
Washing your sleeping bag-
If an area of oil and dirt have built up on the inside of the sleeping bag, it’s a good idea to hand wash that area before the lining degrades.
Washing the whole bag shouldn’t be done too often as it will destroy the water repellant layer applied when first made, and can degrade the down or synthetic insulation too.
However, when your sleeping bag has been used for prolonged periods washing is a good idea. Be sure to use non detergent soap, or a wash specifically designed for sleeping bags.
If you are using a washing machine to wash your sleeping bag, be sure to use a front loading machine. A top loading machine will trash your sleeping bag, and isn’t great for the machine either. Machine washed on a gentle setting is best, it will be enough to remove surface dirt and oils, and give a full refresh without trashing your sleeping bag.
Drying your sleeping bag-
To dry the bag, ideally put it on low in a tumble dryer, but definitely not on high as this will melt the fabric. It’s also a good idea to add a couple of tennis balls to help fluff up the down and re-establish the sleeping bag’s loft (or fluffiness).
If you don’t have access to a tumble dryer then you can air dry it too, but be sure to shake your sleeping bag out regularly to prevent the down from clumping together.
Before packing away be sure that the sleeping bag is completely dry before storing away in its stuff sack. And if it’s not going to be used for a longer period of time then leave it out of the stuff sack and store it loose, or hung up from a clothes hook, so it can continue to air.
Ultimately your sleeping bag is an important piece of kit, they are an investment in to making your experience out on your adventures even more enjoyable. A warm, comfortable night’s sleep will make sure your expeditions are more successful and give you memories to treasure, rather than experiences you want to forget.
Without proper sleep mistakes are more likely, bad decisions can be made and accidents are more prevalent. Sleep is important. Being warm is also very important. So be sure to take care of your sleeping bag, and your sleeping bag will take care of you!