Ask any experienced camper or hiker what the most essential piece of equipment apart from a tent is. Aside from proper clothing and footwear, they would probably tell you it is a sleeping bag. There are a couple of reasons why it serves as a great investment for anyone who is interested in spending more time in nature.
First, a proper sleeping bag should provide you enough insulation and thermal protection to keep you warm during the winter months. Also, it is the piece of equipment that will allow you to get much-needed sleep during the night. Last but not least, it can protect you from external factors, such as wet conditions, wind, and snow.
Bearing this in mind, you will want to get the most out of a proper sleeping bag. In order to do this, you will need to know how to store sleeping bags, as well as proper methods of cleaning and drying them. Thus, we have prepared a set of tips that should help you when it comes to keeping these bags in optimal condition. Let’s take a look.
The First Step - Cleaning Your Sleeping Bag
Unless you want your sleeping bag to get moldy or start releasing odors, you will need to clean it before putting it away. The first step of the process is to remove any dirt and debris that came along with it. If you were out in nature for a couple of days, it is perfectly normal that your sleeping bag is not in optimal condition.
Even if you were camping in cold weather, there will still be sweat and oils that you have released from your body. Naturally, the sleeping bag will soak this stuff in. Still, there is nothing to worry about.
There are a couple of common methods that hikers and campers use for cleaning their sleeping bags. The safest one is with a toothbrush and mild soap. However, we can argue that this is probably not the most efficient method.
Diluting soap in lukewarm water will allow you to spot clean any stains as well as remove dust and debris from the sleeping bag. While this carries no risk of the liner or the inner filling being damaged, it will take some time for you to thoroughly clean the sleeping bag.
That is why we consider the second method as the most effective out of the three that we will discuss. It involves soaking the sleeping bag in a solution of mild detergent and water.
If you want to ensure that all the bacteria are removed, you can also add a bit of apple cider vinegar. Once the sleeping bag has sat there for a couple of hours, you should hand wash it and leave it to air dry.
The last method requires the least amount of effort, and it is washing the sleeping bag in a machine. On the other hand, this method comes with an array of risks. First, the agitator that most washing machines feature can rip the outer fabric. Not only this, but the liner or the inner filling can clump during the washing process.
This is why you should only perform this cleaning method if the manufacturer explicitly recommends it. Additionally, the washing machine should be at the lowest setting and temperature.
The Second Step - Drying Your Sleeping Bag
We have already mentioned that preparation is the key to keeping the sleeping bag in optimal condition. Nobody wants to use a product that is full of mold and mildew and has an awful smell. These are the potential consequences if you don’t make sure that, once your sleeping bag is clean, it is left out to air dry.
This is the safest and most efficient method. An important thing that you should keep in mind is that it should be turned inside out in order to ensure that both sides of the liner become dry.
Another precaution is that the sleeping bag should never be left out in direct sunlight. While this may speed up the drying process, UV rays could damage the fabric, which is not something you want.
The Third Step - Storing Your Sleeping Bag
When the sleeping bag is thoroughly dry, you can move on to choosing storage. There are a couple of different methods to choose between.
The most popular method is to use a stuff sack for transporting it. A good thing is that a high-quality sleeping bag is designed with adjustable straps and can be easily folded into a stuff sack. What you should consider is that the small stuff sack should be used as an option only for when you are out and on the go.
This is because it is not optimal for a sleeping bag to be compressed for a long period of time. While you are at home and the sleeping bag is out of use, we suggest you put it in a larger storage sack.
The other method is to simply hang it up. For this, you will need to install hooks on a wall that is not prone to moisture. This way, you will avoid the development of mold and mildew. One of the best things about this method is that it allows proper insulation and distribution of heat. This will prevent the inner material from clumping.
Last but not least is a method that you should use only if you can’t get a storage/stuff sack and all your walls are prone to moisture. While folding your sleeping bag is an option, keep in mind that it will take up a lot of space. Additionally, you should make sure that nothing is pressing down on it to avoid the risks of compression.
As you can see, storing your sleeping bag is not as complicated as it seems. The whole concept revolves around proper preparation and making sure to take certain precautions to prevent mold, clumping, and odor. Follow the aforementioned tips and keep your sleeping bag in an optimal condition throughout the year!