How to properly store a sleeping bag

In this article, we are going to discuss how to store a sleeping bag so that it maintains its shape, insulation and increases the life of your bag.

Storing your sleeping bag in a stuff sack between camping trips might seem like a good idea. After all, it saves space, which we could all use more of; especially if you have other camping gear to store like tents, lanterns, flashlights, etc.

That said, simply storing your sleeping bag until the next trip isn’t the best idea. This can actually reduce the longevity of your sleeping bag, which can end up costing you money in the long run when you need to replace it.

Woman in a sleeping bag

If you want to maintain the structure and comfort of your sleeping bag, it is important not to place it in a tight stuff sack when packing and to follow these simple rules:

The rules for storing a sleeping bag

Properly storing a sleeping bag between trips involves:

  1. Take it out of its bag or storage bag
  2. Dry it well
  3. Store it freely in a large breathable mesh or cotton bag
  4. Place it in a dry and cool place

If you have a sleeping bag designed specifically for hiking, these steps are even more important, since you probably pack your bags regularly before hitting the trail. These rules also apply to bags with synthetic or down insulation and to bags of all sizes (including large square camping sleeping bags).

How to store a sleeping bag - Roll up the sleeping bag

Why You Shouldn’t Overdo It When Compressing Your Sleeping Bag

In order to stay comfortable during the siesta, an insulated attic is necessary. Body temperature is maintained at a higher level as the down and synthetic fill expands (or puffs up) to retain heat.

Without a sleeping pad under your sleeping bag, the padding cannot expand under the weight of a person. Because of this, your sleeping bag will be cooler under you.

Down and synthetic sleeping bag fillers have limitations, although they rebound well after being flattened.

Being enclosed in a stuff sack for long periods of time will cause down and synthetic fillings to lose elasticity. This especially happens to synthetic fillings.

Thoroughly dry your sleeping bag

Without leaving your bag directly in the sun, which would damage the material, open the bag completely and let it dry outside for no less than 6 to 8 hours. This will prevent mold and mildew from forming if you do this after each use.

Turning your bag upside down for the first half of the drying time will speed up the process. If your bag is waterproof, even better because waterproof materials retain moisture longer.

However, not everyone has outdoor space available. If so, a dry indoor space that is temperature controlled will work just fine. Adding a dehumidifier or fan will also help.

Adding tennis balls to a commercial dryer will help dry and fluff your bag evenly, if you have washed it and want to dry it thoroughly. Keep in mind that a standard household dryer will usually not be large enough for this.

When using a dryer, always use a low heat setting and check your bag often to avoid damage.

washing a sleeping bag

Wash your sleeping bag and keep it clean

Be sure to only wash your bag when it smells bad, gets dirty, or stops swelling. One wash per year will suffice for average users. And do not dry clean, as the chemicals used will deteriorate the material.

Standard household washing machines can also put your bag at risk with agitators. This can be avoided by using the larger front-loading washers at a nearby laundromat.

Moving the slider to the middle of the zipper, after completely unzipping the bag, before throwing it in the wash will prevent the slider from coming loose during the wash cycle. A quarter cup of mild powder detergent in a warm and gentle cycle is all you need.

Additional tips for drying your sleeping bag

This gets tricky when moving the bag to the dryer, as the materials can tear more easily when wet, so be sure to use a rolling cart and lift gently when taking the bag out of the washer. It is also important not to tug on the bag in any way.

The same level of caution applies to removing the bag from the rolling cart to place it in the dryer. Also look for a dryer you could crawl into (hypothetically speaking, of course) to make sure it’s big enough to handle your bag. Remember that tennis balls in the dryer can keep your bag intact. 6-12 of these should do the trick.

Please set the dryer to the lowest and coldest setting. You should have a clean, dry bag in about 2-5 hours once you put your quarters in the dryer.

You also want to make sure to check your bag throughout the drying cycle. If you notice extreme heat, clusters or clumps, air dry it instead.

Find a place where humidity and temperature are controlled

When it comes to storing bags, choose a corner closet over a basement, garage, car trunks, or attic. Humidity and high temperature variations in these areas can be damaging.

Store it in a large breathable bag

Choosing a corner closet will require you to find one that has plenty of space for the most common jumbo cotton storage bag.

If you don’t have one of these bags, a king-size pillowcase or a 90-litre cotton or mesh bag are other storage options. However, the king-size pillowcase will be much smaller, making it the less desirable option.

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