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Wash your down sleeping bag

Dirt, grit and body oil ruin a sleeping bag’s ability go keep you warm, but they don’t ruin the bag. “Loft” is your bag’s giver of warmth: filth takes it away but a good cleaning and drying brings it right back. Down sleeping bags are washable and dryable, though it is a tiny bit complicated. (Don’t bother trying to get one dry-cleaned).

First of all, find a way to keep trail gunk out of your bag: use an interior liner as a barrier between your bag and your body funk, and an exterior cover as a barrier between your bag and campsite crud (backpackers who don’t want the extra weight will have to endure extra wash cycles).

Down is downright fickle: dirtiness reduces loft, but washing it too much has the same effect. Either way, your bag stops preserving body heat (if you liked shivering in your own stench you wouldn’t be here, right?)

So, don’t wash the bag a lot, but do launder it at the end of the season before long-term storage, or after your annual two-week backpacking trip. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tom posted at 10:25 am August 12th, 2008