For those of us who want to ensure that our sleeping bag lasts for many years to come, one of the most important things we can do is to ensure that we store it correctly. Common mistakes include compressing it too much in storage, or storing it away while it’s still damp. The storage space is also important, and by storing a sleeping bag in a controlled environment with adequate control of both temperature and humidity, you help ensure the fabric stands up to the test of time and keeps performing season after season.
The insulating ability of a particular sleeping bag is rated by a term known as insulation loft. Essentially it represents the number of cubic inches that one ounce of down will fill when allowed to reach its maximum loft. A higher number means less down is required to maintain warmth, and this has the knock-on effect of a sleeping bag that weighs less. Air is a wonderful insulator and when pockets of it exist between the insulating material, the insulating properties of the sleeping bag are increased.
One way to demonstrate this is to place your sleeping bag on a cold floor with no insulated padding beneath. Once inside, you’ll begin to notice that your underside will feel the cold considerably more. This occurs because the insulation is compressed by your body and the loft can’t manifest its insulating properties.
The potency of the insulation provided by a sleeping bag depends on its ability to “fluff up”. When your bag is rolled up and compressed before being stored, you negatively affect its ability to fluff up by compressing the insulation—whether synthetic or down. Over time the lofting ability is decreased and this, in turn, leads to a sleeping bag which over time loses some of its ability to insulate.
It’s vital to dry your sleeping bag out before you store it away. If you don’t, you’ll likely face issues with mould both on the surface and inside.
The best way to dry your bag is to open it up fully and allow the air to circulate in a dry outdoor space away from direct exposure to the sun. The UV rays of the sun can negatively affect the quality and strength of the fabric over time.
The sleeping bag can be turned inside out to enhance the drying process. This may be a necessary step if the outer shell of your bag is water repellant, as the moisture inside may be held within, unable to evaporate by being locked in by the shell.
Sleeping bags can be dried inside if an adequate place outside cannot be found. Just be sure that humidity is factored in. In humid environments, a dehumidifier may aid in the drying process. But for those who are really stuck, then commercial dryers are an option. However, low heat setting should always be used. Home dryers are generally too small for sleeping bags. With smaller drum diameters they often keep the sleeping bag balled up inside and thus drying is less effective.
Many people use their sleeping bag during the summer months and thus prefer to store their sleeping bag somewhere out of the way for the remainder of the year. Some end up in a cold shed or an attic over the winter months, but this is no place to store one if you want it to perform longterm. In those unheated and damp environments, the fabric of your sleeping bag will be compromised over time.
The best place to store a sleeping bag is likely in the corner of a bedroom closet where the temperature is more constant and controlled.
As eluded to above, your sleeping bag should never be overly compressed. Many high-quality sleeping bags come with a large cotton sack that allows the sleeping bag to fill out slightly without taking up too much space. This helps you avoid running into issues with loft but still ensures that the sleeping bag takes up a small amount of storage space.
If your sleeping bag didn’t come with a large sack, then a king-size pillowcase provides the next best solution.
At Decathlon, we stock a wide range of sleeping bags that come in a variety of shapes, sizes and ratings. Whether for the warm summer months or for the hardy few who venture out in the cold winter months, you’ll be sure to find one that matches your needs. And with the aforementioned tips on storing your sleeping bag, you’ll be sure to make its warmth last for years to come!