When it comes to sleeping bag care, the rules can seem daunting, especially if you’re getting into camping for the first time. For the longest time I didn’t understand how to care for my bag. Because camping can be a dirty and muddy sport, I figured sleeping bags needed to be cleaned often and with extra elbow grease.
As long as you’re not sleeping directly on on bare dirt, your bag has plenty of protection from the elements. Think about it. You’re usually sleeping in a tent (maybe with a footprint) on a sleeping pad. That’s a whole lot of protection for your sleeping bag. So, don’t worry about deep cleaning your bag, instead think of it like an old hand-made quilt.
Bottom line: If you think of caring for your sleeping like caring for a delicate piece of clothing, you’re on the right track.
Keep your sleeping bag in your tent
There are a lot of hazards in the great outdoors for an item made of delicate fabric. Sticks on the ground can poke holes in the outer shell, sparks from a campfire can singe the fabric, and rain can render a non-waterproof sleeping bag temporarily ineffective when it comes to regulating temperature. The most important sleeping bag care tip is this — keep your bag in your tent, and, if you’re planning on sleeping outside, use a waterproof sleeping bag situated on top of a sleeping mat (foam preferred in this case).
Always let your bag breath
It may seem convenient to keep a sleeping bag rolled up in the compression sack (you know, the sack that no human has ever figured out how to properly stuff a bag into), however prolonged storage in a compression sack can compress fibers within the bag making it less effective over time at keeping you warm. The second cardinal rule of sleeping bag care dictates that you’ve gotta let that beautiful sleeping bag breath. Whether you hang the bag in a closet or use a stuff sack, storing a sleeping bag uncompressed will increase the longevity of your bag and keep it functioning optimally for years to come.
Keep your bag clean, but not too clean
Knowing how to wash a sleeping bag is great, but how often should you wash your bag? Generally, if your sleeping bag is extremely dirty or you haven’t washed it in a few trips (or it’s downright stinky), give it a spin in the washer. However, not washing your sleeping bag every time you go camping can help increase its lifespan too. Think of it this way — if you wash your sheets and comforter every time you sleep in them, you’ll probably need to go shopping for a new bed set in no time.
Along with these three tips, a big part of sleeping bag care is preventative maintenance. Every time you wash your bag, take note of any issues like broken zippers, rips, etc and address them as soon as possible.
We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips. Let us know how you care for your sleeping bag in the comments!