A sleeping bag is easily one of the most essential and yet undervalued items for every hiker. Sleeping bag care and maintenance is simple, quick and often overlooked; here are some tips.
Keeping your sleeping bag clean Humans sweat when they sleep, it's natural but it can lead to damp, mould and a host of other unwelcome effects on your sleeping bag. Dry cleaning before and after use is an option, but on a hike this can be impractical. Instead, try to find a bath or shower facility and wash the bag thoroughly. A proper wash includes soaking the outside and turning the sleeping bag inside-out to clean the inside. A good tip is also to stand on the sleeping bag, removing air bubbles and ensuring the bag is soaked well. Read the label for the best soap/ conditioner to use and check that any residue is washed away before drying. Drying is as simple as using a tumble dryer or clothes horse. On a hike, try hanging the sleeping bag up and leaving it to drip dry. If it's sunny, this method can be surprisingly quick. If not, allow some time; washing and drying your sleeping bag first thing in the morning is a practical idea.
Storing your sleeping bag - long term and short term Long term, storing a dirty sleeping bag is unhygienic and potentially dangerous. Always ensure your sleeping bag is clean and dry before storage. If space allows, try hanging your sleeping bag up in a wardrobe for storage. This gives it air and stops it being crushed. If this isn't viable, try storing it in a cotton sack. Long term storage in the plastic sack most sleeping bags come with is not advised. Short term, the plastic sack is most practical, but make sure nothing is on top of your sleeping bag and that straps holding it aren't too tight.
Feathers These are some tips for care and maintenance of the down lining inside most sleeping bags. Before sleep, try shaking your sleeping bag to loosen the feathers and distribute them evenly. For comfort's sake, this is always worth doing. Over time, the feather down can become squashed and hard within the sleeping bag. A great trick is, when washing, to put a few tennis balls into the washing machine with the sleeping bag. The balls will shake the feathers, distributing them and forcing air through them. This is recommended before any long distance hike. . Follow these simple tips and enjoy a warm, comfortable sleep every night of your hike. Visit our Kent Camping shop for in store advice!