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Washing a sleeping bag

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Washing a sleeping bag

Postby balzaccom » Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:19 am

We've owned our REI Sub-Kilo sleeping bags for about six years now, and that means that we've used them on about 750 miles of backpacking trips. Since we usually hike about 7-8 miles a day, that's about 100 nights in the bag, not counting some of our car camping trips. Ewww.

So as you can imagine, the bags had started to look a little grimy in places. We've meant to wash them for a couple of years, but it's such a major process that we never got around to it. Until now.

A visit to REI got us the NikWax soap for down bags, and Ifilled up the tub and away I went, first washing the bag, then soaking it for a while, washing again, and then seemingly endless cycles of rinse and rinse and rinse and repeat. Then the delicate process of slowing squeezing most of the water out of the bag, and about 3 hours in the dryer on the delicate cycle. But it worked.

What was a grimy old sleeping bag now looks more or less fresh and new. And we were surprised to see how well they filled out their big "pillow case" storage bags once we had washed them. Before washing, they were not nearly so fluffy--although it's possible we could have fluffed them up a bit in the dryer even without washing them. At any rate, they are now clean! I can hardly wait to get mine packed away in its stuff sack and on the trail again.
Last edited by balzaccom on Thu Mar 24, 2016 11:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Washing a slaaping bag

Postby maverick » Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:52 am

Professional Sierra Landscape Photographer

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: Washing a sleeping bag

Postby fishmonger » Mon May 23, 2016 11:32 am

I washed my REI Halo this weekend. Stuffed it into a nice and tight stuff bag, filled tub with warm water and some Nikwax down wash. I then slowly removed it from the stuff bag underwater, which appears to be really effective at getting the bag soaked right away, without having to fight air inside of it. Left it for half an hour to soak, then 20 mins of squeezing and agitation, followed by 3 rinses with squeezing and agitating. The water was rather filthy on the first drain. Wow. The bag has been out in the Sierra for 6 longer Sierra trips, but being black and dark blue meant that it still looked pretty clean.

Rinsing took longer than washing. 3 tub fillings later I squeezed out the rest of the water, put the bag into the washing machine for a spin cycle. That really got the rest of the water out.

Into the dryer on low heat with 8 dryer balls, several sessions at one hour intervals with manual down lump breakups in between. Maybe 3 hours on warm, then 2 more hours on cold, just with the dryer balls, some inside the now zipped bag and some outside.

The bag came out with so much more loft than it has had in a long time, I am glad I did this. A while back I was thinking of buying a new bag (always looking for excuses to buy that Western Mountaineering bag), but this will do fine for a few more years. Up next is my son's REI Sub Kilo, which redefines the term "filthy." I may take some photos of that process, before during and after :)
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