Sleeping Bag Storage – How To Properly Store Sleeping Bags

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A comfortable sleeping bag is one of the most essential outdoor gear for campers and backpackers. In fact, when it comes to importance, it ranks right up there alongside camping tent and food. Having said that, you must take good care of it so that you can get the most out of this investment. Taking care of your sleeping bag entails a few things including washing, drying, and properly storing it. The last part, that is sleeping bag storage, is crucial but be that as it may it is also often the most overlooked sleeping bag maintenance practice as many sleeping bag owners simply stash their sleeping bags under their beds or stuff them in the attic or basement. That said, if you’re not aware of the proper ways on how to store sleeping bags, then we have this guide right here for you. Follow the tips and advice mentioned here are you can be sure that your sleeping bag will be in tip-top condition when you bring it out for your next camping adventure.

Preparing Your Sleeping Bag for Storage

Before we dive into the different ways on how to properly store a sleeping bag, let’s first take a look at what you need to do before storing your sleeping bag. These steps are crucial to ensuring that your sleeping bag will remain warm, fluffy, and fit for use.

Clean Your Sleeping Bag

If you haven’t been using a sleeping bag liner while you were camping, chances are that your sleeping bag now carries with it tons of dirt that were transferred from your clothes and onto the sleeping bag. That, combined with all the sweat and body oils that your body releases while you were sleeping, is an excellent recipe for a dirty sleeping bag. Obviously, you’ll want to get rid of all those things before you put your sleeping bag in storage.

There are different ways to wash a sleeping bag. For one, you can spot clean it using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a mild detergent soap. Simply brush on the affected area gently and rinse it thoroughly afterward. Second, you can dunk it into your bathtub and wash it by hand.

A third method of cleaning your sleeping bag is by throwing it into a washing machine. However, you should only use front-loading washers to wash your sleeping bags. Top loading washing machines have agitators that can damage the sleeping bag’s shell or outer fabric. Needless to say, use only a mild detergent when using a washing machine to clean your sleeping bag and put the washer in the lowest setting. In any case, never have your sleeping bag dry cleaned since this process uses harsh chemicals that can damage your sleeping bag’s shell or outer fabric.

Dry Your Sleeping Bag

You also need to make sure that your sleeping bag is completely dry before you store it regardless of whether you washed it or not. In fact, you should always ensure that your sleeping bag is dry even while you’re out at the campsite (put your sleeping bag over a camping chair or your tent and let it air dry for at least 15 minutes in the morning).

Forgetting to dry your sleeping bag before storage can result in a lot of problems that will render your sleeping bag useless for future use. For one, this can lead to the development of mold and mildew on the sleeping bag. And don’t make the mistake that you can simply brush them off your sleeping bag because, in many instances, such damage goes beyond the sleeping bag’s outer shell. For all you know, these organisms may have invaded even the insulation inside the sleeping bag. Second, storing a sleeping bag while it’s still wet will result in the bag developing an awful smell that even washing won’t be able to remove.

Most of the time, air-drying your sleeping bag should be more than enough to get the job done. Simply hang your sleeping bag on a clothesline or over a chair and leave it there for a day or two, bringing it inside during nighttime since the moisture from the cold evening air will only make it more difficult to dry your sleeping bag the next morning. Just remember not to put it under direct sunlight since the ultraviolet rays from the sun can damage the sleeping bag’s fabric. Also, don’t forget to turn the sleeping bag inside out to dry the inside of the sleeping bag as well.

IMPORTANT: Don’t Compress Your Sleeping Bag

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If you go over the information manual that came with your sleeping bag, you’ll see that many manufacturers will recommend against storing your sleeping bag tightly rolled up. This is because doing so will have a detrimental effect on the sleeping bag’s insulation. This is true for both down feather and synthetic fiber insulation.

Insulation loft is key to keeping you warm. Both down and synthetic fills need to fluff up (loft) to create small air spaces within the insulation. These then trap body heat to help you stay warm while you sleep. Compressing a sleeping bag will damage the structure of the insulation and will cause it to lose its loft or fluffiness. Eventually, the damaged insulation will lose its insulating capabilities. That means that it won’t be as effective in keeping you warm as it is intended to.

In the case of down bags, long-term compression can crimp the framework of the down feathers. When this happens, they’re less likely to return to their original shape and structure. The same is true for synthetic bags. Although synthetic fibers are thought to be more resilient to compression as opposed to down feathers, they are still prone to get damaged. They’re like paper which when folded will leave marks and creases on it. No matter how much you flatten the paper the marks will still be there. The same thing happens with synthetic fibers which have been compressed for a long time.

While both down and synthetic bag insulations do a good job of fluffing up after being compressed, there is a limit to their resilience. If you leave your bag in a compressed state (inside its stuff sack) for several months, it will lose resiliency and lofting ability, regardless if we’re talking about down or synthetic since both types of fills will be compromised.

Now that all those things are out of the way, let’s take a look at the different ways to store your sleeping bag.

Storage Method 1. Use the Storage Sack

When you buy your sleeping bag, it should come with two storage sacks. The first one will be the stuff sack which is much smaller and made of more durable material. A stuff sack is for travel or backpacking purposes only; whenever your bag doesn’t have to be in it (such as when you’re done camping and putting it in storage), you need to take the sleeping bag out of the stuff sack and (after cleaning and drying it) put it in the second bag: the storage sack.

Storage sacks will be larger and made of mesh, cotton, or some other light, breathable material. This storage sack is designed for the sleeping bag’s long-term storage. The larger size means that your bag won’t be compressed while it’s in storage and the mesh or lightweight material allows air to flow freely in and out of the bag so that the sleeping bag can ‘breathe’.

Under no circumstances should you leave your sleeping bag in the stuff sack. Some people think that just storing the sleeping bag in the stuff sack is a better idea since it takes up less room in the closet or under the bed (or wherever you want to keep your sleeping bag). However, as mentioned earlier you should never store your bag compressed as this will have negative effects on the insulation.

If you somehow lost your storage sack or if your sleeping bag didn’t come with one, you can use a large laundry bag instead. These bags are made from cotton and large enough to accommodate a sleeping bag without compressing it.

Storage Method 2. Hang It Up

If you don’t have a sleeping bag storage sack and don’t want to buy one, then another way of storing your sleeping bag would be to hang it on the wall. You can put hooks on the wall and hang your sleeping bag up by the loops found on the foot of the bag (that’s what they’re for). This way, air can flow freely around the bag and the bag is not compressed at all.

If you don’t like the idea of boring holes on your wall, you can use a sleeping bag or quilt hanger. These hangers are different from ordinary hangers since they are heavy-duty and were originally designed for hanging sleeping bags and bedspreads. They also have a non-slip bar that prevents creasing and keeps your storage closet organized and wrinkle-free.

Just remember to shake the sleeping bag out before hanging it. This will help to distribute the insulation inside the sleeping bag and prevent them from clumping. Also, avoid hanging your sleeping bag in walls that are prone to developing moisture (as is the case with some homes where the wall is shared by the storeroom and the bathroom). Lastly, don’t hang your sleeping bag in areas where it can be exposed to direct sunlight like a wall that faces a window or any large opening where the sunlight passes through.

Storage Method 3. Fold ‘em

If you don’t have a sleeping bag and you don’t like the idea of hanging them, then you may as well fold the sleeping bag and put it in your closet. However, you’ll want to dedicate a whole shelf for this since it will take up plenty of space. Should you decide to go down this route, remember not to put anything heavy on top of the folded sleeping bag since this will cause it to compress.

Storage Method 4. Stash It in a Bin

So you don’t have a storage sack, you don’t like putting hooks on your walls, and you certainly don’t have any shelf space to spare in your closet. As a last resort, you can stuff your sleeping bag in a large plastic bin. These bins are readily available in many local stores so you shouldn’t have any trouble looking for one. In fact, some people when faced with the choice of buying a storage bag or a plastic bin, they usually go for the latter since they think that it would be the more practical choice. For example, if they’re going camping, they can remove the sleeping bag from the plastic bin and transfer it to the stuff sack. Then, they can use the plastic bin to hold other things to bring when camping like food and others.

When choosing a plastic bin, remember to go for the large ones. Again, you want your sleeping bag to have plenty of room and prevent it from compressing, so don’t go cheap by buying the smallest bin you see.

Choosing a Storage Space

One last thing is that you need to consider is where you’ll keep your sleeping bag for storage. In any case, avoid storing your sleeping bag in the attic or the basement since these areas of the house are usually too hot or too damp. Remember, even the best sleeping bag is prone to damage when exposed to extreme temperatures and excessive moisture. Instead, find a space in your closet or an open shelf in the storeroom where you can keep your sleeping bag.

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Sleeping bags will last many years if treated right, and part of treating them right means storing them properly. Following the correct sleeping bag storage practices will help to prolong the life of your sleeping bag, and ensure that it keeps you warm and cozy for many years. Ignore these storage tips, and chances are you’ll end up with a flat and fluff-less mess.

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  1. How to Store and Clean a Sleeping Bag, Backpacker
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My name is David Hamburg. I am an avid water sports fan who enjoys paddle boarding, surfing, scuba diving, and kite surfing. Anything with a board or chance I can get in the water I love! I am such a big fan I decided to start this website to review all my favorite products and some others. Hope you enjoy!