If you are an avid camper, chances are, you are very much attached to your sleeping bag. If you have found “the one” here are some useful tips in maintaining it so you can be sure that you will be enjoying a lot of camping trips together.
An important aspect of maintaining your gear is of course, to keep it clean. Keeping it clean does not necessarily correspond to how well or often it’s washed, but on how it’s kept from being dirty in the first place so that it will not require too much washing (which can also contribute to wear and tear).
It is always best to pair your bag with a tent with waterproof flooring so that the dirt and moisture from the ground will not come in direct contact with it. If for some reason you will not be sleeping inside a tent or if your tent does not have waterproof flooring, a useful tip would be to cut a big garbage bag. Spread open, this garbage bag will work well in providing dirt protection to your bag’s underside.
However, it’s important to note that dirt does not only come from the outside, it can also come from you. Before cozying up inside your bag, make sure that much of your body is covered by clothes to avoid oil from your body coming into much contact with the interior. Bag liners can be purchased so that you do not come into direct contact with the interior of your bag (it is also easily removable and easier to wash).
After having used the bag overnight, make it a practice to fluff it, air it out and let it sit in the sun. Doing this ensures that any dirt is shaken off, all moisture is dried out and what’s more, the heating in the sun diminishes unpleasant smells as well (really!).
Avoid washing your sleeping bag more than necessary. If after use it is still relatively clean, fold it neatly and stow away in a well-ventilated area. If you would prefer to wrap it up before storage, use a cloth bag and not plastic or synthetics that will not allow it to “breathe”. Having the bag inside any plastic container may cause it to get mildew or molds, and may likewise leave it smelling unpleasant (unless you like the wet-dog smell!)
If it requires washing, make sure to check the washing instructions first. Some bags may require professional cleaning, but for most, the usual water and detergent will do. Use mild detergent to avoid damaging the insulating fibers in your bag in the long run, and avoid using bleach unless absolutely necessary. Rinse it thoroughly to avoid any soap residue and make sure that it is completely dry before storing.
The key to the longevity of your camping gear is proper usage and maintenance. Maximize your investment in a quality sleeping bag by taking care of it before, during and after use – and you can rest assured that you will be using it for many camping trips to come.