Having trouble keeping your sleeping bag dry?
That means you’re probably doing something wrong.
In this post, you’ll learn how to avoid moisture building up in your bag, how to choose a waterproof product, and much more.
Sleeping bags are tailor-made for camping conditions. It’s no wonder nearly every camper uses them. For all the good things about them, though, it is not uncommon to wake up wet. Moisture accumulates on the exterior of the sleeping bag due to condensation, morning dew, or wet weather conditions (if you’re more exposed to the elements). In some instances, moisture accumulation on your sleeping bag is unavoidable. Many camping experts claim that a wet sleeping bag is not the end of the world and you will only suffer mild temperature loss.
Nevertheless, you should still take precautionary measures to stay as dry as possible because a dry sleeping bag is a warm sleeping bag.
Synthetic Bag or a Down Bag – Guide for a waterproof sleeping bag
There’s a reason why we start with differences between types of sleeping bag fabric. It’s the moment when you’re choice of fabric could make your problem even worse.
When it comes to camping in wet climates, a synthetic bag is almost always better. This is because the synthetic bags are made up of tightly-wound plastic fibers, which provide much more water resistance than a down bag made of feathers. In addition to providing more water resistance, it also dries quickly. Synthetic bags also come with the added benefit of being significantly cheaper.
However, synthetic bags are heavier, harder to pack away, and ultimately less durable. They are also less comfortable, and generally less warm, than down bags. Regardless, you will stay warmer longer in wet conditions with a synthetic bag, due to its water repellent nature.
Down bags are made from wispy plumage found beneath a water fowl’s exterior feathers. This plumage typically comes from geese. Your down insulated jackets and duvets are often made of these same wispy feathers. Down bags are measured in Fill Power. I won’t bore you with the exact mechanics of how Fill Power is measured — just know that the higher the Fill Power, the warmer the bag.
In general, down bags are significantly lighter, warmer, more compressible, and comfortable than synthetic bags. They last longer, sometimes even for decades, because of their ability to compress and fluff up again without damaging the down interior. Unfortunately, these bags aren’t the best for wet conditions. When they get wet, the down begins to clump together, losing insulation. You can treat down bags with water-resistant chemicals, however, it won’t hold up to full submersion or heavy rain.
Solutions for having a dry sleeping bag
As you might have guessed, it’s all down to you’re camping habits to prevent sleeping in a wet place. Here’s what you need to improve:
1. Use a Bag Cover, Bivy Sack, or DIY One With a Rain Coat
A bivy sack or a bag cover serves to protect a sleeping bag from rain and morning dew. Many people use bivy sacks to replace their tents, an interesting choice to the novice camper, but a reasonable choice to a long-distance backpacker who needs lightweight travel and weather resistance. It is important, however, to make sure that your cover is breathable, or else you run the risk of building up internal condensation that will pool on your sleeping bag. One option, if you don’t want to invest in a bivy sack, is to wrap raincoats around your sleeping bag, which will act as a water repellent.
Actually, having a great plan for camping storage will solve most of the issues that arise for beginner campers.
2. Use a Liner before Storing in the Bag
If you’re backpacking in wet conditions, you can keep your sleeping bag from soaking through while you travel by using a liner. You can use a trash compactor bag with a liner, or simply use the trash compactor liners inside of your regular sleeping bag container. If it is extremely wet outside, you may even benefit from doubling up your liners.
3. Hang Your Bag Out to Dry Each Morning
Your sleeping bag has already fallen prey to morning dew or condensation. So, now what? If you are in a dry area or a windy area, you can hang your bag out to dry. Synthetic bags will dry faster than down bags, but either one can dry in a few hours or less if they are barely wet.
4. Avoid the Urge to “Wipe Down” the Beads of Water on Your Bag
Water beads on top of your bag are a sign that your water repellent is working. It can be tempting to wipe these water droplets off the bag, but you should avoid this tendency. When you wipe down this water, it actually forces wetness through your protective barrier, penetrating deeper into your sleeping bag. Instead, follow our last tip and hang the bag out to dry. The water droplets will either roll-off or evaporate beneath the sun, leaving your bag dry and ready for its next use.
Learn how tent waterproofing works, and see if some of those ideas could be transferred for sleeping bags.
5. Ventilate Your Tent
A little airflow can do a lot, especially if you forget to take everything outside to dry. Not to say that this will help against condensation as well.
So, open up those windows, or, if you have a tent with a screened area, don’t zip up the main entrance.
6. Store a dry tent
Sometimes, people forget to dry their tent and store that went tent for too long. Therefore, the next time they’re camping, there’s no wonder why their sleeping bag will get wet.
So take some time and take care of your tent, as mistakes like this can damage your camping equipment.
As you can see, most of the time you are to blame for a wet sleeping bag. Yes, the fabric does make a difference, but bad habits can ruin even the most expensive sleeping bag.
So why not be a bit more careful?
Remember, dry equipment often leads to a comfortable camping experience. Not to say that is the number one priority if you want to stay warm when camping.