Have you ever retrieved a sleeping bag out of storage and found that it is a little flatter than you remember? You are not alone in this.
We have fond memories of cozying up in a soft, fluffy sleeping bag last season. Then, we take the bag out of storage and feel disappointed as we find that it now it feels dense and less inviting.
This is quite likely if you zipped it up in a compression bag for the winter to keep it safe. The good news is that it is possible to restore loft to a sleeping bag yourself. It may not end up as good as new, but you can make improvements.
What type of sleeping bag do you own: a synthetic one or a down one?
First of all, you need to pay attention to the type of material that is in your sleeping bag. Are you using a down sleeping bag or one with a synthetic material?
The answer to that question can determine the best approach for restoring loft to your sleeping bag. Some campers say that you can use the same methods no matter what type of bag you have. However, results will vary. Let’s start with the down sleeping bags.
How to restore loft to a down sleeping bag
This types of sleeping bags are the easiest to re-loft, and the following techniques work most of the times:
Option 1: Beat it back into life.
There is a good chance that the down within your sleeping bag has compressed and matted together. That is why you can feel those denser clumps, and it isn’t as soft. In some cases, you might be able to handle the worse of it by plumping up the material by hand.
Some people like to treat it like a pillow and beat the life back into it. Hang it over a washing line and hit it with a tennis racket. This can be surprisingly therapeutic if you’ve had a bad day in the office.
Alternatively, if you are a little more patient, you might try pulling about the fibers to create pockets and space. This should immediately lead to a fluffier feel.
Option 2: Wash and tumble the sleeping bag
Then there are those that have a denser, flatter sleeping bag that could do with a clean. It is OK to wash a sleeping bag if you follow the directions carefully first. There is a chance that dirt and oil may have built up inside the bag, which again causes the down to stick and matt together.
Those that are brave enough to wash their down sleeping bag have also found that the weight decreases with the removal of dirt and oil. It just goes to show that you don’t always appreciate what your sleeping bag goes through.
Many campers do this in the bathtub for ease of access because you can really work the water into the clumps. Some also use a special soap that is ideal for down materials. But, regular clothes-washing detergent can work too. Others will turn to the larger top-loading machines of a laundromat for a safer approach. These machines have a higher capacity than your machine at home.
If the bag is clean, you might still try fluffing up the bag in the tumble drier. Again, it all depends on the material of the sleeping bag and instructions. Still, many campers find that a gentle cycle on zero heat is enough to add some loft. Some even put a tennis ball in which it to bash against the bag and plump it up further. Ignore those that say that low heat is safe. This might not be the case for the outer material of your bag.
How to restore loft to a synthetic sleeping bag
Many campers with synthetic bags have used similar approaches with significant effect. However, there are some factors to keep in mind here:
- Synthetic bags don’t respond as well to cleaning
- Synthetic bags don’t have the same lifespan on their loft.
This means that the chances of revival are a little slimmer. The manual process of beating and shaking the bag is the safer option. But, there is a lot of twisting, shaking, and plumping involved here. If you do clean the bag, don’t expect the same amount of loft. Loft degrades more quickly in these bags. Therefore, you old, flattened bag in storage may simply be past its prime.
Try some preventative measures to stop your sleeping bag losing loft in the future.
There is no need to go through this process every season if you can help it. There are some tricks you can use to help prevent this from happening again after your next trip.
How to prevent delofting for any sleeping bag
Trick 1: Don’t let it get so dirty!
If cleanliness was the issue and you removed a lot of oil and dirt, make efforts to reduce that risk on your next trip. You can make sure to sleep in clean clothes, so the dirt of the day’s adventures doesn’t end up in the bag. Also, use a liner or mat on the ground at night and air out bags during the day.
Trick 2: Pay more attention to how you store the bag.
Storage is a big problem with compressed sleeping bags. Too much-trapped air can make the bag stale and trap dirt and moisture. An extreme vacuum-packed solution flattens the bag further.
One solution is to store the bag inside out if it has a waterproof shell. This increases the chance of it staying fresh and clean. Also, look at the storage environment. It is clean and dry, or is there is a risk of damp and mold.
You can learn more about storing camping gear by reading our comprehensive article about this.
Don’t give up hope of your favorite sleeping back coming back from the dead.
There are ways to restore loft to a sleeping bag that breathe new life into the fibers. This is the case for both synthetic and down bags. However, your chances are better with down bags. Clean the bag, tumble it carefully, beat some life into it, and take more care of it on your next adventure.