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Sleeping Bag Buying Guide

In this guide, gear editor Kristin Hostetter shows you how to pick the right sleeping bag for any outing.
Gear School 09 Bag illo 445x260Gear School 09 Bag illo 445x260

BACKPACKER Tips: Washing your sleeping bag

Follow these tips to keep your investment lofting high.
1. Read the label or seek advice on the company’s website. If those directions contradict any of our tips below, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.

2. Batten down the hatches. Close all zippers and fasteners, then turn the bag inside out, so body oils on the interior will wash off.

3. Use the right soap. For down, go with a cleaning product that won’t strip essential oils from the feathers, such as Nikwax Down Wash or ReviveX Down Cleaner. For synthetics, try Granger’s Extreme Cleaner Plus (which also works on down).

4. Wash it. Hand-wash in a tub, or use a front-loader; the agitator in a top-loader can tear baffles. Always opt for the gentle cycle with cold water. After one complete cycle, run an extra rinse or two to remove the soap.

5. Remove carefully. Support the bag from underneath to keep waterlogged insulation from ripping out stitches. Hang it lengthwise on a laundry line until most of the water weight is gone.

6. Dry it. Place the damp bag in a large commercial dryer. Dry on low heat, and check frequently. Remove down bags every 30 minutes to de-clump the feathers. Back home, leave your bag unstuffed for a few days. And when you do store it, be sure to use a large cotton sack or pillowcase, not the little nylon stuff sack you use while on a trip.

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