4 tips to take the best care of your Sleeping Bag

Your equipment is your lifeline when you’re out on an adventure and so it’s really important to take care of it. Here are 4 tips on how to take the best care of your sleeping bag to ensure it is a good companion on your next trip.

  1. Be nice to it on the trail/ when you’re outside. This includes things like ensuring you don’t drop stuff on it and don’t place it on sharp rocks! Remember the better you treat your equipment the happier you’ll be. 
  2. Cleaning your bag: If you’ve only used it for a couple of days just leave your bag unzipped in the sun for a couple of hours before you put it in storage. BUT, if you’ve just come back from a looong trek and didn’t shower for days, chances are your sleeping bag can get a little (more like very) smelly. In this instance, do not dry clean your bag BUT you should clean it. Here’s how: Use damp cloth to wipe down your bag and then leave it out in the sun for a couple of hours (make sure you check the weather forecast before you leave your bag out).
  3. Storing your bag: Never store your sleeping bag in the stuff sack that comes along with it because the next time you use it, the insulation won’t be as great. Instead try finding a larger mesh bag to store your bag. This is how I store mine!
  4. Washing your bag?? More often than not you don’t actually need to wash your bag. You can actually use your sleeping bags for years before needing to give it a full blown wash. If certain places are getting dirty- take a drop of non-detergent soap (I recommend castile soap, you can get it on amazon for like 200 rupees/ a couple of dollars) and specifically clean that area using an old toothbrush to remove stains. Do not use bleach or detergent on your bag. If you’re washing your entire bag, do it by hand (no machine please), use that same castile soap and most importantly be gentle with your bag. 

Choosing a Sleeping Bag

The most important thing to consider while choosing a sleeping bag is the purpose. Why are you buying this sleeping bag? The type of bag you buy to go on a two day trek in the summer is going to be very different than one you use for say a mountaineering expedition climbing a 6,000 meter mountain. 

That being said, regardless of where you’re going, investing time and energy researching the type of sleeping you need is always a good idea. While you might spend a majority of your time outside your bag, it’s the time spent inside your bag that will give you the energy to perform well and enjoy your experience outdoors. 

When it comes to purpose there are four things you should take into account.

1. Warmth. Being too cold in your bag is not a fun experience, and you always want to check the temperature rating of the bag (make sure you’re looking at the ‘comfort’ rating, not the extreme) and compare it to the coldest temperature of your trek or expedition. 

2. Okay great you’re warm enough? The next thing I’m looking at is the size of the bag. You want to make sure that if you’re a taller person the bag will fit you. You need to test the bag out before you go on the climb. Always err on the side of caution, and go for a slightly bigger bag if you’re confused, I like to be able to fit in my bag while wearing at least two layers.

There are many shapes as well – the two most common ones being the rectangle  and the mummy bag. I would strongly recommend a mummy bag for colder temperatures (i’m talking about anything below 10 degrees celsius here). 

3. The next thing you want to look at is the weight of the bag. If you are carrying all of your equipment yourself, you don’t want to be lugging around a HUGE extra weight, even 250 grams can start to feel like a lot if it’s on your back for 14 hours. If this is an assisted trek aka support team with porters or mules on your trek, then the priority of this weight factor goes down. 

4. Finally, the cost. This is a big one right. If this is your first time hiking, and you’re not sure whether you will do it again, it might be tempting to opt for the cheapest bag you find. If you do this, trust me chances are you won’t go out again for sure. Choose a bag that is in the middle range, and that fits all the criteria that I mentioned before. If you’re going on a more extreme trek or expedition, then you have to be ready for a bigger investment as there are a lot more factors at play, and having insufficient equipment can be dangerous.