How to Care for Your Sleeping Bag

Jeremiah Pastor “The Bullfrog” – AcadianX Lead Guide and Co-Founder

Sleeping Bag Care & Storage

The key to keeping your bag going strong is careful maintenance and cleaning.

Maintaining your sleeping bag

Dry it out. In humid or wet conditions, take every opportunity to dry your bag by draping it over a rock or branches, or just laying it on the ground. Moisture reduces loft in down bags.

Treat zippers with TLC. If there’s a snag, don’t try to yank the slider free. Instead, pull out the obstruction perpendicular to the track.

Never store your bag compressed. It’s devastating to the loft. Instead, use the large cotton/mesh bag it came with. Or hang it.


Let me tell you, whether you have a down, synthetic or blended sleeping bag, after a full backpacking season those things smell rank!

Of course, washing a sleeping bag can be stressful. Not only are sleeping bags expensive but they’re essential in keeping you warm and comfortable at night, allowing you to sleep better.

These are the “Do Nots” when washing your bag:

      1. Do not use bleach or softeners as they can destroy the insulation material.
      2. Do not use a top load washer, or washer that’s too small.
      3. Do not dry-clean unless it’s done by a sleeping bag professional.

Usually the manufacturer will list guidelines for cleaning and that should be your go to.  Typically, you will only spot clean when needed using mild soap.  Run your bag through a Laundromat washer and drier once the bag starts to feel gross (you know what we mean). Use a purpose-made soap (Nikwax Down Wash or Tech Wash) and launder your bag alone on a cold, gentle cycle or hand wash setting in a large front-loading washing machine.  Before washing, secure all zippers and snaps, and remove detachable pieces.  Bags with WP/B shells should be washed inside out.  Run the bag through the rinse cycle several times to remove all soap.  Re-treat the DWR coating as needed (see section 3) while still wet and dry the bag in a large clothes dryer using low heat.  Remove the bag occasionally to break up clumps of down, or dry with a few tennis balls.  Squeeze the insulation to check for moisture.


There are two schools of thought for storing your sleeping bag during the off season:

      1. Hanging them (over a hanger or similar)
      2. Rolling them into a stuff sack

If you don’t have room to hang your sleeping bags you can buy a large stuff sack that doesn’t compress the loft and allows it to breath, a mesh laundry bag works well for this.

Whichever your choose, you will want to store your clean bag somewhere it’ll not be squished, moist or scratched up. Also keep them away from UV light (like the sun) and heat, these both can easily destroy the bag.

Repairing your sleeping bag

Gaping holes Though rare, gaping holes happen due to accidents or negligence, especially along the zipper track. Do your best with duct tape in the field, then send it to the manufacturer or a specialty gear repair shop.

Replace If your tent is filled with feathers in the morning and there’s no visible tear, your bag is in unstoppable decline. After years of stuffing and unstuffing, the stitch holes in the baffles have stretched to larger than down-cluster size. You can delay replacement by layering up, but it will be time to face facts soon. For synthetics, once they’re no longer warm, it means the fill has compressed. That’s a one-way street.

How to fix small tears in your sleeping bag

Trim the frayed edges and ready a patch (McNett’s Tear Aid and Gear Aid’s Tenacious Tape are the standards; duct tape works if it has to, but will leave a mess later when you peel it off). Cut the patch round and a ½ inch larger than the hole on all sides. Apply the patch to the outside of your bag. Smooth out from the center to eliminate any air bubbles. When you get home, paint over the patch’s edges with Gear Aid’s Seam Grip. Let it cure flat before storing.

Pro-Tip: Sleeping bag liners are a great way to extend the life of your sleeping bag. Liners help to keep body oils and dirt off your bag and can add an extra few degrees, making your bag even more cozy!

What you got in that bag? Backpack Weight, Contents and Effect on Your Hiking Experience.

Jason Doucet “The Punisher” – AcadianX Co-Founder

Backpack weight hasn’t always been a concern of mine. My first hiking experience I borrowed an external frame pack from my friend Mike, threw whatever gear I had in it and hit the trail. As I progressed in my hiking adventures, purchasing new equipment along the way I admit I didn’t research anything. I’d decide I needed something new, go to the store and buy what was cheap and would serve my purpose. I was carrying  a couple of knives, a Leatherman, Altoid cans full of random firing starters, extra clothes and tons of food. The list goes on, I was throwing stuff in the pack. My mentality towards my loadout stayed this way for years until my first trip into the mountains. I hiked the Snow Creek trail in Yosemite National park. A stunning ascent out of the Yosemite Valley with an altitude gain of over 1700 feet while hiking 1.7 miles. Basically straight up. When I got to the top exhausted all I felt like I’d carried a backpack filled with granite. Completing this trip, I immediately began to reassess the items in my pack. To me this was critical because from Yosemite, we were headed to Grand Canyon National Park. It was August and the group I was with planned on hiking the South Kaibab Trail to the Colorado river, ascending back up the Angel Bright trail to spend the night at Indian Garden. Neat fact: Kaibab means “mountain laying down” or “upside down mountain” in Navajo. So, we arrived at the Kaibab trailhead early one August morning and began our descent into the canyon. It was a really hot day and when we arrived at the Indian Garden campground I was exhausted. I’d spent most of the day adjusting my backpack. I couldn’t get comfortable. I felt like my pack was heavier than when I hiked Snow Creek. I was determined to never end a hike feeling this way again.

Hiking up the Snow Creek trail in Yosemite National Park.

Unlike when I began hiking the internet was now easily accessible and information was abundant. I was inundated with information. Everyone was talking about ultralight hiking, and cutting their toothbrushes in half, and ditching all creature comforts. I agree this approach has merit, though I believe it’s a little excessive. What I did do was start saving my money. First, I bought a new backpack. I purchased an Osprey internal frame pack weighing around 3lbs. Compare this to my old North Face pack which weighed nearly 8lbs. Next, I purchased a new tent and sleeping bag, again reducing my weight. The combined weight of my first load out of the B3 (big 3: backpack, tent, and sleeping bag) was nearly 18lbs. my new setup, 8lbs and currently my B3 weigh in at a whopping 5 lbs.

The benefits of reducing the weight of your pack are obvious. You spend enough time on the trail and you’ll reach a point when the only way to reduce your pack weight is to lose weight. A jest but it’s true. Carrying a heavy pack puts tremendous stress on your hips, knees and back. This burden takes away from the experience. Another key piece of information is, “Purchase a pack that fits you.” This is not a bookbag. Go to a store and get sized properly. A backpack with hip straps and chest straps is designed to carry a load a certain way on your body. Do the right thing: do not negate this design feature as I did when I purchased my first backpack. It’s not cheap, but it’s worth it. Afterwards charge through, save money, use the gear you have and set a goal to purchase the next two pieces of equipment to complete your B3. These two items can be as expensive as the backpack. My B3 cost around $1000 combined. Take your time, research, talk to friends, borrow gear and, never buy the Zero degree bag off Amazon.

Referring to my dissent from mantras of ultralight hiking, I’ll say I understand why a person will forego creature comforts such as a blow-up mattress, camp chairs, pillows, camp shoes, or other items such as binoculars and a titanium Snow Peak French presses– two things I feel enhance my adventure. I love a good cup of coffee. Here’s some Jason Doucet tips to lighten your pack and enhance your hiking experience.

      • Get all the gear you’re going to consistently use on most if not all trips, seasonal changes aside. Once you’ve reduced weight, introduce items with redundancy. Examples of items I carry are my titanium pot which also functions as my drinking cup, my 18-ounce shelter tarp supported by my trekking poles, eliminating a heavy tent and tent poles.
      • In addition, learned skills such as packing your backpack, which will make it ride better on your body making it feel lighter, setting up a tarp shelter or using water purifying tabs or a water filter.
      • Water purification skills are important. Water weighs around 8lbs a gallon. Now imagine you’re carrying 2 gallons with you on your trip into Glacier National Park in August, 60 miles over 4 days. That’s a lot of weight–but wait. If you do the research and have acquired the skills, you’ll know that you don’t need to carry much water at all because you’ll be walking along rivers, lakes and waterfalls the whole trip.
      • Lastly, I want to address hiking shoes. Many people start out buying a nice pair of waterproof hiking boots. Water resistant is more like it. I suggest you get use to wet feet. It’s ain’t so bad. They’ll dry, and any way shoes have a big hole in the top wear your foot goes. Back to the hiking boots, consider this, the United States Army wrote a research paper equating every pound on your feet to 7 pounds of force being exerted on your hips, knees and back. For example, I wear steel toed boots often. I weighed them, 2.3 pounds each. The math, 2.3 x 2= 4.6 total weight of both shoes, multiply this by 7 = 32.2 pounds. This means when I wear these boots the impact on my hips, back, and knees is the same as walking around with a 32-pound pack. Add a pack to the equation and think about the forces your joints are exposed to on a 20 mile hike. I personally hike in a pair of trail running shoes, combined weight less than 2 pounds. Before doing this consider how much ankle support you need. I would suggest checking out the Salomon shoe company.
      • A backpack is an extension of the wearer. Apply skills you’ve learned to determine what you absolutely need and then pack what you desire. Learn your likes and dislikes. You’ll find you don’t need enough food for 7 days on a 3-day trip.

Be safe out there and let us know if you have any questions. We’d love to help any way we can, cheers.  For more information about packing your backpack and choosing the right gear for you please visit our learning center at AcadianX U.

Homepage | AcadianXU (

Here is a link to our suggested gear packing lists to assist you in organizing your gear needs:

AcadianX Gear Packing Checklists – AcadianX Outdoor Adventures