How to care for a sleeping bag
It’s summertime in Ontario and for thousands of Torontonians, that means weekend cottaging, summer road tripping, and camping up north! Here’s one very important question, though: have you unpacked your sleeping bag yet since packing it up last year? We definitely recommend giving it a visual inspection and a smell test before you head out into the wilderness — or even just into the backyard to gaze at the stars. As specialized cleaning experts, we’ve seen pretty much everything that can go awry with down sleeping bags or synthetic sleeping bags, so we’ve compiled a list of the greatest culprits when it comes to sleeping bag grime, smells, and damage.
The dewy morning grass or an unexpected rainstorm can leave you with a damp sleeping bag and that’s a recipe for trouble. Mould and mildew can take over quickly if you’re not paying attention, so while you’re out there camping hard, be sure to air out and dry out your sleeping bag as often as possible.
Dirt, sweat, blood, and your body’s natural oils
Camping, hiking, and portaging are hard work and you’re bound to get a little grimy (and maybe even a little bloody) along the way. After an intense day of pushing your body to its limits, it can be tempting to dive straight into your sleeping bag as soon as the tent is set up. But hang on! Try to find one last bit of energy to change into fresh clothes or use a lightweight sleeping bag liner to protect the inside of your bag.
Sunscreen and bug spray
Whether chemical or all-natural, products like sunscreen and bug spray leave residue on your skin until loooong after you apply them. On top of that, they make it extra easy for dust and dirt to stick to your skin. Try to wipe or clean your skin before hopping into your sleeping bag, change into a new set of clothes, or invest in a sleeping bag liner to keep your bag clean and fresh.
What’s more quintessential to summer relaxation in Ontario than curling up by a toasty campfire to share stories, roast marshmallows, or just gaze into the fire? Resist the temptation to sit too close with your sleeping bag! Sparks from the fire are killers to the outer layer of your sleeping bag. Consider wrapping yourself in an older blanket or a sleeping bag that was less of an investment than the one that keeps you warm at night.
That’s right — sleeping bags can be their own worst enemy. Zipping yourself in a little too enthusiastically can get the zipper caught on the lining or outer layer, which can lead to rips, and then the loss of feathers and warmth! Take care to zip and unzip slowly to avoid damage to your bag. (Although we can definitely help you with those kinds of sleeping bag repairs!)
Of course, you need to keep things light, compact, and even compressed while you’re out on a hiking trip, but once you get home your sleeping bag needs to breathe! Avoid packing it up tightly again in the tiny stuff sack it came with and shoving it in the attic. After all the summer trips are over, let your sleeping bag air out and give it a good cleaning, then store it away in a storage bag. Giving it a little extra room will allow it to maintain its loft (its comfy, fluffy factor) and will keep it smelling fresh and clean until your next camping trip.
Even if you’re extra careful with your sleeping bag and diligent at caring for it, it still might smell a little musty after 10 months in storage. Before you head out on your next adventure, bring your sleeping bag into your closest Parkers location for any necessary sleeping bag repair and cleaning. Pst! We know that summer gets busy, so contact us about options for free pick up and delivery.