Reviving a synthetic sleeping bag

5:47 p.m. on January 25, 2010 (EST)
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I have a synthetic sleeping bag that spent several years stuffed in its storage bag. It has lost much of its ability to repel the cold. Has anyone had any success curing this problem? I thought it might help to soak it in water an run it through a cold dryer.

10:22 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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101 forum posts

It is much easier to preserve loft than to regain it. Once it is gone it will never come back like it was. Washing and drying it may get a small amount of loft back but it will soon be back to the flat condition it started in.

The best way to store a bag is to let it lie flat or hang it from the loop built into most bags. Some come with a large storage bag that won't compress the fill to the point where it will be damaged. If you leave it in the stuff sack for too long the fibers/down will be crushed and not regain their original shape when uncompressed.

P.S. Welcome to Trailspace!

11:28 p.m. on February 1, 2010 (EST)
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Synthetic bags can sometimes be relofted by washing with Downey Fabric softener...secret insider magic.

Certainly worth a try!

4:04 p.m. on February 2, 2010 (EST)
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A fair amount of the loft can be restored by washing with one of the specialized wash products made by NikWax or McNett. I have been pleasantly surprised by how well these work.

1:51 p.m. on February 3, 2010 (EST)
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101 forum posts

I have a pillow for my dogs to sleep on that is filled with a polyester fiber similar to what is used in many sleeping bags. It was nice and fluffy with a lot of loft when new. After several years of use it has been flattened considerably. When it is washed, it regains loft and looks like a fluffy pillow again, but returns to its flattened condition after about a week of use.

I would imagine the fiber fill in a sleeping bag would behave the same way. You can wash it and it will reloft temporarily, but after several compression cycles I would expect the bag to return to its flattened condition. I would not want to take a trip where my bag was OK to start with but left me cold by the end.

For Dersu Uzala's sake I hope I am wrong, but the fibers in a bag that has been compressed for several years have to be severely compromised and I personally would not want to trust my comfort or the success of my trip to their diminished performance.

It won't hurt to wash it and see what happens, but compress it as many times as you think you will use it on a trip to test the loft's durability. Also, it will be in a stuff sack in your pack for 4 to 8 hours of hiking so be sure to include that time in your test too. I would be curious to hear the results.

May 22, 2018
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