Eddie Bauer Down Sleeping Bag (vintage 1950)

9:31 p.m. on September 6, 2010 (EDT)
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I'm a 51 year old former Boy Scout. At the age of 13 my grandfather passed down his Eddie Bauer Cold Weather, "King Of The Artic" Blizzard Proof, Rated at -40 deg. Down Sleeping Bag. I would venture to say it is circa 1950 and is in excellent condition. Can someone give me an idea of it's value?

Also what is the best method to have it cleaned?

1:02 a.m. on September 7, 2010 (EDT)
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Cleaning the bag is the same as any good quality down bag - use one of the specially formulated down washes from NikWax or McNett. These washes come with directions. Go to a laundromat that has the industrial-sized front-loading machines. Wash cool to warm, rinse cold. Tumble dry at the coldest temperature setting for the large dryers (you might scout out several laundromats to find one that has experience with down bags). Put 3 or 4 new tennis balls (or at least very clean tennis balls). These will fairly gently help to break up the clumping that washed down gets.

I have a Bauer Karakoram, bought in 1960, also a -40 bag. I still use it from time to time, though it is quite heavy by today's standards (6.5 pounds, compared to my Feathered Friends at 3 pounds, which also stuffs much smaller). I have washed it by the method I described a couple dozen times with great success.

Before you wash it, check for any tears or holes inside and out. Down can leak out through these in the wash and dry process.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, dry clean your down bag (this goes for any down bag or down jacket). That will remove the oils from the down, causing a major loss of loft. Plus the cleaning fluids are toxic - at the least, you would have to air the bag out in an extremely well-ventilated location before it was usable.

As for value, like anything else, it's worth what some insanely fanatic collector would pay for it. You gotta find the collector first, though. Remember that the bag cost about $50 back in the day (equivalent to close to $1000 when you take inflation into account). Unfortunately, there aren't all that many collectors of mountaineering memorabilia around, and they mostly want the hardware. What was the bag used for? If it was hunting and fishing trips, then you won't find much if any market. But if it was used by a famous mountaineer on a well known major expedition that made a major first ascent, you might get a couple hundred - though more likely, one of the handful of mountaineering museums would request you to donate it and would give you a receipt good for a tax deduction. A collector would want it to be in "excellent" condition (meaning "almost like new").

12:14 a.m. on October 5, 2010 (EDT)
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If you didn't want to wash it yourself, you could always send it off to Rainy Pass and have it done.

October 21, 2014
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