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How to Fluff a Sleeping Bag

I've been reading a lot about storing sleeping bags properly and not having them compressed due to it wearing down the loft, but having purchased for the first time in a long while recently I've noticed that they come all rolled up tight and pretty compressed. Gotta wonder too how long they've been that way.

The last sleeping bag I bought for my wife, for an impromptu car camping trip, came all rolled up and compressed and it just doesn't seem to have much loft to it. It's only a 40-60 rating but the fill just feels thin as a bed sheet and when I tried it out in the house, on a bed, I wasn't warm at all...

Now I just bought, or should I say, Santa is bringing, my son a new Kelty bag for xmas and again it's in a box, all rolled up tight...

So, I'm wondering about re-lofting them some how to counter the bad storage. Thought about just sticking them in the clothes dryer (no fabric softener) for a bit and seeing if that helps. It puffs up my down pillow like mad when I do it but both these bags are synthetic fill.

Any opinions?

I have 2 synthic bags as well. This is what I do. After use It. I wash them in Cleaner Nikwax Tech wash. I then throw them in the dryer with those agitator balls. You know the funny looking kind that look like a ball with a procupine outside. I check on my bag every 20 mins to make sure its not melting the outside lineing and Its set on the lowest heat possible. Like fine linens setting. My dryer is a front load as well. I keep it in there till the oustside feels dry. Then I take them or the one bag out. Lay it out to throughly dry overnight on a spair bed in the house. I leave it open and check it 24 hrs later to make sure the inside is dry as well. You'll notice the difference in loft when you take it out of the dryer. Also I store mine in a big cotton sack. Or If you have the room store them by hanging the bag. But yes throw it in the dryer and let it go for about one hour to get the loft back up.

In my experience most reputable retailers hang their bags. When I picked up a down bag I asked the sales bloke and he said they arrive in their compression sacks but they hang them up when they get them. 

Chuck a couple of new tennis balls in the dryer too, it helps re-loft washed down and might do the job for synthetic as well. 

Synthetic does get worse with repeated compressing and this can lower its temperature rating but I would not put much faith in manufacturers' claims anyway - always purchase an extra season. There is a 'universal' system in Europe now, so I would have 'some' faith in one of those, provided it was regulated. But all is not lost, as you can car camp or downgrade the use of the bag or use one bag inside another and so on.

You need a very good tumble dryer, with an accurate thermostat, before you proceed. Some synthetics have 'crimped' filaments (or hollow fibres?), which can apparently be damaged by excessive heat. And when I 'downgraded' some expensive duvets for the bed, causing the filaments to clump (they are advertised as not clumping), it may have been the tumble dryer in the laundromat that did it.

Your pillow probably has some feather in it. I imagine a down pillow would just flatten under any weight.

I find the stuff sacks supplied by the manufacturer to be a form of torture and try to find a waterproof compression sack that is about 150% the volume of the original if I can. But ultimately, and less helpfully, once we could afford down bags, we haven't used the synthetic ones except for car camping or summer.

if you are only interested in fluffing, not drying, then set your dryer to "no heat."  most clothes dryers have that setting.  i have usually found those little dryer balls to be inadequate; i usually throw an old pair of tennis shoes into the dryer at 'no heat' to fluff bags, whether they are synthetic or down.

i do the same thing when i wash the bags, but i dry them on low heat with the sneakers.  i have also found that dryers with a moisture sensor do a better job of not overheating.



I have a Western Mountaineering bag and they provide a storage sack as well as a stuff sack.  The storage sack is around four or five times the volume of the stuff sack plus it is made out of cotton.  The one additional thing I do is to take the bag out of the stuff sack twice per year, fluff it up, place on the bed so it lies flat for several hours and, then it back in the storage sack.  Anything that might have been 'stressed' will most likely no longer be stressed when placed back in the storage.  I don't know how much it helps but, I am still able to use my "MaKit" 20° polarguard sleeping bag that I sewed together back in 1976!

The other practice I have is, when I come home from a camping trip, all the sleeping bags that have been used by my family members, I wash 'only if' really necessary and, when I place in the dryer I turn the heat on low.  I open the dryer and check the temperature about every five minutes.  When the temperature gets nice and warm, I turn the heat... off!  The temperature is at that point warm enough to remove any humidity.  Now, if the bag was indeed washed, I place in the dryer, let it warm up then turn off the heat. I then let it it run for a half hour, check the temperature, turn on the heat for a few more minutes and turn the heat off for a second time and let the bag dry completely for another half hour.  I use this practice for both down as well as polarguard bags.  I also use the large dryers at laundramats.

I have thought of making a hangar for my sleeping bag such as what is used in retail stores.  One can be made out of wood, if you don't have access to a pipe bender.  Then I would place thick 'pipe insulation' over the upper edge to distribute the weight/pressure.  But, I don't have the room in my bedroom closet to keep it from getting crushed, so I use storage sacks.

 I store my winter bag in a large mesh or net bag with drawstring top. A cotton bag or large pillow case would work similar.  Close with safety pins, clothes pins, spring clamps or anything to keep it contained.  Same as a b-ball or diving storage bag. 

My summer bags have hang loops on the toe end, so I put a hook/ screw up high in a closet under the stairs (if you have inside stairs).

I have used down bags almost exclusively. To keep the down fluffed I just take them out of the bag, roll them out and store them that way until I use them again. In 20 years my old Gander Mountain -20F bag still has it's 6" loft. In reading these responses hanging may be better than that. Not sure but what ever you can do to keep them as fluffy as possible.

Manufacture temp ratings are almost always way too low. I am a cold sleeper and want a bag rated at least 20 degrees colder than it will be.

Get a bag with lots of loft (thickness of bag rolled out and fluffed).

A bag rated at 40-60 degrees F won't keep you warm anywhere and will be as thin as a sheet.

Good luck and stay warm.

January 24, 2021
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