Do Your Sleeping Bags Get Heavier Over Time?

tradigan21 Member Posts: 28

My first nice sleeping bag was a Western Mountaineering Highlite that I didn't take the best care of and it gained a significant amount of weight in what I assume is dirt over the years and had some trouble staying lofted. It was 15 oz when I bought it, and 20 oz when I replaced it.

I currently have an EE quilt that I've been much better about keeping clean and throwing the dryer whenever I have a chance to help it last as long as I can. I've had it for two years, used it about 150 nights, and have washed it with down wash several times. It's up from 14 oz to 16 oz.

It's less about the weight and more about that there's clearly still filth in my bag that's going to interfere with the loft and durability of the bag. Does anyone have any tips other than washing it more to get the dirt out of the down?


  • Jessicaholly88
    Jessicaholly88 Member Posts: 41

    The only way I've ever managed to keep mine clean is washing them, unfortunately it's a really time consuming task washing down bags and getting them dry properly! I think some places offer professional cleans for down bags too! I'd like to also know of any other ways apart from washing!

  • tradigan21
    tradigan21 Member Posts: 28

    I think I'm going to see if I can use the weight as a guide to when the bag is clean. I'm going to wash and dry it thoroughly myself this week and weigh it when it's done. If it's still noticeably heavier, I'll try a professional clean and see if there's a difference. After posting this and thinking about it, I think cleaning the bag until it weighs what it originally did is probably a sign of it being well-cared for.

  • Naomibro
    Naomibro Member Posts: 92

    7/22.That weight? usually it's microscopic critters (bacteria) you shed (yeah, gross and a half!!) Euu! It's usually bacteria to blame for "Hiker Funk" odors and B.O.

    There are special detergents for down. Pricey but totally worth it. Stick with light loads when washing down. Make sure all detergents are completely rinsed. Use cold water too if possible. You have to completely DRY down. Use some (2 or 3) wool covered, clean tennis-sized balls you toss into the dryer which literally beat your down clothing.

    When home, and your bag clean, neatly hang up.

    Feel around for any damp spots when item(s) cool. Cleaning down well is a 2-3 day chore, you have to test for dryness when garment dry. In a pinch, use any clean tennis balls in the dryer (makes a racket!) Just hanging up does not work for us after wash. Damp or greasy down useless and loses ALL insulating properties; You HAVE to use good rain gear over down.

  • tradigan21
    tradigan21 Member Posts: 28

    Yeah, that's what I was thinking. I wasn't sure if it was physical dirt or bacterial filth, but I suspect both. I gave the bag another thorough wash in the tub, rinsing it until dirty water stopped coming out when I squeezed the bag. After a thorough drying cycle, it's back to 14 oz.

    I'd cleaned it previously, but apparently not well enough. So I think that's a good guide for when the bag is clean - when it's back to its original weight. I don't use down for anything but a sleeping bag currently because of the care required and sensitivity to getting wet. I prefer synthetic insulation for all my layers so I'm less concerned about getting wet. Down layers do usually last longer though.