Camping is an excellent way to get outside, step away from technology, and relax. However, when the trip is over and it's time to pack away your gear, storing your backpacking sleeping bag correctly can feel more confusing than finding your path on the trails!
It may seem simple, but taking the time to properly store your sleeping bag can make a big difference to its condition over time. If you store your supplies in the right manner, it can significantly reduce wear and tear, help fight mildew, and overall prolong your sleeping bag's lifetime.
If you're looking for the correct sleeping bag storage techniques, or simply want to know how to pack away your supplies more efficiently, then this little guide is here to help. From how to prepare your sleeping bag for storage, to handy extra tips - you'll have everything you need to keep your gear safe!
The Right Way to Store a Sleeping Bag
If you're feeling unsure, here are all the steps you should take in order to ensure that your sleeping bag is stored correctly - after all, sleeping bags can be quite expensive!
How to Prepare
You might be tempted to pack away your supplies as quickly as possible, but being correctly prepared can make a lot of difference
- De-Compress Your Sleeping Bag
Compression Sacks are excellent for use on the trails - they keep your bag safe, portable, and dry. However, you should never store a sleeping bag in them long term, because too much compression can prevent the insulation from lofting correctly over time. Always make sure you've removed your bag from its compression stuff sack before it is stored away.
Your sleeping bag may not need to be deep cleaned after every use, but it's a good idea to make sure it's in good condition before you store it away.
Spot clean any problem areas with lukewarm soapy water, or wash your bag in any home washing machines that don't have an agitator. Agitators can cause severe damage to your sleeping bag, and even cause it to be less insulating, so it's really important to check that your washing machine doesn't have one.
You should also try to use a laundry detergent that's formulated for sleeping bags, especially if your bag uses down insulation.
- Air and Dry Your Bag
You should always make sure that your sleeping bag is entirely dry before you store it. Regardless of whether you've given it a wash, it's always a good idea to hang your bag outside or in a well-ventilated area of your home before you pack it away.
Excess water can build up in your sleeping bag from washing, transportation, or even from your breath as you sleep. Storing a bag that isn't completely dry can encourage mildew to grow, and cause damage over time. Therefore, you should always air everything out for at least 24 hours, to ensure any leftover moisture has fully evaporated.
If you prefer to use a tumble dryer, remember to always use the lowest heat setting possible, to protect any delicate fibers from melting. It's also a good idea to put a few clean tennis balls in the dryer with your bag, as they can help prevent the loft from clumping and becoming less effective.
- Check Your Storage Room
Everyone has their own storage preferences, but it's important you try to store your bag in a cool, dry place with plenty of air circulation. This will allow all of your supplies to breathe, and help keep mold and mildew away.
It's always a good idea to double check that your closet space or storage room has decent ventilation, and doesn't have any damp spots that could affect your sleeping bag.
Storing your Bag Correctly
Once you've prepared your sleeping bag for storage, here's how to correctly pack it away:
- Take your clean, aired out bag and double check that any moisture has completely evaporated away.
- Fold the sleeping bag as loosely as possible - try not to roll it tightly, as this can cause the loft to clump together.
- Gently put your sleeping bag into a large storage sack. This should be made from a cotton or mesh fabric, which will allow everything to breathe whilst being stored. It should also be spacious enough that you can easily fit your bag inside, without stuffing it like you would with a compression sack.
- Stow your sleeping bag in a well ventilated storage area or closet space. Double check that the room isn't too humid, and that it's generally fairly warm - especially in the winter!
Here are some handy extra pointers, so that you won't dread packing away your supplies after a backpacking trip!
- Make Your Own Storage Bag
If you don't already own a storage bag, it can be tempting to just pack your sleeping bag into its stuff sack. However, storing your sleeping bag in a compression sack can cause significant damage to its insulation, meaning it won't be as effective at retaining body heat and keeping you warm.
It's surprisingly easy to make your own cotton storage sack at home, as old pillowcases are often perfect for the job. They're spacious enough to fit most sleeping bags, and will allow your bag to breathe. If you enjoy sewing, you can even give the pillow case a drawstring top for easy portability!
- Hang Your Bag Up
A great alternative to using a storage sack is hang up your sleeping bag. If you have a cloak room or large closet, then why not use them to store your unused sleeping bags? Most bags have a loop or tag that allows them to easily be hung from a hook on the wall, and it helps make sure that everything is well ventilated and able to breathe during storage.
- Use a Shelf
Another great option is to use a shelf to store your bag. Simply fold your sleeping bag loosely, and tuck it away on a shelf that's in a cool, dry place. Try to ensure your storage area gets a good amount of air flow, and doesn't get too cold or damp in the winter.
1. How long can you keep a sleeping bag compressed?
Compressing a sleeping bag in a stuff sack is an excellent solution when you're travelling light on a trail. However, it's definitely not something you should be doing for long amounts of time.
When you're backpacking, the longest your sleeping bag will in be in a stuff sack is the few hours it takes you to travel from one campsite to another. These short term compressions shouldn't have too much impact on your bag's loft or warmth - but longer periods in a stuff sack will start to cause problems.
Therefore, you should compress your sleeping bags for no more than a few days - and certainly not longer than a week. Taking the extra time to store your bag properly will not only protect the insulation, but help ward off mold and mildew, too.
2. Is it better to roll or stuff a sleeping bag?
Generally, it's better to stuff your sleeping bags instead of rolling them. Rolling may seem neater, but it actually makes it harder to squeeze out enough air to fully compress each bag, which may prevent it from fitting in your pack properly.
Remember, stuffing should not be used for longer sleeping bag storage, as it can cause harm to both the loft and shell materials over time. Always store your bags in a loose cotton sack, hang them up, or place them on a shelf.
3. How do you store a sleeping bag in a backpack?
When you're hiking, the best technique for storing your sleeping bags in your backpack is to compress them in a stuff sack, and ensure they're kept at the very bottom of your bag with other bulkier items.
Depending on the type of sleeping bag you own, and the climate you're hiking in, you may be able to attach your sleeping bag to the outside of your pack using a carabiner. Keep in mind that this won't always be suitable for wet weather backpacking, or if you're also carrying a sleeping pad.
A backpack should not be used for longer sleeping bag storage periods, so take a look at our guide above to learn how to properly pack away your bags!