So the season is winding down and you want to get that sleeping bag and pad out of your hair until next season. I mean, come on, you’ve got ski and snowboard gear to get out, right?
While it may seem as simple as throwing the bag back into its stuff sack and throwing it in the closet, you will find that the next season it performs like, well, like you threw it in your closet crammed into a stuff sack.
See, what makes your bag work is the insulation between the outer shell and inner shell, and without it it’s just a useless sack, kinda like your ex. In order for the insulation to do its job it has to have loft, meaning it expands and traps air between the chambers, this air, in part, acts as an insulating barrier. If you cram it all together it eventually breaks down like your mother-in-law during the holidays, and nobody wants to see that.
So let that bag breath and relax for the winter.
For starters, clean it. Even if it isn’t dirty to the eye, it has body oils, sweat, lotion, bug spray, smoke particles, and god knows what else in it, and all of that “stuff” breaks down the fabric and isn’t good for its overall performance. Read the tag on your bag, some can be machine washed, some cannot. If it can, make sure you use non-detergent soap and the gentle cycle. Doing this in the huge washing machines at the laundro-mat is ideal.
If you can’t machine wash it, wipe down the outside with a non-detergent cloth, flip it inside out and do it again.
Now dry it. No high heat here, and expect it to take a few hours. Again, the laundromat is your friend. And make sure it’s dry, damn dry, like drier than your 11th grade math teachers sense of humor. We’re not kidding here, making sure it’s dry is uber important.
Here is the part almost everyone gets wrong. No it shouldn’t be in a stuff sack, and really it should be in any sack. Yes we’ve heard a breathable mesh bag is fine, and truthfully, if you’re crushed on space, it is, but try to avoid it.
Ideally you will lay it out under your bed and just let it be. If you have cats, sell the cat (kidding, kinda), but do be careful of small pets that can claw it, lay on it, etc. If the bed isn’t an option you can hang it vertically in the closet. If you absolutely have to bag it, then sure, grab a mesh bag, but loose-as-a-goose is the keyword you’re looking for here.
What About My Pad?
Same goes for your pad, but don’t throw it in the machine obviously. Wipe it down so it’s clean. Now open the valve and let it fill to its fullest potential (its mother will be so proud). Now squeeze all of the air out. Do this two more times. This will purge any moist air in the pad. Now leave the value open and slide it under your bed, ideally under the bag so they can reminisce about that last great camping trip while you’re out cheating on both of them with your snowboard.