Trying to find out how long you’ll be able to use your sleeping bag? You’re in the right place to discover how long a sleeping bag can last and what you can do to keep it in great shape for as long as possible.
A sleeping bag can last 30 years, 40 years, or in some cases, an entire lifetime. Choosing a sleeping bag carefully and taking care of it well can ensure its longevity.
If you want your sleeping bag to last decades, it’s important to know what you can do to help. A great sleeping bag is worth the effort, especially if you get to use it for the rest of your life!
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How Long Does a Sleeping Bag Last?
There are two variables that can play into how long your sleeping bag will last. The first is the quality of the sleeping bag when you purchase it. A high-quality bag can last 40 years or more according to the experiences of some campers.
Secondly, the way you take care of the bag plays a huge role in how long it will last. If you’re careful with your bag and keep it in good shape, you may only need to replace your bag once in your lifetime at most.
If, however, you choose a very cheap sleeping bag with poor stitching and materials, then you might plan on a few summers with it before you start having problems.
11 Tips For Storing Your Sleeping Bag So It Can Last a Long Time
Taking good care of your sleeping bag can very well mean that you never have to buy yourself more than one – Unless you like to switch it up when the weather changes.
In some seasons, you may wonder if you even need to use a sleeping bag at all. It’s only fair that you might want to pack lighter in the hotter months. To find out if you actually need a sleeping bag in summer, take a look at our article on the topic here!
Consequently, it’s important to know what steps you need to take in order to keep your bag in great shape. Follow these steps carefully, and you’re sure to be able to enjoy your sleeping bag for a long time to come.
Start With a Quality Bag
The best first step you can take is to make sure you purchase a sleeping bag that is made to high-quality standards. Not only is a quality bag more likely to last, it’s also often a better choice for keeping you warm.
If you’re camping in winter weather, you may need more than just a sleeping bag to keep you comfortable! To find out how to stay cozy when it’s 40 degrees or less outside, take a look at our article on the subject here.
Although a high-quality sleeping bag might come with a higher price tag, keep in mind that you also won’t have to replace it nearly as often if you take good care of it.
It’s possible to find a sleeping bag in the $25-$40 range that will work just fine for a few years. However, it may not be suitable for colder temperatures. Additionally, lower quality can mean problems like holes or flattened filling. On the other hand, something like the Kelty Cosmic (REI) may have a higher starting price but will last longer.
Use Careful Storage
Sleeping bags can be tricky when it comes to storage. Most sleeping bags come with a built-in ability to roll up into a more compact form. What many of us may not realize is that storing the sleeping bag rolled up isn’t actually good for keeping the bag in good shape.
When you’re taking your sleeping bag out on the go, rolling it up for a short is what the sleeping bag is designed for and won’t cause any issues. However, when you’re going to be storing it for weeks or months, you should leave it as loose as possible. Some campers like to simply hang it up. Giving your sleeping bag room to breathe helps to keep the materials from becoming too compressed.
Invest In a Liner
Why do sleeping bags wear out? Well, it’s a matter of friction mostly--the more contact and torque you put on your sleeping bag from tossing and turning is going to wear it out. One way to offset this is by using a liner.
A sleeping bag liner like REI’s Cocoon can help protect your sleeping bag. Even if you’ve made sure to clean yourself up before bed so you don’t put all the grime from the day in the bag, it’s still possible for sweat to get soaked up by your sleeping bag. Investing in a simple sleeping bag liner can help that from happening. It’s not a perfect solution but every bit helps.
Liners are designed to go between you and your sleeping bag. Consequently, any sweat or bug repellent or whatever else that might end up in your bed will have to go through the liner before going into the bag. On top of that, liners are much easier to clean than an entire sleeping bag and can be replaced at a much lower cost.
Keep It Clean
A liner is just one way to keep your bag clean, but you’ll need to know what other options you have as well. That includes knowing how to spot clean your bag, which is likely what you’ll need most often. Second, having an understanding of how to deep-clean your sleeping bag will be very beneficial. We talk about how to clean your sleeping bag here in case you want to know more.
If you’re careful, you shouldn’t need to give your sleeping bag a full cleaning too often. The more effort you put into keeping your bag clean from the start, the less likely it will be that it needs repairs, down (or other filling) replacements, or deep cleaning.
Keep Yourself Clean
Dirt on the outside is one issue, but dirt and sweat on the inside of the bag can be a much more annoying problem. If too much dampness manages to make its way into your sleeping bag, it can leave the bag smelling very unpleasantly – and getting that smell out can be quite a hassle (again, see our post here if you want to see what you can do to clean a sleeping bag)
You can help to avoid this problem by making sure you are clean before going to bed. Take a shower if you can, or use wet wipes if you have no other options. When combined with a liner, this practice can really help to keep your sleeping bag in the best shape possible.
If there’s one thing to remember about taking care of your sleeping bag, it’s that liquid is the enemy. Water getting into your sleeping bag can result in nasty smells and damage to the filling of the bag. As a result, it’s important to keep your sleeping bag dry as best you can.
That said, accidents can happen. Knowing how to get your sleeping bag dry safely and efficiently is key if you don’t want to end up having to replace it. Depending on the level of dampness, you may be able to hang your sleeping bag out in the sun, or you may need to spend some time drying it at low heat in your dryer.
Probably the most likely culprit of a damp sleeping bag besides the rain is sweat and your own breath. Spending one night in a sleeping bag isn’t likely to cause any real issues, but multiple nights on one trip--all that moisture will accumulate.
The easiest thing to do is to make sure you have proper ventilation in your sleeping bag and in your tent. If you are too warm, unzip the sleeping bag a bit, or take off a layer.
Learn How To Repair It
Even if you’re extremely careful with your bag, it may still receive some damage accidentally or through regular wear and tear. This is nothing to be ashamed of – and odds are it’s probably something you can fix!
Learning how to do simple repairs like fixing the zipper, patching holes, and replacing the down can be incredibly useful. Often, you’re likely to find that you can fix your sleeping bag at a much lower cost than it would take to buy a new one. In some cases, you may even be able to fix it for free!
This video is an example of a common problem you might see with a sleeping bag zipper:
It definitely takes some finesse and work. It’s not a painless process. Even better than knowing how to fix your zipper is how to prevent it from breaking.
Be Careful Using The Zipper
The zipper on a sleeping bag can be one of the easiest parts to damage. Consequently, it’s worthwhile to slow down whenever you’re using it. The extra few seconds it takes to gently move the zipper in any direction can save you a whole lot of headache.
The last thing you want is for your sleeping bag zipper to be stuck open while you’re camping in cold weather. Taking extra care can reduce the chances of that happening.
I’ve totally been there. When you’re cold, or tired, the last thing you want to do is fuss with a zipper. But if you rush it, you can rip your fabric. One of the most dangerous things on your sleeping bag is the zipper itself.
Make sure your fabric is clear from the zipper. If the fabric gets caught in the zipper, carefully pull on the fabric and move the zipper back to avoid ripping the fabric.
If you’re concerned about the risk of your sleeping bag getting wet, investing in something like Nikwax’s TX.Direct (Amazon) can be a wise choice. This spray goes on the outside of your sleeping bag and can even be used on sleeping bags that are filled with down.
This extra protection will help to ensure that any water that does get on your bag will be able to slide off without causing a problem.
As you do with any chemical on any fabric (make sure to check manufacturer instructions in case there are specific limitations), put it on a spot that won’t impact the usability of the bag so you don’t damage anything.
A hydrophobic spray is not enough to make an impermeable barrier, so you should be able to do this without affecting the breathability of the sleeping bag.
Use It Correctly
The best way to use your sleeping bag is in a well-covered tent, away from the ground. Don’t take your sleeping bag outside the tent or get it near the fire. The outdoors can be rough on your bag, and using it near the fire can result in holes or other problems.
We all get cold outside, but it’s far better to use a coat or light blanket outside if you need to, rather than your sleeping bag. That way, you won’t cause unnecessary damage to the bag and you can stay nice and warm.
Minimize Chemical Use
Some chemicals can be too rough on your sleeping bag. This is especially true if you use a sleeping bag that is filled with down. Consequently, you’ll want to pay close attention to any chemicals you do use on it.
If you need to wash your sleeping bag, make sure to use something down-friendly like Down Proof (Amazon). For cleaning tasks that are less serious, a small amount of vinegar can also do the trick. Always dilute first when cleaning to avoid damaging anything.
I tried to research dry-cleaning as an option and although everybody and their dogs said to not take your sleeping bag to the dry cleaners, I couldn’t find anybody who had tried it. So, probably best not to try it. You can check out Wikipedia here if you want to see what chemicals are used.