Jan 21 2012

DON’T Get Stuffed! Give Your Stored Sleeping Bag Room to Breathe

Gossamer synthetic fabrics and compression stuff sacks have made it possible to reduce the packed size of sleeping bags to an absolute minimum. This makes sense when you’re living out of a rucksack, and it’s one reason why I bought a new sleeping bag not long ago. I wanted a bag that would slip into my getaway pack or my Axiom Champlain panniers and still leave enough room for all the rest of my gear, including a Big Agnes Insulated Air Core sleeping pad. As this shot of a pannier shows, my new down-filled Kelty Coromell 25 fits the bill admirably:

Plenty of Room

Rated to 25 degrees Fahrenheit (that’s the significance of the 25 in the name, I suppose), the Coromell is plenty light—less than 3 pounds total. Better yet, it scrunches down into a 7-inch by 14-inch package:


That’s a one-pint thermos in the photo, by the way, and the billy in the plastic bag to the right of the Coromell is a diminutive Mini-Trangia cooker. A GSI Personal Java Press completes the picture.

So… The Coromell packs a lot of comfort into a small space. I wouldn’t be doing it any favors if I kept it trussed up in the tight confines of its stuff sack between trips, however. Down is wonderfully compressible, but the tiny plumules are fragile things. Which is why I remove my sleeping bag from the stuff sack as soon as I get back from a trip, air it on the line (weather permitting), and then transfer it to a large, breathable storage bag. If the bag is badly soiled, I wash it first, of course. But be warned: Down bags aren’t easy to clean. Folks who like to snack in the sack should consider this—and remember that bears, who have a nose for any free lunch going, like to eat in bed, too. They don’t much care whose bed it is, either. And they have terrible table manners.

You say that your bag didn’t come with a handy storage sack? No problem. A large cotton pillowcase works just fine. The price is right, too.

Breathing Room

The bottom line? Whenever your sleeping bag doesn’t have to be in your pack, give it some breathing room. After all, none of us likes to be cooped up unnecessarily, do we?

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