Buying a sleeping bag can be a big deal, and these days, quite expensive. When investing your hard-earned money, you probably want to know how long that sleeping bag will last you. First, we’ll look at the material to understand the differences, then talk about the general life expectancy of a sleeping bag, followed by the proper care in order to reach that top end of the scale. Sound good? Cool, then read on!
Material Of The Sleeping Bag
The first thing to think about is your sleeping bag’s material, and really you’re asking yourself the question: is this down or is this synthetic? If it is a down sleeping bag, then you can expect to get more use out of it before it shows its age, thins out, and becomes pretty useless. A synthetic sleeping bag on the other hand will be much cheaper, but you guessed it, it’ll need replacing much quicker than a down one.
Now this isn’t us warning you that ‘if you buy cheap, you’ll buy twice’ because actually synthetic sleeping bags are much easier to care for, and you could easily ruin a down sleeping bag much quicker if you don’t care for one properly, but more on that later. For now, let’s focus on the key bit. How long should you expect your sleeping bag to last?
General Life Expectancy
If looked after and cared for properly, then a down sleeping bag will last much longer than a synthetic one. You’ll meet people in the camping community who claim to have had their down sleeping bag for thirty-plus years, sleep in it every night, and have never had a problem with it. Be wary of these people. Most people can expect to use it semi-regularly, and if cared for properly, can realistically expect to have it for around 10 years before you’ll need to replace it.
If you opted for a synthetic sleeping bag, then you can more realistically expect it to last for 5 to 6 years if you find a particularly good one. So really, you’re looking at around half the life expectancy of a down sleeping bag, but considering it is far cheaper, it might be a better option for you. Before you decide, let’s talk about ways to guarantee a longer life for your sleeping bag. Follow the steps in the next section and your sleeping bag, no matter its material, will survive for much longer than you probably expected!
What Makes a Sleeping Bag Go Bad?
All sorts of things can make your sleeping bag no longer usable. Let’s explore what things can go wrong, letting you know its time to replace your sleeping bag.
Quality and Craftsmanship Failures
First is the basics of the sleeping bag, its the quality. You can take care of a sleeping bag to the best of your ability, but if the manufacturer used substandard parts like cheap zippers, poor stitching, etc, that can place you in a position to need a new sleeping bag well before you should.
Mold In Sleeping Bag
If you leave your sleeping bag stored with moisture in the bag and keep it in a humid area, you can bet you will end up with mold in your sleeping bag. While there are ways to get rid of mold in a sleeping bag, it is not advised to continue using the bag once mold is discovered. Mold carries serious health concerns and I would not recommend simply “cleaning” the sleeping bag and using it. You are potentially breathing in those mold spores (even the ones you can’t see) while you sleep.
Exceeds Life Expectancy
If you take really good care of your sleeping bag and buy a quality bag, it will last a long time. However, like all things, it won’t last forever. Once you have had a bag for over 10 years, while you may love it, it may be time to grab a new one.
How To Care For Your Sleeping Bag Properly
Proper care can save your sleeping bag’s life. It really is that dire. So, what care tips can we give you to make your sleeping bag last longer?
Store it Right
First, store it properly. Stuffing your sleeping bag into a tight bag will quite literally knock the stuffing out of it (or move it around a lot, at least). If you displace your stuffing inside the sleeping bag, it’s more or less time for a new one. Make sure you store it in a loose bag that isn’t so tight, that way when you next come to use it the stuffing inside will be exactly where it ought to be, and you’ll have a warm, comfortable night.
Keep it Clean and Dry
Second, wash it properly, but not too often. It’s tempting to wash your sleeping bag every time you get back from a trip, but if there isn’t any dirt or marks on it, then you can probably leave it until the next time you camp. Washing too often, with the wrong detergent, and leaving to soak for too long will all ruin your sleeping bag, especially down ones. Down sleeping bags hate the wet, so try to keep these dry as much as you can. Spot cleaning is a great way to make sure everything is fresh for your next use without shaving years of your sleeping bag’s life in the machine!
Finally, make sure your sleeping bag is 100% dry before putting it away. Left even slightly and damp mold can grow, so make sure it’s fully dry. It’s always best to line dry it where possible, but if you need to put it in a machine, that’s fine – just be mindful of how often you do it and always read the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand.
Treated well, your sleeping bag should last between five and ten years, and possibly even longer if you’re especially responsible. Follow the tips above, be mindful of your sleeping bag’s material, and you might just surprise yourself with how long it’ll be until you need a replacement!