Down Sleeping Bags

Down Sleeping Bags

Lets get the low down on down. If you have ever spent a night outdoors, either camping or hiking and you spent the whole night shivering and desperately awaiting the sun rise, then you understand the need for a quality sleeping bag with the right temperature rating.

Down are the fine under-feathers that provide superior insulation and warmth in waterfowl (ducks, geese). Down has long been used as the epitome of warmth and luxury in beds, pillows, doonas, duvets, jackets and…. You guessed it, sleeping bags.

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Down as a filling is more expensive but has a better weight to warmth ration and can be packed down smaller than synthetic fills. And when cared for properly, a down sleeping bag can often last longer than synthetic sleeping bag. And price will vary greatly over the range of sleeping bags depending on the brand, quality, fill power and weight.

Why can a Down Sleeping Bag last longer than a Synthetic Sleeping Bag?

Down as a natural fibre is surprisingly resilient, and can withstand being stuffed (yes stuffed, and we’ll talk about that more later) and restuffed time and time again. And a quality down sleeping bag can last for up to 10 years, making the money you spend at the beginning well worth it in the long run.

How small can a Down Sleeping Bag get?

Down is very compressible and its why a down sleeping bag is often the go-to for backpacking and hiking. A quality down sleeping bag like the Nemo Sleeping Bag range can be compressed down into a parcel that is not much bigger than a water bottle!

What is Down fill power?

Fill power determines the “fluffiness” of down feathers. And if you have ever slept under a down filled doona, you know what we mean by fluffy. You wake up in the morning and your bed resembles the Michelin man! Its lofty and squishy like a giant marshmallow of warmth. And in terms of fill power of a sleeping bag or even a down puffer jacket it’s no different. Fill power reflects the ability fluff up trapping more air (warm air) and provides a better warmth to weight ratio.

But there are some down sides to Down, all pun intended.

Water

Just like the Gremlins of the 1980’s movie or the Wicked Witch of the West, Down does not like water! When Down gets wet it becomes a soggy mess, and loses nearly all of it’s amazing insulating properties. This is where synthetically filled sleeping bags come into their own, as they can retain warmth even when wet. At Bundy Outdoors we would recommend investing in a light weight waterproof sack or dry bag to put your Down sleeping bag in, just to be on the safe side.

Storing Down Sleeping Bags

Down sleeping bags do not get rolled, they get stuffed! That is why you will see that most Down sleeping bags come with a “stuff sack” – the Nemo Sleeping Bags come with both a stuff sack for use on the trail and a storage stuff sack. By stuffing your Down sleeping bag, you can remove more air from between the fibres allowing for a smaller pack size. Before you start stuffing, flatten the sleeping bag out, then start at the foot end, this usually traps the most air, and stack as you stuff. The foot box of the sleeping bag goes into the stuff sack first, then progressively stuff and stack the sleeping bag until you have the hood at the top. For added compression some manufacturers stuff sacks will also have compression straps. When not on the trail, a Down Sleeping Bag should be stored semi-lofted (loosely stuffed) into a storage sack that has adequate ventilation. Don’t use a fully sealed plastic bag.

Cleaning and Care for Down Sleeping Bags

You should always refer to the manufacturers cleaning and care recommendations, as if you clean, and store a sleeping bag incorrectly you could find you are not covered by warranty, and when a quality down sleeping bag can cost any where from $250-$500, you want to make sure you get the most out of it.

For a general guide on cleaning and storing a Down Sleeping bag and the products used click here for some more info.

As with all sleeping bags regardless if it is a Down sleeping bag or a synthetic one, hiking or camping, the best way to keep it cleaner for longer, maintaining hygiene and lifespan, here at Bundy Outdoors we always recommend using a sleeping bag liner.