Caring for Your Gear

Taking care of your gear is like taking care of your teeth: if you do a good job, you'll save tons of money, and have something you can rely on to do what it's supposed to.  This article will go over how to keep your gear in good condition so you don't have to replace it as often, and can always rely on it.  

Washing and Care for Your Sleeping Bag

How to wash your sleeping bag is a question that a lot of people have. But I would like to mention something right off the bat: don’t wash your bag if you don’t have to. If you take care of your bag well, you really shouldn’t have to wash it anyways. Washing it can wear out the bag faster, and sometimes cause things like clumping in the insulation.

One thing that will really help you to take care of your bag is to use a sleeping bag liner.  It feels a lot like a sheet inside of your sleeping bag. It slides right inside your bag and serves as a protective layer from dirt, sweat, etc.  

Don’t keep your sleeping bag in the compression sack after a trip. Pull it out, and hang it from the hanging loops to completely dry out before putting it in the storage bag.  

Washing the bag: put it on the most delicate cycle using colder water. Don’t use detergent unless you buy a special down detergent.  If its a synthetic bag like one of our OV-Lights, you can use a bit of detergent.

When you are drying the sleeping bag, use the no heat setting. A helpful tip is to put a bunch of tennis balls in the dryer along with the sleeping bag. Those help unbunch any clumps of insulation that may have formed when the bag was washed.  

You can also wash your bag in a bathtub.  Fill the tub with water, swirl your sleeping bag in there a little bit, rub out any stains you see, then let it dry out.  We don’t recommend really squeezing the water out of the bag, just hang it up and let it drip and air dry.

Allow Your Sleeping Bag Time to Loft

Once you get to your location pull your sleeping bag out of the compression sack allowing it to loft (or fluff up). With sleeping bags the loft of the bag is what keeps you warm. The more the bag can fluff up the warmer you will be. Down bags especially need to loft up.  

The first time you use your sleeping bag will typically take the longest for it to loft up. After that, it shouldn't take so long. But to play it safe, be sure to give the bag some time before crawling into it to sleep.  

Allow Your Sleeping Bag Time to Air Out After Sleeping

The number one thing that makes a bag cold is getting it wet or damp. Our bodies naturally bring moisture into the sleeping bag. Through breathing and body warmth your sleeping bag is going to attract moisture. Give your sleeping bag time to air out during the day. This helps to insure a warm night even on the last day of your trip.

If you store the bag for long periods of time with moisture trapped in it, your sleeping bag will start to stink and probably start growing fungus or start to break down.  Letting it air out in the day for a bit can really solve and prevent a lot of problems.  

How to Compress a Sleeping Bag without breaking the straps

To start, it’s helpful to get some of the air out of it. Fold the bag over on itself a few times and slowly squeeze the air out.  It will kind of feel like you are rolling it up. Once you’ve gotten the air out and have the bag sort of folded up, tuck it under your arm and keep the air out.  Grab the compression sack and start stuffing the sleeping bag inside.

Once the sleeping bag is mostly in the sack, grab the drawstring with one hand while using the other hand to continue to stuff the sleeping bag into the sack. As the sleeping bag compresses more into the sack, gently pull the drawstring to cinch the top of the compression sack down around the sleeping bag.  It’s useful to tie a quick little knot to keep the drawstring from loosening up at this point.

When the sleeping bag is in the stuff sack, you are ready to start compressing the bag inside the compression sack.  Don’t just start yanking on the straps. Push down on the sleeping bag using your body weight. As your body weight compresses the bag, then use your hands to tighten the straps.  Again, if you only use the straps and just yank on them to try to compress your bag, they’ll eventually break.

Make sure you compress your bag slowly.  Another issue that can occur by compressing your bag too fast is that as you force air out of the bag, you also force some of the down to leak out of the seams. It puts a lot more stress on the seams which will also cause more down to leak out later.  So take it slow.

To view a video about compressing your sleeping bag the right way, click here.

How to Store a Sleeping Bag

If you store it compressed or stuffed in a compression bag it will not loft (fluff up) nearly as well when you pull it out for use. Make sure that when you get back from a trip, you pull it out and hang it up in a closet or re-stuff it in a pillow case. Hanging it up is probably the best option, but stuffing it in a pillowcase will also work. This gives it more room to expand and will allow the filling to not break down over time. You won’t want to keep your bag in the compression sack.  Overtime the down or even synthetic fill will break down and get used to being compressed. It won’t loft back up, which will cause it to be unable to insulate as well.

Other Product Repairs

Sleeping bags obviously aren’t the only gear you’ve got to take care of.  Tears and holes in gear is not an uncommon occurrence. One thing we have found to really help is the Field Repair Kit we offer on our website (  This kit as a couple Tenacious Tape patches and a tube of Seam Grip with an applicator brush. We’ve found it to be really effective to patching up holes and tears in any Outdoor Vitals gear.  

If you’ve got a hole to repair, Tenacious Tape works great. In the kit there are two 3-inch patches. You’ll want the Tenacious Tape to cover from about a centimeter to half an inch around the hole, so cut the size of patch that you need.  You can peel off a cover on the back of the tape, taking care not to touch the adhesive, and stick it on.

Gently press the patch on to the material over the hole. Using your finger, start in the center and move out to the edge of the patch to press any air out from under the patch. Do it gently at first, and once you’ve got the air out, do it more firmly to make sure the Tenacious Tape is stuck on well.  For extra seal, apply Seam Grip glue on the area around the hole before applying the patch.

This is actually a better permanent fix than getting gear sewed up.  It weighs just a couple ounces, and is really worth having around.

Wrap it Up

Again, if you take good care of gear, it'll save you a lot of hassle and money since you won't have to replace it so much.  There also really is nothing like being able to have the peace of mind knowing that your gear will perform how you expect it to.  Take care of your gear, and it will take care of you.  


I really enjoy the “peach of mind” that comes with using Outdoor Vitals Gear:)

Diatom October 16, 2023

What is the best way to store my DCF tarps and tent tarps ?

Lance July 24, 2023

Whenever i do use a patch i cut a circle so there are no corners that can peel or catch on anything

Erik July 05, 2022

Very helpful info ! U have any tips for you backpack 60 L ? Thanks

Jbb June 09, 2022

Hi There, Got some stains on my LofTek jacket. What’s the advice for washing it?

Thanks! LOVE the jacket, by the way!!!

Marga April 08, 2022

Possibly interested in your Ultralight Loftek Jacket. I currently have a Patagonia nano puff that is at least 12 years old and has definitely seen better days. Is your jacket comparable to the Patagonia and what is the difference between your jacket on sale for $112.47 and the discontinued version for $74.97?

Regards, JB

Jim Bare April 08, 2022

Could the tenacious tape also serve as a preventative to tears? If I notice a weak seam or thin fabric in a backpack could application in these areas add some strengthening to the backpack materiel?

Richard Robinson November 19, 2021

Good info to have. Thanks for sharing. Emmett

Emmett September 08, 2021

I’m 6’2, with a 64” chest. And Weight 350lbs. Will the hammock sleeping bag fit a BIG guy like me?

Reginald Mosley September 08, 2021

Very good article! We are linking to this particularly great post on our website. Keep up the good writing.

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RobertFloks September 08, 2021

Thanks for the info on taking care of your gear. Do you make a ground cloth for your sleeping bag to keep the outside clean?

Don September 08, 2021

Does the sleeping bag care pertain to jackets?
Do you have a jacket care brochure?

James Griffin September 08, 2021

i had sent an email to OV cust service about repairing a tear in my loft tech jacket which has become my fav jacket and pretty much the only one i use from moderate to low degree weather.. Long story short I was disappointed in the response and regard to repairing my jacket by the cust serv representative, and if it fell in the realm of the warranty. I was so bummed out. Just saw the OV video on tenacious tape and feel confident with OV again. I dont know if the cust serv rep knew about the introduction to this product was going to be introduced for permanent repairs or not but at this point it doesnt even matter. I feel great again about OV and a new product that is vital to a backpacker or survivalist. OV comes through again.

sam sanchez September 08, 2021

Good stuff . You may want to change “peach” of mind to “peace” of mind! 😂

Rob Rambeck September 24, 2020

I just got back from a great backpacking trip and these tips were exactly what I needed to put my gear away correctly. Thank you!!

Shane September 24, 2020

Thanks for the information…..good stuff!

Mark Buckallew September 24, 2020

Peace of mind, not peach of mind. Typo!

Natasha September 24, 2020

I was I was looking over your details on the different sleeping bags trying to decide which one I wanted to order as well as the bag liner and I don’t know that it got ordered because I think my time to order in the discount window might have gotten cut off. Also wanted to get the patch kit but I do realize was only able to get one discount. thank you

Tom curran September 24, 2020

You don’t by chance have any matching fabric to your charcoal LofTek jacket, do you. Got a little too close to some flying embers which quickly burned a couple holes through the outer shell of my fairly new jacket. I have some clear tenacious tape, but would like to cut out a small piece of matching fabric to cover the white hole before applying the tenacious tape. Do you offer anything like that? I’d hate to relegate this jacket to “beat up” status and remove it from my normal “wear in public” repertoire, but with the white insulation showing, it’s just too obvious.

Any help would be appreciated.

Andru Blonquist September 24, 2020

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Living Ultralight is not just about the lowest pack weight. It's about more enjoyable experiences!

Tayson Whittaker