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First aid for your sleeping bag

First aid for your sleeping bag


Mann hat einen schwarz-roten Schlafsack in der Hand.

A quality sleeping bag is one of the most important part of your kit, especially if you’re travelling with a tent. After all, if you are unable to sleep and regain your strength by night, you won’t be able to perform by day. In other words, a good sleeping bag is key. But, what if your beautiful bag happens to get damaged? How would you go about repairing zips or patching tears or burn holes? And, what in the world would you do about flying feathers and down?

No idea? Well, let us delve into the world of repairs.

First aid for your sleeping bag
The stuff sack protects your bag from damage

Avoiding damage

You can prevent or at least limit damage to your sleeping bag simply by taking care of it and storing it properly. A step in the right direction would be never storing your sleeping bag in the stuff sack. Why? Well, the compression causes the insulation to be pressed together, which can have a negative effect on the loft and the insulating power of the bag. So, you can imagine that if you were to store an sensitive down sleeping bag in this way, you’d most definitely damage the fill as well.

Speaking of down, if you ever happen to notice down or feathers poking through the fabric, never pull them out. If possible, shove them back inside the sleeping bag. You need that stuff! Besides, if you were to pull them out (especially thicker feathers), it could result in small holes forming in the fabric, which would not be good.

When carrying or transporting your sleeping bag, it’s important to make sure it doesn’t get damaged. This is where your stuff sack comes in. When carrying it around, you should always use a tough stuff sack. And, this probably goes without saying, but try to keep any sharp objects away from your sleeping bag as well. You don’t want anything poking it!

Fabric tears and holes

But, these things do happen, and it happens more quickly than you think. One second of inattention is enough to poke a tiny hole in your precious sleeping bag. Fortunately, small holes aren’t that big of a deal. It’s the longer tears and cuts in down sleeping bags in particular that can lead to a major loss of insulation material. If you’ve ever slept in a sleeping bag with a tear like that, you’ll know what I mean. When you wake up the next morning, it looks like a fox was asked to guard the henhouse, doesn’t it?

Smaller (burn) holes can be sealed quickly and easily using a sealer like Seam Grip. However, if there is a larger cut or tear in the outer fabric, you’ll need to be more thorough. For this, though, you can forget the needle and thread. More major damages are usually taped. Before you begin, try to find out what caused the damage in the first place. If it’s due to material fatigue, taping up tears can be quite difficult, as the damaged spot usually covers a large area of the bag. Damage caused by wear and tear can be patched using patches and repair tape. Brands like MacNett sell repair kits, but do make sure that the material in the kit matches that of your sleeping bag. Not every patch will stick to every surface!

Patching holes

GEARAID Seam Grip - Nahtdichter
GEARAID – Seam Grip – Sealant adhesive

Patches and sealing tape are usually self-adhesive, so they are fairly easy to work with. Keep in mind that a patch should always be cut at least one centimetre larger than the damaged area in every direction. But, before you apply the patch, don’t forget to thoroughly spot clean the damaged area! A good way to do that is to use alcohol wipes. After drying the spot, you can then proceed to patch up the tear. Make sure that there are no wrinkles and that the patch is securely glued to the fabric. This repair method is very effective and will hold up for a long time.

By the way, the patches are available in a variety of colours, so you can pick one that matches the colour of your sleeping bag.

Damaged zips

Zips with minor damage are usually pretty easy to repair yourself. The zips on sleeping bags are more susceptible to damage because of the pressure they’re often put under. All that pressure can eventually lead to the zips getting worn out. If the zip tends to get off track when you open and close the bag, all you have to do is adjust it a bit. This can be done by using a pair of pliers. Just pinch the sides of the slider together and voilà! But, do be careful not to put too much pressure on the slider – you might break it! If the zip is torn or the elements are damaged, there’s nothing else you can do but replace it. Refrain from replacing it yourself, though. Get an expert to help!

Pflegeanleitung Schlafsäcke
Always carry some tape with you to prevent further damage

Tips for when you’re out and about

Regardless of whether you’re trekking, mountaineering or cycling, the weight of your pack always plays a crucial role. That said, it’s understandable that most of us are hesitant to add extra weight to our packs by lugging around a whole bunch of repair materials. However, it is important to have something, especially since down sleeping bags tend to require immediate attention once they’ve been damaged. If you don’t take immediate action, you can say goodbye to the precious down fill! In emergency situations such as these, tape is a camper’s best friend. Tears, holes and cuts can be fixed and sealed up pretty nicely with duct tape or finger tape. This technique, however, should only be used when you have no other option. The tapes’ adhesive sticks so well to the material that you’d waste a lot of time and effort trying remove it.

Professionals at work

There are problems that even the handiest of handymen couldn’t fix. That’s why, there are experts. But, be careful because repairs performed by experts can be pricy. So, before sending it in for a repair, it’s best to consult the retailer you bought the sleeping bag from first. Retailers can usually tell you whether it’s covered by warranty and often even help you find the appropriate repair service, if needed.


Damaged sleeping bags can look pretty bad. And, if you don’t take immediate action (and the proper steps), you can lose a good amount of your sleeping bag’s fill. A good, long-lasting repair doesn’t have to be expensive. You can even perform it yourself, provided you have the proper materials. But, if you find that the damages are major, you should consult an expert or maybe even replace it with a new sleeping bag.

Remember: certain defects can be prevented by storing and transporting your sleeping bag properly!

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