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I have a 5 year old Haglöfs Para M5. I've used it for on average 30 nights per year, perhaps 150 nights in total, with one long trip and some 8 short trips per year. I store it uncompressed in a dry and dark place, and I pack it in its bag inside a drybag (heavily compressed). I don't use a liner.

Increasingly, there is no loft and therefore little insulation in the upper part, above the chest. The loft in the lower part, above the legs, is still fine.

Is this normal for the level of use I describe? Did all the feathers somehow accumulate in the lower part and can I somehow redistribute them, or do I need to get a new one?

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Do you roll over in the night? –  stevemarvell Aug 5 at 13:26

2 Answers 2

I cannot tell you whether it is normal for your level of use, but it is perfectly normal to happen at some time.

What you describe sounds like common clotting of the feathers due to the influence of moisture and pressure in use over time. When you detect this very early, shaking and crushing the bag may be enough to restore loft. If this is not the case, you can wash the bag with special detergent. Do not use normal detergent or softener, only detergent clearly labeled to be used on down bags! If you use a machine for washing it, do not use spinning! After washing, either dry it at normal temperatures while shaking the bag very often or use a tumble-dryer. The first way is optimal, but very laborious. For tumble-drying, you should put the bag in a cloth-bag together with several tennis balls. This will make sure that the feathers do not clot when drying. Dry it on low heat.

While it is necessary to wash the bag, when clotting gets persistent, and it thus prolongs the time you can use it, still do not overdo it. After too many times of washing the performance of the sleeping bag decreases.

Edit concerning top-loading washing machines:
Do not use top-loading washing machines, the agitator can damage your sleeping bag.
Maybe the delicate settingfixes the problem by locking the agitator in place, but check that first.
Thanks to requiem for the note, I was not accustomed to the concept of top-loading waching machines (not common in switzerland).

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I would also add that wet down can be quite heavy, while the material used for the baffles is quite delicate. So, be very careful when picking up and moving a wet bag. Also, use a front-loading washer as the central agitator in top-loaders can damage the bag. (Your washer's "delicate" setting might lock the agitator in place, but verify that first.) Dry only on low heat. –  requiem Aug 5 at 15:35

I would say no, it is not normal. I have several sleeping bags, some with as much annual use as your example, which are at least 25 years old and are still good at lofting.

Some bags allow the down to move around, which can be handy to cope with warmer conditions. Have you tried fluffing up the bag with gentle shaking to make sure the down is evenly distributed between the top and bottom?

If that doesn't help, it is most likely that your bag needs washing. Even if the bag doesn't appear very dirty, a build-up of body oils can cause the down to clump together and lose its loft.

I would certainly try washing your sleeping bag using a specialist cleaning material, such as that sold by NikWax (Down Wash) for example. But unless you have access to a large enough washing machine and are able to dry the bag properly, I would recommend getting a specialist company to clean the bag for you.

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