I bought a down sleeping bag years ago and have been storing it in the stuff sack in came with. I recently learned that storing it this way is really bad for the sleeping bag. Is there any way to recover the bag or am I out of luck?
Given the cost of down bags, it should be worth the effort to revive it. Here are the key issues:
HOW BADLY IS IT DAMAGED?
How good is the down?
I've been told by an industry insider that soft down clusters should revive pretty well after compression - it's the spines of any harder feather content that can be permanently damaged. So the higher the quality of the filling the better it should have survived.
How clean and dry was it stored?
Down that is stored damp can be damaged by mould. Down that is heavily coated by sweat and body oils can't regain it's full loft.
SO WHAT CAN YOU DO TO REVIVE YOUR BAG?
Try tossing it in the drier
If it's a good quality down that was stored clean and dry, it's worth tossing it into a tumble-drier for a few minutes to see if this helps it loft. Repair any tears in the cover first so the down doesn't leak. Be sure to use the coolest setting so as not to damage the cover!
Failing that, try washing it or getting it professionally cleaned
If the down was stored damp or dirty, you may still be OK. My source says that a good bag can often revive surprisingly well after a professional clean. Don't use a generalist dry-cleaner - you need a company that offers a specialist service for down bags and clothing. Most countries only have a handful of specialist cleaners so you'll have to do your research and then send the bag away. Or if your budget is tight you can try washing it yourself - you'll find instructions from down specialists PHD Designs here.
Do let us know how you get on!