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Backpack and Sleeping Bag Care

  • Thread starter Deleted member 67185
  • Start date
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
Many of us are at home with some time to spare. In thinking about Camino, perhaps this might be a good time to look at the two major pieces of gear we use and do some maintenance and cleaning.



Backpack

General Maintenance:


1. Empty EVERY SINGLE POCKET. Check for gunk, like a moldy baggie of beef jerky, or a gross pair of socks you forgot about.

2. Shake or vacuum out the main compartment and pockets so it is free of sand, dirt, sticks and stones. Whatever weird stuff you don't want festering inside of there during storage.

3. Spot clean with soap and warm water. A toothbrush will get those little jobs done quickly.

Full Cleaning:

1. First, follow all those 'General Maintenance' instructions above.

2. Remove any removable parts (hip belt, shoulder straps, top lid), but wash them this same way, just removed from the main pack.

3. Secure yourself a bathtub or large bin you can fill with a mild detergent soap, like Dawn, and warm water.

4. Dunk that bag in. Using your hands or a large scrub brush, make sure any large stains and the back panel get a good look. Don't forget the zippers, the dirt and dust can make them more difficult to use, so get that grime out.

5. Rinse well. If you still see soap, rinse it some more. A hose or detachable shower head works wonders.

6. After you wash the bag, do not put it in the dryer. . . the heat levels are too intense and can break down fabrics and foams. A good way to dry your pack is to leave it completely opened to dry out or hang it up to air dry completely before storing. It will take quite a while to completely dry, so don't fret if it's been a day or two.

7. Once dry, it is a good idea to add lubricant to the zippers, and a water-proofer and UV blocker.
A zipper lubrication product that works for me:
https://www.amazon.com/Essentials-Liquid-Zipper-Cleaner-Lubricant/dp/B000GKFCUW

For adding water resistance to backpack fabrics, and UV protection:
https://www.nikwax.com/en-us/products/productdetail.php?productid=502

Sleeping Bag or Quilt

You Sweat When You Sleep. Even if you're sleeping in base layers, oils from your skin will eventually get to your bag and its insulation.

1. Check the label or brand website for your sleeping bag, they might have some recommended ways for cleaning.

2. Turn the bag inside out and give it a good shake to remove loose dirt and sand.

3. Choose one of these two options for washing:
a. Hand Wash
b. Machine Wash

Hand Wash

This is the harder and more time-consuming method. It allows better control with the handling of insulation that gets heavy when wet, which can damage interior baffles that keep insulation in place.

Get a (clean) bathtub ready with warm water. A specialty cleaner will generally eliminate risks of damage from detergents and soaps that may be too harsh, or not rinse out cleanly. My two favorites are:

Down Bags or Quilts: Nikwax Down Wash
Synthetic Bags or Quilts: Nikwax Tech Wash


Remove jewelry that could rip and snag on fabrics. It is a process of scrubbing and gently agitating the bag or quilt through the water.
Use a little toothbrush if there are any stubborn spots that need special attention.

Rinse.

Repeat the rinse

Rinse some more. Get. The. Soap. Out.

Hang the bag or quilt up to dry. Out of the direct sun. This can take a long time, so be patient.

For Down Bags: come back every so often and make sure the down isn't clumping up.

Once dry, lay it flat and let it loft up for a few days.

Machine Wash

If you don't have access to a front loader (or a top loader WITHOUT an agitator), then get yourself to a laundromat that does. If that still isn't an option, sorry, you're stuck with the other method.

Load up your bag inside the washer, add either:
DOWN BAGS: Nikwax Down Wash
SYNTHETIC BAGS: Nikwax Tech Wash
  • Use a gentle cycle with cold or warm water.
  • Once the first cycle is done, do a second WITHOUT soap. Rinsing is very important.
Carefully transfer your sleeping bag to a dryer.
Down Bags: Add in some clean tennis balls
Synthetic Bags: No tennis balls.

For Drying: Start the dryer up on a low, cool setting and wait. . . It's going to take a long time.
After Machine Drying: Lay the bag flat and leave it alone for a few days. It'll eventually loft up.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Hang the bag or quilt up to dry. Out of the direct sun. This can take a long time, so be patient.
After handwashing, you might consider putting the very wet bag into your washer for a few minutes of the spin cycle only. The centrifugal force is not so damaging to fabrics as the back and forth agitation of a top loader during the wash cycle. After spinning, you can put the bag into the dryer, or air dry it much faster.
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
After handwashing, you might consider putting the very wet bag into your washer for a few minutes of the spin cycle only. The centrifugal force is not so damaging to fabrics as the back and forth agitation of a top loader during the wash cycle. After spinning, you can put the bag into the dryer, or air dry it much faster.
That could work, depending on the type of insulation and baffle construction. With bat-style insulation for synthetics, probably not a at all problem. With down or feathers, if there is sewn through compartments it will also probably be ok. With internal baffles with down, the wet down can tear the baffling and redistribute the insulation in an irregular fashion.

I would not recommend using a top loader at all with a full sized, center agitator, as you rightly note.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
I'm just trying to understand this... How does the spinning work differently in a front loader than a top loader, in its effect on a down item? i.e. if the spinning is OK in the front loader, is it not OK in the top loader?
 
D

Deleted member 67185

Guest
I'm just trying to understand this... How does the spinning work differently in a front loader than a top loader, in its effect on a down item? i.e. if the spinning is OK in the front loader, is it not OK in the top loader?
Sorry about my lack of clarity, and missing the point you were making. I was referring to the wash cycle being problematic. You are correct that using just the spin cycle on a top loader will work.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
It depends on your machine how it works. As far as I know, all front loaders have a drum which rotates, everything to be washed being enclosed in the drum. The direction of rotation will alternate, and there will be pauses, water flowing in and (usually) being heated. There aren't many hot fill machines in domestic use. Then after the soap goes in and the actual wash finished, water is pumped out, short spin to get the soapy water out, rinse water in. More alternate rotation, then water pumps out, and the spin cycle. There will usually be more than one rinse, depending on the program.
The advantage to this sort of machine is that there are no moving parts in the drum with the washing. Of course, if anything gets stuck in the pump and you have to fix it by removing the offending toothpick or whatever, you will be dealing with a wet floor.

There are toploaders with a similar system, once you have put the washing in you close a door in the drum and then shut the top. No real difference from then on between top load and front load.

The toploaders with an agitator in the bottom of a fixed tub instead of a rotating drum, are harder on your washing as the rotating agitator is in direct contact with the fabric, and will twist it far more than a drum machine will do. It's also possible for clothes to get caught on the agitator and possibly torn. Their only advantage that I can see is that they usually have a shorter program, so perhaps they are more efficient.

If you are washing delicate items then it's a good idea to use a cold wash, as there will otherwise be temperature changes that can make felting (or clumping of filling) more likely. I wouldn't put a down bag in either a washing machine or tumble dryer, personally. I'd handwash, then drain water out on any sort of rack that I could create, just until the water isn't actually pouring off it. After that I would roll it up layered with white towels and trample on it with bare feet to extract as much water as possible before drying it flat. A sun lounger is a good sleeping bag dryer.

It's a good idea to use the biggest machine you can find, if you do machine wash. The more your bag can move around the more likely it is to get properly clean without damage. Especially if it has a water resistant finish. Failing all else, you could try reading the care instructions. With down bags costing around 350 euros it might be worthwhile.
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
The toploaders with an agitator in the bottom of a fixed tub instead of a rotating drum, are harder on your washing
I agree about the "washing" cycle. The spin cycle of a top loader does not use the agitation, and is effectively the same as the spin on a front loader. I often use a few minutes of the spin cycle to spin items that I have washed by hand - including wool and down.
 

Barbara

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
That makes sense. Can you set the exact time, or do you just have an option for short or long spin?
 

C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016), VDLP (2017), Mozarabe (2018), Vasco/Bayona (2019)
Can you set the exact time, or do you just have an option for short or long spin?
Good question. I am using a 34 year old washer with a dial that I can turn to any point on the cycle. Furthermore, I can open the door at any point and the spin stops immediately, so I can check that the load is balanced. I'm not sure what the newer ones do - I would be very disappointed if new machines didn't offer this spin choice.
 


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