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How long did your down bag last?
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Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
How long did your down bag last? on 05/05/2010 01:12:49 MDT Print View

My 15 degree Marmot Helium from 2006 has started to seem worn out. I've been chilly at 30 degrees. It's been used probably 600 nights, been washed three times, repaired twice and kept stuffed for tons of time. I'm going to wash it again soon, but I think it's shot. The down is pretty darn clumpy and the loft is non-existant in some spots.

How long did your down bag last?

Rog Tallbloke
(tallbloke) - F

Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/05/2010 01:24:00 MDT Print View

Hi Jack,

I have a theory that high fp value down will clump before a lower grade down/feather mix. The small feathers add 'structure'. It's the price you pay for going light.

Try running it through a tumble drier at low heat with a few pairs of trainers in pillow cases or a bunch of tennis balls to give it a battering.

Kill or cure...

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
How long did your down bag last? on 05/05/2010 05:55:50 MDT Print View

I'd probably give Rainy Pass a shot at it before I called it dead. But it sounds like you've used your bag about 10 times more than the average hiker. In a shorter time frame.

Scott Lehr
(lehrscott4) - F

Locale: Louisville - KY
9 years on 05/05/2010 06:17:51 MDT Print View

Ive got a Western Mountaineering Irquois 38 degree down bag that i bought in 2001. The zipper went out after 2 years and has been replaced, and im pretty sure its on its last leg, it seems to take 5 hours or more to fully loft up. Its got about 500 nights in it.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
FF Humming Bird 35+ years and still going... on 05/05/2010 08:17:02 MDT Print View

I have a FF Hummingbird that I carried on the PCT and half of the CDT that is still going strong. I purchased it in the mid 70's when they were a new company.

My son has been using it but, while it still lofts up pretty well, it has some trail grime/stains that just don't wash out. I just picked up a new Adrenaline for him so the FF bag will be officially retired.

Edited by Servingko on 05/05/2010 08:19:10 MDT.

Jeffrey Kuchera

Locale: Great Lakes
FF bird how many nights? on 05/05/2010 08:20:29 MDT Print View

John how many nights for the FF hummingbird if you had to hazard a guess?

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/05/2010 09:46:21 MDT Print View

I've got a Moonstone PCT GTX from about 1992 or 3. It isn't warm as it used to be but still works for me. Been washed once and hung all the time. I think I over-compressed it when compression was the new thang- I think it did some damage. Thats when I started to notice temp rating changes.

Rick Dreher
(halfturbo) - MLife

Locale: Northernish California
Re: FF bird how many nights? on 05/05/2010 10:34:37 MDT Print View

FWIW I attended a talk by Brian Robinson on completing his calendar triple-crown. He had his gear with, and his FF Hummingbird--used for most of the trip--was in fine shape with plenty of loft.

Good enough for me!



John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Total nights in the Hummingbird on 05/05/2010 10:44:03 MDT Print View

Trail nights (and stuffings) are in the 325 to 350 range and I used it as a quilt on my bed in college for another 400 nights or more.

I washed it about 5 times, always by hand, and stored it hung up in a cotton cover. I never stuffed it more than it had to be, and never even close to the size of the stuff sack it came with. I used a 9x20 stuff sack and then put it in the bottom of my pack getting it closer to 8.5x13-14.

Most of the trail nights were either cowboy camping with no bivy or in a nylon "tube tent."

Jeffrey Kuchera

Locale: Great Lakes
Thanks. on 05/05/2010 10:52:20 MDT Print View

Thanks for providing the particulars John I feel that your comments are helpful and appreciate your time taken in posting them.

Scott and Jeff I also found your comments to be interesting.

Joe I finally googled rainy pass thanks for providing the tip.
For the curious click here

Edited by frankenfeet on 05/05/2010 10:57:44 MDT.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Thanks. on 05/05/2010 12:55:38 MDT Print View

It will be interesting to see what is left of Skurka's bag after he finishes the 4700-mile trip in Alaska.


Bradley Danyluk
(dasbin) - MLife
Rainy Pass on 05/05/2010 18:54:38 MDT Print View

I can't recommend these guys. I took my Nemo tent there to fix a zipper that had become detatched from its threads, which should have been a warranty issue (Nemo passes off all repairs and warranty issues to Rainy pass and it seems to be at their discretion too!)
Rainy Pass not only denied the warranty claim, but charged me $150 to do the worst zipper replacement job I've ever seen. It was mis-aligned and the seam tape they used was not even the right kind, and was peeling off everywhere. The zipper was much heavier than the original and only opened at one end (it's supposed to open at both ends).
I live in Vancouver and had to drive back right away otherwise I would have made a stink. In any case, I'm never dealing with them (and probably not Nemo either) again.

Edited by dasbin on 05/05/2010 18:55:12 MDT.

John Nausieda
(Meander) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re Jack's original post on 05/05/2010 19:40:15 MDT Print View

I recently bought some Atsko Sport-Wash having read some of Roger Caffin's posts on washing down, etc. I used it on an old goretex jacket that smelled heavily of perfume, bought used and it really did a good job on it. My friends just used it on a down comforter that had cat pee on it and liked the results. I tried it on all our fleece and other soft shells and they don't smell like Tide and seem to wick ok. It is a cheap solution , maybe, to tired down and a little goes a long way. I even tried it on some cotton and likes the results. I'd say worth a shot , given your situation. And by the way. We have to Marmot down bags bought 15 or so years ago that see at least a solid month of use for each of those years and we have never washed them as they still loft good enough down to freezing .

Ryan Corder
(demo) - MLife

Locale: Arkansan in Seattle
Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/05/2010 21:30:39 MDT Print View

I tend to alternate between a WM and a FF bag, both nearly the same spec-wise and both with about the same number of nights on them. Without question, the FF bag is in better condition and I attribute it to their high quality workmanship and material sourcing.

I wouldn't hesitate placing my FF bag against any bag from anyone. Sure, it weighs a bit more than a comparable bag from another manufacturer, but the durability just simply can't be beat. I still think my 5 year old FF Vireo (another bag of theirs I have) lofts up as well as the day I bought it.

David Franzen
(dfranzen) - F

Locale: Germany
Re: Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/06/2010 10:40:56 MDT Print View

"Try running it through a tumble drier at low heat with a few pairs of trainers in pillow cases or a bunch of tennis balls to give it a battering."

regarding that 'battering': I read a couple of times now not to do this with your down. The better thing to do is one of the following 2 options:
-either lay it flat while drying, unclump the clumps by hand once in a while, or
- when putting it in a dryer, stop the drying every so often and unclump the clumps by hand again.
Well, the important aspect is unclumping by hand. It's a bit tedious, though

Feel free to correct me if you think I'm wrong.

(rhyang) - F
Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/06/2010 12:22:12 MDT Print View

I've heard that Marmot will re-stuff their down bags for a nominal fee, but that was a while ago. Wonder what their customer service dept. would say ..

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re-loft on 05/06/2010 13:43:09 MDT Print View

Try these suggestions:

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/06/2010 18:30:27 MDT Print View

My WM Antelope is about 15 years old and still in great shape. I have no ideas how many nights in it, but it got a lot of use.

A year or two ago I fluffed it out at home and noticed that it looked about as lofty as a 30* bag (Antelope is 0). I washed it, dried it thouroughly, and it didn't look any better. Short version of the story, after hearing my use:wash ratio, Western told me to wash it 2-3 more times. In other words, I opened it up fully and tossed it in the big front-loader w/a bath towel to help sink it. I ran one cycle, let it drain; I added a new batch of soap and ran a second cycle; and one more time. Into the extractor, then into the dryer on low heat w/a couple of tube socks w/2 racquet balls each. Dried for hours. The bag looks brand new.

You can overwash a bag and strip its natural oils, which are significant in maintaining the life of the bag. But in a situation like yours w/such significant use, you just need to wash it a few more times. Honestly, mine now looks more lofty then when new.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/07/2010 15:07:50 MDT Print View

Great advice Brad. I think that you're right, that with multiple washings my back should loft back up well. I brought it to a laundromat a few days ago though. They say that they machine wash down bags on a regular basis and would do a good job. Looking forward to the results. If it works, $20 to have it professionally washed is a good deal to me.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Re: Re: Re: How long did your down bag last? on 05/07/2010 15:41:45 MDT Print View

Hey, Jack- Guess we'll see how they do for you!

Personally, I know that no one else is going to care about my bag being "right" as I am. I know I'll take the extra steps to make sure it's done properly... and now I know that some of my bags need to be washed multiple times. Hopefully they notice the clump factor and wash it at least a couple times for you. If not, hey, just grab a traveler mug, your favorite brew, and some choice reading material! Cheers-