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Drying things in your sleeping bag?
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S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/20/2010 13:35:42 MST Print View

I was wondering how people handle drying things like socks and glove liners and boot liners inside sleeping bags? The moisture from drying needs to go somewhere and I am wondering if it will get into the down of the sleeping bag and cause problems over the course of a longer trip. So do you dry it inside a vapor barrier liner, or does it not really cause issues? Just curious as this will be my first winter not using a synthetic bag.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/20/2010 13:45:58 MST Print View

If your clothing items are small and slightly damp, they will dry out fairly well by sleeping on your back, putting them directly on your warm chest, and let the moisture go where it will. I've never found much moisture hanging in a down bag that way. For some small items like gloves or socks, I put them underneath the t-shirt that I wear to sleep in.

On the other hand, if your clothing items are large and dripping wet, they will create a problem. It is best to let them drip dry outside the bag until they get to the slightly damp stage, and then follow as above.


eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
bag on 11/20/2010 13:55:36 MST Print View

wring clothes out till theyre damp

stuff em in a plastic bag or stuff sack, vent the bag out of your sleeping bag, put a hot nalgene in said plastic bag wrapped in yr damp socks

it helps if your plastic bag / stuff sack looks like a teddy bear ....

John Devitt
(cabana) - MLife

Locale: Colorado
Re: bag on 11/20/2010 14:07:09 MST Print View

That is briliant!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
moist bags on 11/20/2010 15:37:56 MST Print View

I dry the previous days socks and gloves in my bag on every winter trip. It surely must add moisture to the bag, but compared to the perspiration from you, and especially your breath, I reckon it's pretty inconsequential. On a longer trip drying your bag during a sunny lunch stuff is highly desireable anyway.

Matthew Marasco
(BabyMatty) - F

Locale: Western/Central PA, Adirondacks
re: eric on 11/20/2010 19:36:06 MST Print View

that is indeed brilliant!

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: re: eric on 11/20/2010 21:21:18 MST Print View

All the above is spot on. I tried to push the limits this summer by drying a wrung out fleece in the foot of my bag. I ended up having a wet fleece and a pretty soaked sleeping bag. It sucked.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: re: eric on 11/20/2010 21:34:18 MST Print View

"I tried to push the limits this summer by drying a wrung out fleece in the foot of my bag."

I think that might be because there is far less waste heat in the foot of the bag compared to the middle, around the torso.


Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Re: re: eric on 11/20/2010 21:44:06 MST Print View

Typically smaller items get stuffed under my shirt to keep them near my core. I have also done the wet in plastic bag that is vented out as part of my pillow system. On trips that are.just a few days I didn't notice a big difference in moisture accumulation... Just that the items took longer to dry than when they were under my shirt. Longer strips might show different results.

I have also dried larger things like a soak base layer and nylon hiking clothing, I found that when I where them to bed worked provided I rung them out good before getting under my quilt.

I am not surprised by jack's experience with a fleece in the foot of the bag. There wasn't sufficiently body heat which makes sense because your feet are a long way from your core.

Note: I am not saying drying clothing this way is fun or comfortable... But I have found that it works with clothing that doesn't absorb a lot of water.


Edited by verber on 11/20/2010 21:45:40 MST.

Jack H.
(Found) - F

Locale: Sacramento, CA
Re: Re: Re: re: eric on 11/21/2010 03:30:16 MST Print View

Good point guys. Too bad keeping the fleece next to my core wasn't an option. I was hypodermic when I stopped and had a hard time warming up that night. It was one of the worst of the summer.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Drying on 11/21/2010 11:05:39 MST Print View

I often dry socks in my sleeping bag by wearing them on my feet. I wear lightweight synthetic socks as they dry as lot faster than heavier/natural fiber socks. I've tried to dry heavier wool socks and it's way too slow.

It's a little weird/uncomfortable putting the wet socks on (I wash 'em and then wring them out) but after a minute they warm up and it's not that bad. If I am warm then the light synthetic socks are dry in about 2 hours. If it's a cold night and my feet are cold in the sleeping bag then the drying is much slower so I don't even try.

Using warm water in a bottle does sound like a great idea as long as you can afford the fuel & time to heat the water.

Jim Colten
(jcolten) - M

Locale: MN
Re: Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/21/2010 11:31:23 MST Print View

Our local independent gear store held the version of it's twice a year Outdoor Expo this weekend and I decided to take in as many winter camping sessions as I could get to.

The two best were offered by staff from NOLS and the MN Outward Bound school and this topic came up at both sessions.

The gist of the response was consistent with much of the above discussion ... that it is an OK and even useful technique for short trip for clothing items that aren't carrying a LOT of water and that you'll want to be a lot more careful doing that with a down bag. But that it's only OK for short trips ..... a few nights is a definite OK, longer that about two weeks a definite not OK and the exact cutoff will depend exactly what you're doing.

S Long

Locale: Wasatch
Re: Re: Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/21/2010 11:57:20 MST Print View

I will be taking several week plus backpacking trips this winter. I figure on longer trips I will just turn my bag inside out on sunny days and drape it on my skis or poles.

Fred eric
(Fre49) - MLife

Locale: France, vallée de la Loire
socks on 11/21/2010 12:06:35 MST Print View

Socks are priority 1 for me, and i carry 2 pair.
In the day the one i dont wear is if not dry on my shoulders under my pack straps, seems i dont sweat that much there and it dry them a bit.
If they are not completely dry when i go to sleep i tuck them against my breast while sleeping.
Other wet items are kept out of my sleeping bag :)
This is when i use a down sleeping bag.
The few times i use a synthetic quilt, i am not that careful.

When i hike for a few weeks, i try to dry my sleeping bag a few times, when the conditions are good , ie not raining, and with sun and/or wind.

Edited by Fre49 on 11/21/2010 12:07:45 MST.

eric chan
(bearbreeder) - F
socks and gloves on 11/21/2010 13:09:55 MST Print View

socks and gloves are easy to dry ... just wring em out and stuff em under yr armpit while on the move or in camp ... theyll dry to the point of being lightly damp and WARM ... at least yr gloves wont freeze

this will of course expend energy from your bodies ... so make sure you eat and drink lots

this will actually increase the insulation of your system as well, providing you dont get too damp ... whenever i stuff my primaloft gloves and mountain socks in my jacket ... its almost like wearing a 1/2 vest ... in cold situations i stuff ALL my gloves in my clothes ... why waste insulation in yr pack?

if you ever notice cold wether mountain climbers youll notice that they all look preggers ... they stuff their gloves, water, food, etc in their jacket ... or maybe its all that spooning =P

Edited by bearbreeder on 11/21/2010 13:11:50 MST.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/21/2010 16:32:59 MST Print View

> how people handle drying things like socks and glove liners and boot
> liners inside sleeping bags?
I don't.
I want my sleeping bag to be kept as dry as possible: it is my last line of defence. Down or synthetic - doesn't matter. (Mine are down actually, but the same principle applies.)

If it is sunny in the morning then damp stuff will dry out during the day. No worries.
If it is wet in the morning, anything which is dry will soon get damp anyhow. Why bother?

But - I do keep my ski boots at the bottom of my quilt overnight to stop them from freezing. However, when they are there they are wrapped up in plastic bags, to protect my quilt.



David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
Re: Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/21/2010 19:40:12 MST Print View

Damp yes, soaked no. I don't like frostbite.

You have to bring enough bag and/or enough fuel for hot
water bottles.

Also take every care to keep things dry and every opportunity
to dry things out, like hiking with your wet socks or gloves inside your clothes during a stormy day or
hung outside your pack on a sunny day.

On multi-week winter trips I use a VBL which keeps me out of direct contact with the damp stuff and helps minimize my
own night time sweat from getting into the bag. I also
like a synthetic overbag with a summer weight down bag inside. Richard N's theory on the insulating properties of down not being affected by compression has been proved to
me. A down bag pressed in close around me by an overbag or
bivy is warmer than one standing proud away from my body.

Every night I take off my daytime socks, boot liners, mittens etc. and but them in the bottom of my sleeping bag with a quart water bottle of boiling water stuffed in one of
the damp socks. Most times by morning everything is dry
and I have had at least 6 hours of extra
heat from the bottle. My boot shells go on top of my pad, but outside the sleeping bag under my knees. By tying the
laces together with the soles facing out to either side, the
boots stay in place and help keep me on my pad. The shells
or boots don't freeze this way.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Drying things in your sleeping bag? on 11/21/2010 19:40:34 MST Print View

I agree 100% with Roger! I never dry anything inside my sleeping bag! I have encountered too many occasions in which there was no way to dry my sleeping bag (or anything else) for days on end.

If an item is still wet at night (i.e. it hasn't dried on my body), it goes in a large ziplock bag inside my sleeping bag. It doesn't get any drier, but at least the moisture doesn't get into my precious down bag! At least the damp item is warm when I have to put it on in the morning! Once I start hiking, my body heat soon dries the stuff out.

Michael Febbo
(febbom) - F
Overbag? on 11/21/2010 20:02:22 MST Print View

Sorry to get off topic, but which synthetic overbag do you use? I have been trying to find a good ultralight option and the best I can do is the Big Agnes Lost Dog...

I've very often wanted to use all down clothing and a light down bag in a synthetic overbag as a way to use the weight/warmth of down while still being able to dry items in the bag.

David Olsen

Locale: Steptoe Butte
synthetic overbag on 11/22/2010 11:44:20 MST Print View

For many years I used a Camp 7 polarguard overbag. It was not
ultralight (2 lbs) but with a 2 lb down bag and thick sleeping
pads worked very well for month long trips in temps down to
-10 F (in tents). After wearing that one out, I use a homemade bag. If the interest was there, I
would make overbags for sale with Momentum and Climashield.

One of BPL's quilts might make a good overbag too, tho I like
full coverage for an overbag.

Another advantage to an overbag is that you can put damp clothes between the two bags as well and avoid body contact
with the damp stuff.