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Done with WM
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Steven McAllister
(brooklynkayak) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic North East
"Still balls. I don't care about WM anymore." on 12/06/2010 07:10:41 MST Print View

I don't think you can blame WM for your issue.
It is a down( read natural) filed sleeping bag.
If you are having an issue outside of their control and they bent over backwards to make you happy, you can't blame them.

Or do you think they did something to cause the clumps?

A lot of good suggestions/ideas posted in this thread already.
I have had down clumps form in down gear, but they all went away after repeated fluffing when dry and/or the tennis ball dryer trick.

Brett Peugh
(bpeugh) - F - M

Locale: Midwest
clarifying on 12/06/2010 09:09:35 MST Print View

Once again, I am not blaming WM for the issue. If I am negative at them for anything it is not being able to fix or resolve the issue. They were not even able to resolve issues which they believe the down may have had, i.e. the bag may need to be dried more. They did say the down inside was fine.

And I really don't believe they bent over backwards as I have received much better and faster customer service from Marmot, Patagonia, White Gas Stoves, Antig stoves, Tarptent, etc. Maybe it is bending over backwards for them though.

And thank you for the comments but the repeated ones of 'dry it more' don't help because the more I dry it, the more it starts to ball. These do not feel like wet clumps at all.

But I am going to call around today and see if any of the local places can was a down bag as I know some do comforters.

Edited by bpeugh on 12/06/2010 09:25:03 MST.

Sara C
(Jon) - MLife

Locale: SE Missouri and NW Arkansas
washing service on 12/06/2010 09:32:54 MST Print View

It was mentioned, but I don't think anyone has recommended a company that washes bags. I have used Rainy Pass Repair in Seattle a couple times for WM bags because I don't want to spend a weekend at the laundromat. The bags have looked fine when I got them back, even being compressed for a few days. The washing cost plus shipping is more than you would spend doing it yourself, but 12 hours at the laundromat is not my idea of a fun weekend.

josh wagner
(StainlessSteel) - F
sleep clothes? on 12/06/2010 09:45:06 MST Print View

i think it is odd that on backpackingLIGHT numerous people are suggesting a set of "sleep clothes" be worn. do those of you doing this have a fake "internet" base weight and then carry something different?

sucks brett that you spent so much coin on a bag and it's not working out. oh well. luckily there are numerous other good manufacturers out there...

James S
(HikinNC) - F
Re: Following Directions on 12/06/2010 10:04:44 MST Print View

"Actually I do what they say to do on the website. Except for they also suggest to take it out every 15 minutes in the dryer and pound it."

Can't claim to have followed all the directions and be left with a damaged bag, when you didn't follow all the directions. To echo others, it's definitely a bummer - but it's quite clear, more than ever, that the bag was over washed (by your own admittance, 1 wash for every 10 bag nights) and the washing instructions as given by Western Mountaineering weren't followed properly.

David T
(DaveT) - F
wm bags. on 12/06/2010 10:07:52 MST Print View

"Actually I had a memory flash and to go back through the records and it was not it that I washed the Caribou 10 times. It started doing it on the second wash before I sent it in. It was the another bag I washed ten times in about two years because it is an old 550 beater bag. Inverted the names. Sorry."

Hidden in a later post of Brett's is the above statement, so it sounds like was maybe only washed twice before the "problem" set in?

I've been planning on using Rainy Pass for my 20 degree Alpinlite, but I haven't got around to sending it in.

Brad Groves
(4quietwoods) - MLife

Locale: Michigan
Drying down on 12/06/2010 11:45:45 MST Print View

It sounds like the bag has been washed, then dried for a few hours... then at some point later, realizing the down was still clumped, the bag went back into the dryer a few hours. Perhaps in another day or two it went back in the dryer again. I have found that this won't fix the problem you're having.

From the time it's soaked, I run it thru the extractor, then into the dryer for uninterrupted, complete drying (along w/the racquet balls). If you don't dry completely, the parts that are still damp will clump. IME, the only way to break those clumps up is to resoak the bag & start over.

If you're having problems w/the WM bag, and you washed the other beater 500 fill bag 8-10 times, then it sounds like you have a problem washing/drying down bags with proper technique. Doesn't sound at all specific to your WM bag, but to all the down bags you've washed... I say that just as a reality check of sorts, not in any way trying to come off snippy or something.

Regarding sleeping clothes, someone commented about not counting things in baseweight. Personally, I don't carry separate sleeping clothes. But I do go to bed in my baselayers, socks, & hat. If it's summer, baselayers would be a 150-ish wool top/t & a pair of boxers. Winter would be longies. But it's the same stuff I wear during the day.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: sleep clothes? on 12/06/2010 12:02:55 MST Print View

Nope, sleep cloths are also an emergency base layer. I don't really like to publish weights, because mine changes every trip. I don't know about the other people. It can get very confusing if I publish 8, 11, 13 all for one trip. Why? (Base weight, Pack weight, FSO weight.) Sometimes I will post 17 pounds. Sometimes 11 pounds. Sometimes closer to 50. These are usually overall pack weights, just easier to weigh once I have everything I am going to bring. What I am doing changes. What season is it? Who am I with? How do I feel? Vacation? Peak Bagging? ...Gear changes, too ...every trip. I try something newwer, drop something old or worn out. I almost always bring long johns, a pair of socks and a pair of under pants...night gear, emergency warmth layer, "In the sheits layer", Bag Liner it what you is all the same thing. There are a lot of people that use stuff for double duty. Where does it fit in when we talk about it? (Besides the pack, that is ;-) Hmmm, I don't think I even bothered to publish one here....nope. Anyway, that is my take on it.

UL, to me is a philosophy, not a weight. I am not particularly good at it. I STILL carry my SVEA! But, that's another subject. Hmmmm...and, actually, so is this....

I think Brett is straightened out. Without destroying his bag and checking what is happening with the down, I cannot add anything new.
My thoughts only . . .

Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: sleep clothes? on 12/06/2010 12:48:37 MST Print View

I state the weight of all clothes carried and worn. I always carry a spare set of clothes to change into at the end of the day, hopefully dry and somewhat cleaner than the set I have been hiking in. I don't think this is an unusual practice even amongst ULers, though I don't claim to be and SULer by any stretch of the imagination. In summer my 'spare' set of clothes are often silk ;)

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Done with WM on 12/06/2010 13:34:43 MST Print View

It is rather ironical that yesterday after posting my comment i purchased from a member here a Summerlite.
The funny bit is not my tragic gear attraction but that I then washed my relatively clean (IE it was as puffy as it gets just had a bit of used smell...) Highlite .
It is on my clothes line now (spread on top, not hanging...) so I will know in a day or so how it turns out.
BTW, again done in a perfectly clean bathtub using a small dose of pure soap and a few rinses after that.
Brett, I am sorry you still have balls. Hope they disappear soon.

James S
(HikinNC) - F
Re: Sorry.. on 12/06/2010 13:43:21 MST Print View

Best out of context sentence ever.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Done with WM on 12/06/2010 13:55:15 MST Print View

Using a washing machine for the washing is often a source of considerable trouble. Most people use ordinary washing powder in their machines, and this presents two problems.

First, ordinary washing powder contains a huge range of additives which really foul up washing down and DWR gear. Stuff like bleaches, scents, enzymes, and other assorted crap.

Second, over time the additives tend to build up in corners of the tub, and can release bit and pieces into the washing water even when you are trying to just rinse clothing.

What this means is that washing a down item or even a DWR-treated item in a domestic washing machine does not always work very well. the gear sometimes gets as much contaminant added as washed away.

For this reason it is usually recommended that you first clean your bathtub with a little down soap or Sports Wash and then manually wash the gear in the bathtub (or deep laundry sink for small items). Then carefully arrange the gear loosely in the washing machine tub for a good spin.

For drying, I use sunshine. Lots of it, with regular turning and gentle beating. Yes, this takes time and effort, but my gear is worth the effort. I am not aware of any good short-cuts, except for using a commercial specialist service (if you trust them).


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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Done with WM on 12/06/2010 14:14:32 MST Print View

I would add a couple of details to what Roger suggested. I also use the bathtub to wash a sleeping bag. For rinsing, I go for about three or four passes, just to make sure that all of the suds leave. Also, if you lift a lightweight sleeping bag out of a bathtub of water, you stand a good chance of stressing or tearing the sewn baffles. I move the sleeping bag into a plastic laundry basket to lift it out. Once it is all done and 99% dry, I work the down chunks apart by fingers.

I have one down bag that I purchased in 1977, and it has been washed only three times ever, partly because I use it only about five nights per year.


Lynn Tramper
(retropump) - F

Locale: The Antipodes of La Coruna
Re: Re: Re: Done with WM on 12/06/2010 14:21:04 MST Print View

"I am not aware of any good short-cuts, except for using a commercial specialist service (if you trust them)."

Good point. I have a HUGE down duvet on my bed..far too large to wash by hand. Every 5 years or so I take it to a dry cleaner who I trust (I asked around a lot of the places that sell or make down gear, and this place came out the most recommended). The duvet always comes back fully lofted and odour free. I have not yet had the nerve to take my UL bags to them, but they would probably do a good job. Certainly no risk of balling.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
Done with WM on 12/06/2010 14:29:03 MST Print View

What I've been told is to clean thoroughly the part of the machine where the detergent and fabric softener go in, then run a complete cycle with an empty machine. That should get the gunk out of the washer. Then use the most delicate cycle, wash the bag, then run through another complete cycle for extra rinses. Obviously, it should be a front-loading machine with a very large capacity and capable of an extra-delicate cycle. Luckily, my DIL has one--I measured and it's bigger than the front-loaders at the laundromat! This is pretty much what's on the WM website, although they don't mention rinsing the machine out first. Nor do they mention compressing the bag as much as possible when putting in the washer so it will take up water more easily.

I'd rather use my DIL's machine than the bathtub, first, because I know I couldn't get the bag rinsed as well in the bathtub and second, because I'm really concerned about baffle breakage when trying to move a heavy soggy sleeping bag!

There's no way I could dry a sleeping bag without a dryer (again, large capacity) around here except in mid-summer, when I'd rather be out backpacking!

Re the base layer I wear in bed--this is the base layer I take anyway, to wear in camp for cold evenings and cold mornings. I'm not taking extra clothes to sleep in! I rarely hike in the base layer unless it's extremely cold (such as a blizzard) when I won't be sweating in it. When I'm outside the tent, I have other clothes on top so the base layer doesn't get dirty.

I'm hoping that if in the future I take more care not to leave the bag in my pack during several days of travel, it won't lose loft and I won't have to wash it for another 10 years (if I'm around that long!).

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Mine is almost done... on 12/06/2010 19:03:38 MST Print View

Tip for would be bath tub users :
Get a laundry basket (plastic with plenty of perforations) to use to remove the bag from the tub to the clothes line . So you do not lift the SB, you just slide it in let drip dry (gently squeeze...) then you take it outside and leave it on the ground to keep dripping away. later lift the basket over the line and roll the bag out across it.
(I used a net hammock before instead of the basket, but could not locate it yesterday ...)
It is now 1 pm and my bag is already drying nicely because it has been hot and windy all of yesterday and today. Sorry, no balls.

Jeffs Eleven
(WoodenWizard) - F

Locale: Greater Mt Tabor
Re: Mine is almost done... on 12/06/2010 19:10:19 MST Print View

TMI Franco;)

Samuel C Farrington
(scfhome) - M

Locale: Chocorua NH, USA
washing down bags on 12/06/2010 20:46:20 MST Print View

You have done a good service with your thread, I think.
I went decades swearing off down bags until this site persuaded me to rethink to save about a half pound in weight. So I bought one of those new spiral Montbells so positively reviewed on this site. Cost was in the S200-250 range.

First thing I learned from this thread, is that although I wash down quilts in my washer several times a year with no problem, the bag will go to a professional washer, as it cost several times as much as my quilts.

Second thing I learned is not to expect to wash the down bag very often.

Third thing I learned is not to take the down bag out in warmer weather when it is more likely to be affected by perspiration. A synthetic bag can be plenty light for warm weather.

Fourth thing I learned is not to spend any more than I already have for a down bag.

Fifth thing I learned is that one of my MYOG projects still in the imagining stage, a Thinsulate Lite Loft bag stabilized with cross-hatched threads rather than sewing or baffles, might merit getting done before the Montbell needs a cleaning.

Have to agree that you may have overwashed. Sounds like washing every ten nights or so can spell disaster for a down bag. Let's see ... if I could make a comfy pack at about 1.5 lbs., to replace my current one at just over 3 lbs., it would save me about three times the weight as does my down bag. Maybe I should just work on the pack.

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

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: washing down bags on 12/06/2010 21:00:04 MST Print View

"Sounds like washing every ten nights or so can spell disaster for a down bag."

I can't imagine how that could be done along the PCT.


Monty Montana
(TarasBulba) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountains
Re: sleep clothes? on 12/06/2010 21:00:39 MST Print View

Josh, as with Mary and other UL hikers, maintaining a clean sleeping bag is a priority, hence we have a longjohn base layer that we do not hike in except for the occasional extreme condition, saving it for around camp and sleeping in instead. One set that I have is silk and weighs 6.7 oz; another (for winter) is merino and weighs 8.5 oz. I consider them one of the ten essantials and always have one or the other base layers in my pack regardless of whether the total pack weight is 11 lbs or 17 lbs. So much for your snarky comment.