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Adding down to a WM Ultralight as a DIY project?
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Chris Nott
(ChrisN) - F

Locale: Canada west coast
Adding down to a WM Ultralight as a DIY project? on 06/21/2011 20:42:03 MDT Print View

I have a WM Ultralight that is going on 10 years. The shell is still in good shape but some of the down in baffles between the neck and the hips is quite compressed and there is visible empty spots when I hold the bag up to the light. I have recently washed this bag but this didn't improve the situation - I just think the down has deteriorated over time. I was thinking about buying some down from, setting my tent up in the house (so the down doesn't go everywhere) and doing a down-ectomy. Not being a big sewer (I will be borrowing a sewing machine), I'd like to know what seam would be best to open up. There's one along the zipper which seem promising but I don't want to open one of these up to find I don't actually have access to the inside of the baffles from there and have to open another seam. There's a couple seams on the side opposite the zipper but I may not have enough material afterwards to sew them up again (they are "inside" seams). Has anyone done this before and know which seam is best on WM bags? Any tips on how to do this in general? Thanks in advance!

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Adding down to a WM Ultralight as a DIY project? on 06/21/2011 21:45:22 MDT Print View

Did you try putting in dryer with tennis balls to break up the down clumps?

Handling the down isn't that bad. No need for tent inside house. Just turn off any fans. Stay away from heater vents. I use a plastic container that's like maybe 2 feet square and one foot high. Put your scale and a small weighing container inside this. Move very slowly. No sneezing. After the amount of down is weighed, grab it in a fist and compress into a little ball and stuff this into the baffle.

I lost very little down doing this.

Don't rip out the entire seam, just large enough for one baffle, insert down, sew it back up.

Practice sewing on some scrap fabric first.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Old Ultralite on 06/21/2011 23:12:41 MDT Print View

Common wisdom is that for old bags, you need to wash & dry them 2-3 times to restore the loft. I would try washing it once more and see if that improves the situation before opening the bag up.

Also, DownWorks in Santa Cruz, CA will add down to a bag for a modest fee. You might ship it to them if you would prefer to have it done professionally.


scott Nelson
(nlsscott) - MLife

Locale: So. Calif.
Adding Down on 06/22/2011 15:33:24 MDT Print View

I would echo the advice above about cleaning and drying it to restore the loft. I would caution, before you start ripping the seams on this beautiful design, be sure you are really accessing the main bag body. I no longer have a WM Ultralight, but I seem to recall that the draft tube by the zipper and around the hood opening are cleverly designed. I would explore the seam opposite from the zipper. If you gently tug on the liner seams you can determine which have baffles attached, and where on the shell they are correspondingly attached. Ideally, you would want to find a seam that joins pieces of the liner to each other that gives access to the tube you want to fill. You could open this seam for a few inches, add fill, and resew the seam. The resulting seam is unlikely to be a pretty as the original. It might be worth it to send it to Western Mountaineering to have them evaluate it to see if it might be covered under their "lifetime" warranty; and/or to have them add the down. If it was a cheap bag, I would say charge ahead, but I would hessitate to hack into such a nice bag. -Scott

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
Adding down to a WM Ultralight as a DIY project? on 06/22/2011 17:21:36 MDT Print View

Just a reminder about washing, this based on a previous thread...
If you use a washing machine to do it , make absolutely sure that there is no detergent residue .
So you may need to run a couple of hot water only cycles (without any clothes/detergent...) to flush some of the typically encrusted leftovers.
I do mine in the bathtub, so I don't have that problem.
BTW, for the ones that do also use the bathtub, you can use the cotton bag that usually comes with it to lift the sleeping bag out of the tub and get some more water out of it without stressing the baffles and fabric.

hmmm on 06/22/2011 17:59:19 MDT Print View

I would just send it to WM and let them do it if it were me.

paul buzzard
(troop208) - F
adding on 07/07/2011 11:41:25 MDT Print View

You can certainly do it, I have on a couple of bags. Calling WM to see if you can get information on the bag itself will help you find the right place. Don't be afraid of cutting a slit, if you do that, use an exacto knife, and if it has # style of cross hatch rip stop, stay on one plane of the ripstop. I use a small tube, jam the down in the small tube until full, then stick the end in the slit, and use rammer to push the down from the tube into the bag. Only need small slit that way. If you do it with a cut, after repairing, add seam seal to the repair. Stronger than original fabric. Worked well for me. good luck.