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Recycling Old Sleeping Bags, suggestions?
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gregory tomlinson

Locale: New York City
Recycling Old Sleeping Bags, suggestions? on 09/07/2012 20:27:35 MDT Print View

Not strictly a how-to question, but seems like this questions has haunted this forum before:

I searched the forums for converting old bags to quilts. There are several tutorials, however, my old bag is made from a fabric from the late 90s, predating any concept of lightweight fabric. Old threads suggest buying a new quilt kit instead of gutting an old one. Call be crazy, but this seems wasteful to me. Also, I live in an apartment and space is an issue, along with lots of other issues that make DIY difficult for me.

I am wondering if there are any vendors who can / will convert old down into new quilts / bags using light weight fabric? I found some old threads that suggest that the now owner of used to handle these types of conversions, but no longer does, is this essentially an unfilled / unneeded space or are there people interested in doing conversion and reconstruction work?

I am more asking from a recycling point of view, I would prefer to utilize my older, heavy bags (45oz!), but I am worried they are suffering from long term storage damage, and wouldn't make warm, suitable candidates for donation. Hence the idea of recycling the down fill in some capacity. I realize this might not be cheaper, but from a space point of view, this bag is either going to have to go to a donation center, or sold or a landfill if I can't find a use for it, and I would rather put it back to use for me than anything else. Also, since I am just getting back into backpacking and very excited by the community and dynamic of the ultralight movement, I would love to help support a small vendor and contribute to the community.

Edited by osconfused on 09/07/2012 20:29:10 MDT.

robert perks
(rperks) - F
Pillows? on 09/08/2012 07:35:58 MDT Print View

just a stretch,but have you considered just making pillows for the house? Easy peasy to sew up and stuff, and forever useful. Heck you could even use it as an excuse to try cuben or tyvek with taped seams if you can not work out the sewing part. you could be the only guy in town with down filled cuben/tyvek throw pillows.

Anything is better than throwing it out IMO

gregory tomlinson

Locale: New York City
great idea on 09/08/2012 11:33:04 MDT Print View

that's a great idea, I like the idea of having some pillows. I guess I could try my hand at making some down booties or mitts as well. I haven't sewn anything since I was a little kid though. Are there any good resources or sewing with some of these new "high tec" fabrics, like silnylon or cuben fiber?

rowan !

Locale: SF Bay Area
Give the Bags Away? on 09/08/2012 11:56:14 MDT Print View

If you can't think of a practical way to recycle the down, you could always give your old sleeping bags to a homeless person. Many of them really need something to keep them warm.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Recycling Old Sleeping Bags, suggestions? on 09/08/2012 13:02:07 MDT Print View

When I worked in a backpacking store, we'd take people's tents, sleeping bags, etc, in for cleaning by a speciality cleaner who'd come in once a week to pick up / return customers items. That cleaner also did repairs and, since he worked with outdoor equipment, he had all the fabrics, zippers, etc, to do repairs.

I've also gone to a fabric/fastex retail supplier (right next to the Berkeley REI store) and had them make custom stuff sacks exactly the size and with the features I wanted.

I've also gone to a local outerwear manufacturer in Homer Alaska and had them customize one of their jackets for me with the pockets, zippers, etc, how I wanted them. My wife did too, during her first pregnancy have them make an insert to zip between the normal zippers of her winter jacket to provide the needed, added girth for the last few months.

So I'd suggest asking at local, retail, speciality outdoor stores for recommendations for a repair service / cottage business in your area. Go to them with sketches of what you're considering.

Jay Lash
(jjlash) - F

Locale: Eastern Iowa
Recycling old sleeping bags on 09/10/2012 12:06:19 MDT Print View

If nothing else seems a good solution, please consider donating it to a local Boy Scout Troop or other youth group. We always have kids who would love a new-to-them sleeping bag no matter how heavy.

Andrew Weldon
Best blankets ever on 09/11/2012 09:26:41 MDT Print View

I've taken two old down bags, removed the zippers and sewn the footbox closed about 30-40 inches up to make a blanket for cold fall/winter days.

I keep the house pretty cold, and an old sleeping bag setup as a closed foot quilt is an awesome way to keep warm sitting on a computer chair, on the couch, etc.

Footbox is closed up so you can't roll over it like a blanket in a computer chair, and it's much warmer.

Especially nice in the shoulder seasons when I have the windows open on 50-60 degree days. Pretty great to sleep under in bed, too.

gregory tomlinson

Locale: New York City
thanks for the ideas! on 09/17/2012 18:16:02 MDT Print View

Thank you to everyone who responded to this thread, it inspired me to start doing my own gear projects, and I have already made my first prototype quilt / sewing project from some cheap materials at the local fabric shop. I am hoping to turn my bag into some pillows and other remnants, or maybe into a full blown quilt. In either case, I'm glad I inquired about ideas as it seems doing a little sewing isn't nearly the challenge I had assumed it to be.


David A
(DavidAdair) - M

Locale: West Dakota
Re: Recycling Old Sleeping Bags, suggestions? on 09/17/2012 23:01:24 MDT Print View

I wouldn't be too quick to write off your older down bags. I would toss them in a dryer without heat just to see how much the loft recovers. Even if you just let them hang awhile they should regain loft. Sure the older bags had heavier nylon and down with less flufficity than the new high end bags. Still no bag with 32oz of down or whatever is going to be all that light.

Who knows- you may decide to do some winter camping hauling gear with a sled. Stick a light bag in one of those heavy bags and you're good to what -20F? What brand are they? Heck I may want to buy them. If nothing else stick them in the trunk of your car. When you run off the road or break down some winter you will be happy you did.

Nick G
(HermesUL) - F
Baklava. on 09/18/2012 06:19:36 MDT Print View

What about one of those nice down balaclavas? I'm starting to want one myself--but unfortunately I have no mysterious down sleeping bags in my closet and no time/space/ability to get involved in any such projects.