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Down quilt/bag...stuff or not stuff?
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Jason Johnson
(etex9799) - F
Down quilt/bag...stuff or not stuff? on 10/02/2013 10:09:48 MDT Print View

Just bought my first down quilt for my 12 yo daugther...arrived in a box and super lofty. Layed beside my bed for couple weeks so I could admire the loft. Last night, I rolled it up for the first time..put it in the included stuff sack...and packed it in the sleeping bag compartment of my kiddos mountainsmith backpack. Loaded up all her other stuff and pulled the quilt back out before going to bed.

This morning it doesnt look as lofty as when it was laying bedside me bed since, me beinga down you pack your down quilt or bag loosely? Is compacting it a bad idea? DOes each compression lower the loft? Just savedup a long time for this bag and want to keep it lofty.


Bradley Attaway
(AttaboyBrad) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Give it a minute... on 10/02/2013 10:32:05 MDT Print View

Returning to full loft can take some time and even some assistance (I fluff my quilts for about 3 minutes when they come out of my bag).

Best practices are to compress down as little as possible: stuff it directly into your bag so it can loft as much as possible while still fitting, and store it on a hanger or in a large bag (I use those giant blue plastic zipper bags from ikea, though depending on volume most trash bags will work fine).

Highly compressing down will reduce loft over time, but if you need the space on a particular trip you need the space.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
Re: Down quilt/bag...stuff or not stuff? on 10/02/2013 10:35:34 MDT Print View

A down bag shouldn't lose loft after each stuffing/compacting. The key is not to store it stuffed long term. When you take it out I would give the quilt a good shaking to help distribute the down as evenly as possible.

As for packing in your backpack, I don't normally put my quilt in a stuff sack anymore. I have a liner in my backpack and just loosely pack by quilt at the bottom of that. That allows the quilt to expand to better fill in the available space within the pack.

Delmar O'Donnell

Locale: Between Jacinto & Gorgonio
Stuff Turkey Bag on 10/02/2013 10:46:48 MDT Print View

Similar method here. I put my quilt into one of the very strong & lightweight Reynolds "Turkey" oven bags (which is a loose stuff), close it with a NiteIze tie, and put it in the bottom of the pack. The amount it gets compressed depends on how much goes in on top. The "Turkey" bag keeps it clean and dry.

After use, it gets hung on the line for a day, then into a very large storage sack.

FYI, Ray Jardine has strong opinions on bag compression, claiming that you lose valuable loft with each and every compression. Kinda scary to read him on this topic.

Edited by Bolster on 10/02/2013 10:49:05 MDT.

Dave -
(FamilyGuy) - F

Locale: Up there
Re: Give it a minute... on 10/02/2013 10:55:17 MDT Print View

"Highly compressing down will reduce loft over time, but if you need the space on a particular trip you need the space."

When I received my Feathered Friends bag, I could not believe how small the stuff sack was. When I contacted Feathered Friends, they said 'stuff away.' Because of the high quality down (900) it would not suffer any significant degradation.

Your mileage may vary.

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Down quilt/bag...stuff or not stuff? on 10/02/2013 11:47:19 MDT Print View

IMHO, any fibrous material will degrade from compression, synthetic or natural: it is a compromise of space needs and durability. I do think there is a difference between what you can accomplish with your hands and a conventional stuff sack and the mechanical advantage of a compression sack. Trying to reach black hole density with a compression sack is obviously going to do more damage. The easier your are on the fill, the longer the full loft it will last: less is more. Loose storage at home is easy and just good common sense.

If the rest of your kit is small and your pack has enough volume, loosely packing all your insulation in a trash compactor bag as a pack liner will help fill the pack bag, which can be helpful with an UL frameless pack. You want a nice taut pack body so you get a good vertical column to provide a virtual frame. A favorite way to do this is to put your sleeping pad in the pack first to form a tube, then stuff the rest inside that to create that vertical column and virtual frame. With frameless packs, it is good to avoid hard lumps and in any pack those loosely packed items help fill all the space, so you don't lose as much space as you might assume. Stuffing the other items into your pack will help to further compress the bagged insulation. If your pack has compression straps, that will make a final tweak to get a firm pack for better weight transfer and stability and further compress the insulation items.

So, loose storage at home and in descending order of preference as space in your pack dictates: loosely packed in a pack liner, then hand stuffed in a simple stuff sack, and if all else fails, further compression using a compression sack. If you are using a compression sack, I would avoid a really rock hard pack and stop at "firm."

(JRinGeorgia) - F
let it breathe in storage on 10/02/2013 12:16:05 MDT Print View

I would simply add that for long-term storage, if you are going to use a bag I recommend the bag be a fabric that breathes. If the bag didn't come with a cotton storage bag you can pick one up or else get a mesh laundry bag from Target/Walmart. Personally I would not store down long-term in plastic.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
re on 10/03/2013 00:24:10 MDT Print View

Just stuff it no need to roll, ruling can compress the first part more than the rest.

Max Dilthey
(mdilthey) - M

Hmm.. on 10/03/2013 18:31:38 MDT Print View

Is all of the advice in this thread equally applicable to synthetic?

Dale Wambaugh
(dwambaugh) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Hmm.. on 10/03/2013 18:53:31 MDT Print View

"Is all of the advice in this thread equally applicable to synthetic?"

Sure. We're talking about fibers. Down has a greater range of compression and loft for the weight, but if you crush any fiber too hard for too long and/or repeat the process too many times, there will be damage. Go easy, and do the best you can.

If you find that you need to compress your insulation down to rock hard most of the time, you need to look at your pack volume and packing strategy. IMHO, A slightly larger. pack with things stuffed loosely works better than a smaller pack with everything in hard lumps.

Of course, this all applies to clothing as well as sleeping insulation.

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Re: Re: Hmm.. on 10/03/2013 19:39:27 MDT Print View

I would be especially careful stuffing synthetics The batts seem to get torn. My first bag was a polar guard hv the salesman showed me how to stuff it and got pretty physical with it and that's the way I stuffed it also. Holding it up to light less than a year later and you could see areas with no insulation

Derek M.
(dmusashe) - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Don't stuff it too much if you don't have to... on 10/04/2013 23:22:44 MDT Print View

I agree with much of what's been said above. The real key is to stuff your bag as little as possible, within reason.

I currently use the trash compactor bag method of waterproofing my stored sleeping bag and clothes, where I simply stuff the sleeping bag down in the bottom of the compactor bag then my clothes (held in a plastic grocery bag) go on top of that. These two categories of items are the only thing that I really need to keep absolutely waterproof in my pack, and the compactor bag works nicely to do that.

I will say that I'm probably on the extreme end of the "non-compression" group of people, since I barely compress my bag at all. I always carry a 60 liter pack and I'd say that my sleeping bag takes up about 15-20 liters of space in the pack and my clothes take up 10. In reality, my sleeping bag can compress down to about 2 liters, but I almost never do this. I just find that very dispersed lightweight items are easier to pack and to carry than highly compressed lightweight items. This method is what Mike Clelland (author of Ultralight Backpackin' Tips) would call the "cloud packing method" where all your gear rides lightly on your sleeping bag. It works well for me.

On day 1 or day 5 of a trip, my pack is pretty much the same volume, with the sleeping bag decompressing over the course of the trip to fill out the vacant space left when my food is eaten.

Hope that helps.

Edited by dmusashe on 10/04/2013 23:26:38 MDT.

Javan Dempsey

Locale: The-Stateless-Society
Re: Down quilt/bag...stuff or not stuff? on 10/04/2013 23:45:17 MDT Print View

Medium compression for short periods of time is *not* a problem.

Long term compression is not advisable.

Fluffing is mostly worthless in the short term of re-lofting, and extreme fluffing immediately after decompression can be detrimental.

Here's the procedure I follow, and have advised my customers to follow, based on building and using super high fill power down sleep systems for years:

Store loosely, lightly folded, or in a large loose bag, ventilated.

Pack ideally in the bottom of your pack, inside a liner or preferably a kitchen or compactor garbage bag. This should be the first item in your pack. On top of that (inside the liner/garbage bag) put extra clothes, insulative gear, etc, that needs protection from moisture. Twist the top of the liner loosely, fold over to lightly seal, and lightly compress down into pack. Pack other items efficiently, based on weight and needed access on top of the bag of clothes and bag/quilt.

What this packing method allows, is a safe, secure from moisture, minimally compressed bag/quilt, that will compress as needed to accommodate other gear, yet expand to make for an efficiently packed, and easy to carry load. You wont have empty space in your pack, and you can compress as needed to make more room. Although if the quilt/bag area is taking up less than about 1/4 of your pack space I'd recommend considering a larger pack or reducing gear bulk otherwise, for longer term use.

Once at camp, I set up my shelter, inflate or roll out my pad, and then lay out my quilt on said pad. Extremely high fill power premium quality down (800fp or higher) can take quite a long time to completely re-loft. Excessively violent "fluffing" immediately after heavy compression can break the hairs off individual down clusters as they're tightly interlocked, and cause premature breakdown of the down. After you allow the down to decompress of it's own volition for a reasonable time, light fluffing will be beneficial to evenly distribute the clusters, but I don't recommend it until heavy re-loft is achieved.

The higher quality the down, and the heavier the compression, the longer re-loft will take. 100% re-loft can take hours(a few, not dozens) in the worst cases.

Another concern worth mentioning with down gear, is that in long term sustained use, moisture removal and cleaning become major factors in maintaining loft. Venting your quilt in the early hours after waking while packing up and cooking is extremely important, and washing or fluffing on extreme length (thru hikes) trips would be essential also.

Edited by jdempsey on 10/04/2013 23:46:25 MDT.