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  1. #1
    Senior Member Singingcrowsings's Avatar
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    Older down sleeping bag... Did I just waste my time?

    WARNING! Lots of questions!

    Hello!

    I am now working on my insulation and have found an old goose down sleeping bag (It has the older metal zipper, but the older, slightly thicker nylon/polyester(?) outer, but not the heavy canvas). Anyway, it's surprisingly heavy! Maybe even heavier than my 3lb 0˚C/10˚C synthetic bag (I don't have a scale of any kind, this was by feel), and it does not pack down very much - 6"x24"? and that's really shoving it in the bag.

    Could it be the zipper (the plan was to get rid of it)? I was thinking of converting it to a top or bottom quilt, but I don't know what to do with it now. The woman who gave it to me doesn't know the temp rating, but suggests a vague "3 season" answer, and there's no tags to refer to, no name brand, nothing. Is the way to find out through trial and error? Cold it be a 4 season one?

    Would the idea of using the down and stuffing it in my synthetic, which is a much softer nylon material, be a worthwhile idea? Could the weight just be the zipper and outer material combined? Did I just waste my time?

    Did they start doing something different to down over the years to make it lighter and more compressible or something? Why is it so heavy?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Pipsissewa's Avatar
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    You can certainly harvest the down and make a quilt with more modern fabric. The older fabric and zipper do add a lot of weight.

    Also, there are different grades of down. They are identified by two percentages (like 85/15 or 90/10) that expresses the percentage of down and the percentage of feathers. Feathers are a lot heavier and not as warm or compressible. It may be a question of quality, not era. I have a down quilt from Czechoslovakia that dates back to the 1930s. The silk is breaking down, but it's still amazingly light and ridiculously warm.

    You're not wasting your time though. I would start, at least, by washing it. Dirt and oils can definitely add to the weight AND bulk. Wash it in a front loader on gentle or by hand. Dry it in the dryer on low until it is REALLY DRY (moisture left over can promote mold).

    Oh--and take it somewhere where you can weigh it to see where you stand. Take it to a friend's house who has a scale or take it to your favorite grocery store and ask them to put it on their scale at the check out! If you can swing it, an inexpensive electronic scale is really handy when putting together a new camping kit.

    Then get to making your top quilt or bottom quilt. There are lots of threads on how to harvest down and how to convert a sleeping bag into a quilt. You can start by converting it to a quilt. If you don't like how it turns out, then harvest the down. Best of luck!
    "Pips"
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    Of folding up a noisy day
    In quiet covers, cool and gray.

    ---Leigh Buckner Hanes

    Surely, God could have made a better way to sleep.

    Surely, God never did.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Singingcrowsings's Avatar
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    Thanks for that Pips! I am drying it as I type this, so we'll see if it gains any loft at all (it was pretty flat)

    The new news is I was barely able to read the name on the zipper! It says ACME but if I go to the website it just sells other brands. Does that help anyone know what I'm dealing with as far as quality is concerned?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Pipsissewa's Avatar
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    I think that's just the zipper manufacturer. Like many brands of sleeping bags use YKK zippers. Still, it's a clue... .
    "Pips"
    Mountains have a dreamy way
    Of folding up a noisy day
    In quiet covers, cool and gray.

    ---Leigh Buckner Hanes

    Surely, God could have made a better way to sleep.

    Surely, God never did.

  5. #5
    Ramblinrev's Avatar
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    If you learn something you have not wasted your time.
    I may be slow... But I sure am gimpy.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Singingcrowsings's Avatar
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    Well, it is washed and still smells like camp fire, but only if I have it close to my face. There are sections that are completely empty, so the down must have migrated (no pun intended) to other areas. Even in the areas filled, it's not so lofty, so I can't conceptualize how any of the empty section's down moed to the other area at all, especiallt then there are sewed sections.

    I'm new to down for sleeping bags so I agree, anything I learn from this will be worth my while.

    I wonder if I could use my Dyson to suck the down out? At least then it could be contained for using elsewhere.



    ...Maybe this thread should be put in the DIY section? That wasn't the topic I was intending to discuss, but it seems to be what this is ending up being.

  7. #7
    Debi Jaytee's Avatar
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    I believe Fronkey has a video on how to harvest down. Might be worth a watch before you open up the bag.
    Debi

  8. #8
    Senior Member Singingcrowsings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debi Jaytee View Post
    I believe Fronkey has a video on how to harvest down. Might be worth a watch before you open up the bag.
    Thanks! I'll check it out!

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