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  1. #1
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    Default Western Mountaineering Ultralite, Sleeping bag compression, how long can I compress?

    I bought a Western Mountaineering Ultralite, it's extremely puffy. It came with a stuff sack, and when I pack it down it is extremely tight. I'm overly cautious with new gear, and this is my first nice down bag. Is it safe to use the stuff sack it came with, or will it over compress/damage the down? How long is too long to compress a bag? I plan to hike till dark on parts of my thru hike, so is over 14 hours of compression ok?

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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I believe the latest thinking is that tight stuffing of these bags is just fine. My wife owns this very bag, probably about 8 years old, stuffed tight dozens of times, fluffs back up like new every time. We do store long term loosely, but I just wouldn't worry about compressing every day on the trail.

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    LT '79; AT '73-'14 in sections; Donating Member Kerosene's Avatar
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    Just store it loosely (hanging in a closet or in a large loose drawstring bag that WM also sells). Stuffing tightly for several days in a row won't hurt anything.

    I just realized that my WM UltraLite will have its 12th birthday next month. It's been my go-to back for 12+ section hikes and maybe a thousand miles in that time.
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    Best to use the stuff sack that came with it, not an aftermarket "compression" bag. Storing flat or hanging is a great way to extend life or at worst using the manufacturer's storage bag.

    I have a "Army Surplus" down bag, probably duck, that is over 25 years old and still lofts to it's original height. It has been compressed hundreds of times and stored loose in a floor to ceiling cabinet.

  5. #5

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    I prefer a larger non-compression stuff sack that goes in the pack first, then the other gear only compresses it as much as necessary to fit. Western Mountaineering can supply one or you can get one from other places. What I use is about twice the size of the regular stuff sack.
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    I'll put a trash compactor bag in the pack, and the first thing in is my loose sleeping bag, then my clothes bag. Less stuffing and compaction. Better use of the Pack space. Since I air out my bag every day, usually at lunch, it saves another tight stuffing.

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    It's fine in the stuff sack provided by WM, while you are hiking. But when you're home, put it in the large fabric storage bag, or lay it flat under the bed (caution - not if you have cats ).
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    Registered User frontovik193's Avatar
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    I just opened my WM Alpin lite (same bag but a little wider). I had it shipped to an alternate address because I was moving, and was not able to pick it up for almost 3 weeks. I am worried that it was damaged due to being in its box for that long, however I dont know what to look for and really wont know until it starts getting cold in a few months. This is also my first experience with high quality down.

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    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerJ View Post
    I bought a Western Mountaineering Ultralite, it's extremely puffy. It came with a stuff sack, and when I pack it down it is extremely tight. I'm overly cautious with new gear, and this is my first nice down bag. Is it safe to use the stuff sack it came with, or will it over compress/damage the down? How long is too long to compress a bag? I plan to hike till dark on parts of my thru hike, so is over 14 hours of compression ok?
    Leaving it in the stuff sack provided by WM for a short period of time (a few hours to a few days) isn't going to cause any damage. I don't use the WM stuff sack any more (I did use it for a while), as I now pack mine tight down into the bottom of my pack and sometimes pack my pack several days before I am going to hike. I have almost the equivalent of 4.5 months of use on a Caribou and it still puffs up like the day I bought it. So when on the trail or when traveling to the trail or back home the WM stuff sack should be fine. For long term storage use the big fabric bag.
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    13-45 Section Hiker Trash Berserker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frontovik193 View Post
    I just opened my WM Alpin lite (same bag but a little wider). I had it shipped to an alternate address because I was moving, and was not able to pick it up for almost 3 weeks. I am worried that it was damaged due to being in its box for that long, however I dont know what to look for and really wont know until it starts getting cold in a few months. This is also my first experience with high quality down.
    Was it shipped inside of a plastic bag (or some similar configuration) in a box ? If so, it should be fine. If you are really concerned then lay it out on a flat surface, fluff it up really good, and then measure the height of the loft. Per the WM website it should be around 5". I have an Alpinlite by the way, and it's an awesome bag.
    AT: 2007-2019 (45 sections)
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    Registered User frontovik193's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback... I layed it out on the bed and most of the bag floofs like it should. There is sag on the side closest to the zipper. Is this normal for this bag?

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by frontovik193 View Post
    Thanks for the feedback... I layed it out on the bed and most of the bag floofs like it should. There is sag on the side closest to the zipper. Is this normal for this bag?
    Got a dryer? Turn the heat off on the dryer. Put the bag in the dryer. Run the dryer on air only, no heat for 10 minutes. Remove from dryer. Lay it on a bed or other flat surface for a few days.
    WM measures loft at the lowest point which is about where your shins are in the bag.
    I take my bags out of the large cotton bags every few months and let them loft for a few days.
    Enjoy your bag for a decades. My granddaughter has my first down bag bought from REI in 1975.
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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerJ View Post
    I bought a Western Mountaineering Ultralite, it's extremely puffy. It came with a stuff sack, and when I pack it down it is extremely tight. I'm overly cautious with new gear, and this is my first nice down bag. Is it safe to use the stuff sack it came with, or will it over compress/damage the down? How long is too long to compress a bag? I plan to hike till dark on parts of my thru hike, so is over 14 hours of compression ok?

    Do you think sleeping bags or down are stored and shipped loose or something?

    You bag has probably spent a year stuffed in mfg ,shipping, and storage before you ever received it.

    And the down significant time before that.

    Your inventing things to worry about. Like most do.

    As long as dont overcompress and crimp/break down tendrils your fine . dont worry about time, especially not half a day, half a week, or even half a month.

    . Mfgs stuffsaks are sized not to damage bags. The looser you store it, the faster it will loft. The CLEANER it is, the faster and higher it lofts too. 95% dont wash bag nearly as they should. In as little as a week or two, its significantly degraded from body oils.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-16-2016 at 20:04.

  14. #14
    Registered User frontovik193's Avatar
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    Venchka. I apprecat your advice. I will try this. Not "too" worried but high quality hiking gear to me is like having a sports car to me... it will do great things for you if you treat it right, but at the same time you worry about your baby. I will be using this on my thru next year so I am making extra sure things are right. Luckily the company I ordered from has a good return policy so not Too worried. Thanks

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    No worries. With good care, a quality bag will last decades. The 1975 bag has survived a teenager. The bag I bought in 1994 is probably the best bag I own. The 2014 Alpinlite is just a youngster. It will get it's first real workout next month.
    Enjoy!
    Wayne


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  16. #16
    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    I've owned four WM bags over the years, and I'll vouch for their quality. I owned this Alpinlite for about 4 years or so, finally sold it to a lady on WB last year, simply because I went with a quilt/hybrid bag (from Katabatic gear) for my 20 degree bag. I did this to save about 8 ounces, plus I now prefer the quilt/hybrid style for summer and shoulder season use.

    Anyway, if this has already been mentioned, I apologize, but keep in mind WM bags have what's called the "continuous horizontal baffle" design, meaning you can shift down around between the bottom and top of the bag. this means for the coldest nights, it behooves you to shake the down out of the bottom of the bag, where your body compresses it anyway and it does no good, into the top, where it does the most good. Try this, and you will maximize the loft where it counts.

    One other point Venchka mentioned: you can use low heat in your dryer to fluff your bag, probably doesn't make a whole lot of difference, low vs. no heat, but I always use low heat. do not use anything in the dryer to help fluff; back in the day folks used a tennis shoe to help fluff; this is no longer recommended, as it can do damage to the bag.

    As far as long term compressing goes, newer thinking claims this does no long term harm, it just takes a bit longer to fluff back up. I'm still skeptical on longer term tight compression, but certainly the level of compression in the shipping box was very modest and surely did no harm. I store in the loose sack, and I don't over compress in my backpack either.

    So, if you want more loft in the part of your new bag above your body, unzip it, grab one side and shake the down from the lower bag to the upper bag. I think WM or someone actually has a video of a guy doing this.

    Enjoy your fantastic new bag!

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    I had a cheap down bag from my teen years, 650 quality , stuffed in my attic for..........15 years. Subjected to temps up to 145f in summer. At that point it was 30+ yrs old. No noticeable difference when I found it vs what I remembeted. Threw it away as fabric had dry rotted and ripped very easy.


    80 kg (165 lb) bales of down. Lovingly compressed...not

    down.png
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 08-17-2016 at 19:58.

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