/ What happens to down bags when stored compressed?

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.
lex - on 13 Nov 2012
Hi all,

The received wisdom is that down bags should never be stored compressed for the long term but why not? What happens to the down over a period of, say, months, that doesn't happen over a couple of days. Why can't it recover like it does when stored for a shorter time period?

Cheers,

Lex
M0nkey - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to lex:

Sub question. If it's so bad for down bags to be stored compressed, why do manufacturers store them like that, and retailers too for that matter.
Ben Briggs - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to M0nkey: They dont any good retailer will have their bags hanging.
Stash - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to M0nkey:

Most retailers store them in the oversized storage bag that they are supplied with.
Jim C - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to Ben Briggs:
> (In reply to M0nkey) They dont any good retailer will have their bags hanging.

I recently watched someone buy a down bag from a reputable dealer who did indeed have the bags hanging.

However, they went into the backshop to get his bag from storrrage, and there is no way he could have stuffed it in the time he was gone, so I have to assume that they are all stored stuffed and the hanging ones are just on display.

There might be some UKC posters who have worked behind the scene in these stores, if so what did you find ?

I have a down bag, but struggle for the room at home to keep it in the larger mesh bag. Any good tips of how to 'revive' the properties (( I just fluff it up best I can as soon as I can)

Thelongcon - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to lex:

I used to work at ellis brigham in covent garden and all our bags were stored in their storage sacks. Since I moved back to Oz and got a job in an outdoor retailer here I've been a bit suprised to see here they are kept in stuff sacks.

The reasoning seems to be that the down loses its loftiness/the feathers aren't as fluffy and able to store heat as much from being compressed for so long. Not sure how true this is but with the price you pay for down bags, I'd not be testing it.
galpinos - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to lex:

They cry because they are all squished up and unloved and the tears matt the feathers together.
lex - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to lex:

After several most illuminating replies :-), I have had an asnwer from the horses mouth. The guys at RAB answered within mintes, so thanks to them.

This is what they said

"If you store down in a compressed state for long periods of time you actually start to break down the down cluster and it will not trap as much air, meaning a loss in insulation.

Therefore the less time spent in a compressed state will keep you’re bag or jacket performing better for longer."

They then sent me a picture of a down cluster which doesn;t look like a fluffy feather like a thought, but more like a fluffy brittlestar (if you know what they are).

Suffice to say, I will continue to store my down stuff uncompressed.

Cheers,Lex


CurlyStevo - on 13 Nov 2012
In reply to lex:
high quality down looks nothing like normal feathers
ohsmeg on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to lex:
Just a practical point on storage: I've put a very high shelf in my wardrobe, just enough depth below the 'ceiling' of the wardrobe to slide in my 2 sleeping bags flat out. I store them in old old cotton single bed duvet covers. Keeps the dust off but they're not in a moisture-trapping coccoon. Doesn't take up much space at all.

In reply to lex: mine's stored in a plastic barrel (the blue food grade ones), not stuffed in, but certainly squeezed slightly, probably about the same amount as if it were in one of the 'storage bags'
is that a problem, should I hand it up instead?
Mr Fuller on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to lex: Yeah, it is quite important that down is stored uncompressed. The IDFL (international down and feather laboratory - yes that really exists!) carried out tests a few years ago and found fill power decreased when bags were shipped across continents while compressed. However, in a separate document they claim that down cannot be permenantely damaged by compression, so there must be a way to revive that loft... tumble drying is your best bet (but read the instructions!)

It's worth rememberbing that 95% of insulated jackets and sleeping bags are shipped, from Asia, while compressed as the costing is done by volume and not by weight: it's not just the shops where compression might occur.
Mr Fuller on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC): That's absolutely fine. Down is much more resilient than you might think, otherwise every time you lay on it (up to 200 g per square cm pressure) it'd get knackered!
captain paranoia - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to carrot_boy (North East Wales MC):

The only issue I'd have with storing down in a plastic barrel is that, assuming you put the lid on, the down cannot dry out, and may develop mildew. I suspect that's one of the reasons why storage bangs are generally simple cotton (other than cost); a cotton bag allows any residual moisture to escape. Moisture that you might not be aware of.
Ciro - on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to Mr Fuller:
> (In reply to lex) Yeah, it is quite important that down is stored uncompressed. The IDFL (international down and feather laboratory - yes that really exists!) carried out tests a few years ago and found fill power decreased when bags were shipped across continents while compressed. However, in a separate document they claim that down cannot be permenantely damaged by compression, so there must be a way to revive that loft... tumble drying is your best bet (but read the instructions!)
>
> It's worth rememberbing that 95% of insulated jackets and sleeping bags are shipped, from Asia, while compressed as the costing is done by volume and not by weight: it's not just the shops where compression might occur.

My recent experience seems to back this up... I left my down jacket (alpkit filo) in a compression sack at the bottom of my bag for a good number of weeks a while back, and when I took it out it had completely lost it's loft.

After a week or two it still seemed the same so I was resigned to purchasing a new one, but as it was summer, I figured I might as well carry on wearing to the crag in the meantime and buy a new one when it got colder again.

However, over a period of about 8 weeks of use and hanging on the back of the door it slowly regained it's loft and is now pretty much good as new, other than perhaps still being in need of a wash :)
gethin_allen on 16 Nov 2012
In reply to galpinos:
> (In reply to lex)
>
> They cry because they are all squished up and unloved and the tears matt the feathers together.

That's got to be to it,
ads.ukclimbing.com
Alpjay - on 22 Nov 2012
In reply to lex: Hopefully I can shed some light on the subject -

The down inside a sleeping bag or jacket is made up of down and feathers, manufacturers show the ratio on most products as 90/10 . 90% down, which if you imagine loads of really soft hedgehogs but all spike no body - this is down. But inevitably some feathers are left (10%), these are a harder stalk with softer arms coming off.

Storing a down product all squashed can lead to the spikes breaking off and also losing some 'bounce' so storing it in a big cotton or mesh bag, laid out on top of a wardrobe or hanging up will stop them losing it. But as some users have mentioned down is very hardy and even after squashing for a long time, if left to loft will get it's bounce back. It acts like a sponge, when you squeeze it and it's new they bounce back, but after a lot of use it loses that.

The more used the down products are the more sweat/moisture and dirt etc. can get engrained in the down, this can stick all those soft down plumes together, and the air holes that they create. These holes is where the insulation comes from, so it is best to keep them clean. If you have a well used bag, then stuff it into a small space and leave it, it is more likely to affect the downs lofting ability (or sponginess). So best to keep it clean and stored in a big bag to keep it as good as new.

At Alpkit all of the sleeping bags are stored in large cotton storage bags and shipped to us in this way - but if a shop was storing brand new unused bags in a compression bag, after a short time left to loft (a couple of days), as no moisture or dirt has got in to stick it all together it should be the same as one stored in a large bag, so this won't affect their performance. Most retailers will tell you this when buying one.

Hope this helps, with a quick search on google you can find loads of info on down and most manufacturers have info. on their site - if you can't find any, just e-mail and ask them to send you a link.

Jay
(I work for Alpkit - if you didn't guess)

This topic has been archived, and won't accept reply postings.