View Full Version : Ever had a sleeping bag soak through?

03-26-2008, 07:43
Lots of polls on down vs synthetic, lots of discussion that a synthetic bag is better 'cause its still warm when wet. But has how many people have had a bag, down or synthetic, doesn't matter, get totally soaked while camping?

03-26-2008, 08:46
I double bag my down with silnylon bags and it does NOT get wet, even partially out of a Moonbow gearskin

03-26-2008, 08:55
My bag has never gotten wet while packed. It does however stand a pretty good chance of getting wet while I am in it, or if I ever have to crawl into it with wet clothing, which can happen. The worst that has happened while hiking was I spilled water on one once, and it dried out inside my gortex bivy while I slept. I have also crawled in it to get warm on a long slow trudge in winter, but it didn't get all that wet. I put a plastic bag over by boots and slid right in. I think synthetic is better for this sort of abuse, but I haven't tried down since I was in the military. I think down would hold up just as well pound for pound. I don't think its fair to compare a 2 pound down bag to a 3 pound synthetic. A 3 pound down bag is better than a 3 pound synthetic. That's the comparison to make.

Tipi Walter
03-26-2008, 09:50
I remember one night stealth camping at the Swamp Site using my old North Face Bigfoot poly bag in bedroll style(w/o tent). A heavy rain hit me thru the night and in the morning I had a completely saturated bag. It was cold and heavy but I packed it up and slowly made my way to the closest town and laundry dryers.

Another time I had a down bag and thru my own stupidity and nature's venegance I got both the bag and my clothing wet, resulting in one long cold hypothermic night in the tent.

But 99% of the time I protect my bag from getting wet, thru stuff sacks in the pack and thru using a tent. Sketchy shelter systems usually are the culprits here, bivies and tarps often allow windblown water to reach the bag nomatter how you sleep or in what position. We may be talking about only several drops here and there, or wind-whipped rain bouncing up from the ground(in a tarp), but over time these single drops make for a wet bag.

03-26-2008, 14:45
Back in Fall 1994. On the West Rim Trail in PA while the remnants of some Hurricane were passing thru. Using a friends tent (Last time I'd ever do that).
It was pouring for 2 days and nights straight. It would let up into a downpour for a few hours and then the sky would open up and dump hard heavy rain on us for an hour before lessening and becoming a downpour..
Never saw rain that heavy for that long before.
Anyways, the tent leaked, the tent floor leaked, the ground beneath us was soaked completely and squished when you walked on it. We were so tired we didn't care and set up camp. That night, my thermarest seemed to suction water into the tent as I moved around on it. My bag was sopping wet and I awoke a number of times to squeeze it out.
rolling around in warm wet sticky nylon is not a treat I wish to repeat. Constant clamminess. I may not die of exposure but the aggravation and annoyance was enough to raise my BP for the weekend.

Added Later: I now learned to never ever trust anyone elses tent, and bring my own shelter.

03-26-2008, 14:53
Last summer, midsummer, I went one trip with just a fleece blanket and a nylon spread, plus blue foam pad of coarse, and my clothing which was just a light merino wool sweater and hiking shorts. I went to bed with my merino sweater quite damp from rain, but awoke with it dry. My point is that it is not easy to fall asleep with damp clothing, but as long as you are not to cold it might be better than nothing, and might be better than waking up to wet clothing. I think a little wet is manageable. You don't want to bite off more than you can chew so to speak. Darned uncomfortable though. The brain must be wired somehow not to tolerate dampness when we are sleeping.

Appalachian Tater
03-26-2008, 15:04
My bag was exposed to rain when a flap blew open and I kept sleeping but the DWR repelled the water. There was plenty of water on the bag but it didn't soak in at all.

09-08-2008, 22:59
Did a very wet LT through hike in Aug. I didn't carry a stuff sack for my down bag, and was slightly concerned, but the pack cover kept it dry, and since I never had to set up a tent, it wasn't packed with a wet tent either. So a bit of luck was on my side, but still don't consider wet bags to be a major concern under most circumstances.

That being said, I would consider a pack liner if total submersion was a risk, like in paddling or river fording.

09-08-2008, 23:13
I had a Snow Lion synthetic bag that got soaked on a Alaskan island in early May 1978 (Hinchinbrook Island, south of Valdez). Exhausted, I crawled in the wet bag that night, I awoke in the morning and the outside of the bag was wet but the inside was bone dry and I slept very well. I might have been in really bad shape in a down bag.

Montana Mac
09-09-2008, 00:07
I had a Coleman Peak I holifill (sp?)bag that got completely soaked (laying in approx 2" of water) due to a faulty tent.:( The bag was soaked through. It was either sleep in a wet bag or with no bag on the wet tent floor. Being that it was a fairly cool night I used the bag. I slept warm all night in that bag even though it was wet.

Mr. Parkay
09-09-2008, 01:23
Unfortunately, I've slept in a soaking wet down bag. I don't recommend it!

Jim Adams
09-09-2008, 02:14
After 1 particularly long night in the bar, I threw my thermarest out on the melting snow, layed down on it and pulled my 0* down bag over me like a quilt. The snow was about 6" deep and the temp was about 24*. I awoke in the late morning in a steady rain at about 36* with a soaked outter pertex layer but dry down. I slept like a baby all night long but it could have been the antifreeze.:)

My synthetic Peak 1 20* also worked ACCEPTABLY when soaked.


Lawn Sale
09-09-2008, 09:06
That being said, I would consider a pack liner if total submersion was a risk, like in paddling or river fording.

I disagree. I did the 100-Mile and it poured for the first 3 days. I had a waterproof stuff sack and liner in my pack, along with a pack cover. It had rained too much (you can tell because you no longer even care that it's raining) and everything was wet, including the inside of the pack, which was covered. I slept dry whereas others I hiked with had soaked sleeping bags that were in stuff sacks (not waterproof) and pack covers.

I have yet to find a pack cover (or pack for that matter) that stays waterproof for very long unless it's new. The sil-nylon waterproof compression sacks are very light and waterproof, so that's what I bring now.

09-09-2008, 13:01
I have had both soak through. Down when it was warm,so it was just that soggy feeling that bugged me. Synthetic when it cold,I layered up before bedding down,slept just fine. The layers soaked up some water,but not bad.

09-09-2008, 13:14
Had the lower third of a down bag soak out on me once. First town I got to I loaded it in a commercial (front loading) dryer along with a bunch of tennis balls on medium heat and let it run for about 30 - 40 minutes. Came out all lofted and good as new. The trick with down is getting the "clumps" to break up as the bag dries and that's where the tennis balls come in handy.


Mr. Parkay
09-09-2008, 17:39
Unfortunately, I've slept in a soaking wet down bag. I don't recommend it!

I realize that I didn't phase this statement very well. I meant to say that I don't recommend getting WET in a down bag.... However, I DO recommend using a down bag. My Western Mountaineering bag is probably my favorite piece of equipment. It packs well, and is warm, plus easy to keep dry... unless you make bad decisions like I sometimes do :-?

09-13-2008, 09:47
When I lived in Louisiana, you almost had to have a synthetic bag. At that time the only down bags were old military ones. I have awoke many times in puddles from the rain.

09-13-2008, 10:16
How to be sure you'll always "sleep dry?" I'd break it down like this: A) the tenting/camping part, and B) keeping the bag dry, in the rain, while hiking.

For part A, you need a decent tent -- not difficult at all -- and the skill to set it up properly, in a spot that won't get flooded during a heavy rain. That might involve some skill and experience, though it's not rocket science.

Part B is trivial with a decent down bag; all it takes is a plastic bag (say, a kitchen garbage bag) as a liner for the bag's stuff sack. Easier with a down bag than synthetic, simply because of the smaller volume. A small package is easier to protect than a large one. A pack cover or liner adds another level of protection.

10-16-2009, 22:58
I always use a "truly" waterproof compression sack. It seems like it rains every-single-time I hike, but I've never got my bag wet. I don't use a packcover, just the waterproof compression sack with my WM bag, pillow, clothes, and anything that has to stay dry. My pack is not waterproof, but it doesn't absorb water (nor does the hipbelt), so I don't care if water runs through it or on it. I did hike with someone who used a Wal-Mart waterproof sack for his (luckily) synthetic sleeping bag, and he was miserable on a windy 40 degree night.

10-16-2009, 23:01
Adding: He was miserable due to his "waterproof bag" leaking and his sleeping bag and all clothing getting absolutely soaked. He did have a pack cover, but his hydration bladder lid came off and IT soaked all of his gear in his pack.