making a Down sleeping bag

Posted by: Ryan22

making a Down sleeping bag - 12/22/09 01:18 AM

I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me figure out what kind of fabric to use for a sleeping bag? I am looking to make a cold weather bag. I have been looking at materials but not sure what ones would work best. If I can get this bag to work out I want to go into making custom winter bags. I was also wondering if any of you would know where to buy down feathers?
Posted by: frenchie

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/22/09 04:39 AM

You can buy everything here at ThruHiker
A DWR outer fabric is a must, but any kind of down proof fabric will do, actually. If you go to the ultra ultra light stuff, price will also increase smirk!
Posted by: Ryan22

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/22/09 12:49 PM

Do you think people would buy high end down bags or do you think I should stick to a lower end? Because I have a Snow goose from feathered friends. An I wanted to make a bag like that.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/22/09 07:58 PM

Ryan22
said"Because I have a Snow goose from feathered friends. An I wanted to make a bag like that. "

Ummm I don't get it. FF is a quality company. If you have a FF bag, why would you want to make one like it? Do you think you can improve on FF's design department and the money they throw at design in your first try? Too many DIY actually think they can make an improved product on their first try. Probably not...
Jim
Posted by: Ryan22

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 12:28 AM


The reason I want to make a bag is one to prove that I can and two I want to make my wife one. Because we cannot afford to buy one because we just got married. No I do not think I can improve upon it my first try but I have some ideas that I think would be better. I know there is trial and error. I also know it takes some time to figure out everything there is to know. I want people to have a product like FF but at a lower cost. I think they are one of the best out there. I see where you are coming from Jim with people thinking that they can just go at something once and have it down but that is not how it goes. That is why I want to know what people want in a bag so I can help them out. I think finding out what people want in a product is much more important than just making something and you think they need it. Most businesses are built upon from what other people have done and have improved it. I know there is a good chance I wonít make it and people will not know my product but I will try and hope that I can help people on their expeditions with providing them with a quality bag that will keep them safe and warm.
Posted by: Rick

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 09:01 AM

I'll give you an 'A' for attitude. awesome Good Luck with your plans.
Posted by: Roocketman

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 09:21 AM

High quality down consists of as little feather content as possible. The principle constituent of high quality down is termed down clusters - which slightly resemble the fluffy dandelion in seed, rather than a feather. Sounds better when you use the more accurate terms.

Have you looked at the www.backpacking.net/makegear.html site yet? I think I got that right. Go to the TLB home link way down on the bottom right of this forum page and click on that, and there will be, down on the right, a link to making your own gear. There are some suggested books there as well.



Posted by: Ryan22

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 03:54 PM

I did not get to check the site out.Now when you say as little feather content as possibile what do you mean? I thought down was just the feathers. Thanks I will check more into that. if you were to buy a winter bag what would you be looking for in it Rocketman?
Posted by: Roocketman

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 04:35 PM

Originally Posted By Ryan22
I did not get to check the site out.Now when you say as little feather content as possibile what do you mean? I thought down was just the feathers. Thanks I will check more into that. if you were to buy a winter bag what would you be looking for in it Rocketman?


To maintain credibility, it is important that you have knowledge of the basic materials of the trade. You need to actually find out what down consists of, and how that relates to quality.

Credibility of the manufacturer is one of the most significant things I would look for in picking a winter bag. My winter bag is made by Western Mountaineering .... which some cite as about the top of the line bag.

The list price of my bag was $445.

I also look for opportunities to have great discounts, and found one such opportunity to get .... a large discount.

I also would like light weight and good packability (small size of stuffed bag).

I would look for some way to know that the warmth rating of the bag is "accurate" or traced to some kind of objective rating. Here is where credibility of the manufacturer is important.

There are many sites with Make Your Own Gear or MYOG and Do It Yourself or DIY information on making gear. This is one such site.

I suggest that you learn how to search the site for articles and discussions about making your own sleeping bags and quilts. There are archives of postings and discussions going back to about 2002, and they are on the bottom of this page, on the right. You have substantial amounts of historical learning material right here, if you want to use it.

Hint: up in the green bar on the top of the page is a link called "Search".

You can often find such articles through Google searches as well, because Google search engine searches and indexes many web pages in discussion forums such as this one, and several others.

Some people enjoy spoon feeding newbies, others prefer to teach them how to seek information on their own. There is quite a lot out there.

I suggest that you go to :
http://therucksack.tripod.com/sewing.htm
and there you will find a lot of links to resources, as well as one of the best list of books on DIY and MYOG around.

Contact your library for getting some of these on interlibrary loan. They are mostly a little dated from the 1960 - 1980 general period when MYOG and DIY backpacking gear had some popularity. You can also search for them on used book sites such as www.abebooks.com or even www.amazon.com by clicking on the mention of books "new and used" whenever amazon gives you a display for the book title.


You can find some pictures of down feathers and down clusters if you do.... a google search.

Good luck.

Happy hunting.
Posted by: sabre11004

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 05:27 PM

No that is incorrect. Down is not feathers. Down comes in little "bunches" and the more down and less feathers the better the insulation is. Feathers do have "some" insulation value but not near as effective as "down". This is not to say that down will keep it's "loft" if gotten wet or damp but it should do much better than just feathers...sabre11004... goodjob
Posted by: Ryan22

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/23/09 10:18 PM

I was not sure about the feathers. I knew the down was under the main feathers but i was not sure if they are a sort of feather to. Thank you guys for all of the help so far.I was wondering what you guys thought about the material momentum. What are your views on it if you have used it?
I just found out about it a few days ago and it seems like it would be good to use.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/24/09 02:14 PM

a long time ago and far far away...
I spent a summer on a 4 moth camping trip with a US mountain regular armed forces sleeping bag with a treated cotton shell and stuffed with "1/2 water fowl feathers and 1/2 chicken feathers". It was an awesome warm bag that never lost any loft, of course it was just rolled up and slung under my pack frame. Ishi wore a jacket made of bird wings.
Jim
Posted by: lori

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/25/09 05:21 PM

I thought about making a down quilt. And when I started reading directions that included zipping myself in a tent before opening the bag the down came in, I realized that I would not be able to control the down well in my environment, and did not want to waste material that costs 20-30 per oz.

I suspect that the sleeping bag mfrs are able to afford machinery or a controlled environment to better control the down and make it much easier to quickly assemble down bags with minimal waste. You might check into that before deciding you can make a cheap quality product - what is your time and temper worth? I decided my time was worth more than the $240 I spent on my down quilt. After first making a synthetic quilt, which is far easier, that made the most sense to me.
Posted by: Jimshaw

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/25/09 06:17 PM

Lori
I was in a down clothing factory and they had a room full of down with a hole in the wall and a house like on a vacuum cleaner going into a second room. The second room had a hole in the wall with a real shop vac on the other side. They would bring something to stuff into the second room, put the end of the hose inside a seam and someone would flip on the shop vac sucking down from the first room into the garment in the second room.
Jim crazy
Posted by: lori

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/25/09 07:06 PM

Originally Posted By Jimshaw
Lori
I was in a down clothing factory and they had a room full of down with a hole in the wall and a house like on a vacuum cleaner going into a second room. The second room had a hole in the wall with a real shop vac on the other side. They would bring something to stuff into the second room, put the end of the hose inside a seam and someone would flip on the shop vac sucking down from the first room into the garment in the second room.
Jim crazy


Yeah, that sounds about right.... one of the ways people handle it is a foot off some nylon hose over the business end of a shop vac. But I bet that isn't perfect either.
Posted by: Ryan22

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/26/09 12:04 AM

Ok thank you guys for telling me about the having to go in a tent to do the down. I read somewhere about having to do that so it did not get all over but I did not know if that was true. I know I have to figure out how long it would take to make a bag which I think it would take around 5 hours or so. But I am probable wrong. But I will figure out what I would charge for the labor and materials. But I am hoping to make the bag as cheap as possible for right now so I can get my feet in the door then I can raise the price from there. But the only hard part is getting the name out there and proving that you have a good product. Now I was wondering when you have someone test the bag would you guys think that I would make a bag for someone and have them write a review on it and let them keep it?
Posted by: lori

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/26/09 12:30 PM

Originally Posted By Ryan22
Ok thank you guys for telling me about the having to go in a tent to do the down. I read somewhere about having to do that so it did not get all over but I did not know if that was true. I know I have to figure out how long it would take to make a bag which I think it would take around 5 hours or so. But I am probable wrong. But I will figure out what I would charge for the labor and materials. But I am hoping to make the bag as cheap as possible for right now so I can get my feet in the door then I can raise the price from there. But the only hard part is getting the name out there and proving that you have a good product. Now I was wondering when you have someone test the bag would you guys think that I would make a bag for someone and have them write a review on it and let them keep it?


I think you need to do more research on this before you start. I would, were I thinking about doing this, start by making a down quilt from a kit from Thru Hiker. Then I would look at all the competition - you are competing against Western Mountaineering, Montbell, Marmot, and a host of other down bag makers, WM and Montbell tending to be the top quality contenders in the market. Then I would talk to cottage industry folk who make down gear - Jacks R Better comes to mind, and they wouldn't be direct competition as they make multi-use quilts that primarily are purchased by hammockers, who don't tend to buy down bags - and see how they got started.

Then I would start looking into how to acquire materials I want to use, cost out how much they are, figure how much time will go into each bag, and estimate the retail cost from that. There is, of course, something to be said for experience - that is, as you make more of them you get better at it and take less time.

However, the fact that you don't know a lot about the materials and how to make them yet makes me wonder if you wouldn't be wasting a ton of time and money without some Research and Development up front. Worrying about getting the fame to sell the bags is the last thing you need to think about. You don't do that until you have something to sell. You won't know if you have a good product until you figure out what else is out there.

AS for testing... sleeping bag ratings are all subjective, because all of us have different experiences of warm. Also other factors, like whether you eat before going to bed, whether you are hydrated, etc will play a part in your ability to maintain body warmth at night. The only objective rating scale I'm aware of for sleeping bags are the elusive EN rating standard - not all major manufacturers use it. None of the cottage gear folk use it, but some estimate on the loft of the bag.

One test is not going to let you estimate the warmth of the bag, is what I'm getting around to saying. Which is why I'm saying to look at what else is out there - and to do some study on the qualities of down, and why it works, and how to take care of it, before you even start your business.

I can tell you also that many of us learn the hard way that in sleeping bags, you can get cheap, warm, or compressible - but you can only get two out of three. You CANNOT get a bag that is cheap AND warm AND compressible, unless you are sufficiently lucky to find that one great sale - and if you are, play the lottery while you're at it.
Posted by: Roocketman

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/27/09 06:27 AM

You said all of the things that I would have said, if I had continued on with the discussion..... and a little more.

There is nothing wrong with a nice dream, but going beyond that, into business success is the hard part, and often an expensive part.
Posted by: lori

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/27/09 11:45 AM

Originally Posted By Roocketman
You said all of the things that I would have said, if I had continued on with the discussion..... and a little more.

There is nothing wrong with a nice dream, but going beyond that, into business success is the hard part, and often an expensive part.


I don't want to be discouraging to anyone.... but I was doing part time bookkeeping for a small startup that failed miserably because the two guys focused on the wrong things and overran their budget, made decisions on a whim instead of basing them in the numbers and being conservative until the profit margins stabilized, and generally didn't really think about much other than the dream. It's easy to dream, harder to find money to start up, and while it's certainly easier to make down bags at home with a sewing machine than to make the product my company made, it's just as easy to invest a ton of time and money, burn yourself out and end up giving everything away then taking a loss on the taxes.

I want to again encourage the OP to think about it, a lot, and make the focus of the effort research first. If you still want to do it you can still do it and you'll do it better for having spent the time becoming knowledgeable about the product you want to make. I know that I would sooner buy a down bag from someone who knows more about down and its uses than me.

Also look at the quilt makers. Nunatuk is high end gear, all down, and customize each to the end user's needs/wants. They do very good business. When I manage to get the money, a quilt and jacket from them are near the top of my gear wish list. The other brand on my radar is Western Mountaineering -- if I ever do need a bag, and that would indeed have to be that I was going out in the dead of winter for me to switch back, I'd be getting one of their subzero models. I wouldn't be doing this based on what the companies say, either - I've seen examples of both brands in the hands of happy hikers. I'd love to have one of each. The quality is obvious the instant you pick one up.
Posted by: Ryan22

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 12/27/09 06:40 PM

No I know I need to do lots of research. I was not planning on making the bags for about 6 months to a year. I was going to be calling the businesses that you guys had told me about and I would be working from my home so I do not have any over head and I do not plan on having any employees. I wanted to try and make my bag and I had wanted to try and make a down coat and snow pants. The reason I want to do this is when I was looking for my down bag I had a hard time finding the color I wanted. when you are spending $800 on a bag you want it to be what you want and you should like everything about it. I also hate not having a pocket inside my bag for my food to eat during the night to warm me up. I just donít like having to get out of the bag when it is 30 below 0 to find food in my tent or backpack. Sorry about the rant. Now I have been working on my pattern and I was wondering if anybody knows of any mummy bag patterns to aid me?
Posted by: Nek

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 01/10/10 09:17 AM

If its any help to you I have basically a home made goose down bag that is 35yrs old and still going strong. Its liner and shell are made from standard ripstop nylon. That may make some folks cringe but I swear that the ripstop stuff is tough as nails for a bag and doesnt snag like the more delicate silky materials.
Posted by: Ryan262

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 01/12/10 01:32 AM

I was thinking about doing the ripstop. I bought some to try and make my designs off of that. Thanks for everyones help with all of this. I am using all of it.
Posted by: Dragon

Re: making a Down sleeping bag - 01/23/10 12:49 PM

Without knowing your situation, I can't advise fully. I can only explain some of what I've experienced and learned.

My dad grew up on a farm in the 20's and 30's. Times were very tough, but they managed anyway. Back then, people were pretty self-sufficient, and often handled all the necessary tasks for living on their own. I "inherited" much of my dad's "do-it-yourself" attitude.

When I was maybe 13, my dad finished our basement. I remember asking him how he knew how to do all the things he was doing. He responded that he just "did it". I didn't understand then, but I since learned what he meant. Growing up on a farm, you just did what needed doing, and if you didn't know how to do it, you figured it out somehow.

Another story before I make my point. In the early 80's, I decided to go to the mountains of western Mexico with my new mountain bicycle to meet the Cora and Huichole Indians of that region. It was a tall dream, because I was "financially challenged", and needed the proper gear. I sewed a bike travel bag. I sewed stuff sacks. I figured out how to carry water in homemade carriers. I dehydrated food. I acquired high quality front and rear bike panniers cheap, a Whisperlite stove, pans, lightweight kids sleeping bag, etc. It was a lot of time and effort, but I got to the tops of the mountains in an area so remote that there were no roads, no vehicles, no electricity, no hotels or hostels. I did it.

I wanted to finish my basement in my tiny house to make more space for my three children. But again, as is so often the case, I had no money to pay anyone anything for their help. I figured out how to do the plumbing (including digging up and replacing concrete to add a shower drain and other bathroom fixtures), electricity, tiling, cut cinder block to put in bigger windows, drywall, paint, move the laundry to a different part of the basement, replace and move the water heater, move the water softener, move gas pipes, create/trim built-in bookcases, and build/equip a sauna. Again, I did it.

Here's my point. If there's a will, there's a way. But that doesn't mean that what you want to do makes sense given the effort, cost and time.

A civilized economy is built on specialization. This started happening in the early 1800's in England and Europe, and then the USA. People do what they are trained to do, and pay others from their earnings for services and goods they need.

There's an old saying ó "Stick to your knitting." In other words, do what you know how to do best. Pay for the rest. However, this doesn't necessarily apply to hobbies and other things you want to learn and get into.

I would recommend to focus on a good education, and then use it to earn enough to buy what you need for the things you want to do.

So let us know how it goes. Keep us posted.

P.S. ó You could get an army surplus feather/down bag cheap (very warm but sort of heavy). Maybe that will "hold" you for the time being.