Make my own bags?

Posted by: jimmyb

Make my own bags? - 09/20/13 10:32 PM

Hello folks, I am new to the forum and just re-entering the sport after many years of camping and day hiking around the country with my wife. Other activities have kept us from backpacking but now we are ready to make a "come back" blush. I am amazed at how things have changed and I would like to thank you all for contributing to this forum as I have learned an immense amount of quality information after reading for several days.

I have purged much of my heavier gear and will start to replace as funds allow. I also have the advantage of making my own if practical. I have done a lot of sewing for our other love of small boat sailing and sometimes its just as well bought as trying to make it for the same price. The first purchase and biggest weight saver will be new sleeping bags or possibly some quilts. Im looking at making a 32 deg. 800 down fill equivalent coming in approx. 24 oz. Is there much of a savings to be had or should I start shopping sales and closeouts. I would appreciate your candid answers and help.

Posted by: balzaccom

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/20/13 11:54 PM

Hi Jimmy

I'm a sailor, too, and not afraid to sew things together. I've made packs, tents, ditty bags...

But working with down is something else again. That stuff flies everywhere--really--and if you don't have a good system for it, it does everywhere but where you want it to go.

Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/21/13 05:04 PM

Thanks for the reply balzaccom and fair winds to you.

Posted by: finallyME

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/24/13 09:33 AM

The only way you will save money is if you follow someone else's pattern. If you make your own design, chances are, you will have a first iteration, then a second...etc, until you get it the way you want. The more iterations you do, the less you save.

thru-hiker has a kit, and also free instructions. In fact, the same instructions are on this site as well. There are other instructions online, if you do your research.
Working with down is labor intensive, which is why they are so expensive. By doing the work yourself, you can save considerably, if you plan right.......good luck. I plan to make one myself in the near future.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/26/13 05:38 PM

Thank you much for the tips on patterns. I would agree 100%, good design is key. Good news hearing that a considerable savings could be at hand. I would still like to have a go at it as I have plenty of time here when the snow flies and plenty of patience with detailed projects. Plus the general satisfaction of being more self sufficient motivates me to at least try.

Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/27/13 05:55 PM

I haven't found the time yet but I still want to play with this. I have some 600 fill weight down in comforters that are still in good shape but not being used.

A few members here mentioned filling the baffles inside a tent because down will be flying everywhere, and that does sound like really good advice.

I watched some videos on YouTube that show how those comforters are filled with down and I honestly think that one might use a small shop vac to do the same thing at home. Here's how I envision it might work:

Put the down in in a baggie and weigh enough for one baffle.

Vacuum the down from the baggie into the Shop Vac.

Set the Shop Vac up as a blower.

Insert the vac hose into the baffle in the bag. Use your hand to close and seal the material around the hose. Turn on the vac for a few seconds to blow the down into the baffle and shut it off.

Seal the baffle, repeat, then sew it all up.

I have an old synthetic bag I want to try it out on. I froze my butt off in it a lot of nights so it will be easy to improve it or toss it. It doesn't have any real baffles, with sides, just tubes, so there will be cold spots but it could be an interesting experiment.

If I envision it all wrong and blow feathers all over the place at least they'll be inside my big car camping tent and I'll just vacuum them up as best I can. laugh

Posted by: CamperMom

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/27/13 08:08 PM

I'm pretty sure I have seen suggestions about using a household vacuum cleaner to suck up and blow out down. I think the person fitted a paperboard cylinder, such as a paper towel insert with some sort of fine mesh (stocking, maybe) as a stop for the down, over the vacuum's intake tube. Reverse and blow into the baffle. I also have seen suggestions to set up in a bathtub with the curtain drawn to help contain the down. The bathroom has more room and maight be easier to clean than a small tent.

Good luck!
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/27/13 09:43 PM

Yes, not sure its the same one but I found the same idea using a vacuum at this link

Posted by: CamperMom

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/28/13 10:01 AM


The link you provided looks like a refinement of those I've seen.

Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/28/13 12:52 PM

I think I'd want to use a tent rather than the bathroom. Filling the bag and then cleaning up the mess might take quite a while, like days, and the bathroom might be needed meantime.
Posted by: jimmyb

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/28/13 07:54 PM

smile Your quite welcome CM glad it was useful.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Make my own bags? - 09/29/13 07:21 PM

That's interesting!

It looked pretty clean to me.