I'm new here, that's probably obvious. Please direct me to the proper place if this doesn't belong here. I have a question and wanted to bounce an idea off you if you don't mind. First--a little info:
My boyfriend and I live nomadically on our bicycles. It's been 2.5 years and our (inexpensive WingAce from Amazon (China)) 0-deg down bags do not keep us warm anymore...even at 45deg F for the low, I don't sleep well.
The baffles near the feet seem to be very fluffy still. The 3-4 baffles from the knees to the chest are practically empty, and down is actively leaking out the seams pretty much all over the bag. Not only do we find it on our clothes, we can see it coming out. So it's definitely happening.
My question: it's possible the down has shifted from the chest baffles to the foot baffles, right? From a year's worth of going in and out of a stuffsack everyday? After the first year of travel we settled more and now only travel for a week or two in spring and fall. Reason I think the down is mostly shifted rather than mostly lost out the seams is because it still seems to fill the stuff sack. I should try weighing it. They weighed 4.4lbs to begin with.
My idea: Handsewing (bc I have no access to a machine) "sleeves", each sleeve having 3 compartments to be filled with down, each sleeve slides into an existing baffle of the bag and is secured (somehow) to keep it from twisting/bunching within the baffle. Hopefully new down stays more centered and doesn't fall down to the sides and also doesn't leak because I'm sealing "sleeve" seams with tent seam sealer. It's been 2.5 months since starting the project, and I'm only just almost finished with the first sleeve.
Part of the time-eater is bc I repurposed nylon fabric from thrift-store sleeping bag and have been "ironing" out needle holes from the quilting using a spritzer bottle, and a metal spoon that has been heated over the fire. I probably have 7-12 more hours of "ironing" left to do as this method is....less efficient? than a household iron.
I might just need some cheerleaders. I think my idea is sound.
P.s. i make a lot of typos from fat-fingering on the keyboard...hopefully I caught them all.
p.p.s. We also have a pound of down filler for the project, 750 fill maybe? forget. so...
Loc: Torrance, CA
Yes, down definitely shifts in bags. Down leaks out but you would have to have handfuls of it before you would notice.
The first thing you should try doing is see if you can shift the down from your feet back up to the chest. Lay out the bag and see if you can puff it back over.
I have a few concerns with your idea. You are trying to put a baffle inside a baffle? Why not just use the existing baffle? Open it up, add down, and seal it shut again. A messy job to be sure, but it sounds like you are already on-board. The way you are doing it sounds like you will end up with twice as much fabric as you need (heavy) and you will end up with cold spots because it will be difficult to keep these extraneous baffles tight against each other.
It also sound like you are trying to melt shut needle holes in used nylon fabric to get it to be down-tight again. I would be concerned you are damaging the fabric to the point it wall just fall apart in the future.
Summer before this past, I stood inside the bag with foot end on my head, shaking it like the dickens in an attempt to distribute down from feet back to chest to no avail. Willing to try again though, maybe more with a pushing action than a shaking. It's just puzzling that it can shift from baffle to baffle on its own, but I (the intelligent human, haha) can't shift it back...like (rhetorical question) why don't they use a solid fabric instead of no seeum? weight i guess?
Speaking of...yes! My baffle-in-the-baffle idea would add some weight. The trade off (in theory) is that the down wouldn't shift to the side-body and would stay on top on account of the three compartments in my handmade baffle. I'm a knitter too, and sometimes when I'm designing, I get such great and complex ideas that I end up giving up because they are too intricate and involved for my patience. So thanks for the vote of just opening the existing baffles and re-stuffing. My boyfriend suggested it long ago when I was getting frustrated and overwhelmed with the project, but I also have a stubborn streak, and I didn't yet want to give up on my "brilliant" idea.
With the ironing, I'm not intentionally melting the fabric, although that has happened half a dozen times when I accidentally heated the spoon too hot. The threads in the nylon realign, just as they would if using a household iron, but it just takes a lot more "doing" with the spoon, as you can imagine, lol!
Thanks for your input, I appreciate you being a sounding board
Also maybe something worth mentioning is that my boyfriend's bag got drenched recently, and even after several rounds in the dryer (with a pair of shoes), it was still full at the feet and empty at the chest. What little down is in the chest was nicely fluffed and redistributed within the baffle, but after 1 night was clumped and off to the side again, so... ::shrugs::
opening the baffle and re-filling is sounding nicer and nicer, heh
Loc: Torrance, CA
yup down shifting is a problem. Some manufacturers like to try and sell it as a feature (you can shift to down to meet your insulation needs!) but I've met very few who have bought into its advantages. If I'm hot I stick a leg or an arm or my whole torso out the bag. When I'm cold I find out in the middle of the night (after temps have dropped) where I am in no state of mind to figure out how and where I need to shift down.
I have to believe baffles that allow down to shift are made that way for easy of manufacturing. I've never made a bag myself so it is all speculation.
By lofting do you mean, just sorta smushing and fluffing and moving it between the hands? I'm still grasping the terminology that people use.
And holes in the baffles...? The mesh itself? Or perhaps holes where the mesh is purposely not stitched to the polyester (pretty sure ours are polyester). I began to wonder/realize today that some bag-making techniques might not stitch down the mesh all the way around. Like bzh said, for ease of construction, and, if you're into it, customizing where the down goes while using the bag.
It hadn't occurred to me, but you're probably right about the down rotting! hmmm...
I went ahead and opened a baffle today. Put in 3 good size pinches, and seamed it back up. As a side note, I used an empty/clean/dry almond milk bottle as a funnel. Had cutoff the bottom which is wide and inserted the top, which is skinny, into the hole I made and stuffed the down in through the bottle into the baffle. The hole I picked in the seam was only about 2.5-3", so sewing it back up didn't take too awful long. Used backstitch and ladder stitch after that. Just mentioning this for posterity. I use backstitch nearly everywhere, and so far, my stitching holds wherever I've used it.
Now I'm beginning to think: if it is that the down has rotted, and if it is that we've lost this much down through the seams (still unsure whether it's that or if it's all just in the feet, closer inspection required), as long as the shell fabric is good, refilling with down every couple years isn't really a bad deal with how cheap bulk down is compared to a whole new bag...
I've made a down mummy bag, so I'm familiar with the construction. If the down shifted from head to foot (assuming the baffles run side-to-side across the bag) it means that the baffles have either come loose where they're stitched to the shell, or the baffles (usually a mesh fabric) themselves have torn. This can happen if the down gets soggy wet and the bag is handled without supporting it from underneath. This is why you have to handle it carefully when washing a bag.
Re-stitching the baffles could be quite a chore if the tearing is extensive. It sounds like you might have made it work, though.
Many, if not most, bags don't have a side block baffle. This allows you to shift more or less down to the top of the bag, making it warmer or cooler, assuming you don't turn the bag with you when you sleep in it.
I'm surprised it weighed 4.4lbs. new. That's very heavy for a down bag unless maybe it's a large rectangular bag.
Here's a tip for inserting the down in a bag: Put the down in a fairly large cardboard box, maybe 18" on a side or so, and tape a piece of plastic or cardboard over the top, leaving enough room to put your hands in, maybe 8" or so. With your hands in the box, put some down in a small plastic bag (I used small bread sacks), pinch the sack closed, and insert it into a compartment of the bag, open end first. then turn the bag inside out, releasing the down into the compartment. A ruler or suitable stick will help turn it inside out. You can weigh the plastic bag on a postal scale first if desired, or just estimate the quantity of down.
Using this method keeps the mess to a minimum.
Edited by Bill Kennedy (01/22/2004:04 AM)
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead
lol, why yes, it *is* a large rectangular bag! Thanks for more baffle information. And also yes, the baffles run side to side, although when I learned about it yesterday, I felt around from the outside (without knowing the name of it yet), and it does seem that there is a side block baffle.
I did also notice awhile back that a couple of stitches that run across the bag have come loose in one spot. I remember at the time thinking, "oh boy. bag's comin apart." I already had a rough idea of how bags are constructed--I've been studying various bag constructions for a couple months, so I figured there was a gap between the mesh and the shell, but I didn't give it much thought or attention. I also happen to be addicted to the game Clash of Clans, so that gets in the way of a lot of things.
Except for the one baffle I opened up and stuffed yesterday, the only down in the chest baffles is that which is caught in the selvedge/stitching from when they made it. Hold it up to the light--there's nothin there. I'll feel around for damaged baffles.
Am I crazy, or is the compartment called a baffle and the mesh that separates them also called a baffle XD
The baffle is the mesh that keeps the down from shifting between the compartments.
I've heard (or read) people refer to the compartments as baffles, but it's not really correct. I've also heard the sewn-through seams of jackets or lightweight bags referred to as baffles, but again, not correct.
Winter-weight bags are more likely to have the side block baffle.
It's also worth knowing that while most bags use vertical baffles, some use slanted baffles, which could be confusing when trying to feel them from the outside.
Edited by Bill Kennedy (01/22/2001:04 PM)
Always remember that you are absolutely unique, just like everybody else. -Margaret Mead
Yep lofting is fluffing it up so fluff the end that is overly stuffed and quickly compress that compartment whilst trying to suck it into the other compartment by trying to expand the walls.
Down will rot, its natural after all, just depends on how damp you get it for how long. Down for me usually looses loft underneath (not that that really matters) at the head and foot as it rubs on the walls of the tent and round the mouth due to moisture in the breath. Its probalbly unlikely to be mid way down the top of the bag. There is probably a moisture level it rots at like wood, which is usually about 20 percent water at any one time, yet does not rot. Down will loose its lofting capabilities though, its why storage is reccommended decomressed.
You guys! I opened up a compartment on my bf's bag today to "get more work done" and I discovered that the baffles (well, at least the one that I can see) are *not* sewn down on the short sides! (side closest to zipper anyway). So it *is* most likely just a case of down shifting...and most likely combined with being rotted. That's good news: can be shifted back! But bad news: now I've got a pound (little less now) of down and not as much need for it! haha!
I'll add some to the currently opened comparement then think about what I want to do with the rest of it while i attempt to shift the down back from the feet to the chest. Maybe I will just take some out of the foot compartments as it is likely rotted (at least a bit) and split the pound evenly between our two bags and call it maintenance. :shrugs:
Thanks for all the vocab and construction lessons, much appreciated!
Interesting...they were pretty cheap...$180 if I remember right and made-to-order I think,(maybe, maybe not. After placing order, you tell them which color you want to be right-zip or left), and they got here from China pretty quick. Maybe they have shell fabrics with baffles sewn in ready to be stuffed depending on what fill pwr you order and then they just add the down and the zippers/hoods/drawstrings etc. That's how I'd do it anyway, lol. Only reason I bring up price is bc maybe what we "saved", we're making up for in design quality. Dunno.
At any rate, it does seem like the baffles aren't attached to anything on the zipper side or the other side, opposite the zipper. Long sides sewn to top and bottom layers of shell fabric then shell fabric stitched to shell fabric with zipper tape (and that draft-blocking flap they put along zippers) between shell fabrics. On the compartment I currently have open, some baffle material seems to be connected where the shell/zipper tape seam is, but that seems coincidental.
Just felt through another (yet unopened) compartment, and I can feel the gap between compartments.
Figured out today I can open a compartment near the baffle and fill one compartment, put my funnel on the other side of the baffle and fill adjacent compartment and close it up. Half the sewing, woohoo! Should be all done tomorrow or the next day and aleeping better, hopefully :-D
Loc: Kitsap Peninsula, WA
I just have some general comments for what they are worth. I have definitely found that my less expensive e down bags and garments leak down more than the higher end brands. I wanted to make a down "elephant's foot" (a short bag for emergency bivvy to be used with a down parka) at one time and I was going to purchase a down comforter at a thrift store just for the down. I found a better source, but that is another story. We had a down comforter that after a year shifted the down completely away from the center and it was easy to see holding it up to the light. We took it back to Kohl's and they replaced it and said the quality control in some cases was very poor and blamed that. I, like you, couldn't figure for the life of me how the down moved because the baffles seemed to be intact.
BTW, I have a couple of decades old down bags that still work fine (but are heavy) in spite of their age, but it sounds like you use them infinitely more than I ever do. Are you writing anywhere about your travels on a bike? Sounds like and adventure to say the lease. I might consider that, but it would be a bike with a gas engine!
Thanks for the input, the bags are working great again now, after completing the project. I ended up just opening the seams a bit at the zipper side and using an empty milk bottle as a funnel and just eyeballed the down distribution between our two bags.
For posterity: Now that i have more experience...I'm pretty sure the issue was that the original down had shifted to the feet over many months of daily packing/unpacking/use. After some thought nased on input from folks here...I'm almost positive the original down is somewhat rotted. We didn't used to air out our bags--at all. But meow we do it daily. Noticed that the cloth covered foam pad is damp every morning (to be expected) so we do a whole routine getting the pads aired out every morning and put back in every afternoon.
Discovered more recently that the baffles at the non-zipper side are super duper open. So we occasionally grab handfuls through the gap and bring them to higher compartments.
To answer your question!
We have a blog : 21stcenturynomads.weebly.com with links to my youtube, my boyfriend's blog, his email, etc.
We've got a few categories to peruse...Travel, Gear, Lifestyle, Eats. The travel section (well all of them, actually, lol) is extremely outdated. Now that we have a steady migration pattern, I don't really want to take the Travel section entirely up to current for security reasons, but at the same time, so much great experiences worth sharing have been had. So I'll figure out how to share those without really getting at our specific location. I do have lots of blog post drafts...but I'm also a knitter, we workout every morning, everyday tasks take longer in the woods than they do in a house...so the blog often takes a backseat.
Not to mention, I tend to get overly detailed in my writing. Too many details, while (imo) important and interesting, can obscure the point. So it's also a matter of practicing my writing to narrow the focus without losing richness or depth.
Also also: weebly is sorta finicky on our "old" (more than 2 years, lol) devices. I'll just blame weebly 😜