A good sleeping bag is a pricey purchase and an important piece of safety gear and you want to keep yours in good shape for as long as possible, washing it, storing it properly and even repairing it when it starts to show signs of wear and tear. At a certain point, however, if yours has been well-loved, it might be time to replace it.
Once you’ve chosen a new sleeping bag and upgraded your overnight adventures, what exactly do you do with the old one? Here we have four ideas for what to do with your old sleeping bag so yours doesn’t just end up gathering dust or in the landfill.
1. Upcycle it
A sleeping bag has quite a bit of fabric and if you’re handy, you may be able to repurpose it into something new, especially if it’s an old synthetic bag that you can more easily cut up without losing feathers.
An old sleeping bag can be fashioned into a quilt or camping blanket by removing the zipper or several dog blankets. If you have a little more skill, you could use some of the fabric to make a doggie jacket or a cozy scarf for winter walks or even turn it into a puffer jacket or some really cozy pants for winter camping.
2. Donate it
If your sleeping bag still seems like it has some life left in it but you’ve upgraded to a better one, it’s worth doing some quick research to find out if any local charities are accepting donations. Sleeping bags can be like gold dust for people who are dealing with poverty and homelessness and there may be organizations nearby that will take your bag off your hand and distribute it to someone for whom it could be a big difference.
3. Recycle it
If you don’t have the time or inclination for DIY and your sleeping bag is a bit past its sell-by date, you may be able to recycle it, but it’s usually not quite as simple as just dropping it off at the local recycling center. Textiles can be difficult to recycle, but lots of leading outdoor brands will take your used gear and find innovative ways to repurpose it, like Arc’teryx’s ReBird program.
4. Keep it (for emergencies)
A sleeping bag with a few tears or a broken zip might not be ideal for camping in cold weather, but it can still save your life. It might be worth hanging onto yours if you have the storage space and keeping it as an emergency blanket in your car in case of breakdowns or as an extra layer for cold car camping.
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Julia Clarke is a staff writer for Advnture.com and the author of the book Restorative Yoga for Beginners. She loves to explore mountains on foot, bike, skis and belay and then recover on the the yoga mat. Julia graduated with a degree in journalism in 2004 and spent eight years working as a radio presenter in Kansas City, Vermont, Boston and New York City before discovering the joys of the Rocky Mountains. She then detoured west to Colorado and enjoyed 11 years teaching yoga in Vail before returning to her hometown of Glasgow, Scotland in 2020 to focus on family and writing.