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What can I do if I'm allergic to my down sleeping bag?

I seem to be allergic to my Marmot Arroyo down sleeping bag. Is there anything I can do? Or should I just go back to my Kelty Quallofil bag? Kevin Silver Spring, Maryland

A: Well, you're clearly allergic to the down feathers in the Arroyo bag ($259—being able to breathe at night, priceless; Which is too bad. Usually the down is of such high quality in bags like the Arroyo that even allergy sufferers are untroubled by it.

Super Stretch Burrow

For starters, I'd launder the bag. Take it to a commercial clothes-washing emporium and run it through a front-loading washer with Nikwax Down Wash ($8; Then dry it in a medium-warm dryer. That might well wash out whatever is causing the allergic reaction, which could be dust mites rather than the down itself. That's really your best hope—there's not much you can do to the bag so that it doesn't hit your sinuses. I mean, your face is right in the thing.

Trouble is, if you CAN'T use the Arroyo, you'll be most unhappy going back to the Kelty bag because down is just so much more comfortable and snugly than Quallofil. So I dunno if you want to invest in another sleeping bag, but you might look at some of the higher-end synthetic bags. Integral Designs' Renaissance ($200; is a 20-degree bag made with PrimaLoft, a very soft and down-like material. If it's really for summer use, the lighter Andromeda Strain from the same company ($170) is rated to 40 degrees and weighs only one pound, 12 ounces. MontBell's Super Stretch Burrow Bag #7 ($110; uses a proprietary fill material for a rating of around 40 degrees and a weight that's a few ounces less than the Andromeda. Finally, Marmot's Pounder Plus ($189) uses PrimaLoft to come up with a 25-degree rating and a weight of two pounds, six ounces. Not bad!

Check out Outside's Gear of the Year winners in the 2005 Buyer's Guide , then get yourself a copy of the issue, on newsstands now!

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Filed To: Sleeping Bags
Lead Photo: courtesy, MontBell