Whether you’re a seasoned camper preparing for a backpacking trip or a novice braving a night under the stars, a good sleeping bag liner is an essential piece of kit. They will keep you warm, can be used as stand-alone sleeping bags in warmer temperatures, act as an extra barrier from insects and are easily washable; making them ideal for protecting your sleeping bag from dirt and odour. Choosing the right one to suit your needs can feel a bit baffling at first though, especially as there are a surprisingly large number on the market. From envelope shapes to mummy styles (which taper at the feet), we’ve tested out a range of liners to suit every budget and occasion.
When testing, we considered the material used (silk and cotton are the most common) and how it felt against the skin, as well as if it kept us warm during the night. Some high-tech liners will keep you eight degrees warmer, a key feature for if you’re planning to camp in colder weather, or if you’re going on a big expedition, while other liners are designed for warmer climates when a proper sleeping bag isn’t necessary.
Those who use a quilt (a super lightweight sleeping bag without a zipper which leaves your back in direct contact with sleeping pad) often pair it with a sleeping bag liner as it increases the comfort of this minimalistic sleeping setup. Another benefit is that using a sleeping bag liner allows you to wash your sleeping bag less frequently – which increases its lifespan and decreases the degradation of sleeping bag’s insulation. In very warm weather, when you have your sleeping bag partially unzipped, a sleeping bag liner also protects you against bugs and mosquitoes.
A sleeping bag liner can also add warmth to your sleeping bag, depending on its material. However, as sleeping bag liners have to be fairly thin to fit into a sleeping bag, they add fairly little warmth and therefore they are not the best option to increase the insulation of a sleeping bag. Bag liners made of fleece are for example thermally inefficient (heavy for the warmth they provide) and thus it’s better to wear a fleece jacket and pants during the night rather than using such liner. The same goes for bag liners with synthetic insulation – you can use insulated pants and jacket instead.
Due to the reasons mentioned above, we only included silk and synthetic sleeping bag liners in this review. They provide very little warmth, but are super lightweight and well-packable. Furthermore, they are also breathable, quick-drying and moisture-wicking.
- 1 Buying a Sleeping Bag Liner – What is important?
- 2 Why are sleeping bag liners useful?
- 3 Who Should Buy A Sleeping Bag Liner
- 4 Best Sleeping Bag Liners 2018
- 5 Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Sleeping Bag Liner
- 6 Wrap Up
Buying a Sleeping Bag Liner – What is important?
Sleeping bag liners can be made of silk, synthetics (microfiber, polyester etc.), cotton or fleece. Some bag liners are insulated, meaning that synthetic insulation is sandwiched between the nylon shell and lining.
Silk Bag Liners (included in this review):
Sleeping bag liners made of silk are super light, well-packable and pleasant to the touch. Silk also dries very fast and doesn’t feel clammy against the skin when wet/moist. It is also naturally antimicrobial and can be knit into very thin fabrics. Silk bag liners provide very little warmth but they do protect your sleeping bag against body oils and dirt.
Synthetic Bag Liners (included in this review):
Sleeping bag liners made of synthetic materials are also light, well-packable and dry very fast (depending on the thickness of the fabric). However, they are more plastic-like to the touch than silk bag liners and not naturally antimicrobial. These liners provide very little warmth but are very durable and offer good protection against body oils and dirt.
Cotton Bag Liners (not included in this review):
Cotton sleeping bag liners are not the best option for hiking/backpacking as cotton is much heavier than silk or synthetic materials. Furthermore, it also dries very slowly as it absorbs a lot of moisture. Like silk and synthetic bag liners, cotton bag liners provide very little warmth.
Fleece Bag Liners (not included in this review):
Fleece bag liners are primarily designed to add warmth to a sleeping bag. However, polyester fleece is not the most thermally efficient material and thus such bag liners are typically heavy and bulky. As explained above, you will probably be better off wearing a fleece jacket and pants during the night.
Insulated Bag Liners (not included in this review):
Insulated bag liners look like super thin sleeping bags and feature synthetic insulation such as PrimaLoft. They are more thermally efficient than fleece bag liners but still heavy and bulky. As we mentioned above, you will probably be better off wearing an insulated jacket and pants during the night.
Sleeping bag liners are usually available in two different shapes – mummy and rectangular. If you are planning to use the bag liner with a sleeping bag you should go for a mummy shape so that it will fit nicely into the sleeping bag.
Some sleeping bag liners are available in several sizes which differ by length and rarely in width. Choose the size according to your body height.
We also tested how easy each one was to care for and if it is machine washable, as one of the key reasons for using a liner is to keep your actual sleeping bag cleaner for longer. Lastly, we checked the weight of each; on average, they weight between 100g and 200g – equivalent to a couple of pairs of socks – making them quick and easy to pack away after use.
Why are sleeping bag liners useful?
Additional Warmth. Depending on the thickness, a sleeping liner can help insulate a lot of extra precious heat inside your sleeping bag. Example: a sleeping bag rated at 30 degrees, with the addition of a 10 degree liner, could then be rated at 20 degrees.
Seasonal Flexibility. A sleeping bag liner is not only great extra warmth in cold weather, but it’s also great for warm weather. Instead of packing your heavy and bulky sleeping bag around with you that will be a sweaty oven, you might be able to only pack your liner. They are very lightweight and most can pack down enough to fit inside a Nalgene bottle.
Washable. It is a huge pain to wash a sleeping bag. It can be especially painful washing a down sleeping bag. The dry cleaners are super expensive and time consuming. Some cleaners may not know how to treat a down bag and can destroy it’s loft and insulation ability. On the contrary, sleeping bag liners are easily washable at home and can save you a trip to the cleaners.
Sleeping Bag Protection. On the cleanliness note, by wearing a liner at night, you will inevitably minimize the amount of dirt, oil and filthy hiker grime that reaches your sleeping bag. Protecting a $500 bag with a $50 liner makes a lot of sense.
Super Comfortable. Most backpacking clothing is synthetic. Most sleeping bag material is synthetic. Most hikers long for the feel of bed sheets at the end of a long day. A soft liner to cuddle up inside is the next best thing.
Who Should Buy A Sleeping Bag Liner
Anyone who is an avid traveler or outdoor camper needs to invest in a quality sleeping bag liner. The best thing about these items is their versatility, which makes them useful both inside and outside a sleeping bag. Besides protecting your bag and making your crucial resting time far more comfortable, sleeping bags also keep the bugs away, thus keeping you safe from possible bug bites and infections. So if you are in the habit of spending the night outside of your home quite often, it is best to buy a good sleeping bag liner to be on the safe side.
Best Sleeping Bag Liners 2018
Your search for the best silk sleeping bag liner for a great lightweight backpacking trip should lead you directly to the Cocoon Expedition Liner. Silk as a material is sturdy enough to survive through the years, but this liner comes with a reinforced 100% ripstop silk construction to make sure it lasts through the years. Thanks to this, the Cocoon Expedition Liner also stays very breathable while adding up to 5°C of warmth to your normal body temperature. This one is also a mummy shaped liner, which means that it slips easily into a mummy bag and protect it from all the dirt and oils that can seep into its construction.
The Cocoon Expedition Liner comes included with a sewn-in waterproof stuff sack near the chest area, which makes it ideal for backpacking. The silk construction adds to its ease of being packed as it requires very less space in your bag. It also comes with grooves and a drawstring to make sure it stays packed well. A great positive aspect of this silk sleeping bag liner is that it is very roomy and spacious even for people with taller builds. Just make sure you go with the right size for you (it comes in three different sizes).
Pros– The Thumbs up
- Best sleeping bag liner in silk for backpacking
- Adds up to 5°C of warmth
- Very spacious, despite having a mummy shape
- Comes in three sizes- S,M,L.
Cons– The Thumbs down
- Not much to say here
Verdict: The Cocoon Expedition Liner is one of the most reliable silk sleeping bag liners that can be used in almost all weathers. It is one of the most versatile sleeping bag liners and is very pleasant to use. If you are afraid that mummy bag liners may not be for you, you can definitely give this one a try.
The Sea to Summit Adaptor Coolmax sleeping bag liner is like the Alps Mountaineering Mummy made of a synthetic material. It uses the Invista’s Coolmax material which is known for being super moisture-wicking and quick-drying. The Coolmax material is also pleasant to the touch and very stretchy. Furthermore, the sleeping bag liner also utilizes Insect Shield technology for maximum protection against bugs. It is designed to be used with a mummy sleeping bag and comes with a stuff sack.
One of the best thermolite sleeping bag liners you can find for warmth, the Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme is anyone’s best bet in terms of comfort. While it is definitely not on the lighter side, this liner is easy enough to pack inside a backpack for lightweight travels. If you make sure to have a great sleeping bag to keep you warm through the night, this liner will definitely up your chances of staying warm in colder weathers.
The Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme claims to provide up to 25F of added warmth to a regular sleeping bag, but do note that it comes in a mummy shape. So if you have had a bad experience with these earlier, or are not keen on feeling constricted, then this may not be the best thermal sleeping bag for you. With that said, we find the mummy liners working best when one is in for extra warmth. Additionally, it works wonderfully with a mummy-shaped sleeping bag, so if you own one, you should definitely consider getting this.
Pros– The Thumbs up
- Fit for backpackers traveling to low temperature destinations
- Construction boasts of 110g/m2 Thermolite throughout
- Very stretchy feeling, which adds to the comfort
Cons– The Thumbs down
- Needs a very warm sleeping bag to really show its potential
- Not for warm weathers
Verdict: The Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme is a good sleeping bag liner for warmth and comfort. However, it is not the most versatile liner in terms of its shape and seasonality. But if you are planning to travel to a place that is bound to get cold, this will be one of the top lightweight options to beat the dipping temperatures.
The Sea to Summit Premium Silk Travel sleeping bag liner is super lightweight (it weighs merely 140 grams) while providing good durability. It is made of 100% silk and utilizes the ripstop reinforcement technique. The sleeping bag liner comes only in one size and offers great comfort due to the qualities of silk (moisture-wicking, breathable etc.). Sea to Summit offers this sleeping bag liner in several different versions; standard rectangular, long rectangular, traveler with pillow, double and mummy with hood. If you are planning to use it with a mummy sleeping bag you should go for the hooded mummy version.
For climbers and winter campers, traveling light becomes a huge issue. In having to prepare to keep warm, there always seems to be an uneasy divide between freezing in the cold and carrying an uncomfortably large pack. But with the likes of the ALPS Mountaineering MicroFiber Mummy Sleeping Bag Liner, the matter is made far more convenient. Among the best lightweight sleeping bag liners for cold weathers, this one is manufactured by ALPS Mountaineering with the double aim of providing its users with an easy-to-carry liner, and keep you comfortable even in freezing temperatures.
On the other hand, you will find that it can also be a good choice for carrying along on a summer trip where you can use it on its own. But the microfiber construction will undoubtedly add a few degree of warmth to your winter sleeping bag, while its mummy construction helps seal in the warmth. However, if you happen to feel restricted in mummy bags, this one is clearly not for you. Besides keeping the user warm, the ALPS Mountaineering MicroFiber Mummy Sleeping Bag Liner also helps extend the life of your bag on account of being washable.
Pros- The Thumbs up
- Microfiber construction provides breathable comfort
- Mummy shape helps trap in heat, keeping the user feeling toasty inside their sleeping bag
- Durable material
- Easily washable
Cons– The Thumbs down
- Entering the bag is quite a task
Verdict: The ALPS Mountaineering MicroFiber Mummy Sleeping Bag Liner is perfect for use on its own or inside a sleeping bag to keep you warm. For campers who don’t mind a tight fit and aim to travel light, this could be a perfect choice. This one will also last you several trips, so you get good value for money.
If you are on the lookout for a great new fleece sleeping bag liner, you can go for the Osage River Microfiber Zippered Sleeping Bag Liner in fleece. While fleece liners are not known for being among the most lightweight ones, this particular sleeping bag is not extra heavy, while also being quite easy on the packing side. The zipper feature happens to be a great addition, as it opens up completely to let you use the Osage as a light blanket.
Its presence also makes the liner easy to slip in to and out of. Inside the sleeping bag, however, it functions impressively thanks to its fleece make that feels warm and cozy against the skin. Unlike poor quality fleece, it does not feel itchy to the skin. But note that while being one of the best lightweight fleece liners on the market, it will not keep you warm in extremely low temperatures. It is meant to be used on moderately cool outings. It can fit into any sleeping bag, although you would benefit the most by using it in a rectangular bag.
Pros- The Thumbs up
- Lightweight fleece construction that is difficult to come across
- Soft and comfortable
- No itchy feeling
- Can be used as a blanket
- Zipper makes it very easy to climb into it
Cons- The Thumbs down
Things to Keep in Mind Before Buying a Sleeping Bag Liner
If you are smart enough before buying your camping equipment, most of them will last you through the years. However, there is no point being stuck with an unsuitable item that you have you compromise when you are trying to have the time of your life in the outdoors. That is why it is essential to know about some of the factors that will help you in your search for the best sleeping bag liners.
If you have not realized this yet, a quality sleeping bag liner can make all the difference between a good and comfortable camping experience and a terrible one. So learning about some of the major factors related to buying a good liner will do more than just educate you in theory. You can save a bunch of money as well as time if you know exactly the kind that will suit you. If you are a regular camper for all seasons, however, you probably know that there is nothing called the perfect equipment for all purposes, and the case with liners is similar. So most seasoned campers will probably have at least two kinds of liners for their requirements- one for summers and another for wet/cold climes. But if you are only likely to go out once in a while and have a preference for a particular kind of weather for camping, maybe you can get away by owning one specifically for the purpose. Despite this, you will still need to be aware of much before you end up buying the best sleeping bag liner for yourself. Read on to know about the things that you need to consider before buying the best sleeping bag liners.
- When and Where: This refers to the places that you are most likely to camp out at or the time of the year. In the first case, considering the where is important because every place is different. If you are going to spend a few nights camping in a forest, then your requirements will be different from when you are doing that in the mountains. There are several lines that come with a special bug-repellent coating for forest areas or warmer climates. The time of the year is equally important, but that has to be considered in relation to the place. Some places are likely to be comfortable even in winters, while others will be freezing cold (for instance, if you are looking for a liner for your Alpine climbs. A little research and subsequent preparations go a long way, so make sure you know about these beforehand.
- Climate: This is related to the point directly above it, but being one of the biggest determining factors in buying the best sleeping bag liner, it warrants a different section. We have already discussed the different types of sleeping bag liners available on the market, so it should be fairly simple for you to decide what type you will need.
- Material: Depending on the climate you are venturing out to, the material used for the liner you are about to purchase is an extremely important aspect to consider. For summer months or wetter climates, we would recommend going for a silk liner as they are naturally bug-repellent and dry very quickly. They keep you comfortable enough even when you are prone to sweating a lot, so that makes them a great choice for summer backpackers. If you are going to colder destinations, however, it would be best to carry an insulated liner to be on the safe side.
- How They Pack: This depends on how much space you can spare in your luggage, which is very crucial when you are traveling light or camping. Silk liners pack in really small, thereby taking up very little space in your bag. On the other hand, an insulated liner or a fleece liner will demand more space. However, it is recommended that you take this into consideration only in relation to the factors above.
- Shape and Size of the Liner: The best sleeping bag liners come in a variety of shapes and sizes to suit every need. If you are built higher than average, consider getting a larger one, and so on. Besides that, if you are looking to keep warm, then a mummy shaped liner might be best for you as they fit tightly around your body an trap heat. But if you aren’t comfortable (which is why many do not prefer mummy bags), look for a more generous fitting one instead.
- Caring for your Liner: Most of the best sleeping bag liners are easily washable because that’s the whole purpose anyway. You can wash them in the machine or just use a gentle hand washing technique to get rid of all the dirt and oils. Make sure to read the washing instructions that come with your liner. However, DO NOT put it in a dryer; they are best dried normally out in the open. Lay flat on a surface and let dry.
We have tried our best to tell you the factors that will help you go for the most well-suited ones for your requirements. But you will be the best to judge what works for you and what doesn’t. To ease your search, we have provided a list of the best sleeping bag liners buying the guide.
In conclusion, we would like to say that we have tried to be inclusive of some of the most favored liners used by climbers, campers, and backpackers. So on this list, you will find variation is materials, size, and shapes to help you find exactly what you are looking for. Sleeping bag liners for warmth are difficult to come by, but here you can take your pick from thermal or fleece ones. Silk is one of the most favored materials used for liners, and there are plenty provided here, each with their own unique features. Lastly, we have also included the best synthetic sleeping bag liners that are light to carry and efficient to be used many times over. We hope this post has been helpful, and you will find the top liner suited for your requirements. And if you have any suggestions, let us know in the comments section below.