How to choose the best sleeping bag liner for your needs.
Experienced campers know the benefit of using sleeping bag liners isn’t usually extra warmth – it’s for comfort and cleanliness.
If you need one for warmth – you picked the wrong sleeping bag for your camping needs.
You will really appreciate their value every time you slide into your cool, clean sleeping bag.
Author’s note: This is not intended as an “expert’s” review of sleeping bag liner qualities. It is an explanation of why I use a liner, and think you should too.
As mentioned, my opinion is that if you are looking for a liner for extra warmth, then you would be better served looking for a better sleeping bag more suited to your camping environments and seasons.
I have been using a silk blend bag liner for a couple seasons now, and I use it for just two reasons.
- I love the cool clean feel of “fresh sheets” every time I turn-in for the night.
- Even if we doff our day clothes and wash-up before climbing in our sleeping bags – we are probably still “smoke grubby” from sitting around the campfire. Plus, if the weather is warm-to-hot, we are probably a little sweaty too. Plus, plus, our skin is always exuding body oils.
All that stuff rubs off us and onto the fabric lining our sleeping bags. It is soooo much easier to just toss that liner in the laundry when you get home than it is to wash a big bulky sleeping bag. (which you should not do too frequently anyway)
ps. You can see the liner I use below, and I have never suffered from the “all tangled up” complaints you hear from some folks that have tried sleeping bag liners. (I think most of those must have been the thicker insulating liners)
Why you should use a sleeping bag liner:
1. To reduce sleeping bag washings.
Washing a cheap sleeping bag can quickly reduce it to just a “sleep-over” bag, and even good bags can have their insulating ability reduced by constant washing.
2. To keep the inside materials clean.
Even if you wash well, and don clean sleeping clothes, your sleeping bag can still get dirty and smelly from soaking up sweat and body oils. A liner can protect your bag’s fabric, and is a lot easier to wash.
Don’t underestimate the “comfort” factor:
Think about how good it feels slipping between cool fresh sheets at home – that’s almost the same feeling a silk or silk blend liner can give you when camping. And it just takes a moment to pull the liner out, shake and freshen each day, before sliding back into it at bedtime. Or, you can just keep your clothes on, crawl into your sleeping bag, and dream of the cool sheets at home.
*Note: The shopping links below are my own Amazon affiliate links – which I only use to recommend good-quality camping gear and equipment.
Liners are available in a range of fabrics, from silk and silk blends, to flannel, microfibers, and fleece, but deciding which one is right for you is more dependent on why you want one than what they are made of.
Silk, silk blend, and cotton liners are primarily for keeping the inside of a sleeping bag clean, or keeping you clean when you have to sleep in or on bedding you are not sure about. (ie. bed bugs)
Microfiber, flannel, fleece, and Merino wool liners are for warmth, and they do the job, but using liners for extra warmth should be your second choice. Your first should be picking the right temperature-rated bag for the weather you will be camping in.
Silk Liners are the lightest and most compact to carry, and they are excellent at wicking moisture away from your body.
Ideal for backpacking and mummy bags, they also come in rectangular shape for regular sleeping bags. (Traveler version – which can also be used for hostel/budget hotel use)
Who says “roughing it” has to be rough?
Note: For durability and strength, be sure to look for “rip-stop” silk weaves.
• See a selection of silk sleeping bag liners
Price range: $43.23 – $119.99
Silk Liners may be the lightest, but they are also the most expensive. A silk blend liner, (poly or cotton), has the same moisture wicking capabilities at a lower price. The weight difference is usually only an ounce or two, and the cool feel is the same as with silk.
Ideal for backpacking and mummy bags, and hostel/budget hotel use. Also like silk liners – “Traveler” silk blends work well in mummy bags too.
The sleeping bag liner I have been using, (and love), is a silk poly blend.
Note: For durability and strength, be sure to look for “rip-stop” fabric weaves. Both Cocoon and Sea to Summit make good quality silk blend liners.
• See a selection of silk blend sleeping bag liners
Price range: $24.53 – $59.99
Sleeping bag liners for insulating warmth:
If you are looking for a liner to increase you bags warmth, these Sea to Summit Thermolite liners are your best choice.
Increases sleeping bag performance by up to 25°F (14°C) with super-insulating 110g/m² Thermolite fabric which is a hollow core fiber that provides extraordinary warmth for its weight, and remains extremely breathable.
Spacious design allows for a comfortable night’s sleep, even when the mercury plummets. Perfect for extending the season of your sleeping bag.
• See a selection of thermolite sleeping bag liners
Price range: $54.95 – $64.95
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