Sleeping Bag Liners 101 – How To Choose

Sleeping Bag Liners: A close-up of a camper in their tent with a sleeping bag liner, enjoying a scenic mountain view through the open door

In this post, we'll take a look at:

Sleeping bag liners are the unsung heroes of outdoor adventures and travel.

While they might not be as glamorous as high-tech tents or cozy sleeping bags, they play a crucial role in enhancing your camping experience.

In this post, we’ll delve into the world of sleeping bag liners, providing you with the knowledge you need to choose the perfect one for your needs.

Interested? Let’s get started.

Key Takeaways

  • Base your choice on expected climate and weather conditions – fleece for cold, silk or synthetics for warm weather.
  • Consider weight, packed size, and durability – silk and synthetics are lightweight but less durable than cotton.
  • Choose a material you find comfortable against your skin – some offer softness and breathability. A mummy liner saves space over rectangular.

Sleeping Bag Liners: Basics Explained

Sleeping bag liners play a role in enhancing your sleeping experience, keeping you clean, comfortable, and warm during your journeys.

Types of Sleeping Bag Liners

Sleeping bag liners have 5 main types, each tailored to specific preferences and needs. Knowing these distinctions is vital for an informed decision.

1. Silk Liners:

Sleeping Bag Liners: Rab Silk Ascent Hooded Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Characteristics: Extremely lightweight (around 5 oz.) and compact.
  • Added warmth: Approximately 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Benefits: Good insulation in cold and are breathable in warm conditions.
  • Cons: Can be relatively expensive compared to other options.

2. Cotton Liners:

Sleeping Bag Liners: RAB Cotton Traveller Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Characteristics: Known for their strength and durability.
  • Added warmth: Additional 10 to 12 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Benefits: Cotton liners are absorbent and can be cost-effective.
  • Cons: They are bulkier and heavier than some other liner types.

3. Fleece and Microfleece Liners:

Sleeping Bag Liners: Eurohike Fleece Sleeping Bag Liner DLX
  • Characteristics: Warmer but also heavier.
  • Added warmth: Adds up to 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Benefits: Fleece is soft, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying.
  • Cons: These liners can take up more space in your pack due to their bulkiness.

4. Synthetics (e.g., CoolMax®) Liners:

Sleeping Bag Liners: Cocoon MummyLiner Coolmax
  • Characteristics: Moisture-wicking and breathable, ideal for humid conditions.
  • Added warmth: Modest increase of around 5 to 8 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Benefits: Some stretch, which is comfortable for restless sleepers.
  • Cons: The moderate price range might not suit budget-conscious travelers.

5. Insulated (e.g., Thermolite®) Liners:

Sleeping Bag Liners: Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Characteristics: Provide added warmth.
  • Added warmth: Claiming up to 25°F of extra insulation.
  • Benefits: Use hollow-core fiber insulation, drying 50% faster than cotton.
  • Cons: These liners can be relatively expensive, and the additional warmth may not always be necessary, potentially causing discomfort in milder climates.

Choosing the Right Sleeping Bag Liner

Sleeping Bag Liners: A camper playing around with his packed sleeping bag liner in camp with a scenic mountain view

Choosing the right sleeping bag liner is all about the material it’s made of. The material plays a big role in how comfortable you’ll be and how much you’ll enjoy using the liner.

Here are 3 key areas to consider:

1. Climate and Weather Conditions

  • Cold Weather: If you anticipate chilly nights, opt for materials like fleece or insulated liners, which provide added warmth.
  • Warm Weather: For hot climates, lightweight and breathable materials such as silk or synthetics (e.g., CoolMax®) are ideal, as they won’t cause overheating.
  • Humid Conditions: In areas with high humidity, opt for moisture-wicking materials like synthetics or CoolMax® liners to keep you dry and comfortable.

2. Compactness, Weight & Durability

  • Ultralight Backpacking: If you’re an ultralight backpacker, prioritize lightweight and compact materials like silk or synthetics. A mummy sleeping bag liner is both lighter and more compact compared to a rectangular liner.
  • Versatility: Consider a material that strikes a balance between weight and comfort if you’re planning a mix of warm and cold weather adventures.
  • Budget vs. Durability: Keep in mind that while cotton liners might be economical, they may not be as durable as other materials, requiring more frequent replacing.

3. Comfort and Feel

  • Softness: Some materials, like fleece, offer a soft and cozy feel, enhancing your sleeping experience.
  • Texture Preference: Consider your preference for how the liner feels against your skin, as it can affect your overall comfort.
  • Roominess: A rectangular sleeping bag liner typically offers more space compared to a mummy liner.
  • Insect-Infested Areas: If you plan to venture into bug-infested regions, consider a liner with built-in bug protection, such as Insect Shield®.

Closing Thoughts

In the world of outdoor adventures and travel, where every ounce and inch in your backpack counts, sleeping bag liners emerge as the unsung heroes.

It’s essential to recognize that investing in a quality sleeping bag liner is a wise decision. Not only can it keep your sleeping bag cleaner, extending its lifespan, but it can also provide added warmth, allowing you to carry a lighter sleeping bag.

So, as you embark on your next journey to explore the world, consider the role of a sleeping bag liner in enhancing your comfort and convenience. Happy backpacking!

Interested? You can also check out our TOP 5 Guide for the lightest sleeping bag liners on the market.

If lightness is not your top priority and you are seeking a liner that offers more warmth, we recommend checking out products from RAB or Sea to Summit.


Do you really need a sleeping bag liner?

We highly recommend a sleeping bag liner as it can enable you to carry a lighter sleeping bag, offering benefits like hygiene, added warmth, and comfort. It’s versatile, acting as a standalone in warm weather, and protects your sleeping bag, extending its life. While not a must-have, it enhances your camping experience.

What type of sleeping bag liner is best?

he choice of the best sleeping bag liner type depends on your specific needs and preferences. Cotton liners offer comfort and breathability, making them ideal for warm weather, but they can be bulkier and heavier. Synthetic liners, on the other hand, are lightweight, moisture-wicking, and quick-drying, making them versatile for various conditions. Silk liners are exceptionally lightweight and compact, perfect for backpackers looking to save space and weight while providing a comfortable feel against the skin. Your decision should be based on factors such as your camping style, the expected climate, and your personal comfort preferences.

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At Hikinglite, we're all about helping you hit the trails with lightweight and ultralight outdoor gear that won't weigh you down. Our crew of content creators? Real outdoor enthusiasts who've logged countless miles on the trails.

Leading the pack is our editor-in-chief, Alex Jardine – an ultralight evangelist who's hiked over 10,000 trail miles across the globe. He's basically a walking outdoor encyclopedia. This dude loves testing out the latest and greatest products, so you can trust his recommendations are always well-informed and reliable.

We treat all our suggestions like advice from close trail buddies. No fluff, just real insights from folks who live and breathe the outdoor life.

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