What is a Sleeping Bag Liner?
A sleeping bag liner is to extend the life of your sleeping bag. Essentially a liner is like a sheet that separates your skin from your sleeping bag which can easily be removed from the bag to be washed separately; this means less frequent cleaning of your actual sleeping bag. This can extend the useful life of your bag which was probably not cheap unlike a liner which is much less costly to replace and also less susceptible to damage when washing. This is an important aspect of sleeping bag liners and if this is your only goal with one it really doesn’t matter which one you choose.
However, there is another thing to look at; a sleeping bag liner is and should be an integral part of your overall sleep system. This doesn’t just mean adding warmth to your sleeping bag though sometimes breathability is more important or texture or allergy concerns. When building a sleep system, it’s important to know the conditions you’ll be sleeping in and build a system of parts that work together, complement each other, and offset each other’s weaknesses.
Do sleeping bag liners make it warmer?
A sleeping bag liner seems like a boring piece of gear not worth much concern or consideration but choosing the right one really can make a world of difference in overall comfort and quality of camp life. One more obvious consideration with a sleeping bag liner is that it can add a few degrees of warmth to your sleep system typically between 5 to 15 degrees Fahrenheit or minus 15 to 10 degrees Celsius.
In the summer that isn’t necessarily a good thing but this can be remedied by opting for a liner made of a material that offers good heat transfer or by using a liner on top of your sleeping bag as a standalone blanket on really hot nights.
How to choose a Sleeping Bag Liner?
There are several options to choose from when deciding a sleeping bag liner.
What kind of materials to look for in a Sleeping Bag Liner?
We’re going to discuss the different strengths and weaknesses of insulated fleece, cotton, synthetics, and silk and then I’ll tell you my personal preference for liners and why?
Insulated liners offer the most additional warmth. Insulated Liners are ideal for cold weather camping or camping at higher elevation. They’re not great for summer trips to the desert and they can also be expensive and they pack pretty large. In other words this is most likely overkill and the usefulness of this liner will likely not justify the pack size and weight it takes up in your saddlebags.
Fleece adds a good amount of warmth second to insulated liners depending on model and features. Fleece is also soft and comfortable but this is not a great option for summer trips unless you’re using it as a standalone blanket. If you want to save money on gear and you tend to push late into the fall with your camping, then this is a good option for getting some extra warmth from your sleeping bag when it’s cold. And in the summer you could always skip the sleeping bag and just take the liner.
Fleece also has moisture wicking properties and it dries quick both useful features for camping much like the insulated liners fleece will be bulky and heavy and more is not always better.
Cotton is a cheap option that is rugged and durable but it doesn’t dry quick and it packs fairly large and can also be heavy. It is an option and not necessarily a bad one if you aren’t concerned about weight and pack size.
Synthetics are a good option for warm weather or even colder weather. Depending on model and features it’s usually breathable in moisture wicking which means it will pull sweat away from your body at night and spread it out in the fabric so it can evaporate more quickly. Both are good features for warm weather camping but also when it’s cold these features will still come in handy. They also tend to pack small and they’re lighter than the other options we’ve covered so far.
This is my personal favorite due to its versatile nature I’m not saying this is the right option.
For every trip if your winter camping on your bike you may want to go with a fleece or insulated option. But for most motorcycle camping needs, silk will fit the bill nicely for starters. It’s lightweight and pack small which is a good start but here’s the strength of silk that really shines for me it works well in both cold and hot climates it can be insulating in the cold and can also be breathable in the heat.
5 Best Sleeping Bag Liners in 2021
|Best Liner Overall: Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor||Fabric Type |
Item Dimensions LxWxH
83 x 35 x 0.4 inches
|Best For Budget Backpacking: ALPS Mountaineering Mummy Liner||Best Use |
80 x 32 inches
|Best For Budget Travelers: The Friendly Swede||Closure Type |
The Friendly Swede
Item Dimensions LxWxH
86.61 x 41.34 x 0.2 inches
|Best For Luxury Travelers: Sea to Summit’s Premium Silk/Cotton Blend||Outer Material |
70% Cotton/ 30% Silk
Item Dimensions LxWxH
73 x 36 x 0.4 inches
|Best For Extra Tall Adventurers: TETON Mammoth Sports’ XL liner||Size |
Cotton Mammoth / 91″ x 58″
Item Dimensions LxWxH
91 x 58 x 0.25 inches
Best Liner Overall: Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor
This sleeping bag liner is touted for its ability to make any sleeping bag up to 15 degrees warmer than it would be on its own. The polyester liner is insulated with Thermolite hollow-core fiber construction.
It’s more compact and warmer for its weight than fleece options available on the market. What I like most about the Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor is that it can serve as a sleeping pad entirely on its own during summer months or in warm temperatures.
What I don’t care for about this liner is how expensive it is at $64.
Best For Budget Backpacking: ALPS Mountaineering Mummy Liner
ALPS Mountaineering designed its Mummy Liner with the intent of extending the lifespan of your backpacking sleeping bag. The liner is effective at keeping out dirt and grime, but unlike the Thermolite Reactor, is not designed to add warmth to your sleep system.
What I like most about the ALPS Mummy Sleeping Bag Liner is how snuggly it fits into most mummy-shaped backpacking sleeping bags.
What I don’t care for about this sleeping bag liner is that it’s a bit heavy for something that doesn’t add insulation, weighing in at 11 ounces.
The Friendly Swede Sleeping Bag Liner
This liner is generously sized, measuring 86 inches in length and 41 inches in width. The polyester fabric is designed to mimic the feel of silk against your skin.
The Friendly Swede weighs in at just over 9 ounces and packs down to a compact size of 6 x 8 inches. What I love most about the Friendly Swede sleeping bag liner is that it includes a pillow pocket, which conveniently keeps your pillow in place all through the night.
What I don’t care for about this liner is that al though designed to feel like silk, the synthetic fabric isn’t as durable or comfortable and wears out more quickly.
Sea to Summit Premium Blend Silk/Cotton Standard Travel Liner
Sea to Summit’s premium silk/cotton liner features double folded seams to make for a long-lasting, durable product.
This liner adds warmth to your sleep set-up and functions as an independent option for travel and summer camping.
What I covet most about this liner is how lightweight it is, weighing in at just over 6 ounces.
What I don’t care for about this product is that is that it is relatively pricey at about $65.
TETON Mammoth Sports’ XL liner
TETON Mammoth Sports’ XL liner is constructed from cotton and features split sides for easy entry/exit. It adds about ten degrees to any sleep system and is machine washable, as well.
What I like most about this liner is that you can use it by itself or to compliment any double sleeping bag set-up. In addition, the velcro tabs do a great job at keeping the draft out at night.
What I don’t care for is how bulky this liner is when packed. Unless you’re tall or sharing it with your partner, it’s a bit overkill size-wise.