Sleeping bags can be very expensive and one of the best ways to protect and prolong the life of your sleeping bag is through the use of a sleeping bag liner. The liner sits inside your sleeping bag and protects it from dirty and body oils. It will also protect you from dust and insects, should they find their way into your bag. You can also ditch your sleeping bag, if the weather is especially humid and just use your liner. A second use for liners is as travel sheets. If you have done any trekking or travelling for any length of time, you will, at some stage, have stayed at a hotel or hostel of questionable hygiene. This is where the liner comes in. It can protect you separated from bad bedding and ensure you continue on your trip unharmed. In the following article we look at ten of the best sleeping liners.
Sleeping bag liners come in two shapes: mummy and rectangular. Choose the best shape for your sleeping bag.
The material of the liner can vary. You can have silk, cotton, fleece, synthetics or insulated liners. Silk very lightweight and compact and breathes very easily. It is the one of the more expensive materials, but worth the cost.
Cotton liners are strong durable, but are not the lightest or the most compact. If added warmth is your main concern, look at a fleece/microfleece liner: they are warmer (up to 12 degrees) than silk or cotton but heavier. They are soft, moisture-wicking, and quick drying. They can however be bulky.
Synthetic liners (eg CoolMax) are moisture-wicking, breathable and ideal for humid conditions. Some of these liners have some stretch and are good for restless sleepers.
Finally, insulated liners, (eg Thermolite). Add the most warmth to your sleeping bag. These liners use hollow fiber insulation that helps them dry 50% faster than cotton.
If you are looking for a comfortable, light and well-made liner, then the Cocoon Riptop is an excellent choice as a sleeping bag liner. The liner is constructed from Riptop silk, so not only does it feel as comfortable as normal silk, it will also be much more durable than normal silk. This liner will feel cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The material is a lot more comfortable than the normal nylon and polyester found in most other bags. Another advantage of silk is that it is incredibly lightweight; the Riptop comes in at a very small 3.5oz – ideal if you are a weight-conscious trekker. The liner packs down to a very small 5.7 x 2.6in, so it is a great space saver as well.
This is not the bag to choose if you are looking for additional warmth in your sleeping bag. This bag will serve as an excellent protector of your sleeping bag or as a travel sheet, should you be staying in a hotel whose mattresses might not be the cleanest or best maintained. The liner will protect and prolong the life of your bag and help you sleep restfully.
The Osage River comes in three colors and offers some nice touches. The very first thing we noticed was that the fleece material felt comfortable to the touch; it doesn’t match the silk of the Cocoon Riptop but it is a lot more comfortable than nylon or polyester. Unpacked the fleece folds out to a 70 x 31in size, and packed it comes in at 12 x 7in. One of the disadvantages of fleece is that it can be bulky; the Osage did feel a little heavy.
This might not be the liner for the weight-conscious trekker, but if you are looking for added warmth, this liner does the trick. You can’t use this liner as a standalone sleeping bag, unless it is high summer. It is not the go-to liner for the really cold nights, but if you want a bit of extra warmth on cooler nights, this fleece liner is ideal.
One thing to note; we gave the liner a wash before we used it, and we did notice a lot of red flecks coming off in the wash. This might be a sign of a quality problem, so be careful to use cold water for your washing.
The Reactor Extreme comes in one color: a bright red. It features a draw cord hood and draw cord lock. The draw cords are not elastic but hard cord, which may not be to everyone’s taste. The manufacturer claims the liner adds up to 25 degrees warmth to sleeping bag. We did find that the liner added warmth, but nowhere near the 25 degree figure claimed by the manufacturer. One plus we found was that once washed, the liner dries very quickly.
The liner has no zipper. Instead, it functions like a giant glove that you crawl into. Getting in and out of this liner can be difficult. You have to wriggle in and out of it. This will not be a problem for most, but if you have back problems, or if you find you need to get up a few times during the night to answer nature’s call, this bag might be a bit of a problem.
The Teton Sleeping Bag Liner comes in two sizes and two materials. There is an XL and a Mammoth size, and the bag can come in either cotton or polyester.
The liner can be opened on either side by up to 24in, which makes for an easy exit from and entry into the liner. There are Velcro tabs on both sides which open and close the openings and help to keep out drafts. The liner has reinforced seams and can be machine washed. The liner also comes with a drawstring stuff sack. We found the polyester model to be slightly warmer than the cotton, but the latter felt a lot more comfortable.
The Teton liner is a reasonably well-made liner. We like that it easy to get in and out of. The polyester will add around 8-10 degrees to your sleeping bag, and the liner is ideal for moderate cold, or as a travel sheet.
This liner is an excellent liner for those on a budget. It comes with some very nice features, is very comfortable and has a very now weight. We especially liked the large size of this liner; you can really stretch out and move around. The liner is made of a machine-washable polyester, which we found to be remarkably comfortable. The liner has a 23in opening on one side for easy entry and exit- The opening comes in two variants: a Velcro or a zipper opening. If you are the kind of person who moves around a lot during the night, we recommend the zipper variant, as the Velcro came undone when we used it. Be aware that the zippered version will bump the weight up a little to 9.17oz.
The bag will add around 5 degrees to your sleeping bag. It is not really designed for cold weather, and it functions best as a travel sheet or as a protective liner for your sleeping bag. Given that, the Friendly Swede liner is an excellent budget liner.
The Dimples initially looked like an emergency blanket: its metallic finish makes it look similar to the heat retaining emergency blankets you often see in hospitals. Despite that first shock, this liner is very good. It has many similarities to the Friendly Swede in terms of size, price and texture. The Dimples has a similar finish to that of the Friendly Swede: it is made of polyester and has a silky texture finish. The liner has a 23in side-opening, which provides sufficient space for getting into and out of the liner easily. The opening is fastened by Velcro straps. We personally think zippers work better than Velcro, but the Excel’s straps worked perfectly well. They did not come undone even if we tossed and turned in the liner.
There wasn’t a great amount of added warmth with the Excel. And we did find that, as with the Perfect Swede, the liner did not breathe that well during the night, so that we found ourselves sweating a little. But as a travel sheet or as a protector for your sleeping bag, this will do a fine job.
The Sea to Summit Coolmax is liner designed for warmer and more humid conditions. The Coolmax material is designed to soak up moisture, which in turn will help you sleep on warm and humid nights. The liner also comes with an Insect Shield, which is basically a coating that is designed to repel mosquitos and other bugs. We found the Shield worked well, although we could not find any information on how long the shield lasts and whether it is resistant to repeated washings. If you are going to a more humid climate where the threat of mosquitos is prevalent, then this feature will be a selling point on its own.
The bag does not come with any kind of zipper; you crawl in and out from the hole at the top. There is a draw string at the top of the bag, and although you can tie the bag tight around you, there is still a slight space for bugs to crawl in and out of.
Overall, we were impressed by the quality of the Coolmax. It provides a good sleep on humid nights and its insect repellent coating seems to do the job nicely.
The ALPS sleeping bag liner comes in a neutral grey color and packs down really well. It doesn’t come with a zipper, so getting in and out is a bit of a task. Another thing to be wary of is that the liner has the words “ALPS” written all over it; so if you are looking for something stylish, this is not the liner for you. The material is a brushed polyester, which although not great to touch, does its job. The liner appears durable and well made.
This bag does not add much thermal value to your sleeping bag; around 5 degrees on average, enough to make a difference on cold nights but not sufficient for really tough or sub-zero weather. Still, it is a very comfortable and well-made liner that is perfect as a travel sheet or sleeping bag protector. It strikes a good balance between cost and functionality.