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Why You Need A Sleeping Bag Liner - Silk, Fleece, Cotton and More

Updated on November 15, 2010

If you are going camping, backpacking or any type of overnight travel bringing a sleeping bag liner along can go a long way to giving you a good night’s sleep.   This article will cover some of the main types of liners and go over some of the different functions that they serve.

More Than Just A Fitted Sheet

Your sleeping bag liner is much more than a fitted sheet. You can add liners to you’re sleeping bag for extra warmth, use them to prolong the life of your sleeping bag, keep yourself clean or even use them on their own. Liners make a great addition to your camping bedroll or fishing bivvies and take up very little extra room in your backpack.

The greatest thing about sleeping bag liners are their versatility. You are carrying one piece of equipment that has multiple functions and uses and this can make your trip all the more comfortable and also be extremely useful in emergencies where you need some warmth to guard against hypothermia or even some extra bedding for unexpected guests. 

Sleeping Bag Liner
Sleeping Bag Liner

Extra Warmth

When the weather gets cooler you can transform your existing sleeping bag to be up to 15 degrees warmer with a good liner. Adding an extra layer of insulation can allow you to not only save a considerable amount of money buying a new sleeping bag but also allow you to stay out longer and have gear that it more adaptable to different circumstances.

Get More From Your Gear

Having a lining will extend the life of your sleeping bag. By washing the liner instead of the entire sleeping bag you will keep the down and other insulating materials from bunching and piling thus reducing its effectiveness in keeping you warm. Having a lining that is easy to remove will also likely be washed more regularly. With the average person sweating up to a liter a night, you wouldn’t want to be sleeping in something which has been collecting your sweat and dirt from your previous trips.

Lighten the Load

For warmer weather a good sleeping bag liner is often all you need to take with you. If you are looking to travel light then leaving a sleeping bag at home in place of a liner will save lots of room in your backpack. Sleeping bag liners are becoming increasingly popular with backpackers as they can be used on top or in place of sheets in a hostel or if you are doing an overnight on a train.

So What Are They Made From?

Liners are commonly made from cotton, fleece or silk. Each has their pros and cons.

Cotton sleeping bag liners

Cotton liners are the most basic and cheapest. Using a cotton sleeping bag liner will give you a similar sensation as sleeping in your own bed at home but the drawback will be its weight that said using a proper cotton liner is a good idea if you aren’t camping too frequently as you can pick one up for as little as $10.

Fleece sleeping bag liners

For added warmth, fleece sleeping bag liners are a good option. Fleece liners are extremely warm for their weight and come in a variety of thicknesses ideal if you are looking for a lighter substitute to your sleeping bag. The main disadvantage with fleece is that it takes up more space than other liners and you can make up for the warmth factor by simply wearing more layers. A fleece lining will retail from around $40.

Silk sleeping bag liners

At the top end of the price range is the silk sleeping bag liner. Silk carries all the advantages of being light, compact and warm. Because silk is a natural fabric it effectively wicks sweat and moisture away from the skin keeping your sleeping bag from becoming damp. Silk keeps the warm air close to your body and has the added benefit of protecting you against mosquito’s because of its fabric. You can expect to pay $50-60 for silk sleeping bag liners.

Optional Extras

Beyond the basic choice of materials manufacturers have made a range of additions including antibacterial and antimicrobial treatments to help keep your sleeping bag cleaner. Other additions include insect repellent treatments for a more comfortable night’s sleep. Besides the three main materials there are a range of extensive synthetic fabrics also being used including thermolite, coolmax and rip stop each making liners warmer, drier and more durable respectively. 

Sleeping bag liners come in either a rectangular or “mummy” style cut to fit most conventional sleeping bags. It’s important to get a good fit so that you aren’t left with a lot of loose material inside your sleeping bag making it more difficult to regulate the temperature.

Regardless of your budget there is a sleeping bag liner in the market that will help make your next camping trip or holiday a lot more comfortable and for much less effort than you may have thought. Just be sure you actually wash yours regularly.



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