Lets be 100% honest here, I never knew that a sleeping bag liner was even a thing until I began researching for the Lone Star Hiking Trail and Ouachita Trail, this was a new concept to me and I was fascinated by what they do.
Do sleeping bag liners work? Sleeping bag liners work for many issues a hiker or camper may experience. They can help keep a sleeping bag cleaner over a long hike and can help add some extra heat and insulation when it gets cold while adding very little weight.
Lets explain why you may want to look at adding a sleeping bag liner to your gear and really look at how they work and why they can add to your outdoor enjoyment.
When thinking about purchasing a sleeping bag liner you may wonder whether this cost would be better being added to a higher quality sleeping bag instead as this would yield much greater temperature coverage, so then what is the point of a sleeping bag liner?
For all hikers and backpackers a sleeping bag liner will serve more than one purpose. When you hike over multiple days you will get dirty, like real dirty. The liner will help keep you from transferring this dirt to your sleeping bag while adding some additional warmth to your bag.
As you can see the sleeping bag liner is more a key to keeping your gear clean and not smelling like hiker trash for as long as possible, it is much easier to wash your liner than a down sleeping bag which is a key additional benefit to your liner.
With all this talk of their helpfulness you may wonder should you bring one and is it a needed or necessary item to take with you on your outdoor trips when backpacking?
Sleeping bag liners are not a necessary gear item for many backpackers when you are looking at shorter trips or when temperatures fall within the noted comfort levels of your sleeping bag, this can help you cut down on excess weight that won't enhance enjoyment.
This being said when your trip is longer than an overnighter you would be smart to consider bringing your sleeping bag liner as it is something that helps make your bag cleaner and helps cut down on stink transfer to your sleeping bag.
There is many reasons one would use liners for sleeping bags, much of it will be tied to cleanliness and the additional warmth they can provide to a sleeping bag.
A sleeping bag with liner is able to be cleaned with simplicity as you would only need to then wash the liner and at most wipe out the sleeping bag, over longer hikes this sweat and grime build up fast!
The additional benefit to a sleeping bag liner is in the ability to warm you up and help contain it which we discuss below in more detail.
As with any gear choice you will need to think about how to choose the right one for your trip should you be interested in making the purchase. This will be heavily influenced by the trip planned and health and safety concerns.
The best approach when choosing your sleeping bag liner will be to understand the weather and trail you intend to hike, then you can choose if warmth is needed as this will close the choices available.
Assuming it is colder than your current gear can handle and it isn't possible to order a new sleeping bag prior a sleeping liner like the Thermolite could be perfect to help provide more comfort at a lower temps.
If you are looking into whether you should choose to add a sleeping bag liner to your gear setup you may wonder how much warmer the sleeping bag liner will keep you versus not having one.
On average a hiker with a sleeping bag liner will gain from 5°F-32°F on their overall temperature by adding a liner into their sleep gear, if you hike in early spring or late winter then this is a VAST warmth change and welcome after being out in the cold all day.
As you can expect this difference in warmth can be very welcome on the very cold nights in February or March and can keep you from long nights of shivering and wondering if you made the right decision.
Should you be looking to find the best sleeping bag liner that can give you the maximum warmth out on the trail look no further than the Thermolite Reactor Fleece Liner, which adds around 32°F! If you want to read more specific reviews over to Amazon for all Thermolite sleeping bag liners.
The reason the Thermolite fabric can help in creating that 32°F is due to construction of the fabric which uses hollow core fibers which trap in the air, this allows it to be incredibly lightweight while also being an amazing insulator.
Whether you want one or think they are plain silly it is of note that they do perform as expected and can help you ensure a more comfortable hike, while also helping you have less maintenance on your gear in town.
For those nights when you have extreme temperature drops it can mean the difference between shivering and poor rest to comfortable sleep, it means a quick wash instead of attempting to wash and clean down which can be an all day task.
Choosing one, while not a make or break for your trip, it will make life on the trail much more enjoyable if you run cold.
When trying to choose your sleeping bag liner you will need to think about some of your needs and what will be the right material for you personally and the weather expected on the hike.
Should you be looking for something that is incredibly comfortable and cooling then the silk liners for sleeping bags are a perfect choice. If looking for a good balanced liner then a merino wool or fleece will provide warmth along with comfort in rest.
In the end your choice for material will come down to your needs on the given trip, if you know the temperatures will not exceed your gear specifications then a liner that is silk will keep you from overheating.
If, in the other case, temperatures are questionable or pushing your gears limitation then you could look at a fleece liner or the Thermolite to help gain some additional warmth allowing you more viable hiking weather.
What Are Sleeping Bag Liners Made From:
Most of the liners will perform very well in keeping your sleeping bag cleaner and allow for simple cleaning when back in town on a nero or zero day.
Since we have spoken about the fact that some sleeping bag liners can provide a solid layer of additional warmth is it possible to bring this instead of a sleeping bag to help cut down my backpack base weight?
While it is fully possible to sleep in just a sleeping bag liner this isn't advisable as they aren't typically built to provide enough warmth if the temperatures were to plunge at night this could put you at risk for a health issue.
I would always advise you plan for the worst when you are looking at heading into the wilderness, while it may save you some weight it doesn't give you the level of protection from elements a real sleeping bag will provide.
Let's explore some key benefits and drawbacks that exist should you want to have a sleeping bag liner on a hiking trip, these may help you to make your final call on your need.
Easy To Clean - Unlike cleaning your down sleeping bag, a liner is simple to clean by removing and tossing into the laundry with your clothing, this gets it clean in a hurry and without issue.
Additional Warmth - If you can only afford a higher temperature rating on a sleeping bag a liner, like the Thermolite, can add significantly to the recommendation helping you in times of extreme cold.
Bug Protection in Hostels - Many hostels may have issues with beg bugs and other similar insects and pests, a good quality sleeping bag liner can help give you a barrier against these pests while in town.
Added Pack Weight and Space - Choosing to bring along a liner will add weight and space into your backpack, both of these can change how everything fits.
Added Expense - Most pads aren't going to just be an inexpensive addition to your gear, for the top tier liners you will pay at least $50 or more, maybe this cost could be better used adding directly to your sleeping bag or quilt.
There are many points to a sleeping bag liner but we have chosen three that fit all the needs for someone choosing to pack one, a thermal version, a silk and cool version, and the budget pick for those tight on cash.
The three above encompass the needs of any person looking to hike, while there are many options I know the above will fit your needs.
In our sleeping bag liner comparison below we showcase the best option for a budget, best for hiking and backpacking, and what is the lightest option available for you to use.
We can be clear here, the best in class range of liners is the Thermolite range, there are multiple options available from lower warmth to higher warmth.
For this gear there is no bad choice!
This is like bringing luxury with you on a trip, silk is luxurious and just feels amazing on the skin, it also can help you stay cooler in the hot nights and warm on a cooler night.
For someone looking to add a nice touch of high class onto their load out or who likes to get that thin levels of heat management this is a perfect choice!
For those looking to add in a liner while still keeping the budget down there is an amazing deal from the ALPS mountaineering company. They are a leader in making high quality gear for good prices that work for budget-conscious hikers.
Make sure to choose the polyester version and NOT COTTON, you don't want to have cotton absorbing moisture as it will negate keeping you warm and will increase weight.
I have purchased ALPS tents prior when I was keeping my budget more bare boned and they haven't let me down, I know they won't let you down either!
When you start to think about bringing a liner with you on a hike you just need to focus and ensure the one you choose is a match for the needs of your particular hike.
What you need in a high humidity and hot time versus a 6 month thru hike are very different and this is what you need to think about when deciding to make this purchase.
Below I wanted to provide an easy table of the best options available on Amazon to fit your needs, enjoy your hike!
|Litume Thermolite All Season Sleeping Bag Liner Add Up to 22F, Mummy Sleeping Sack Backpacking, Camping, Traveling, Lightweight Sleep Sack with Drawstring Hood (E626)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Top||Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Fleece Liner, Grey||Prime||Buy Now|
|Sea to Summit Toaster Fleece Mummy Liner||Prime||Buy Now|
|Cocoon Silk MummyLiner (Natural, 95-Inch x 35/22-Inch)||Prime||Buy Now|
|Cocoon Merino Wool MummyLiner||Prime||Buy Now|