Sleeping bag liners’ necessity is a common debate among hikers and campers. During my adventures, I’ve been using these not once, and actually was very pleased I did so. While mostly used in the camping field, I’ve personally found liners useful in many different activities as well. Why are sleeping bag liners worth it? Let’s try to figure that out, to help you make a wise decision.
In this article, I will describe deeply the reasons I like sleeping bag liners.
Sleeping bag liners are worth it since they pack really small, provide extra warmth when temperatures drop down and because they keep your sleeping bags clean. Liners also serve impressively as blankets for hammocks, Couchsurfing, air-traveling and cool nights under the stars. Moreover, they are relatively cheap and provide excellent breathability – especially those which are made of silk.
1. Pack Really Small
What I like about sleeping bag liners is that they suit the most compact backpack.
I remember that one of the mistakes I’ve made during my first hike was choosing the wrong backpack.
It was a 40-liter backpack, which should be enough for a moderate hike; however, it had such a bad design I couldn’t fit my stuff appropriately.
Yet, I’ve never had any problems with the sleeping bag liner, since it was so compact when folded correctly.
That, however, is not relevant to all different types. When it comes to cotton/wool liners, you should make sure your pack is roomy enough, since they usually occupy more space.
When a compact liner is needed, I highly suggest you go with silk or a synthetic one.
2. Extra Warmth When Temperatures Drop Down
When I was camping in Scotland in mid-October, I admittedly haven’t taken temperatures too seriously.
I’ve tried to go cheap, and therefore bought a synthetic sleeping bag – perhaps the first one I saw. When I had to face reality – I evidently wasn’t prepared – temperatures dropped down dramatically, I was literally freezing.
On the first night, I forgot I had a sleeping bag liner with me – I just got into my sleeping bag as soon as I could and went to sleep.
The night after I’ve learned my lesson and organized the liner beforehand. I’m not saying the coating had made all the difference – it was still cold as hell.
When it comes to night warmth, there is no doubt you should get at least a down-filled sleeping bag. Nevertheless, the liner did increase the heat a bit, perhaps 4-5 degrees.
That maybe doesn’t sound much, although when camping in low temperatures – you inevitably feel the difference.
3. Low Budget
Let’s face the truth – camping involves some significant financial expenses.
For those of you who go camping for the first time – you will probably need a new tent, sleeping bag, and footwear.
I know from experience that these things aren’t cheap, turning the first purchase psychological difficult.
Yet, sleeping bag liners aren’t that expensive when compared to other camping products. I’m not saying all of them are cheap, that of course, depends on their type. Synthetic and silk liners are considered less expensive than cotton or wool, and shouldn’t exceed 20-25$.
However, I will say that – they may improve your sleeping experience when it comes to warmth, although they are no substitute for a high-quality sleeping bag.
If you know you are facing icy conditions – try getting a down-filled sleeping bag and get a liner as a nice extra touch.
4. Stands Alone As a Travel Sheet
When I flew on planes, my guts used to tell me not to use the odd blankets they usually provide – I can’t tell you exactly why, but something just felt wrong.
The way they smelled and felt on my skin was enough for me to make a decision. Instead, I’ve spread my sleeping bag liner and went to sleep.
When I’ve searched the internet on that topic, I realized I was right – apparently, these blankets aren’t that innocent.
According to inside workers, some airlines do not wash their blankets between flights, so there is a good chance you will be using a dirty one a previous passenger used.
As it was revealed, the cleanest blankets are those who offered on the first flight of the day, since a deep wash taking place only during nighttime.
That is where the sleeping bag liners come into place. Once you start feeling chilly on a plane – merely take it out and wrap yourself up.
When it comes to flights, I would recommend using the cotton liners, since they provide the right amount of insulation and perhaps among the most comfortable.
5. Couchsurfing Blanket
Who doesn’t take his hat off when it comes to Couchsurfing? Let’s admit it – that is one of the most common and cheap ways to travel abroad.
I remember one of my trips to Berlin in which I just couldn’t find a decent place to sleep without emptying my pockets.
I did make a lot of bad decisions when I was traveling, yet, pulling out my cell phone to search for Couchsurfing wasn’t one of them.
Nevertheless, the blankets you find in those houses aren’t always what you’ve been expected – to say the least.
I’m not saying that low prices always go along with horrible conditions, yet, this is many times the case.
Frankly, half of the times I was Couchsurfing I wasn’t using the blankets or sheets I was given. Maybe I’m too conservative, but you can never know.
Quite similar to plane’s blankets, a sleeping bag liner would work when it comes to a decent alternative.
6. Keeps Your Sleeping Bag Clean
Dirty clothes and footwear are inevitable when camping. I remember that on my first hike I’ve actually brought clothes for sleeping – that was such a waste of weight.
Your sleeping bag will get dirty, no matter what you wear. Bringing clean clothes may be the choice when camping for a long time while staying at the same place.
Yet, hiking is a different story. While hard to avoid, dirt inside your sleeping bag might interrupt with its thermal insulation.
Besides, body perspiration many times will end up with your sleeping bag getting damp, which may also lead to that result.
What I like about liners is that they are a sort of a barrier between your body and the sleeping bag. Many times, in the mornings, I’ve found my liner soaked with sweat; however, my sleeping bag stayed dry.
That may also be inconvenient, although keeping your sleeping bag dry is far more critical, since that the primary thermal insulation means you have.
To prevent too much sweat, I advise you get the silk one, which provides appropriate ventilation.
7. Light Warmth Under The Stars
This one might sound cheesy; however, I find it hard not to mention. When we finish our hiking day, we are usually so eager to go to sleep, leaving that long, exhausting day behind.
Yet, I’ve found the nights when I was admiring the sky the most unforgettable. It’s hard to describe that tingling in your stomach once you see a falling star in the middle of nowhere.
Nevertheless, staying outside might be too cold at some nights. Some tents feature a meshed ceiling, so viewing the sky is somehow possible.
Still, I believe the outside view is the most breathtaking. It is, however, possible to take out the entire sleeping bag. But let’s admit it, we are just too lazy in making changes after the camp is already set up.
I’ve found the sleeping bag liner to be the most suitable for that exact purpose. In cold nights I suggest you use the cotton or wool types, yet, in summer nights – the silk one would do just fine.
8. Works Great With Hammocks
When it comes to camp furniture, hammocks are absolutely fabulous. Personally, I’ve used these only a few times; however, each one was unforgettable.
There is just something so unique in that way of relaxing and admiring your surroundings. Nevertheless, hammocks do miss one crucial ingredient – a blanket.
Frankly, an adequately insulated jacket might do just fine, although, there is something much cozier in a blanket.
If you are planning on chilling out with your hammock, please take a sleeping bag liner into considerations.
During the entire time I was camping, I’ve found that breathability is one of the most crucial characteristics your gear should have.
It is vital for your tent to breathe, so it doesn’t accumulate condensation. Your backpack straps should breathe, so your shoulders don’t sweat too much and irritate your skin.
The same thing goes for your sleeping bag and jacket.
Well, from my experience, sleeping bag liners do feature excellent breathability, especial those which are made from silk.
Personally, I did wake up with sweat in several mornings; however, it was minimal. I’ve experienced less sweat when I was sleeping with clothes off and liner on, than the other way around.
What is The Right Way To Store My Liner?
Storing your liner isn’t much different than storing a tent or a sleeping bag. The first step you should it is making sure it’s completely dry, so it doesn’t get stinky.
When stored wet, sleeping bag liners tend to develop mold and mildew, which will be extremely hard to take off.
Then, you should get yourself a meshed sac for storage. Do not use the compact one the liner comes with – an extended compactly storage may damage its fabrics.
If you don’t have that kind of sac in reach – you may try to hold it loosely instead.
How should I Wash My Sleeping Bag Liner?
In opposed to tents and most sleeping bags, liners can be cleaned with a washing machine. You may use a regular detergent; however, you should make sure to use a gentle cycle.
You should also avoid using any kind of softeners – they may compromise the fabric wicking performance.
To dry the liner up, find a shaded area outside, so the coating doesn’t get too hot – that may shrink its fabrics.
Which Kind Warms You Most?
There are mainly four types of sleeping bag liners – silk, cotton, wool and synthetic.
When it comes to thermal insulation – the synthetic liner performs best, by increasing the temperature by approximately 10 degrees.
Right after this one comes the wool type, which also performs well – by increasing about 5 degrees.
Both should fit in your sleeping bag appropriately, without adding a significant volume. Yet, you should know that insulation also comes with a price.
The warmer the liner is, the more it weighs and occupies space. Silk is perhaps the least warming, however – it is incredibly compact.
Do Liners Really Make a Difference?
Liners are great, there is no doubt about this. They do increase the insulation within your sleeping bag and most of the time serve well when used solely as a blanket.
Nevertheless, I wouldn’t count on liners to be the LONE salvation when it comes to extreme conditions. As I’ve mentioned already – they do not replace a proper sleeping bag.
If you are facing some cold nights, don’t exchange a down-filled sleeping bag for a liner. They are indeed a nice touch when ADDED to an existing high-quality product.
There are many reasons why I personally think sleeping bag liners are worth it, yet, I’ve decided to focus on those which seems most essential.
Packing up your entire gear in a backpack can be problematic. However, liners do fit since they are so impressively compact.
The second thing I liked about these is their multifunctionality – from Couchsurfing to a proper replacement of the dirty airplane blankets.
When it comes to liners storage, you should make sure to pack them dry and loose. That, in turn, would prevent mold development and fabric degradation.
You shouldn’t approach liners as a single solution when it comes to extreme cold conditions. They do warm you better, and it is felt; however, they only do so when added to an existing high-quality sleeping.
Between the fours different kinds, I’ve personally gotten the best results with the synthetic when it comes to thermal insulation. Yet, you should also consider that this one is to most massive and occupies relatively more space.
I hope that my article helped you form some sort of judgment regarding whether or not you should get a sleeping bag liner. If you still have any hesitations, let me know all about them by leaving a comment below!