Best Sleeping Bag Liner: When You’re On The Move

Close-up Coolmax blue
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Sleeping bag liners are possibly some of the most undervalued products in the camping world. Easy to pack, easy to care for and extremely light. It will add some degrees of comfort and warmth when you’re on the go. So until the finish of this article, you will have a clear view of the features that make the best sleeping bag liner and of course 7 of the best options for you to buy.

Now, a question:  Would you sleep in a bed with no sheets or covers for several nights? What about  weeks in a row? Guess not. Most people sleep in their bags dozens of times before taking  the time to wash it. When traveling or backpacking, that can become a major problem as you and your sleeping bag come in contact again and again, with clear sources of contamination: perspiration, mud, spilled drinks or food, even that odd-looking squashed bug.

When taking these matters into consideration the use of a sleeping  bag liner becomes a lot clearer. In these times of need this product, this easily removable and easily washable product, becomes a barrier between you and your sleeping bag solving the hygiene issue and much more.

Only when you’ve tried sleeping with a bag liner, you will understand and appreciate the extra comfort they provide. You will see the ease these products can be removed and washed, compared  to a full sleeping bag. Even more, in the winter you will feel the benefits of the extra warmth that a good sleeping bag liner provides, and in the summer can be used as standalone, very light, very packable sleeping bag when it is just too hot to sleep in a full-blown sleeping bag; perfect for hot summers and those tropical/sub-tropical areas.

Top shot 3 sleeping bags

Furthermore, we will talk about the best materials you want your sleeping bag liner to be made of, so when it’s just you against nature, you will be prepared. We will continue with a list of the shapes, an important factor to take into consideration. It will provide the comfort we are all searching when camping even in the harshest environments. Even more, the sizes available and, most important, how much room does it needs when traveling with just a backpack.

Note: When shopping for a sleeping bag liner it is important to know your destination, more about the climate, the season, temperature, humidity. When you put all the information together you will be able to purchase a product that will really meet your needs when you are on the field.

Why use a sleeping bag liner?

You have come to this part and you need to understand what makes this product so great. To answer this question, here is a list of advantages for using one:

  • can be used in warm climates/weather/season instead of a sleeping bag, acting like a layer that wicks moisture and also it dries quite quickly
  • can be used as a blanket when traveling or tenting, when in an airplane/car
  • can protect against biting or simply annoying insect, using a mesh or just closing it all the way
  • can increase the warmth of a sleeping bag, providing an extra layer of air between you and your sleeping bag that acts like an insulator
  • can protect the inside of a sleeping bag from dirt and others, protecting your expensive sleeping bag by washing it less often
  • can increase next to skin comfort, providing relaxation and a good night’s sleep
  • can be of use when sleeping in overseas hotels or hostels, protecting you from possible contaminated sheets or covers
  • can be joined with another liner, if the zippers allow it, to make an even bigger sleeping bag for your children or maybe yourself and your partner
  • can be easily packed and fitted in your backpack, some people even prefer to roll it up with their sleeping bag as it does not make much difference in the packed size of the bag
  • can require little space in your luggage,
  • ca be very light

Note: “The Black Bag”, a basic military kit, contains a sleeping bag liner. This proves again the usefulness of a product so flexible, being issued as a basic kit by various military forces, like the US or UK.

Shapes and Sizes

So, now that you know a lot about the flexibility of the sleep bag liner let’s go further and number some of the shapes of this incredible product. Again we go in-depth about this versatile product.

4 sleeping bags low shot

Sleeping bag liner shapes:

  • standard: the rectangular, straight sided design made to fit sleeping bags with a rectangular cut
  • long: as above, but has a little extra to fit the taller individuals
  • mummy: widest in the shoulders area, this cut narrows towards the feet to offer a more of a snug fit and, of course, to fit inside sleeping bags with the same cut
  • hooded mummy: same as above, but with a hood to provide some extra margin to cover the head
  • traveler: essentially a rectangular cut with some extra length acts like a pillow slip, so it has a built-in pillowcase. Very useful when staying in low-cost hotels, where the sheets can be of dubious cleanliness
  • double: the double width version of a rectangular sleeping bag liner to be used by two people, in a bed, tent or sleeping bag, maybe zipped together

What liner to choose?

So, by now you can understand the benefits but we hit another wall, the material. Here are some pointers to help you decide which one is best for you. There are two major types of materials to know:

  • silk liner: these are the most compact and also the lightest liners; can get dry very quickly as this is an important feature for ultra thin and durable material – to wick moisture. These are the sleeping bag liners recommended for tropical or subtropical areas, for hot nights when there is just a lot of humidity. A must say about these liners is their weight, packing less than half a pound for you to carry in your backpack. It becomes a must have, as it can replace a whole sleeping bag, helping to travel a lot lighter and therefore Definitely, something to keep in mind.
  • poly and cotton blends: these blends are made for the more accessible side; the thin polyester proves to be very reliable for a small price, useful in the cleaning department as it can keep up with a lot of washes, but it stops here. The cotton ones come in a more of a thick layer. At this point, everything is thicker than the silk liners but can pack a lot of heat for you. This can also be said about the thicker layers of synthetics, really coming in handy when temperatures go below freezing and when a few degrees are really important.

Also, here we can mention some materials that have been developed by big name brands/lines like CoolMax or Thermolite. They have produced their own special mix of fibers to meet your specific needs, be it to prepare you for cold or hot weather.

How to care for a liner

This is very easy. You just put it in your washing machine using standard laundry detergents. Here’s another tip: put your sleeping bag liner in a pillowcase to prevent the draw cord from getting tangled in the impeller (the plastic device at the center of the washing machine roller).

sleeping setup in a yellow tent

Also, you do not need a dryer. Remember to keep it away from fabric softeners as they are able to reduce the wicking performances. This is all you need to know about this process. Easy, right?

Buy The Best

Now, after all the details, we have comprised a list of some of the great products in the department of sleeping bag liner.

Cocoon Travelsheet – CoolmaxCocoon Travelsheet - Coolmax

Material: 100% polyester – Coolmax wicking fabric

Color: BlueMax

Dimensions: 86”x33” (one size)

Shape: rectangular

Weight: 305 grams / 0.67 pounds

Accessories: stuff sack included

Special features: pocket for pillow insertion;  double stitching and reinforced gussets for long-lasting durability; pouch

Description: This Cocoon Travelsheet – Coolmaxis is the optimal quality for a small price. The main feature of this product is the fact that keeps you dry. The Coolmax material with its innovative wick managing construction really helps when you are on the move. The material is comprised of four-channel fibers that divert perspiration away from your skin. Moreover, the breathable composition enhances ventilation really making a difference in those hot and humid nights.

The material this product is made of proves to be very comfortable, it is soft to the skin and it can be wrapped around your head and shoulders while sleeping or hanging around your room. You can fold it up and pack away in its pouch but will take some room in your belongings. It is also stretchy so you won’t feel claustrophobic when sleeping.

Check the price on Amazon

ALPS Mountaineering Poly Cotton Rectangle Sleeping Bag LinerALPS Mountaineering Poly Cotton Rectangle Sleeping Bag Liner

Material: poly cotton or microfiber

Color: gray

Dimensions: 33”x80”

Shape: rectangular / mummy

Weight:  0.9 pounds

Accessories: stuff sack included

Description: This extra comfortable ALPS Mountaineering Sleeping Bag Liner offers that warm feeling you need when going to bed, that is of course if you prefer it this way. Not only this but it also seems to have plenty of room to roll over or just fidget. The double tab zipper also comes in handy, providing an easy entry or egress and it also gives the possibility to vent the liner a bit. Even more, when you fully unzip the liner, it rapidly turns into a blanket or sheet. The zipper doesn’t influence in any way the possibility of rolling it up and putting it in your backpack, so rest assured.

Even if it is made cotton it will not shrink, and when rolled up and placed in its sack it has a tubular form of approximately 8”x4” inches, but it can be compressed even more.

Special features: separating zippers

Check the price on Amazon

TETON Sports Sleeping Bag LinerTETON Sports Sleeping Bag Liner

Material: cotton / polyester

Color: gray

Dimensions: 87”x36”, 91″x58″

Shape: rectangular

Weight:1.15 pounds

Accessories: stuff sack included

Description: The TETON Sports Sleeping Bag Liner provides extra warmth by 10 degrees, an increase in temperature you absolutely need in cold weather conditions. This liner will give you a clean feeling like sleeping in luxury sheets.

It is made of durable, brushed fabrics, a design that minimizes twisting during the night. The top sides open and fold down very easy.  It is also machine washable and dryable. Even more, the included stuff sack comes with a handle and a barrel-lock. It also packs up very tightly, to about 4″x 4″ inches.

Special features: limited lifetime warranty, pillow hoods and reinforced seams, safety Velcro tabs, very small packing size

Check the price on Amazon

Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite LinerSea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner

Material:110g/m2 Thermolite

Color: orange

Dimensions: 84/210 cm x 36/90 cm

Shape: mummy

Weight: 14 oz/ 399 g

Accessories: Ultra-Sil stuff sack

Description: This amazing Sea to Summit Reactor Extreme Thermolite Liner is perfect for the nights when the mercury plummets. With an amazing performance of extra 25 degrees F (14 degrees C) it is perfect for extending the season of your sleeping bag. All of this thanks to the super-insulating Thermolite hollow fabric that provides a lot of warmth despite being very light. Also, it is extremely breathable.

This product is machine washable and it also packs up very small, around 3″x 5″, becoming another product that deserves your attention. Despite its higher price range it really does offer what is says.

Special features: box foot, mini cord lock 

Check the price on Amazon

SE BI7566 Red Winter Sleeping Bag Liner / Summer Lightweight BagSE BI7566 Red Winter Sleeping Bag Liner  Summer Lightweight Bag

Material: cotton fleece 

Color: red

Dimensions: 75″ x 33″

Shape:  rectangular

Weight:8.5 ounces

Accessories: a  carrying bag secured by elastic bands, drawstring made of & stopper for storage

Description: The SE BI7566 Sleeping Bag Liner delivers a very good price/quality ratio. The fleece material it is very light and able to keep the body warmth. It can be used as a sleeping bag during the colder nights of the summer or as heat increasing factor for a normal sleeping bag, adding 12 degrees F.

Special features:  zipper on 3 sides

Check the price on Amazon

Cocoon Silk MummyLinerCocoon Silk MummyLiner

Material: silk

Color:  various (white/silver, blue, yellow, green, also some patterns)

Dimensions: 95″x35″

Shape: mummy

Weight:  126 grams

Accessories: stuff sack

Description: The Cocoon Silk MummyLiner proves to be an essential camping gear. Even if it doesn’t have zippers or opens from the sides like other sleeping bag liners, you can still slip in and out with ease. This silk product is great for humid and hot nights, providing a cool feeling that will help you sleep better, while also keeping you as comfortable as ever. Not only this but because of the silk base fabric you can pack it very tight and add it to your sleeping bag for an extra 10 degrees F.

So here you have another great product that is practically weightless, provides extra comfort, small packed and is machine washable.

Special features:  Ripstop Silk

Check the price on Amazon

Bundle Monster Sleeping Bag LinerBundle Monster Sleeping Bag Liner

Material: microfiber

Color:  various (dark blue and green, brown, red, light green)

Dimensions: large 69″x29″

Shape: rectangular

Weight:  1.3 pounds

Accessories: stuff sack

Description: When you have a closer look at the Bundle Monster Sleeping Bag Liners you know that you’ll be prepared for cold nights when camping outside. The microfiber provides an insulation up to 55 degrees F with your camping sleeping bag. You can use it as a standalone sleeping bag or unzip it for use as a blanket. The size of the packing bag is larger than other liners but none provide such high temperature. When you want to be on the safe side, this product becomes a must have, at quite a low price range.

Special features:  lightweight, large size with added warmth

Check the price on Amazon

Wrap Up

As you can see, the liner may as well be one of the must-have items on your camping list. Most of them are quite cozy and light, and they offer warmth and comfort without burdening your backpack or occupying lots of space. Even more, it is versatile as you can find several different uses for a sleeping bag liner when out camping.

What do you think about the products we discussed today? Are you currently using any of them? If yes, please let us know your opinion and maybe some interesting camping stories involving your liners – after all adventure can show up at any time when you’re camping with friends.

Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Logan Moore

    My wife and I went on a road trip and decided to sleep over a couple of nights in our car. We also decided to bring our Boston terrier with us. We bought two bundle monsters especially for that occasion. I can only say that they were fantastic. They were long and wide enough to cover our whole bodies. The second night it was so cold that the dog snuggled under the wife’s blanket. I’m happy to say that we all survived.

    • Dennis Owens

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Logan. It is a common misconception that sleeping bags aren’t comfortable, but the truth is, some brands offer restful sleep in such a compact size.

  • George Lewis

    I use Cocoon Travel Sheet when I go on a longer trip and have to stay in a hotel. It has a built in pillow cover, which is great because I hate sleeping on pillows in hotels. I first thought that I should’ve bought a longer liner but the material is so stretchy that it’s perfect for me. I have enough room to roll around in it. It will definitely travel a lot with me.

    • Dennis Owens

      Another feature of the Cocoon Travel Sheet is how compact and easy it is to set up. Made from very durable and breathable material, it can provide enough back support and comfortable sleep wherever you go.