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Do You Need A Sleeping Bag Liner?

A sleeping bag liner is not a necessity - but it can be a helpful item, especially if you plan to do lots of camping.

Some people love these items, and some can't stand them. Read on to find out why!

sleeping bag liner

What is a sleeping bag liner?

In a nutshell, it's a fitted sheet that goes inside your sleeping bag.

Why would I want one?

There are a number of reasons to consider buying a liner:

It makes your sleeping bag more versatile.

It's hard to choose just one sleeping bag to meet every need. Let's say that you choose a lightweight summer bag. It might not be warm enough in the spring or fall - or on a summer's night in the alpine.

tent in the alpine

Or maybe you have a three season bag. On a hot summer night, it could be too hot! You'll throw it off - but then wake up in the night, shivering.

Here are two ways to use sleeping bag liners to extend the season for your sleeping bag.

Buy a three season bag and a silk or microfleece liner.

  • On very hot or warm nights, use the liner all by itself.
  • On cool nights, use the sleeping bag.
  • On cold nights, use the liner inside the bag.

Buy a summer bag and a fleece, silk or microfiber liner.

  • On hot nights, sleep in just the liner.
  • On warm nights, sleep in the sleeping bag.
  • On cool nights, use the liner inside the bag.

It keeps your sleeping bag clean.

It's nice to have clean bedding on a regular basis! Using a cotton or silk liner lets you have clean linen whenever you want it. Washing a sleeping bag liner is as easy as washing a sheet.

It extends the life of your sleeping bag.

No matter what type of sleeping bag you have, it's a good idea to wash it as little as possible. 

Washing a sleeping bag too often causes it to wear out quickly. Click here for hints about when and how to wash a sleeping bag.

front loading washine machine

Some people never wash their sleeping bags - ever - but that's not a good solution. The oils from your body will build up on the bag and cause it to deteriorate.

You can wash the liner whenever necessary, without wearing your bag out prematurely.

It feels good.

Do you dislike the slippery feel of a synthetic sleeping bag? A cotton or silk liner may be just what you need.

Types of Liners

You can choose among fleece, cotton, silk and microfiber liners. Each has advantages and disadvantages.


fleece sleeping bag liner


  • Fleece is moderately priced.
  • It adds lots of warmth.
  • Many people like the cozy feeling of fleece against their skin.


  • A fleece liner is of no use by itself on a hot night.
  • Some people don't like the feeling of fleece against their skin.
  • Fleece is bulky and heavy - fine for car camping if you have lots of packing space, but definitely not for backpacking.



  • It's affordable. Cotton is one of the cheapest options.
  • It feels good against the skin. Most people find cotton to be non-irritating.


  • Cotton doesn't add warmth to your sleep system.
  • Cotton takes a long time to dry. If your liner should accidentally get wet, it will need to be hung in the sun to for quite a while. Keep in mind that a colored liner will dry faster than a light colored one, since it absorbs more of the sun's rays.
cotton liner


silk liner


  • Silk feels luxurious against the skin.

  • It weighs very little, which makes it a good choice for backpacking.
  • It adds some warmth.
  • It dries quickly.


  • A silk liner is expensive.



  • Microfiber is nice and soft. It feels good against the skin.
  • It dries quickly.
  • It is lightweight and packs small.
  • It adds warmth.
  • It is inexpensive.


  • I haven't come across a single disadvantage!

microfiber liner

Disadvantages of sleeping bag liners

There is one drawback to sleeping bag liners - and for some people, it outweighs all of the advantages.

Liners tend to get tangled around your body, especially if you are a restless sleeper.

I used a cotton liner for a couple of years, and then decided that the benefits weren't worth my discomfort and annoyance.

Alternative to a sleeping bag liner

These days, I wear a clean set of long underwear when I sleep in my sleeping bag. This keeps me warm and cozy. It also keeps the bag clean and means that I don't have to wash it often.

The bottom line

You don't have to have a sleeping bag liner - but it might solve all sorts of your sleeping bag problems!

Now that you know all you need to know about choosing a sleeping bag liner, visit this page for more information about sleeping bags.

Go to The Camping Family home page.

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