Gear Review: Three Sleeping Bag Liners
Sleeping Bag Liners
Insect Shield Cocoon Safari Bag
$80, 6 oz. (with included stuff sack)
Sea to Summit Premium Blend Silk+Cotton Liner
$50, 5.5 oz. (regular, with included stuff sack)
Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Travel Liner
$53, 10 oz. (mummy style, with included stuff sack)
Sleeping bags liners are essential gear for hut trips and a useful supplement to a sleeping bag, increasing a sleeping bag’s temperature rating by several degrees and keeping the inside of your bag cleaner longer—and it’s easier to wash a liner than a bag. I took several bag liners on a weeklong hut trek in Norway’s Jotunheimen National Park using them under thick, wool blankets, and these three emerged as my favorites. Each has strengths that will appeal to different personal preferences.
The silk Insect Shield Cocoon Safari Bag feels soft against the skin in warm or cool temperatures, and is rated to add 9° F (5° C) of warmth to a sleeping bag or blankets. At 85×35 inches (218x90cm), it has plenty roomy even for a big person. I like that only the top half opens up, so your feet don’t slip out of it while sleeping; and it’s easy to find your way back into the liner in the dark, whereas I found some silk liner bags so wispy that it’s hard to find the mouth to crawl back inside without a light on. It has a wide hood that keeps a pillow from sliding off your bunk. The Safari Bag’s Insect Shield treatment is particularly useful when traveling in places where insect-borne diseases are a concern; according to Cocoon, it repels mosquitoes, ticks, ants, flies, fleas, chiggers, and midges. The Safari Bag packs down to the size of two fists, very compact, though its stuff sack is a tight squeeze when stuffing the liner inside. Silk liners can be hand- or machine-washed and air-dry quickly—a convenience when traveling.
Just as compact as the Safari Bag when packed, the Sea to Summit Premium Blend Silk+Cotton Liner is a comparably roomy (73×36 inches/185x91cm), hoodless rectangular sack that does not open up. I like this simpler design’s ease of slipping partly inside, depending on how much of my body I wanted to cover up, because my feet and legs are generally colder than my upper body. The cotton-silk blend is also comfortable against skin—though it can get damper than silk on a really hot night—and less expensive than an all-silk liner. It also comes in long rectangular, a large Traveler version with a pillowcase, and mummy-style with a hood.
The Sea to Summit Coolmax Adaptor Travel Liner feels like cotton and wicks moisture effectively, making it versatile in mild or cooler temperatures. Like the Silk+Cotton Liner, it is a basic sack that you slip into, though tapered toward the feet, and with the addition of a wide flap at the top to spread over a pillow. At 84×36 inches (210x90cm), with stretchy fabric, it may be the best choice for bigger people, but is not oversized for me (five feet, eight inches). The tradeoff: This is the heaviest and bulkiest of the three, at 10 oz. and 3×5 inches in its stuff sack. It is also available with Insect Shield for $63.
See askbaz.wordpress.com/faqs/choosing-and-caring-for-liners for washing instructions on Sea to Summit liners, which can be machine-washed and air dried.
For reviews of my favorite sleeping bags, type the words “sleeping bags” into the Search box at left. See also my Pro Tips articles “How to Choose a Sleeping Bag” and “Staying Warm in a Sleeping Bag.”
NOTE: I’ve been testing gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See all of my reviews by clicking on the Gear Reviews category at left or in the main menu. See more reviews of backpacking gear I like by clicking on the “backpacking gear reviews” tag in the tag cloud in the left sidebar.