Sleeping bag liners, also known as travel sheets or sleep sacks, are little more than a cocoon of fabric — much like an ultra-thin sleeping bag. They were originally used by hikers as an extra layer of insulation and to protect their sleeping bags. But today they’re used by all manner of travellers for warmth, comfort and hygiene (particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic!).
Sleeping bag liners are available in a range of materials and come in different shapes and styles. Whether you’re looking for an extra layer between you and that grotty hostel bed or want some extra protection for your sleeping bag when you’re camping, these liners have got you covered (literally!). Keep reading to find the best sleeping bag liner for you…
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- Best Overall – Sea To Summit Adapter CoolMax with Insect Shield
- Best Budget Sleeping Bag Liner – Earth Trek Sleeping Bag Liner
- Best Lightweight Sleeping Bag Liner – Sea To Summit Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus
- Best Insect Repellent Sleeping Bag Liner – Cocoon CoolMax Insect Shield
- Best Sleeping Bag Liner with Pillow Pocket – Friendly Swede Sleeping Bag Liner
- Best Premium Sleeping Bag Liner: – Chasbren Bamboo Travel Sheet
- Best Double Sleeping Bag Liner – V Vilisun
Best Overall – Sea To Summit Adapter CoolMax with Insect Shield
- Price: Mid-range $$
- Best feature: Shape and size + Insect repellent
- Feature to improve: Could do with a side entry system
The overall best sleeping bag liner we found is the Sea To Summit Adapter CoolMax with Insect Shield. It’s 2.2 metres long and almost a metre (91cm) wide. Thanks to the rectangular shape, it offers plenty of space, preventing your feet and legs from feeling constricted as in mummy-shaped bags.
It features a handy pillow compartment and has a contrasting colour along the top edge — making it easy to find the opening even in a darkened room! It’s lightweight too, clocking in at just over 350g. Even when packed in the protective Ultra-Sil stuff sack you’ll barely notice the weight of it in your pack. The stuff sack itself is waterproof and thanks to a thin layer of silicone, is abrasion-resistant. It helps you compress the sleeping bag liner for ease of packing.
Sea To Summit opted for a soft CoolMax polyester material for this liner. It’s stretchy and helps keep you cool by wicking moisture away from your skin. It also offers slight insulation on cooler nights. It’s treated with Insect Shield’s scentless permethrin formula to prevent insects and bugs from getting to you as you sleep. This treatment lasts up to 70 washes before it loses its effectiveness.
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Best Budget Sleeping Bag Liner – Earth Trek Sleeping Bag Liner
- Price: Budget $
- Best feature: Zipper makes entry and exit from the bag quick and easy
- Feature to improve: The weight is a little higher than much of the competition
Featuring a pillow holder and a velcro stash pocket, the Extra Large Zippered Sleeping Bag Liner by EarthTrek is the best budget option we found. It’s super friendly on your purse strings but don’t worry, it’s still a quality bit of kit. The polyester material is durable but soft, feeling very close to cotton. It’s all held together with high-quality stitching to ensure the liner lasts as long as you need it!
At 2.1 metres long and 80cm wide, the EarthTrek Sleeping Bag Liner is big enough for almost all travellers. If you don’t like feeling cocooned, or you want to share your liner with someone else, it can be turned into a travel sheet by fully undoing the zipper.
Featuring a pillow holder and a velcro stash pocket, the Extra Large Zippered Sleeping Bag Liner by EarthTrek is the best we found. It’s super budget-friendly, but don’t worry, it’s still a quality bit of kit. The polyester material is durable but soft, feeling very close to cotton. It’s all held together with high-quality stitching to ensure the liner lasts as long as you need it!
Best Lightweight Sleeping Bag Liner – Sea to Summit Thermolite Reactor Compact Plus
- Price: Mid-range $$
- Best feature: Lightweight
- Feature to improve: The price is a little higher than we’d like
The Thermolite Reactor sleep liner series includes a few different models. The lightest, and best for travellers, is the Compact Plus. Weighing in at just over 250g, the Compact Plus is perfect if your bag is already reaching its weight limit. It’s also a good choice for hikers and campers concerned about every last gram.
At six feet long, the Compact Plus can be quite a squeeze for taller users. However, for most people, it’s perfectly suitable. It’s shaped like a mummy sleeping bag — wider at the shoulders than at the toes. At the top, the bag is 36 inches and at the bottom, it’s 24 inches.
It’s made from Thermolite fabric. This lightweight, packable material is moisture-wicking and breathable. It retains heat well, making it ideal for colder climates or nights on overly air-conditioned buses! The sleeping liner features thicker, warmer Thermolite fabric around your torso and toes. The rest of the bag is made from lighter thinner materials to keep the overall weight down.
The downside of this sleep sack is its price. It’s one of the most expensive bags on our list. If weight is your primary concern, it’s a solid choice. Otherwise, we suggest picking one of the cheaper options!
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Best Insect Repellent Sleeping Bag Liner – Cocoon Coolmax Insect Shield Travel Sheet
- Price: Mid-range $$
- Best feature: Insect Shield treatment
- Feature to improve: The liner could be a bit cheaper
Having a sleeping bag liner with an insect repellent treatment can be a godsend in a grimy hostel. It protects you from biting insects like mosquitoes or fleas. And also adds a good layer of protection against bed bugs.
The Coolmax Insect Shield Travel Sheet from Cocoon is treated with Insect Shield’s proprietary odourless permethrin formula. This lasts up to 70 washes before the effect wears off — and let’s face it, there aren’t many backpackers washing their sleeping bag liners that much! The CoolMax polyester used in the bag’s construction is stretchy, breathable and moisture-wicking — ideal for those hot Southeast Asian nights!
At 215cm (7 feet) long, the sleeping bag liner is suitable for all but the tallest travellers. It’s 82cm wide and super stretchy, so it doesn’t feel constrictive during the night. It weighs just 305g and when fully compressed, packs down to the size of a standard water bottle.
Best Sleeping Bag Liner With Pillow Pocket – Friendly Swede Sleeping Bag Liner
- Price: Mid-range $$
- Best feature: Plenty of space to move while you sleep
- Feature to improve: Could be better at moisture wicking
Being able to tuck a pillow into your sleep sack makes for a much more comfortable night’s rest. It prevents the pillow from sliding about and gives you somewhere to store your valuables as you sleep. The Friendly Swede Sleeping Bag Liner pocket comfortably holds a full-sized pillow for maximum comfort.
The liner is almost 220cm long by 100cm wide. It’s a rectangular liner, giving you plenty of space to roll about without feeling constricted. It’s available in either polyester or microfibre models and features a side opening for easy access. The opening runs down 50% of the liner’s length and is sealed with either velcro or a zipper, depending on the model you chose.
No matter the variant you pick, you’ll be treated to a high-quality, breathable, quick-drying sleep sack. The polyester models are lighter than the microfibre but are more durable. However, if you’re careful, either is sufficient for backpacking!
Best Premium Sleeping bag liner – Chasbren Travel Sheet
- Price: Premium $$$
- Best feature: Bamboo construction is soft, comfortable and eco-friendly
- Feature to improve: The bag could be a bit smaller when packed
If you’re looking for a more luxurious sleeping bag liner, the Chasbren Travel Sheet has you covered. Made from 100% bamboo, with a soft sateen finish, it’s comparable to an Egyptian Cotton sleeping bag. The bamboo material is eco friendly and super durable. It has excellent thermal regulation and moisture-wicking properties.
The liner itself is almost 230cm long and 110cm wide. It gives you plenty of room to move about in your sleep without getting constricted. There’s a half-length zipper on each side for easy access. At the top of the bag is the pillow pocket. Unlike most other sleep sacks, you put the pillow in from the back rather than the front. This ensures there is no pillow to skin contact as you sleep. It’s also large enough for king or queen-sized pillows!
As you’d expect from a premium product, it comes at a much higher price than most of the sleeping bag liners on this list. It’s also heavier, clocking in at just over 1kg. Because of the price and weight, this isn’t the ideal liner for a backpacking trip. But if you’re getting ready to flashpack your way around the world, this is a liner worth considering!
Best Double Sleeping Bag Liner – V Vilisun
- Price: Budget $
- Best feature: It’s a double
- Feature to improve: Feels a bit short for taller sleepers
Double sleeping bag liners are ideal for couples who spend a lot of time in private rooms. They work well for festivals and nights out under the stars too. Or, if as a solo sleeper, you find a single sleeping bag liner too constricting, the space offered by a double can make the difference between a good night and a bad night’s rest.
The V Vilisun sleeping bag liner is 210cm long by 180cm metres wide. It offers enough room for two people, without feeling like you’re sleeping on top of one another. When packed, it’s only 24cm by 10cm. It weighs 860g, which is significantly more than most travel sheets but you only need to carry one as a couple.
The sleep sack is made of cotton. It’s easy to clean and durable enough to take backpacking. It features a double pillow pocket on the top and openings along each side. These are sealed using plastic snaps.
V Vilisun also produce a single sleeping liner. Both models are budget-friendly and available in a range of colours.
Why use a sleeping bag liner when travelling?
Let’s face it, hostels can be gross. The good ones occasionally drop the ball and the bad ones simply don’t care. Every backpacker has stayed in a dorm bed with questionable stains or pubic hairs from the last occupant. Especially when we’ve been stupid enough to opt for the cheapest hostel available. That $2 bed is often cheap for a reason…
While most hostels provide clean linen to their guests, having a travel sheet gives you extra peace of mind. They create a physical barrier between you and your bed, ensuring any dirt or grime remains away from your body. They’re also small enough to wash whenever you do laundry.
Ah, the dreaded bed bug. The backpacker’s bane! Some sleeping bag liners come pre-treated with bed bug and insect repellents. These will keep you bug-free, even if there are a few lurking about the dorm room. If your sleep sack doesn’t come pre-treated, you can add permethrin spray yourself.
Bed bug repellents are also effective against other insects, like mosquitos. They add another layer of defence whether you’re in a dorm room or spending a warm night outside in a hammock! Some materials used in sleeping bag liners have a natural insect repellent effect. Silk is a prime example. While these aren’t as effective as actual treatments or sprays, they’re better than nothing!
Hostel sheets aren’t always the softest or most comfortable. That’s just the price you pay for a budget-friendly bed. Sleeping bag liners feel nicer on your skin and help you get a better night’s sleep!
During cold nights, a sleeping bag liner is a great insulating layer. Whether you’re trekking in Sapa or on an overnight bus journey with the air conditioning set to ‘arctic’, you’ll be glad you have one!
How to choose the best sleeping bag liner for you
Sleeping bag liners are available in a range of materials. Each has pros and cons, which we’ve noted below.
+ Firstly, silk feels amazing on your skin. It’s cool, lightweight and very packable — a backpacker’s best friend! It has some natural resistance to insects and even slight antibacterial properties. It will help protect you from bed bugs and also prevents the build-up of bad odours.
– However, silk is expensive when compared to the competition. It’s also more fragile than most other materials and not as easy to wash. Having a silk liner is great for shorter trips but long term travellers will probably want a more durable option.
+ Cotton is cheap, comfortable and offers more insulation than silk. It’s also much more durable and very easy to wash — it can just be thrown in with your usual laundry. Due to the price, durability and ease of cleaning, cotton is one of the most recommended materials for backpacking sleeping bag liners.
– It’s heavier than silk and a bit bulkier. Plus, it takes a lot longer to dry!
Synthetics (Polyester, Microfiber, etc)
+ – There’s a wide variety of synthetic materials used to make sleeping bag liners. Each comes with pros and cons but generally, synthetics are stretchy and soft — great for those who move around a lot in their sleep. They offer a good level of insulation while still being breathable and moisture-wicking.
– Merino wool sleeping bag liners aren’t really worth it if you’re only using them in dorm rooms. They’re expensive and to be honest, a bit over the top.
+ However, they offer the best warmth to weight ratio and are exceptionally breathable.
– Much like Merino wool, fleece sleep sacks aren’t particularly suitable for travellers. They’re too bulky and heavy.
+ But they are warm — sometimes even warmer than two season sleeping bags. They’re soft, comfortable and have good moisture-wicking properties.
Where you’re travelling and your accommodation choices will play a big part in what temperature rating you’ll want in a sleep sack. In most of Southeast Asia, the warm weather means you’ll want the lightest, most breathable sleeping bag liner you can get hold of. Unless, of course, you plan on camping a lot at high elevations, then a thicker, warmer liner might be more suitable.
Size & Weight
If you’re travelling with just a backpack, size and weight are important factors in everything you pack. Your sleep sack is no exception. If carrying it around is going to make you miserable, consider getting a lighter model!
Sleeping bag liners come in two main shapes. Rectangular and mummy liners. Unless you will be using it a lot with a sleeping bag, a rectangular sleep sack is more comfortable and less constrictive.
Bed bug and insect repellents are a great addition to sleeping bag liners. But remember, even if yours doesn’t come pre-treated, permethrin spray is cheap and easy to apply!
As with all things travel, money spent on the road is much better than money spent at home. Don’t drop a huge portion of your budget on gear before you start your trip! There are sleep sacks on this list that are suitable for all budgets.
Sleeping bag liner FAQS
How do I wash my sleeping bag liner?
Washing your sleeping bag liner will differ depending on the material you’ve chosen. Cotton can usually be thrown in with the rest of your laundry. Some synthetics are the same. Silk will need to be washed carefully, either by hand or in a machine. Check the instructions for your bag to ensure you know how to wash it properly.
Sleeping bag liner vs travel sheet, what’s the difference?
Nothing. Sleeping bag liner and travel sheet are different phrases for the same thing.
Can I make my own sleeping bag liner?
Yes! You can make your own sleeping bag liner at home. If spending money on a sleeping bag liner isn’t for you, check out this DIY Sleeping Bag Liner Guide. It includes different methods for different materials.
Do you travel with a sleeping bag liner? Let us know which one you use in the comments below!
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