(why you should use a liner, and how to care for them)
Sea to Summit markets a wide range of liners: this week’s blog will show you which one you should use and why, and how to get the best from them.
Why use a liner? Basically, liners are used in two applications – one, inside a sleeping bag and two, as travel sheets.
Let’s start with inside your sleeping bag. Using a liner will keep your bag cleaner, which will mean washing it less often. It’s easy to come home from a backpacking trip and throw the liner into the washing machine (much easier than washing a sleeping bag). Your sleeping bag doesn’t have to smell like a student dorm room, and the oils from your skin don’t have to migrate into the insulation. There’s another often overlooked aspect to keeping the sleeping bag clean. Fine-grain sand (which is famous for sticking to your feet when you’re backpacking) can make its way through the sleeping bag fabric and act like sandpaper on the insulation. You pay good money for quality down or synthetic insulation – a liner is an inexpensive way of preventing damage.
Using a liner in a sleeping bag will add warmth – even the silk or silk/cotton models trap an extra layer of air; the hollow-core Thermolite Reactors trap a lot more.
The second application is for traveling. A liner guarantees you a clean, hygienic sleeping environment wherever you are (it’s a requirement in Hostels). The Adaptor with Insect Shield can even keep bed bugs away – well worth the price of admission if you ask me. Silk, Silk blended or Coolmax liners also wick moisture well and dry quickly – so they’re ideal for travel in hot, humid areas, where you may not need another cover to sleep comfortably.
Which liner is right for me? Here are some pointers:
- Silk Liners are the lightest and most compact; they wick moisture well and dry quickly. Ideal (in mummy form) for backpacking or (as a Traveler) for hostel/budget hotel use.
- Silk/Cotton Blend Liners are very light and compact, and are great for the same uses as pure silk liners. Their less-shiny surface makes them more suitable for active sleepers who might get tangled in a pure silk liner.
- Cotton Liners are a good budget choice if you’re less concerned with packed volume and weight. Great for car camping.
- Coolmax Liners wick moisture well and dry quickly – ideal for hot, humid environments. They’re also really stretchy – so if you’ve ever felt constricted in a liner, this is the model to go for.
- Thermolite Liners add warmth – perfect if your sleeping bag doesn’t bring the promised performance, or if you’re trying to add a season to your existing bag. Check out the blog post ‘Adding warmth with a liner’. You can even use a Reactor as a stand-alone summer ‘sleeping bag’, although you’ll need a bag cover of some kind to prevent heat loss due to moving air.
How to care for your liner: This is the easy part. All of our liners are machine washable using standard laundry detergent. If you’re using a top-loader machine, it’s worth putting the liner in a pillowcase to stop the drawcord getting tangled in the impeller (the spiral plastic device at the center of the drum). Just make sure to keep fabric softeners away from your liner – the softener will reduce the wicking performance. Air-drying is best, there’s no need to put a liner in a dryer.
I have plenty of ‘bedbugs in hostels’ and ‘cold nights spent without a Reactor’ stories if you’d like to hear them – all you have to do is ask…