Certain brands come up again and again as being the best sleeping bags if you are taking your kids’ camping. Investing in a smaller, child size sleeping bag is a great way to ensure that your child will stay warm when faced with a cold night of camping. The smaller the bag, the less space that their bodies will have to heat up, thus ensuring they get a good night’s sleep. If your child is less than 5ft tall and you are on the market for a serious option for camping, backpacking, or sleep-away summer camp, the following are the sleeping bags with the best reputation for warmth, quality, and comfort.
1. Deuter Little Star
The Little Star is one of the smallest high-quality designs around. The full length is only about 3.8 feet, and it is designed to fit a body size of up to 3 ft. It has an extra soft hood to help your child’s head stay warm and also has a foot section that you can expand by 30 cm. The 2-way zipper is designed to be easy for kids to use, and the Little Star even has a secret internal pocket for your kids to hide their treasures.
One of the smallest designs you can get for camping with a toddler
Has a zipper extender that lets you change it from a size that fits a 2 or 3-year-old, to a size that fits a 5 or 6-year-old.
The temperature rating is 40 F, so it isn’t the best option for cold nights
The Kelty Woobie is an excellent starter bag for kids; the size makes it suitable for kids up to about age 6. It has a temperature rating of 20 degrees F, so the Woobie will keep your child warm on those cold nights when camping. The kid-friendly features include sidewall construction and a flip-down top panel. The Kelty doesn’t have the zipper extension like some of its competitors, so if your child finds the size too big, you can tie off the end with the cinch sack so it is smaller and there is less room to heat.
You can pinch off the end with the stuff sack to shorten the length for younger children
The Big Agnes Little Red is an excellent option if you have a child who moves around a lot when they are sleeping. The Little Red has an integrated pad sleeve that attaches your Little Red to your sleeping pad, so you don’t have to worry about your kids rolling or sliding off their pad onto the cold ground while they are sleeping. This feature is a big factor in helping keep kids warm (the pad is sold separately and must be a 20″ x 48″ rectangular pad). Having the pad attached to the Little Red also helps to prevent your child from getting twisted up, which can be uncomfortable. The temperature rating is 15 degrees, so this is intended for severe, cold weather camping and hiking.
Integrated pad sleeve that keeps the child from wriggling off the mat and stops the bag getting twisted up
The Kindercone is an excellent option if you would like a style that can grow with your child. Some of the higher quality options are pricey, so you don’t want to have to buy new bags as your child grows. To shorten the size you stuff the bottom of the bag into the built-in sack until you get it to the length that you want, then you cinch the sack, so the size is the right length for the child. The Kindercone works for kids as young as 2 or 3, and since it can fit kids up to 5 feet, you can use the Kindercone until they are ready to switch to an adult-sized bag. The Kindercone has a reputation for being high quality, good value and a fantastic all-around option. Pros:
Grows with your kids
Not the lightest option
Does not compress down small, so might be a bit big to take hiking
The Kelty Big Dipper is another much-loved, high-quality sleeping bag that your kids will love. Like the Deuter Starlight EXP, the Big Dipper has an expandable section that lengthens the size by 12 inches. It is a modified mummy style, so it is comfortable and can keep kids head warm without being too tight or restrictive.
Well-constructed and designed
The zipper expander means it can grow with your child
Too heavy to use for hiking
Good for Ages: 4-12
Intended use: Summer car camping, summer camp, sleepovers
The Big Agnes Wolverine is very similar to the Big Agnes Little Red; it is just designed for a slightly older child. The difference between the Wolverine and Little Red are that it is a little longer (60 inches vs. 53 inches), and a little heavier (2lb 6oz vs. 1lb 13oz). Other than those differences, the basic design with the pad sleeve that can stop your kids from wriggling off their sleeping pad is the same as the Little Red. Both products are an excellent option for kids who move around when they are sleeping.
Great for kids who move around a lot when they sleep
The Dolomite is an excellent alternative to the mummy style that is so popular in kids bags. Some kids don’t like the restrictive feeling of the mummy style, but there aren’t that many high-quality options that are rectangular. The Dolomite is very warm, but it also has the option to be unzipped and turned into a blanket – which you cannot do with the mummy style. Another great thing about the Dolomite is that it has highly compressible insulation, making it a good option if you are looking for a warm, light, versatile design for hiking.
The rectangular shape is good for kids who find the mummy style too restrictive
Wraparound foot box zipper turns the bag into a blanket
The Teton Sports’ Celsius Junior is another option if your child doesn’t like the mummy style designs. The Teton is less expensive than the North face Dolomite, but it is just as good quality, and it will keep your kids warm and comfortable while camping. The Celsius Junior +20 is a little longer than other kid’s styles, at 66 inches long, so you may be able to get a few extra years out of it. It has a flannel lining, two-way zippers, an interior pocket, and comes with a stuff sack.
You can’t zip it down all the way and turn it into a blanket
When you are shopping for a sleeping bag, the most important thing to consider is when and where your child will be using it. If it is only going to be used on sleepovers or occasionally for summer camping, there are many comfortable, inexpensive options available. If your family are frequent campers, who camps in a variety of temperatures it is best to spend some researching features. The following are a few things to look out for:
Shape – Generally children’s sleeping options are either a rectangle or a mummy shape. Mummy shaped tapers at the legs and the feet to keep in the warmth, while rectangle shape is good if kids don’t like feeling restricted. Some of the benefits of a mummy style include being lighter for carrying, as well as warmer since there isn’t as much space to heat, they are generally considered best for camping and hiking. Rectangular shapes can be roomier and more comfortable for some people; you can also usually unzip them and turn them into blankets, making them suitable for summer camps and sleepovers.
Weight/Bulk– If you are hiking or camping where you will have to carry a pack, the weight of the sleeping bag is going to be an issue. Look for designs that weight around 2 pounds or less. You should also look at the dimensions of the stuff sack, to see how large the bag may be.
Temperature Rating – The temperature rating on camping bags is the lowest temperature (air temperature) where the bag will keep you warm. Most kids camping designs have a temperature rating between +15°F and +35°F, although there are quite a lot of other factors that determine how warm your child stay while sleeping, so the temperature rating is meant to be used as a guide only. Summer Season styles are +35°F and higher, 3 season products are +10° to +35° F, and winter season are considered +10°F and lower.
Insulation Type –The two types of insulation are synthetic or goose-down. Pretty much all of the kid’s designs are made with synthetic insulation, not only because it is much less expensive, but it is also quick drying, very durable and not allergenic. If you would like to get a goose-down filled design, one option is the Western Mountaineering Tamarak Sleeping Bag ‑2C ‑ Children to Youths. Marmot used to make a style called Sorcerer 20F that could fit kids, but they don’t seem to be making it anymore. Another option would be to buy a woman’s size goose down bag and tie off the bottom to shorten the length, then adjust the length as your child grows.
Built-in sleeve– Some models feature a built-in sleeve to fit a sleeping pad under the bag. It is a helpful feature if your child is a restless sleeper and slides of his or her pad frequently.
Pillow pockets are a nice-to-have feature that allows a allow a small pillow or stuffed up clothes to be put inside of the pocket to make a pillow.
Hoods are useful if you are planning on doing any cold weather camping. Since you lose heat from your heat, a built-in hood allows you to cinch the hood with a drawcord around your head to help you stay warm.
Interior or Exterior Pockets–Kids love having secret pockets to put flashlights or toys in to help them feel secure.
Draft tubes – Draft tubes are insulation-filled tubes that run along the length of the zipper. Having a draft tube helps to stop warmth from escaping through the zipper.
Is it worth investing in a high-quality kid’s sleeping bag? Yes, not only can you buy durable bags that can grow with your kids throughout the years, your kids will be warmer and more comfortable. Even though the initial investment is a little steep, they will pay off over the years as they help keep your kids happy and warm while camping.