How to Pick the Best Kid's Sleeping Bags for Camping
Picking the best sleeping bags for your kids
Picking the best kid's sleeping bags takes a little thought, and the answers to just a couple basic questions if you want to get the best value for your money. And find the right children's sleeping bags for your kid's needs of course.
Sleeping bags, like all camping equipment, are available for many different types of camping needs and levels of experience. -, and many different price points. From the cheapest to the most expensive, finding the right piece of gear for your camping needs means you need to know just what your needs are. The same goes for picking the right kid's sleeping bags.
But... if you are one of those parents that have more money than you know what to do with, and your kid has to have the absolute best of everything, then there is no need to read any further, just follow the link below to buy the $249 Marmot Sawtooth, (pictured on right), and your kid will be all set for their next North Pole expedition or Mt. Everest attempt.
But if that isn't you, then the following information will help you get the right bag at the right price.
First some basic facts
- Unlike adult sleeping bags, (which should last until you wear them out, or quit camping), kid's sleeping bags will be out grown.
- If the kid is over 5' tall, or will be this year, then skip the kid's bags and buy an adult sleeping bag. Most kid's sleeping bags are sized to fit kids up to 5', or at the most, 5'4".
- Mummy-style sleeping bags are primarily designed for tent camping where warmth and pack weight are priority considerations. They are not the best choice for summer camps and RV camping.
- With the technological development of synthetic fiber "tube" insulation materials, Down insulation is no longer the "best of the best" when it comes to sleeping bag insulation material.
- If it is not for tent camping, (outside camping), then the least expensive sleeping bag you can find will do just fine. ie. Walmart $19.99 Ozark trail
- There are three basic sleeping bags styles, (as shown below), Mummy, Modified Mummy, and Rectangular
Kid's Sleeping Bags Styles
What are the kid's sleeping bag needs
Answer these questions before you try to decide which of the available children's sleeping bags would be the right sleeping bag for your kid.
What type of camping is the sleeping bag for?
- Year-round tent camping - four seasons
- Spring, Summer, Fall - three season temperate weather camping
- Summer camp, RV camping, and sleep-overs
How will the sleeping bag get to the campsite?
- Will they be brought to the campsite with other camping gear, or will it have to be part of the campers backpack load? This is a very important question. If the camper has to pack-in all their camping gear, then weight and bulk are priority considerations.
What kind of sleeper is the young camper?
- Parents that have kids that toss and turn all night, and/or use the whole bed to sleep, know that this is not a minor consideration. Mummy style sleeping bags are not really confining, but to a young camper that moves a lot in their sleep - they could be. And that will make for a miserable mismatch for the kid.
Pick your camper:
Answering those questions, you have determined your young camper is:
A Boy Scout-type camper - camps year-round, more than 4 times a year, sometimes in very cold weather, mostly in tents, and sometimes or frequently has to carry their sleeping bag on their backpack.
- A Mummy or Modified Mummy style sleeping bag would be the best choice. Mainly for the weight and bulk considerations. They come with compression sacks for packing, (reduces bulk size), and usually weigh in at 2.5 to 3.75 pounds. Most 15-20 degree rated bags will keep a camper warm in temperatures 5 to 15 degrees lower than their rating, so a 0 degree bag isn't usually needed. A good example of this type would be the Eureka Grasshopper, or Kelty Little Tree
A Cub Scout-type camper - Usually camps indoors in cabins or RV's, any tent camping will be in warm weather, and the sleeping bag is usually hand-carried or delivered to the camping site.
- A 35 to 45 degree modified mummy bag will work fine, but a rectangular kid's sleeping bag with the same temperature rating would be better because this type of camper might spend as much time on top of the bag as they do in it.
A Tenderfoot-type camper - Usually "camping" is more like indoor sleep-overs or sleep-ins, but may do something like a summer camp, is very young, (5 to 8 years-old), and does not have to carry their own gear,
- An inexpensive rectangular bag is the best choice. Like any of the themed bags, (think Disney), that you find at discount stores. This camper is just starting, and until you find out how much they like it, or want to do it, there is no need to spend more money for "real" camping sleeping bags.
What sleepin bag features to look for
Sleeping bag features typically promoted as "good to have" are:
- Synthetic outer shells and inner liners - usually polyester taffeta; because it is durable, and water resistant, (not waterproof), but breathable.
- Sturdy double-zippers, (can be opened or closed from inside or out of the bag), many times listed as "self-repairable" which means even if they become separated, a simple re-closing or opening will re-engage the zipper teeth
- Draft tubes - these are "tubes," (doubled layer of fabric), that run the length of the zipper to keep cold air from seeping in through the zipper teeth and material
- "Tubular" fiber synthetic fill insulation - different companies have their own proprietary names for these, like Eureka's Thermashield fiber fill, but in essence this means the insulating material fibers are like mini-straws, providing more dead-air insulating space for better temperature control. (these new materials have even surpassed Down as the best insulating material - regarding weight vs performance abilities)
Those are the basic must-have features of a good sleeping bag. Then come the bells and whistles - some of which are nice to have, and others that are just more icing on the cake:
- draw cords for head enclosure - these allow the camper to cinch up the sleeping bag head closure, leaving only the face exposed - almost like a hoodie. Mostly useful only in extremely cold temperatures
- inside stash pockets - may seem like a small thing, but they can be a very convenient and handy place for easy access to a small flashlight or tissue pack
- miscellaneous straps for; sleeping pads, cot hold-downs, roll-up, hanging - the most useful of these are attached roll-up straps on rectangular sleeping bags, and sleeping pad/cot straps that keep the bag aligned
- double or two-way zippers - these are a must-have, they allow the zipper to be operated from inside or outside the bag - usually a standard feature
- can be opened to use as a blanket - mostly applicable to rectangular sleeping bags. The purpose is obvious
- snag-proof zippers - this is an important feature, kids easily snag the bag liner in their zippers
- single or double layer quilting - mostly important for extreme cold weather camping. It can affect fill material "clumping" - but is usually not an issue
So what features does your young camper need?
The Boy Scout Camper - Definitely a mummy or modified mummy sleeping bag, primarily for warmth and pack weight. The extra features to look for depend on how much cold -weather camping they do. Straps aren't really important because of the use of compression sacks.
The Cub Scout Camper - Due to the type of camping this young camper will be doing, rectangular or modified mummy kid's sleeping bags would be the best choice, and just the basic features should be more than adequate. Attached roll-up straps would be nice, but looking for more bells-and-whistles just depends on your budget
The Tenderfoot Scout - Easy choice, a rectangular themed bag is all that is needed. And an inexpensive one will be fine. If they continue to enjoy camping, then by the time it is necessary to graduate to a better sleeping bag for camping, they, (and you), will be more knowledgeable about what sleeping bag features they would like to have.
Discount prices on kid's sleeping bags
See which of these kid's sleeping bags were rated top picks, and check out the available discount pricing available online for children's sleeping bags:
About the Author
The author behind Camping with Kids is Gus, from Campingwithgus.com. An avid life-long tent camper that has camped in the mountains and on the plains, and in all four seasons - from 100+ to -10 degree weather. As a kid, with adults on week-long bear-hunting camps, and as an adult Boy Scout leader. Check the Camping with Kids profile to see more from Gus.