Kids’ Sleeping Bags – Are they worth it?

Kids grow.  Fast.  Many parents will argue that paying full-price for equipment that kids are going to outgrow in one season (or less) is simply a waste of money.  I get it.  There is a lot of gear out there built specifically for kids that just isn’t necessary.  Modifications of adult equipment can be made, cheaper stuff can be purchased and no one is worse for the wear.

Before having my own children, I was absolutely convinced that kids’ sleeping bags were a “luxury item”.  Something that was cute, weighed a little less, but really served no good purpose.  After getting my facts straight, seeing how my kids manage camping (with their own cute, small bodies), and doing a bunch of research, I would make the claim that kids’ sleeping bags are the KEY to keeping kids warm while camping.

The science behind it is actually pretty simple:  A smaller sleeping bag means less space that a child’s body has to heat up to keep them warm.

That’s it.

So, I went to work trying to get my hands on as many kid-specific sleeping bags that I could.  I wanted to see them side by side.  I wanted my own children to test their features, point out their favorites and do a lot of camping.  We certainly didn’t test them ALL (though wouldn’t that be AWESOME?!?!) and I will mention others that I would recommend in this post (based on the reputation of the company that makes them, recommendations by others I trust and features they boast.)  As always, as I have the opportunity to test others not mentioned here, I will add the feedback to our gear reviews.

To be honest, the testing process is still in session.  We have a lot of camping time left in the season.  Some of these bags’ true performance will only be affirmed after fall trips where temperatures dip near freezing (yes, we are that “crazy”).  I will certainly report on our findings throughout the season.  As always, these reviews are our honest, personal opinions.

Each of the following sleeping bags are thoroughly explained on their own gear review page.  This is a great feature of our new site, and all reviews from now on will be posted this way.  You can find a list of those reviews at the tab marked “Gear Reviews” and in the slider at the top of the blog.

- Kelty Woobie +30

- Teton Sports’ Celsius Junior +20

- Big Agnes Porcupine +15

- Deuter Starlight EXP ~+40

As a parent, it is important to note that kids’ sleeping bags usually don’t have a temperature rating (and if they do now, they won’t for very long as regulations change.)  I AM including the ratings in this post because I think they are a great way to help compare the different bags (roughly.)  However, here’s the scoop: there are a TON of factors and variables that change how warm your child will stay in a bag.  Besides just your child’s body in general, whether or not they are using a sleeping pad (and what kind), the air temperature, the relative humidity, the wind speed, and how many bodies they are sharing the tent with (or if they are sleeping outside) all HAVE to be factored in.  Obviously, it’s not very cut and dry.  No matter what bag a child is sleeping in, make sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather (wool or synthetics, hat if needed, extra layers to add on if needed, socks, etc. etc.)

After our own continued testing with the four bags mentioned above, here are our findings (again, please see each bag’s individual review for many more details):

If your child does not like being confined to a “mummy-shaped” bag: Go for the Celcius from Teton Sports or the Big Agnes Bags

If your child is young (under 3) and/or short (or has younger siblings coming behind them): Go for the Kelty Woobie

If you would like a great summer bag that can expand with the growth of your child: Go for the Starlight EXP from Deuter

Here are some photos comparing the bags when laid out and packed up:

 

 

Other Sleeping Bags that are definitely worth checking out:

(If we DO get a chance to review them, we will certainly pass on our findings here!)  If you have personal experience with these bags, please feel free to weigh-in.)

Big Agnes Little Red - I haven’t seen this bag physically, but it is smaller than other kids’ sleeping bags, yet bigger than the Woobie (Fits up to 53″ compared to the 42″ of the Woobie.)  Big Agnes bags, however, are excellent and I am sure this would be no exception.

Deuter Little Star EXP – Another I have yet to get my hands on, but comes recommended by many of our outdoor-enthusiast friends.  Fits up to ~51″ and has a (really good conditions) rating of around 40 degrees F.  Again, those numbers are a good guess, but it would seem logical that this bag would be more fitting for warmer conditions than Little Red.

 

Bottom Line: Kids’ sleeping bags are absolutely worth the investment (of around $100, depending on the quality of the bag).  This is definitely a piece of gear where you get what you pay for.

They keep kids warmer, safer and happier (which can go a LONG way on a family camping trip!)

 

I want to know!  What bags do you love, which features do you find important?  Which ones have you tried (or want to try)?

In case you missed it above, be sure to check out the coupon code from Tiny Trekker (TTSB10 for 10% off any sleeping bag or padand enter to win a Teton Sports’ Celsius Junior +20 on its review page!

This review was possible through the generosity of Teton Sports, Deuter, Kelty and Tiny Trekker.  However, as always, the opinions expressed here are completely and honestly our own.  Additionally, some of these links ARE affiliates.  If you choose to use them to purchase a kid’s sleeping bag for your child, it helps offset the cost of this blog in a (very) small way.  Thank you!  See our full disclosure here.

Amelia lives with her husband and three young children in Yellowstone National Park. As a family, they believe that life is precious, short and should be lived to the fullest. That includes introducing a life of adventures for their boys in the form of skiing, hiking, biking, running, camping and lots of outdoor playing. Amelia writes at Tales of a Mountain Mama in an attempt to inspire others to get outside daily too with tips and tricks, stories and lots of gear reviews.

Comments

  1. Great review of some of the great kids bags out there. We also (via a birthday gift) got our son (3) a great new sleeping bag this year – we found it important, especially when camping in a colder climate to get gear that works for him. We got the Mountain Hardware Mountain Goat Adjustable 20 Sleeping Bag and we/he loves it. The adjustable footbox is great and it’s kept him toasty warm. He loves the little pocket to keep his headlamp/little car/etc. We also like the fact that it’s synthetic so that if it gets damp/wet it still retains some of the warmth and is easy to care for.

    One tip that one of the sales people gave us for adjusting the length of sleeping bags for kids (ie. with the big agnes) is to put the excess length into the stuff sack and cinch it closed. This creates a shorter footbox for small kids and keeps their toes warmer.

    • Oh I love that tip about adding the excess length into the stuff sack! I still make the claim that kids’ bags are worth it just for the smaller girth too, but this is a great idea to help with the length! Thanks, Suzi!

      • I’m all about the kids bags but even kids bags are long for the 2 to 5 year old crowd (especially when the temperature drops). The “growing” sleeping bag is great and that’s what we chose in the end, however it’s not that common and I thought this was a great solution.

  2. Christopher Sorel says:

    Yes kids sleeping bag are important for cold weather camping for sure. You are not crazy I camp all year with my kids ever since my son was 3 and daughter 4. They love the smell and colors in the fall. Winter is just as fun. You know the best part is cmap grounds are empty and feel like you have the place to yourself.

    They are now 7 and 8. Taking them on their first back woods canoing and woods camping. No showers, toliet, power, cell phone or comvience store. 5 days off the grid is great!! Wawa Canada back woods is great place

  3. We have one kid’s sleeping bag from LL Bean and it’s really nice to have. Eventually, we need to invest in a couple for our youngest two sons. We love to go camping!

  4. I agree 100%. My son used to use a short down women’s marmot sleeping bag. It kept him warm, but the extra weight he carried was ridiculous for a 9 yo that weights 48 lbs. I found a Sierra Designs Dragonfly 40 on sale for $11 and got two. He LOVES IT. I have been late in the fall on the Appalachian and it kept him warm. Its a surprisingly technical bag for the price.

  5. I sure do wish I could find a nice 600+FP down bag. Something under 100. I may end up getting a quilt made for him from one of the online vendors. He would like that. Actually, a 3/4 length hammock under quilt could be used then he could use it when he’s bigger also. Hmmm.

  6. Our kids love their Mountain Hardware Mountain goat sleeping bags. We have one for each kid, SO WORTH THE $$$.

  7. Great timing for this post Amelia!! I am in the market for five new bags, one for each of my kids.

  8. definitely a fan of good quality kid bags! although sadly there are not enough down kids bags on the market– i know, i know, the warm when wet issue, but there is a need for LIGHTER kids bags that are warm and well made. we’ve had several brands in the last few years and have finally found some ones we really like. we bought less expensive kelty bags first and ended up paying for that choice. they were poorly made and not warm enough (with busted zippers that kelty won’t warranty)… should’ve known better, for as much as we use them, buying nicer bags to begin with would’ve have been well worth the money. we recently bought two marmot sorcerer juniors and really like them. they are pretty light for the temp rating, seem to be of equal quality to the adult bags, and will last them into their teenage years. thanks for the post!

  9. We bought a North Face Tigger last year for our daughter (who was 2). It’s synthetic and rated 20 degrees. I chose it using REI’s compare feature- at the time it was the warmest, smallest, and lightest child’s bag they had and it was under $100. We used a zip tie on it during camping to make it smaller and then cut it off for storage. This year she seems to be doing ok with it the length it is. I’m hoping it will work for her for several years.

  10. Thanks for the reviews. There is so much choice out there these days it’s hard to know what is best for your child. We are just about to take the plunge into camping with the kids…wish us luck! :) Josie

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