NOTE: We updated our findings! You’ll find that completely revamped and comprehensive review here.
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.
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.
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 pad) and 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!