Family Sleeping Bags

Have you ever tried a family sleeping bag, or as they are typically labeled, a double sleeping bag? I’ve been camping with my family for a long time, and family sleeping bags are something that I wish had been on my radar much sooner!

In short: THEY ARE AMAZING!! The longer version: There are some really nice benefits that have improved our family sleep set-up quite a bit.

Sleeping on a camping trip is tricky. Finding the right balance of making it as much like home as possible, while also recognizing that it’s *not* home and can’t exactly be treated as such can feel like overwhelming, especially when small children are involved.

Family sleeping bags help address some of frequent sleeping issues! And hopefully help reduce the number of sleep-deprived campers on your trip. Read on for some of the pros and cons of using a family sleeping bag.

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What is a Family Sleeping Bag?

Family sleeping bags are double adult sleeping bags, designed for two adults to share, rather than using two single bags. They come in many styles and types, just like single sleeping bags.

With space for two full-grown adults, double sleeping bags can also easily be used by a single adult with two children, or up to three children.

Note: safety concerns about sharing sleeping bags are addressed further down in this post.

Two young girls play inside a small tent on a double sleeping bag.
My daughters playing inside our tent.

Why Use Double Sleeping Bags?

There are a LOT of great reasons to try a family sleeping bag! If you are nervous about camping with kids, or have struggled in the past with getting kids to sleep in a tent, it’s definitely possible that one of those challenges could be alleviated with a family sleeping bag.

Warmer Than Sleeping Alone

Nobody sleeps well when they can’t get warm. This is why sleeping bag ratings systems tell you to choose a bag for camping nights that are 10 degrees warmer than the rating, so you will be cozy, comfortable, and able to sleep. A double sleeping bag creates that extra cozy hot pocket by using more than one body to generate heat.

Kids are particularly susceptible to sleeping poorly in the cold, because their bodies aren’t great at temperature regulation yet! Tucking them into a sleeping bag with a sibling or two can greatly increase the chances of a warmer and better sleep in the outdoors.

Three children lay inside a family sleeping bag.
3 of my kids, cozy inside a Nemo family sleeping bag.

Cold sleeping can also make wetting the bed more likely, and that’s no fun for anyone mid-chilly-camping trip.

Having warmer kids also might help YOU sleep better, whether sharing the bag or not. I can’t even count the number of camping nights I spent waking up constantly to make sure my little ones were warm enough. Or on the other side of the coin, spent sleepless nights squeezed into a single bag with a toddler who couldn’t sleep until she was warm next to me.

Keeps Kids Covered

In a similar vein, kids often get cold because they kick off their sleeping bags during the night and don’t notice. Putting them in a shared sleeping bag with you means that they won’t as easily be able to kick off the top layer, or if they do, you are more likely to notice much sooner.

If you have a sleeper who frequently ends up miles outside of their sleeping bag on a camping trip, it might be time to try a family sleeping bag!

Helps with Sleeping Fear

Maybe your little people don’t struggle with cold, but do struggle with anxiety about outdoor sleeping. Those outdoor noises (or the silence!) can be disconcerting for a child, especially in the dark when all other senses are muted.

Within the cozy confines of a family sleeping bag, that uneasy camper can feel close to a trusted family member rather than isolated. The physical proximity of a parent or a sibling can be hugely reassuring in an uncertain environment. You might even get a giggle party out of it!

A mom and two young sons pose for a cozy picture inside a backpacking tent.
Ready for a fun night of hopefully more sleep than fun.

Saves Space and Weight

This is not always the case, but family sleeping bags can reduce the bag weight, whether in a backpack or a vehicle. When choosing a bag, look at the specifics to make sure it meets the criteria for your particular plans.

A backpacking family sleeping bag should stay under about 2-2.5 pounds per person, or about 4-5 pounds per double bag. Many double bags are far heavier than this, so it’s essential to check!

Family sleeping bags can save space as well. As with the weight, if you are backpacking, you must be particularly aware of the compressed space your bag occupies, but if your vehicle is on site at your camping location, the double bag is highly likely to save space in your car!

Simplifies Sleeping Arrangements

It’s a project to get everything in order at the campsite. Why not make one thing easier and only have to pack and set up a couple of sleeping bags instead of 5?

Our family usually spends several minutes negotiating who gets their preferred sleeping spot in the tent, and someone always gets their last choice. Taking away the chance for kids to fight about whose sleeping bag goes where might be worth its weight in gold.

A backpacking tent set up with family sleeping bags.
Nighttime setup, ready for sleepers.

Cozy Couple Time

Maybe you want to keep a family sleeping bag for its original design and sleep in it with your spouse! One kid sleeping bag and one parent bag could mean everyone sleeps cozily AND you get a few minutes semi-alone with your partner in a setting where that is otherwise rare.

Why Not Use a Family Sleeping Bag?

There are a few downsides to family sleeping bags. With good consideration of the positives and the negatives, you can make an assessment of what is right for your family.

Sleep Safety Concerns

For very young children, under one year of age, sharing a family sleeping bag would fall under the category of co-sleeping or bed sharing, which the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend. Many families, including mine at various times, do still choose to co-sleep, but it is important to understand the risks.

Regardless of how your family handles co-sleeping with infants, once children are into the toddler, preschool, or elementary ages, sharing a family sleeping bag is as safe as sharing a bed at home.

If you don’t want to co-sleep with an infant in a family sleeping bag, check out this great round up of infant and toddler sleeping bags!

Windmill Sleeper Kids

If you’ve ever slept with a toddler, there’s a chance you’ve been kicked in the leg, stomach, neck, head, ANYWHERE. It can be miserable to pretend to sleep while they fan in a circle all night long.

It’s certainly understandable if you don’t want to risk a bad night of sleep for yourself by sharing with a windmill sleeper, or subject your other children to it.

A young boy lays on top of a large sleeping bag inside a tent.
My son demonstrating proper windmill technique.

Space Preference

Even those who don’t toss, turn, or circle through the night sometimes still like some space to sleep. Evaluate your sleep preferences, and if you or your kids are people who just don’t like to be in physical contact at night, a family sleeping bag may not be for you.

Family sleeping bags do increase the warmth of the bag, as I mentioned in a section above. This can be a downside for naturally hot sleepers, or those who regularly camp in especially warm locations.

Price of a Double Sleeping Bag

As with most things, as it increases in size, a sleeping bag increases in cost. If you don’t yet have any sleeping bags, the overall value of a family sleeping bag might provide a cost savings. However, if you already have sleeping bags for your family, or just need one more, starting over with family sleeping bags could be pricey.

Additionally, not all sleeping pads are suitable for all family sleeping bags. Some bags have very specific sleeping pad recommendations, and may not be as pleasant to use without those. That can drive the use cost up higher as well.

Can’t Divide Weight

If you are backpacking with your family and looking into a double sleeping bag, one potential negative is that the weight and bulk may not be able to be divided easily.

Some double or family sleeping bags are designed to separate into components that can be carried by more than one person, and some are not. Or if you are carrying sleeping systems for small children, they might be able to carry a light kids’ bag, but not necessarily half of a double adult sleeping bag.

There are always pros and cons to any gear choice you make for your family! With family sleeping bags, there are some downsides, but also lots of benefits.

Different Styles of Family Sleeping Bags

Within family sleeping bags, there are lots of variation in style. Depending on the particular outdoor activity you are doing with your family, as well as your personal sleep preferences, you will want to choose the one that is best suited for your needs.

Two small kids hug while seated on a family sleeping bag inside a tent.
Family sleeping bags can’t guarantee your kids will always be nice to each other.

Zip Together Sleeping Bags

This is the “old-fashioned” way of making a double sleeping bag–simply zipping together two sleeping bags. It can be done with single sleeping bags (test at home before assuming it will work with your current bags), and there are some double bags that are specifically designed to convert between a single and a double.

If you camp or backpack with your family, but also do solo adventures, this can be a great option! Just one bag can work for your kids to share when you go together, and can be your single bag when you need to get into the wilderness alone.

Traditional bags either need to have two-way zippers or have zippers on opposite sides of the bag to zip together well. If you are going for a double-single convertible bag, it likely converts to one single bag by removing the top quilted layer and folding it over, giving you just one single bag.

Basic Foot Box

Family sleeping bags can have basic or narrow foot box configurations. If you plan to have three small children sleep in the same bag, the basic shape is likely going to be preferable. I can see in my camping nightmares the arguments that could result from too much foot crowding between siblings.

As an added foot-space bonus, family sleeping bags with this configuration also sometimes include two-way zippers or other foot ventilation access. For those sweaty kid feet, this can be a real boon.

Two young kids look out of a tent at a mountain scene.
Waking up to magical views after a magical night of sleep.

Mummy Style Double Bag

Mummy-style bags narrow toward the feet and tighten around the head to create a cozier cocoon than traditionally-shaped sleeping bags. Most double sleeping bags are not mummy-style, since it’s typically less appealing to crowd four (or more!) feet together.

For a family, this is even less likely to be ideal for the reasons I mentioned above, but if you have an especially cozy sleeping family, or if you are taking on extra chilly camping climates, a mummy-style bag could be worth a look.

Mummy-Style Top Only

Some basic foot box family sleeping bags have a mummy-style top only, which cinches tighter around the sides just at the top of the bag. This can be a nice blend of open foot space and a cozy top that seals out most of the cool night air.

This type of double bag also can have a divider between two head spaces, so if you need to finally shut down the family sleeping bag party, snapping down the center to create two hoods could do the trick.

Quilt Top

Some double sleeping bags have a removable top quilt layer which can be used alone in warmer weather but zipped back with a bottom half when needed. There are also quilt-only family sleeping options, but with no bag-style to revert to, you might spend a lot of time putting blankets back on active young sleepers.

If you are looking to purchase an ultralight family sleeping bag, a down quilt-top only is one of the lighter sleep coverings out there, and also one of the more expensive.

TMM Team Favorites

Many of the team members here at Tales of a Mountain Mama love their family sleeping bags! With lots of real-world use in a wide range of climates, the verdict is conclusive: family sleeping bags are awesome. Below are some of our favorites.

REI Siesta Hooded 20 Double

This is my kids’ favorite! It’s got a lot of perks. The two-way zippers allow for feet to vent on both sides if desired, and the top and bottom are both quilts, so if you open it up completely, you could even use this as just a quilt top for up to six kids!

Two sisters laugh together while sharing a family sleeping bag.
So happy because they are so comfy.

There are optional use hoods that tuck around the sides and hook down in the center for added coziness. It is such a spacious bag–feels like the king size bed of family sleeping bags.

It’s reasonably priced too, at $239. However, it is bulky and heavy. Plan to use your car and not your back to transport this one.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Duo

This backpacking bag is really unique in that it is zipperless. I have the single and love it so much, and Kristin’s family loves their duo. It’s super cozy, and features two self-sealing foot vents at the base.

With this bag, one of your kids can have their feet out and the other in, and they can switch all night long with no zippering help from you required! It also features hand pockets to keep little fingers extra warm.

You will definitely need a sleeping pad with this family sleeping bag, and coming in at $479, the bag alone is not cheap.

Three young siblings sharing a large sleeping bag.
Kristin’s kids love the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed Duo!

Big Agnes King Solomon

This versatile and comfy backpacking bag is super lightweight at only 3 pounds 2 ounces, amazing for a multiple-person bag. The top can zip off for use as a quilt, or it can be folded over to convert to one single sleeping bag. It’s got a roomy footbox, and Amelia has used it comfortably for her three children.

It does require insulated sleeping pads, either one double or two singles. Starting at $400 depending on the temperature rating, it’s a expensive buy.

Big Agnes Dream Island 20

For chilly traditional camping nights, down to freezing temps, this bag from Big Agnes will keep your family plenty cozy! Like its counterpart above, it converts to a quilt or one single bag, and tightens down around little heads at night.

Three siblings goof off inside a tent and large sleeping bag.
Family party on our private Dream Island.

It’s a recycled polyester blend, and it feels a little more like traditional bedding than the usual silky slipperiness of a camping sleeping bag. When I first got it out of the bag to use with my family, that was a surprise, but I ended up really liking the feel of it.

It’s cheaper than the King Solomon, because at 7 pounds, it’s much heavier and is not a backpacking bag. Like the King Solomon, it also requires an insulated sleeping pad and without one, will feel like you are sleeping directly on the ground.

North Face Dolomite One Duo

I love this one for its versatility. We regularly camp in three seasons, in temps that vary between below freezing and above 70 at night, and it’s really nice to be able to adjust the layers to suit the current conditions.

The two-way zippers and separate zipper tracks for each layer make it pretty easy to change the layer configuration as needed or even take a quilt layer off and just use that alone.

It doesn’t have a hood, so even though it’s rated down to 15 degrees (comfortable in 25), in extra chilly weather, little heads might still need a covering.

Nemo Jazz 30 Double

This sleeping bag is unbelievable cozy. Maybe it’s the warm quilted hood, or the feather bed style bottom, or maybe it’s the fleece-like sheet inside, but it’s so comfortable.

The top layer unzips at both ends for foot ventilation, or you can go with just the sheet on warm nights. It comes with an oversized storage bag, which makes it super easy to pack up after your amazing night of sleep.

The storage bag is really big, so you aren’t saving much space in your car packing this one. Also, with a rating of 30 degrees, it may only be warm enough on moderate nights.

Three siblings lay cozily inside a large Nemo sleeping bag.
Could not be more comfortable on any night over 35 degrees.

Try a Family Sleeping Bag!

No matter what your family’s sleep preferences are, there is a family sleeping bag for you. I’ve definitely been converted to a fan, as have my kids. If they can agree on something, it’s worth taking note!

Family sleeping bags are a really nice addition to your outdoor gear collection! Not only can they help everyone sleep cozier in your tent, they can simplify your packing and setup routine. It’s definitely worth evaluating if a family sleeping bag should be in your family’s future!

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