Camping with kids can be a challenge, but it can also teach life lessons and create lasting family memories. So, each year campgrounds around the world are flooded with eager trekkers. But before the trip, there is a great deal of preparation, which often means purchasing all the gear you will need on your adventure, including sleeping bags. It may be tempting to head out to the nearest big box store and grab any kids’ sleeping bag, but this could prove to be a mistake later.
Quick Look at Our Top 5 Picks
Since kids’ bodies aren’t as susceptible to stiffness and soreness when sleeping, it may seem like kids can fall asleep anywhere, but children aren’t totally equipped to adapt to new situations quickly and without incident. This is especially true when there are factors involved that could affect their sleep. Every parent knows that when their kid is tired, things can go downhill fast. Because of this, choosing the correct sleeping bag for your kid-friendly camping expedition can be one of the most important decisions your make before your trip.
Kids’ Sleeping Bags – What To Consider
Fill: The two types of insulation that are found most often in sleeping bags are synthetic and down. Camping enthusiasts will almost always recommend down insulation because it is lightweight, easily compressed, durable, and usually down-fill sleeping bags are a higher quality. However, down-insulated sleeping bags are usually much more expensive and more difficult to clean than synthetic, and when down insulation gets wet, it is very hard to dry. This can be dangerous if you find yourself with a wet sleeping bag on a cold night.
Most casual campers choose to purchase a sleeping bag with synthetic insulation, especially for kids. Synthetic insulation refers to fill made of polyester, nylon, or cotton. These sleeping bags can also be lightweight, easily compressed, and durable, plus synthetic insulation dries much more quickly than down insulation, it is easier to clean, costs less, and is hypoallergenic.
Size & Weight: One of the main factors that makes a kids’ sleeping bag a kids’ sleeping bag is that it’s smaller than an adult bag. Kids’ sleeping bags are designed to fit a smaller frame, which helps to keep heat inside the bag. Some kids’ sleeping bags are made for toddlers and others are made for children, so be sure to consider your kid’s height and weight when choosing the right bag for them.
Part of the size of the bag is its weight. A sleeping bag is one of the heaviest and bulkiest pieces of camping gear, so it is important to consider this if you plan on hiking with sleeping bags in tow or sleeping in cold temperatures. In general, the warmest sleeping bags are the heaviest. So, it’s best to look for a bag that your child is capable of carrying themselves, and one that will provide the appropriate level of warmth.
Shape: Sleeping bags usually come in one of four shapes: rectangular, barrel shaped, mummy, and double wide. Rectangular sleeping bags are obviously shaped like a rectangle, and they are designed to be more spacious and comfortable. A barrel-shaped sleeping bag is similar to a rectangular sleeping bag, but it is narrower in the feet. Mummy bags are fitted and snug to the body for the entire length of the sleeping bag. Lastly, double wide refers to an extra-large version of a rectangular sleeping bag that can fit two sleepers.
The best shape for your child depends on a couple of factors—their sleep preferences, the temperatures they will be using the sleeping bag in, and the weight of the bag. Some of the sleeping bag shapes described above may be more comfortable for kids who like to spread out when they sleep or for kids who like to wrap themselves up in a ball. Plus, the more fitted the bag, the warmer it is, which is best for colder temperatures. And if the weight of the bag matters, rectangular and barrel-shaped bags are usually lighter than mummy or double-wide bags.
Durability & Maintenance: When it comes to products for kids, durability and cleanliness always matters. In general, kids are rougher with their possessions than adults are, so finding a sleeping bag that can hold up to tough love is best. Plus, the terrain the sleeping bag is placed on can wear it down over time. As a result, you will want to find a kids’ sleeping bag that has sturdy zippers and is made with durable materials and insulation that repel moisture.
Kids are also known to spill things and make messes, so the wrong sleeping bag could get ruined by one of these incidents. Sleeping bags also become dirty from the bodies that sleep in them. Because of this, purchasing a sleeping bag that is easy to clean and water resistant will prove to be a good decision later.
Climate: Climate, specifically temperature and precipitation, plays a major role in selecting a sleeping bag. Before you buy a kids’ sleeping bag, be sure to consider where and when it will be used.
All sleeping bags have a temperature rating that indicates the lowest temperature at which the sleeping bag will keep a person warm while wearing one layer of clothing. But, warmth is perceived and varies from kid to kid, which is why it is best to purchase a sleeping bag that is rated for temperatures lower than what you expect to encounter, but not too low to cause overheating. The zipper on the sleeping bag can also help to regulate the amount of heat that’s kept inside by allowing the sleeper to adjust for ventilation. Since kids don’t have as much body mass to keep themselves warm, erring on the side of caution is smart.
Precipitation is directly related to warmth. As mentioned earlier, a wet sleeping bag will be much colder and could be dangerous. Because of this, many sleeping bags are built to be water-resistant, but if you want extra protection, consider treating the bag with a water-resistant chemical or adding a water-proof shell to the bag.
What Are the Top Five Kids’ Sleeping Bags?
Here is a summary of the top five kids’ sleeping bags, each offering a unique combination of desirable features. All of these products are highly rated, and sleep tested.
What Else Should You Consider When Using And Purchasing Kids’ Sleeping Bags?
There are a few other factors to consider when purchasing a kids’ sleeping bag, including price, comfort, and looks. In general, kids’ sleeping bags are affordable. Since many kids’ sleeping bags are made with synthetic insulation, the cost of down fill is eliminated, so other features of the sleeping bag determine the price. The recommended kids’ sleeping bags above range in price from $23 to $38, and luckily some of them come with warranties. Keep in mind that your children will grow out of their sleeping bag and that it may need to be replaced when considering your sleeping bag budget.
Next, consider the comfort that the sleeping bag will provide. As mentioned earlier, it is vital that your kids can get the sleep they need in order for everyone’s experience to be more enjoyable. A small pillow or a sleeping pad can add more comfort if necessary.
Finally, the look of the sleeping bag matters to kids. Unlike adults, kids will always pick the sleeping back that looks the best rather than the one that has all of the qualities necessary. Fortunately, most of the sleeping bags that are made for kids are available in appealing colors or they feature popular characters from T.V. shows or movies. It may be helpful to find a small number of sleeping bags that fit your child’s needs and have them pick their favorite look out of those options.
Kids’ Sleeping Bags – Final Thoughts
Ultimately, everyone’s goal when searching for the best sleeping bag is to find one that is warm, dry, comfortable, and easy to carry, and that is no different when searching for a kids’ sleeping bag. Although kids have different needs than adults, the recommended kids’ sleeping bags above are all designed to address those needs with some specialized features added. Parents and the makers of kids’ sleeping bags know that kids’ sleep, especially when they are away from home, is important for everyone involved.