Anyone who has taken kids camping with them knows how fun it can be – and how challenging. Camping is a great activity for families with kids of all ages, but it takes some planning and some investment in the right kind of gear. Letting kids just use adult equipment and hoping it works out isn’t always the best or safest solution. And when it comes to sleeping bags, it could mean nobody gets a good night of sleep.
Instead, you should invest in a youth sleeping bag that is specially designed for little sleepers. Kids’ sleeping bags aren’t as expensive as the adult versions, so you’ll get exactly what your child needs for a reasonable price.
But how do you choose a great youth sleeping bag?
There are a few important factors you’ll want to consider.
The last thing any parent wants when camping with their child is to wake up to complaints of being too hot or too cold. And if the sleeping bag is really not appropriate for the temperatures you’ll be camping in it can be a downright dangerous situation. This is why it’s so important to check the temperature rating on the bag.
Most sleeping bags use the EN 113537 scale to determine temperature rating. It was developed in Europe, but it’s used for most North American brands now, as well. It provides three temperature ratings, including:
- Comfort rating, which is the lowest temperature the bag will keep the average cold sleeper comfortable at.
- Lowest-limit rating, which is the lowest temperature the bag will keep the average warm sleeper comfortable at.
- Extreme rating, which is the average temperature the bag is safe to use it.
When it comes to the temperature of a kid’s sleeping bag, you can also consider the seasonal rating. Most three-season bags are comfortable in temperatures as low as the 20s, approximately, so they are usually suitable for spring, summer, and fall camping in most locations.
However, if you plan to camp during the winter in a location with colder conditions, you’ll need a bag that’s suitable for the teens or lower. For a child, it’s a good idea to get a bag that can handle subzero temps if you plan to camp during the winter. Kids tend to be warmer sleepers, but you want to make sure they are safe and uncomfortable if you’re facing extreme temps.
Weight and Insulation
Usually, the weight is only a concern with sleeping bags when you’ll be hiking to your campsite. Usually, that’s not something you do with children in tow, at least not for long distances. This means the weight of the sleeping bag isn’t as important. Not to mention, children’s bags are much smaller, which means the weight is automatically reduced.
Insulation is still a concern because it can affect the warmth and comfort of the bag. This is especially true if the bag gets weight. Down-filled bags rarely do you much good, so you’re better off choosing a children’s sleeping bag that’s insulated with synthetic materials. This is not only a good idea because of weather conditions, but also because of spills. If you do opt for a down-filled bag for a kid, make sure it’s water resistant.
You’ll want to consider the style or shape of the sleeping bag. Most kids’ bags are fairly standard sizes. Kids’ body types aren’t as varied as adults, so you don’t need to worry about extra-long or extra-wide bags. You will want to make sure the bag fits snugly around your child’s body because this helps to hold in the heat.
Heat loss is one of the main reasons it’s not smart to allow a child to use an adult sleeping bag. The large empty spaces allow pockets of cold air to get into the bag and you aren’t able to use body heat as efficiently when the bag isn’t snug to the body.
Finally, you’ll want to consider the cost of the bag. Because they are smaller most youth sleeping bags tend to be less expensive than adult bags. You can get a really high-quality children’s sleeping bag for as little as $50 to $100. This might seem like a lot, but when you consider the adult version of the same bag would run you up to $400 or $500, it’s easy to see how much you’re saving on the smaller bag.
The cheapest bags, the ones you usually find with novelty characters for about $20 to $25 really aren’t suitable for outdoor camping. They’ll work for indoor sleepovers, but if your child is in scouts or you’re planning a family camping trip, you’ll want to spring for a high-quality bag that’s a little more expensive.
Our Picks for Best Youth Sleeping Bags
Now that you have some idea what is important in a youth sleeping bag, here’s our list for the top picks available.
This sleeping bag is a great option for kids who are camping in really cold temperatures – 15 to 20 degrees or so. This bag has a number of great features, including a pillow pocket. It’s fairly lightweight for a cold weather bag and has a mummy design, so it keeps kids warm even in frigid temps.
Check it out on AMAZON.
This North Face bag is great for kids. It weighs just slightly over two pounds and is made from water-resistant materials. It’s a very warm bag with a sturdy zipper. It also has a pillow pocket and comes with storage back and stuff sack.
Check it out on REI.COM
This is the most budget-friendly option on our list, but it comes from REI, so you don’t need to worry about it being made from cheap materials. You’re getting a quality youth sleeping bag for a great price – about two-thirds less than what many of the other brands charge for a comparable bag.
The Kindercone bag weighs three pounds, so it’s not the best option for hiking. It’s also not the best cold weather sleeping bag, as it only stands up to temps 30 degrees or higher. This means little ones tend to get chilly if they are sleeping with the bag and their PJ’s only in temps lower than the 40s probably. It’s a fantastic option for summer camping or spring and fall camping in warmer climates when you are driving to the campsite.
Check it out on REI.COM