We are often asked about what sleeping bags we prefer for our kids when camping or backpacking, and our experienced with the variety of brands on the market. So here are all my answers regarding synthetic bags. But first some broad spectrum tips regarding kids sleeping bags for outdoor adventures.
Tips for purchasing a kid’s sleeping bag:
- You get what you pay for. Cheaper sleeping bags will be adequate for mild climates and car camping. However, if you want something super warm, lighter weight or a bag that packs down smaller for backpacking, you will have to spend more money.
- A sleeping bag is equally important as the pad below it for staying warm. Think of them as a sleep system working together and purchase them with that in mind. I have included links to camping pads that we suggest at the bottom of this post.
- No, you don’t need to buy a kid specific bag, though the extra volume in the bag will affect how warm they stay. You can take care of this by tying off the bottom of a longer bag for a smaller child.
- Why not down sleeping bags? That is entirely up to the parent, however many outdoor manufacturers focus on synthetic for kids due to ease of washing and warmth retention even should the bag become wet. Finding youth sized down bags is difficult and if you are willing to spend the money for down, perhaps consider a women’s short bag for your child.
The Best Kid/Youth Sleeping Bags
Below are our [and other outdoor families] favorite sleeping bags and backcountry quilts on the market.
Big Agnes Little Red/Wolverine/Haybro
The Big Agnes Wolverine and Haybro are similar in quality and weight to the Little Red, however are for older kids, ages 7-12, and 12-18 years old respectively. They do not pack down very small, so we reserve them for cold weather camping.
Note: There is no insulation on the underside of the bags due to this sleeping system.
Backcountry quilts are a different experience then the traditional mummy bag. they require you to sleep directly on the pad – this doesn’t affect their warmth, but some people just don’t like that.
For more info on the use of backcountry quilts, visit our post and instructional Youtube video: Backcountry Quilts by Enlightened Equipment.
Kelty Little Tree
The Little tree is perfect for elementary age kids through tweens and warm enough for cold nights, however I would only suggest them for car camping. This is because the synthetic bags so not pack down small enough to realistically be useful on a family backpacking trip.
The Kelty Woobie is a less expensive option similar to the Big Agnes Little Red for toddlers and younger children. For more information, visit Kids Sleeping Bag Round-Up by our friends at Tales of a Mountain Mama.
Deuter Starlight EXP
Deuter Starlight EXP has kept our kids warm in cool and moderate temperatures, is perfectly sized to fit our kids between the ages of 4 and 10 years old.
It is one of the only kids sleeping bags we’ve found that is both warm but also light and small enough to come backpacking with us.
It also “grows with your kids” and can be lengthened approx. 12″ when you unzip it at the bottom.
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