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In a hurry? If you are looking for a rectangular camping sleeping bag for kids and just want to know what our top pick is, we recommend the Teton Sports Celsius Jr Kids Sleeping Bag.
When we started camping as a family of three, we didn’t worry too much about the kid’s sleeping bag because he usually ended up snuggled up with one of us and covered in lots of blankets. However, as he became older it became more important for him to have his own sleeping bag appropriate for at least three season camping trips. Because our child sleeps on his side with one leg bent, he feels trapped in a mummy bag. Luckily, we don’t do a lot of true cold weather camping, so a rectangular bag works for us. If you are planning on cold weather camping you should invest in a mummy bag. We aren’t going in depth on those but will mention some options throughout this article.
Our Camping Sleeping Bags for Kids Picks:
- Top: Teton Sports Celsius Jr Kids Sleeping Bag
- Upgrade: REI Co-op Kindercamp 40 Sleeping Bag
We love this sleeping bag. It comes with a no-snag zipper which opens from either the top or the bottom and has a draft tube to prevent cold air from leaking in through the zipper area. The exterior is a polyester taffeta which is water and abrasion resistant. It comes with a soft, comfortable poly-flannel lining and has a four-channel hollow fiber fill. At 26 inches wide and 66 inches long, we expect to be using this sleeping bag for many years to come.
- Full-length zipper draft tube
- Sturdy two-way zippers
- Convenient pocket in the lining
- hand wash only
- does not unzip flat
REI makes very good equipment and the Kindercamp 40 sleeping bag is a great option for kids. This is their rectangular option; if you prefer a mummy bag look at the Kindercone 25. We love that the stuff sack is integrated into a pocket at the foot of the sleeping bag, keeping it from getting lost and making it easier to stuff when you are ready to go. And, if you are someone who likes to poke a foot out from under the sheets (I’m looking at you husband of mine…) this lovely sleeping bag allows you to zip open the bottom for ventilation.
- ripstop nylon shell
- attached stuff sack to not get lost
- 2-way, anti-snag coil zipper
- no interior pocket
- keep changing the colors available
This sleeping bag is a great option for the family who isn’t sure how many times they will actually go camping. It comes in so many colors that you could probably purchase every child’s favorite color. At 71 inches long this one will last through multiple growth spurts but combined with the lightweight materials means this one will not keep your child as warm in lower temperatures. However, it has a carrying case with straps to help encourage your child to help out with loading and unloading for the camping trip. Or, maybe not, but one can hope!
- machine washable
- can be combined to make a double
- huge color selection
- poor quality zippers
This sleeping bag can actually be washed in a front loader machine which is useful for those kids who just can’t keep their surroundings clean. The accompanying stuff sack is easy enough to use but might not last as long as the bag itself. At this price we are willing to just buy another sack to carry our sleeping bag. We do have mixed emotions about the cotton-blend lining but it is cozy.
- pocket for small items
- unzips flat
- machine washable
- poor quality zippers
- shorter than others at 5’1″
This 25 inch by 65 inch bag fits kids up to 5’ 5” tall when they will be ready to graduate to an adult sleeping bag. It comes in three colors and has a comfort cuff to help keep kids cozy even with the polyester lining. We appreciate the cinch cords and “roll control” system that locks the edges of the bag together to keep it straight while rolling.
- roll control/zip cord aids in packing
- Interior pocket for flashlight or other small items
- ZipPlow system prevents snagging during zipping
- poor quality carry bag
- “loud” material
Kelty is a well-known brand of camping equipment and they do a great job with their sleeping bags. The Callisto 30 is their rectangular model; the Big Dipper is their best mummy bag option for kids. It does only fit kids up to 60” but at 5 feet tall they can start to use smaller adult bags. If temperatures are mild, the bag can be completely unzipped and turned into a blanket or zipped with a second one for a double sleeping bag. It has a polyester taffeta lining and a polyester shell with their trademarked CloudLoft insulation which will keep kids warm on chilly summer nights. The zipper guard keeps fabric from snagging in the zipper and the stuff sack is easy for kids to use.
- phone pocket
- zipper draft tube w anti-snag design
- lays flat
- shorter length at 5′
This sleeping bag with a double sided zipper makes it easy to open up if you get warm at night and it features a separate opening at the bottom for those who need to stick their feet out for temperature regulation (again I’m looking at you husband of mine!). Their pillow cuff/hood has a drawstring which is useful for keeping a pillow from sliding away as well as cocooning oneself to remain warm. It is heavier than any of the other bags but since we are car camping the weight isn’t a huge deterrent.
- waterproof shell system
- drawstring hood
- two-way zippers
- bulky when packed down
- not truly three-season
What we looked at while researching camping sleeping bags for kids:
- Temperature rating
Sleeping bags are rated to the approximate temperature at which an average sleeper would remain comfortable while sleeping. Luckily, most manufacturers use standardized testing so that we can compare temperature ratings between brands. The old standard was the European Norm (EN) and the new standard is the ISO (ISO 23537-1:2016) which was adopted in 2016. Interestingly enough, REI states that ISO and EN testing is not done on children specific sleeping bags. However, brands will still provide an estimated temperature rating for their kids’ bags.
While the stated temperature rating might not match your own comfort level, it does provide a point of reference for comparing between two bags. If they both state they are comfortable down to 30 degrees, they should be similar in their warmth. Think about your child’s natural sleep environment. Do they run hot or cold at home? Will they be on a sleeping pad? What is the air temperature? Any wind? What is the relative humidity? And how many other people are sleeping in the tent with them? All of these can play a factor into deciding just what temperature rating you will want to consider.
The weight of the sleeping bag comes from what material it is made of and how much insulation it contains. Since we aren’t trying to carry these bags long distances, we don’t mind having some extra weight in order to have the best insulation for keeping us comfortable at night.
Ah style. We know that a mummy sleeping bag saves on weight. We know that a mummy sleeping bag makes it easier to stay warm. We know that a mummy sleeping bag will not allow us to sleep comfortably in its confined environment. Therefore, we stick with the rectangular sleeping bags which give us freedom to flip and flop, toss and turn, and sleep with one leg bent. If you are like us, you will probably be more comfortable with the rectangular sleeping bags as well.
Other factors to consider when looking at camping sleeping bags for kids:
There are three fabrics to consider when thinking about a camping sleeping bag for kids. First is the face fabric, or the external shell of the bag. Second is the liner, or what touches your body inside the bag. These may be the same or different fabrics. They are what hold the loft, or insulation, around your body and keeps it dry.
We recommend a polyester or nylon shell because these materials resist sweat which means less body odor as well as keeping the bag drier and warmer. For the liner, cotton may sound appealing for warmth and comfort but again we suggest looking at polyester taffeta. These bags are easier to clean, either by wiping them down as needed or machine-washing as necessary. Even if the bag is able to be machine washed, we suggest spot-cleaning if possible. If they do need to be washed either use a front loader or try gentle hand agitation in the bathtub. And definitely hang them up to dry. This will help the bag last longer!
Kids sleeping bags are typically filled with synthetic insulation. Down is not frequently used for children’s bags because it doesn’t perform well while wet and many manufacturers are concerned about kids falling into creeks or having potty accidents. Luckily, synthetic tends to be non-allergenic, costs less, is easier to care for, and keeps us warmer even when wet. Manufacturers tend to have their own proprietary brands which makes it hard to compare apples to apples but comparing by weight does help.
External methods of keeping a child warm would include placing it on a foam sleeping pad, insulated air mattress, or even a folded blanket to raise them from the cold ground. We would also recommend warm socks and a hat or balaclava to keep extremities warm. Lastly, don’t make fun of the hot water bottle. We love this cuddly one but even an actual water bottle, filled with hot water, and wrapped inside a thick sock for protection from scalding the skin.
Don’t try to buy a camping sleeping bag based on the age of the child. Bags are sold based on height and come in three main sizes: toddler, youth, and adult. Adult can be further divided into gender neutral, women’s (which takes into account the narrower shoulders and wider hips), and long for the taller individuals. For our purpose we focused on youth sleeping bags geared for kids up to 66 inches tall.
Other important camping sleeping bag features:
- Baffles – these pockets hold the insulation in place all around the body rather than allowing it to bunch up and cause hot and cold zones.
- Carry bag – compression stuff sacks, especially those with straps, make it easier to convince your kid to carry his/her own bag.
- Double or nothing – some bags have the ability to connect with another one to create a double sized sleeping bag. If your child likes to climb in with you, this can be a nice feature to have. You will need a bag that comes with both a right zip and a left zip such as our preferred Teton Sports Celsius Jr Kids Sleeping Bag.
- Draft tube – metal zippers can become quite cold and a draft tube will protect your bare skin from touching it as well as prevent heat loss from occurring between the teeth.
- Interior pocket – new sleeping bags cater to our love of equipment by having a small pocket inside the bag just large enough for a phone or flashlight.
- Pillow cuff – some bags have a section at the top on which to set your pillow. We like these as they make us feel we are keeping the pillow cleaner. Even if this isn’t true, it makes this mama feel better.
- Sleeping pad attachment – because a child twists and turns quite a bit, having a sleeve or loops to attach the pad to the bag will help keep them on the pad through the night.
- Zipper length – we love a full-length zipper that allows for temperature control, bonus points if it double-sided for easier access.
Why do I need a kid sized sleeping bag? Why not just let them use an adult?
Science lesson time (don’t worry, I’ll keep it simple). When a child sleeps in a properly sized bag, their body heat is enough to warm up the air inside of it and they will be comfortable. When a child, or anyone actually, tries to sleep in a bag that is too large, their own body temperature cools off trying to warm up the extra air inside of their bag and then they are cold.
Having said that, there can be such a thing as a too warm bag which will also make it difficult to sleep. If your child typically sleeps on top of all the covers at home because it is too warm inside their sheets, they might not need a sleeping bag rated for winter temperatures.
How do I store the sleeping bag?
This is a case of do as we say, not as we do! It is best to store a sleeping bag in a loose form, not inside of a compression sack. If you have the room to hang it up and leave it out, do so. However, we don’t know anyone who has that much room, so we try to keep ours packed away with room to breathe. Make sure that they are completely dry prior to storage or you might grab it for your next trip and find it has mildewed. Yuck!
How often should I replace my child’s sleeping bag?
The easy answer is that it should be replaced when they outgrow the bag. However, we recommend you also keep an eye for wear and tear on the zipper, loose threads (especially those holding the insulation in place), and for worn material that might cause holes to form. If any of these occur and are not repairable, we would replace the bag sooner.
There are some really cute options available to purchase but most kids would age out of them quickly and we hate to buy something that our child will find babyish in just a year or two. We bought the Teton Sports Celsius Jr Kids Sleeping Bag and expect to use this camping sleeping bag for years to come.