Ensuring your tots get a good night’s sleep when you’re camping
Looking at camping with toddlers? We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep with kids; it can be tricky whilst camping.
In order to make sure our toddlers are getting a good night’s sleep when we camp, it’s important that we get them a nice comfortable and warm sleeping set-up for when we camp. (Though we have found that toddlers are far more adaptable than the grown-ups at getting a good night’s sleep when we camp!)
After several years of research, we have found that there are very few outdoorsy sleeping bags specifically made for the toddler market. Most kids sleeping bags are consequently too big for a toddler, but they really need more than just a wearable sleep sack or baby sleeping bag that we would use at home for cold nights.
Sure there are plenty of cute indoor kids sleeping bag designs, but if they don’t keep them warm enough, we’re talking about actual camping here in the great outdoors! Even my desert-dwelling kids have been shocked by how cold the overnights can get camping.
Our review will look at the few brands we have found that do cover this market well, or adaptions you can make so your toddler can get a good night’s sleep when you camp (therefore, you can too!!)
This post is part of our camping with kids & outdoor adventure series – come and learn more about getting your kids outdoors
What to look for in a toddler sleeping bag for camping
Size – the key difference between a regular kid’s sleeping bag and a toddler’s sleeping bag for camping is the length; little ones can simply get lost in a larger child’s sleeping bag. The toddler sleeping bag market is targeted at those under 5 ft.
Warmth – the reason we’re suggesting ditching the novelty sleeping bag if you’re serious about camping with your kids is warmth. You can certainly go by the sleeping bag rating, but also consider not just the expected air temperature where you’ll be camping but also:
- Whether your child generally is a hot or cold kid (mine cry once it drops below about 50°F / 10°C!)
- Whether you are using a sleeping pad
- Relative humidity & wind chill (the “feels like” temperature)
- How many bodies will you have sharing the same tent
- What are the kids wearing to bed
So what we’re trying to say is it’s equally important to think about their surrounding environment and what they are wearing as well as the warmth rating on the sleeping bag. Summer camping needs are very different to spring and fall camping.
You’ll want to look at the manufacturer’s warmth rating, normally in degrees Fahrenheit or Celcius. Eg, Temp Rating 30° / -1°C means they’ll keep a perfect temperature inside their tent and sleeping bag until this temperature is reached outside – we have more tips for keeping kids warm camping in winter here.
Kids also love having THEIR own stuff. Gifting them their own sleeping bag that is size appropriate can be a wonderful way to introduce the excitement of camping and a love for the outdoors.
Best Sleeping Bags for Toddlers Camping
This toddler sleeping bag buying guide contains affiliate links
Our Top Pick: The Kelty Woobie 30 Degree Kids Sleeping Bag
Kelty is a well-known brand in the camping world, and they know that it doesn’t stop just at keeping the adults happy. We’ve been very impressed with their kid’s range – though be mindful they are a premium brand, so you get what you pay for!
- Packs down to 9″ x 15″
- Dual zippers with tabs inside and outside
- Insulated for use as low as 30°F / -1°C
- For toddlers up to 4 feet tall / 122 cm
- Total weight 2 lbs + includes a stuff sack
- Check current pricing here
One of the best things about Kelty sleeping bags is they are insulated with “cloud loft” – a synthetic material that keeps them cosy and warm whilst still allowing compression easily.
If your child is taller than 4 feet, the next size up is the Kelty Big Dipper Sleeping Bag for children up to 5 feet long.
Most Versatile Toddler Sleeping Bag: Big Agnes Little Red
The Little Red is the smallest in the Big Agnes range of sleeping bags and may be ideal for your toddler campers.
- It fits young children to 4′ 5″
- Weighs 1 lb 12 oz
- Compressed Size 7.5″ x 9″
- Temperature rating 15°F / -9°C
- 20″ x 48″ Padded sleeve compatible (See Big Agnes sleep pad here)
- Tons of extra protection and no-draft zips
- Check current pricing here
All the “Little Agnes” sleeping bags for kids are made with the same FireLine CORE Synthetic insulation as their Big Agnes Range and can work in considerably cool climates. The contoured mummy design and no-draft collar keep kids toasty inside.
Another option to consider from this fabulous range is the Wolverine for kids up to 5″ or the Duster for tweens+, which has the added advantage of being height adjustable from 4′ 5″ to 5′ 6″ using a cinch system.
Also Consider: Lucky Bums Muir
We’re getting a little larger now but still smaller than your average youth sleeping bag, this is a good one to see them from toddler to pre-schooler age.
- Product is 64″ (162 cm)
- Weighs 3.7 lbs
- Compressed Size 14″ x 8″
- Temperature rating 40°F / 5°C
- Check price here
Not quite as compact as the previous two, but at a reasonable price point. (Last we checked, in mid 2022 they had stopped doing the shorter 64″ model, only the full size 74″ available).
A co-sleeper: TETON Sports Mammoth Queen-Size Double
So what about rather than giving your toddler their own sleeping bag, you share it with them?
Personally, I shared with a tot once, never again! (I was never a co-sleeper, perhaps if you’re used to the warmth of your little one against you, it’s a different story!) But this can be a space saver and a great way for your little one to feel warm and secure while you’re camping.
If this is your prefered option, then this is a great one to try:
- Size: 94″ x 62″ (239 cm x 157 cm)
- Two temperature ratings, choose between +20°F/-7°C or 0°F/-18°C.
- Pack Size: 28″ x 15.75″ x 15.75″ (71 x 40 x 40 cm)
- Pack Weight 16.5 lbs (7.5 kg)
- Check price here
You can also unzip the sleeping bag to form a comforter blanket if you’d prefer not to be so contained.
Other camping gear you’ll need for toddlers:
The next most important step you will need is a camping mat or mattress for your little one to sleep on. Once they have outgrown baby camping beds and cots, what will they sleep ON?
We used to bring a queen size inflatable mattress and have all our little ones sleep together in a row – but we’ve since moved on to what feels like a far more practical solution of having each child with their own sleeping mat.
Not only do they take less space in the car and less elbow grease (ok I lie, we did get an electric pump!) the sleep pads have proven perfectly adequate and cheekily give us a little more overlapping space in the tent as their feet don’t reach all the way!
The Colemen Youth Self Inflating Camp Pad is a really good option to consider at only 49″ – other brands are simply too long.
So is it worth getting a toddler sleeping bag for camping?
Your little campers realistically will outgrow a toddler sleeping bag quite quickly. We would only consider it if you have a lengthy camping trip ahead or are regular campers. If you’re only very infrequent occasional weekend campers, will you be passing it on to further children as the window of use is quite small?
Although your toddler will not need a specific toddler sleeping bag for long, the great part of them having their own quality sleeping bag, you can use it anywhere you go! Our youngest loved his so much he ended up using it in his own bed for months!
Nonetheless, it’s a great in-between sleep solution, along with zip-together sleeping bags, until they are big enough to fit a child/youth sleeping bag.
Want more hiking & camping advice with kids?
We have a great range of articles for families that love to explore the outdoors; while you’re here you may also like to check out:
- How to hike with toddlers – and make it fun!
- The Best Camping Toys for Curious Toddlers
- Camping with Toddlers – essential gear and practical tips
- Essential gear for kids who love camping & outdoor adventures
- When kids are ready for their own independent tents
- Best torches and flashlights for kids’ camping trips
- Tips for Hammock Camping With Kids
- Best ready-made and no-cook camp meals
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