Sleeping Bags For Kids

How do you fit a kids sleeping bag? What sizes of kids sleeping bags are available? Here's a quick primer on choosing the right sleeping bag for young campers.

Ideally, a kid-sized sleeping bag should fit like an adult's sleeping bag: as snug as is comfortable, not too long, and not too short. This presents a challenge when you're buying into a growth spurt and want to maximize the longevity of this long-lived piece of outdoor gear. Your choice is somewhat simplified, however, by the limited number of available kids sleeping bag sizes.

The majority of kids sleeping bags come in only a handful of standard lengths. Most bags labeled as "Kids" or "Youth" fit up to 60 inches, or 5 feet of height, with a few "youth" bags fitting up to 64 to 66 inches. That's a pretty big sleeping bag—especially for toddlers and other young campers who may fall well short of this height. (Girls and boys, on average, don't reach 5 feet in height until between ages 12 and 13.)

Fitting a small sleeper into a big sleeping bag reduces the bag's warmth, which can lead to a potentially cold night's sleep and possible discouragement. If you're looking for something smaller and warmer, you'll have to look a bit harder. A few manufacturers produce pint-sized sleeping bags for children under four feet in height; these are more commonly labeled "boy's" or "girl's" styles. 

A good example is the Kelty Woobie ($45, right), which measures in at a cozy 42 inches in length and is rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit. A bag of this length offers a warmer, lighter, and more compact option for toddlers up to age 4 to 5. (Completely unrelated question: Is a Woobie the young offspring of a Wookie? And if so, do they really need sleeping bags given their thick coat of fur?)

Be wary of inexpensive kids sleeping bags from large department stores like Target, Wal-Mart, and the like. Many do not provide much insulation and are often not very warm. Many are designed more for indoor slumber parties than potentially cool outdoor nights. (The usually rectangular shape of such bags further reduces their warmth by creating a loose fit.)

If you do opt for a longer sleeping bag for a shorter young sleeper, you can increase its warmth by stuffing clothes into the tail of the bag to reduce the amount of internal air space.

Between 60 and 66 inches, your choices get more interesting. (It's that rare fit spectrum where all generations and genders overlap.) Many women's regular-size sleeping bags run around 64 inches. "Short" versions of men's bags are usually 66 inches. Notably, however, kids sleeping bags are often markedly less expensive than their adult counterparts—a consideration for those who might fit in a longer kids sleeping bag.


Learn more about sleeping bags from these recent posts:

 “Equipped” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Matt Heid

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