How to Choose the right Sleeping Bag for your Kids
How’s this for putting it simply…. ‘You’re not going to sleep well as a parent when camping - if you’re worried that your kids are cold & they’re not going to sleep well!’ It’s a no brainer really, if you make sure your kids are warm and comfy, I guarantee you’ll sleep with a little more ease & a little less interruption! That’s what this blog is all about, ensuring your kids have the right sleeping bag and the best sleep possible. Now here’s the best tip I can give you:
Choosing the right sleeping bag to suit the right camping experience is a whole lot smarter (& less wasteful) than choosing the wrong sleeping bag to suit the wrong experience. After all, second to the tent (Shelter…. a necessity of life!), bedding is the next most requested item of importance for enjoying a great camping experience. To help make choosing your kid’s sleeping bag a whole lot easier for you, I have written the below in a Question & Answer format that will help guide your decision.
- Will my child be warm enough?
All sleeping bags come with a Degree Celsius rating. This simply means for example: If you are in a sleeping bag that is rated at a temperature of +5 Degrees Celsius & you are sleeping in +5 Degrees Celsius temperature when camping, you should be comfortable. HOWEVER, there are a lot of variables to contend with here that alter each individual’s warmth comfort. For eg: Age, gender, metabolism, altitude, wind chill, type of mattress (insulated or non-insulated) & body temperature before you hop in…. just to name a few!
In short, to cater for these variables (which are out of the sleeping bag manufacturers control), is to choose a kid’s sleeping bag that is suited to a temperature approx. 5 degrees cooler than they will be sleeping in.
Handy Hint #1: It’s easier to make a sleeping bag cooler than it is to make it warmer…. simply unzip it! Choosing a sleeping bag that suits a slightly colder climate is easier to manage & gives you more options!
- Can I wash the sleeping bag after my child has used it?
I’ve heard it a thousand times…. my kids are out playing all day, they’re filthy and I need to wash their sleeping bag when they get home for camping! If that’s you, you’re going to hate my next comment…. The less you wash a sleeping bag, the better it will retain its warmth for the future! You see, the thickness in your sleeping bag insulation is called ‘LOFT’. Without going into too much detail, the thicker this loft is, the warmer your sleeping bag stays & one of the best ways to kill your sleeping bags loft is to wash it! (You’ve probably just realised one of the main reasons why your old sleeping bag has become so thin…. you’ve washed it too many times!)
So how do you get around not washing your sleeping bag all the time - here’s two answers for you”
- You do still have to wash your sleeping bag - just do it as little as possible & when you do, make sure you wash your sleeping bag gently by hand & probably in a bathtub!
- Use a sleeping bag inner sheet. These inner sheets have a couple of excellent benefits. 1. they add another layer of warmth - & - 2. They cop all of the dirt, body sweat & oils, & these are easy to wash after each & every camping trip (They are also compact & can often fit inside the sleeping bag when folded away)
- How small do sleeping bags fold down, can my child carry it?
This is not a straight forward answer but I will make it as simple as possible. In short, once again, this has many variables but importantly, it must be easy for your child to handle:
- A cold weather sleeping bag folds away larger (has more insulation/filling) than a warm weather sleeping bag (has less insulation/filling). It’s a bit of a catch 22!
- The outer & inner materials or fabrics:
- Synthetic Fibre inner & outer shells / materials (ie: polyester / nylon), have some pros & cons:
- Cons: They can be a little noisy to sleep in (synthetic materials can make noise every time your child rolls over) & synthetic fibres can make you sweat, which makes the material stick to you
- Pros: They are lighter in weight to carry, are more compact, easier to handle and can be a little more stress-free to wash.
- Natural Fibre inner & outer shells / fabric (Cotton / canvas / flannelette), also have pro’s & con’s
- Cons: These can be bulkier in size & heavier to carry and store. Being a natural fibre, there's little more involved when washing & take longer to dry.
- Pros: Beautiful to sleep in. They are very quiet if your kids roll around a lot in their sleep & we all know how comfy flannelette sheets can be to snuggle into. The cotton canvas sleeping bag options are tough and will last for years!
- Will my child be able to fold it away?
Your child is heading off on school camp with their new sleeping bag, they have to roll it up & put it back into the storage bag by themselves (We all know damn well, that’s been near impossible to date!)
NEWS FLASH: This will blow your mind & contradict what you’ve been previously taught… ‘Never roll a sleeping bag when putting it away - simply STUFF IT IN!’ This will make life so much easier for your child to deal with. Just like washing your sleeping bag…. every time you roll it & store it unused, you are killing the insulation loft. Storing it rolled away the same after every use, forms a memory in the insulation (another reason your old sleeping bag has become thin!).
- To squash back into the storage sack, unzip & open the sleeping bag into a large blanket size, then grab a corner & start stuffing it in from one end to the other - DONE!
- Never store your sleeping bag away in its stuff sack for long periods of time (you will squash the sleeping bag insulation loft & reduce its warmth). Always store it nice a loose, either in a large stuff sack (oversized pillowcase for eg), or if you have the room and hanging space, in a closet!
- I’ve seen the small kids sleeping bags, are they a good idea?
This is a common question & a fair one at that! If looked after, sleeping bags will last your child for years. I don’t know how many people I have spoken to over the years who still have their original childhood sleeping bag, 20+ years later (We seem to form an emotional attachment to them!). Choosing a sleeping bag that they will get years of use out, makes pure economical & environmental sense. Be it for friends’ sleepovers, school camps, boy scout/girl guide adventures, and of course, family camping trips!
Handy Hint: You can turn an adult sleeping bag into a kid's sleeping bag by simply folding & pinning it under…. it allows them to grow into it for the years to come!
- Does my child need a hood on their sleeping bag?
To hood, or not to hood…. that is the question!
Did you know that we lose an enormous amount of our body heat through our head? It’s true, and that’s why hoods were designed for sleeping bags! The pull-in-drawstring on a sleeping bag hood, is designed to condense the hood in a nice and tight fit around our head (just so all we have popping out of the hood is our eyes, nose & month!). It insulates our noggin that has plenty of blood (heat) pumping around it & in turn helps to keep us warm.
Handy Hint: Hoods also make for a great Pillow Holder when camping, which makes for a better night sleep for your child (it never moves) and also mum & dad (peace of mind not having to worry about them!)
Not to hood:
On the flip side, many people (adults & children) hate the feeling & thought of sleeping inside the restriction of a zipped up & enclosed sleeping bag. That’s why most sleeping bags today open out & into a blanket (another great way to regulate the temperature to our liking). If this is you, or your child, then having a hood on a sleeping bag is of little use. Opening out a sleeping bag as a blanket, means someone sleeping under it will have a hood on their face….not an ideal situation!
If you have a question on any of our sleeping bags here at The Outdoor Connection, we’d love to hear from you. Simply email us on the link below!