Over the past couple decades, there have been huge innovations in camping gear. Everything is now ultralight, breathable yet waterproof, and super functional. However, there still isn’t much gear like camping sleeping bags for toddlers. This can make it really hard to go camping or backpacking if you have really young kids.
Luckily, that is starting to change. As more parents take their babies and toddlers camping (it’s no longer seen as “crazy” or “dangerous”), manufacturers are starting to make gear for toddlers. This post will go over the best toddler sleeping bags for camping as well as the options for backpacking. I’ll also fill you in about what you need to know to keep your toddler warm at night.
The Morrison sleeping bag (above) is currently the only toddler sleeping bag suitable for really cold weather. There are two versions: The synthetic is rated to 40F and the down version is rated to 20F. Get the down version here. Get the synthetic version here
- Sleep Setup for Camping
- How to Choose a Toddler Sleeping Bag for Camping
- Best Toddler Sleeping Bags
Sleep Setup for Camping with a Toddler
A sleeping bag is only one aspect of a camping sleep setup for a toddler. To keep your child warm at night, you will also need:
- A sleeping pad
- Breathable pajamas
- Liners (for bed wetters)
Sleeping Pads for Toddlers
You can have the warmest sleeping bag in the world for your child. However, if you don’t have a good sleeping pad, your child will still be cold. The ground will literally suck the heat right out of your child’s body.
Sleeping pads have an R-value rating based on how much insulation they provide. Here’s a list of R-values and their corresponding temperatures (source).
Sleeping Pad R-Value and Temperature
*Note that some R-value charts give different guidelines. Always veer on the side of caution and get a higher rating than you think you need.
Sleeping pads with a high R-value can be really pricy. However, one cool thing about R-value is that it is accumulative. In other words, you can put sleeping pads on top of each other to get a higher R-value.
For example, an R-2 sleeping pad on an R-1.5 sleeping pad will give you a R-value of 3.5.
When my younger daughter was still a baby (and not very long), I just folded a cheap foam sleeping pad (about R-1.6) in thirds. This gave her a total R-value of 4.8. She slept on this and was toasty warm at night.
Now that she’s taller, I’ve gotten a self-inflating sleeping pad for her. My older daughter (who is now 9) uses the same one. It’s the Therm-a-Rest Scout. It’s affordable and has a “Short” size which is 47 inches long and has an R-value of 3.4. There is also the Big Agnes Insulated Air Short pad.
- Cheap foam sleeping pads like this one are awesome for sitting on outside so your butt doesn’t get wet or cold! They are also great for diaper changes. Consider bringing an extra one.
- Don’t get an inflatable mattress. They are heat sinks and a pain to blow up.
- Even if your toddler is on a camping cot, he/she will still need a sleeping pad. Heat is lost from underneath the cot.
Toddler Pajamas for Camping
Unless you are going into frigid weather, you don’t need any fancy PJs for your toddler while camping. However, it is important that they are breathable materials.
Sweat = wet = COLD.
I find that my toddler sweats like crazy at night if I put her in cheap synthetic PJs. There are lots of fancy breathable synthetics available now, but they aren’t used for kid’s pajamas.
I’d recommend bringing pajamas made from:
- Merino wool: It’s soft, warm and breathable. It also dries ridiculously fast. These ones are great for toddlers.
- Silk: This is incredibly comfortable for sleeping in. It also has the benefits of being breathable and lightweight.
- Cotton: I know cotton is generally considered a no-no for camping. However, it’s cheap and breathable. Just be warned that it absorbs moisture and takes forever to dry, so you might want to bring backups.
*Don’t forget to bring a dedicated pair of socks for sleeping in. The daytime socks will get gross. You don’t want these in the sleeping bag.
Liner for the Sleeping Bag
This is something I learned the hard way. On my first wild camping trip with my daughter (who was then 3 years old), she wet the bed multiple nights in a row. This happened despite the fact I’d made her pee before going to bed.
I had to throw her wet sleeping bag and PJs out of the tent, get her in dry clothes, and squeeze her into my sleeping bag with me. Then, in the morning, I had to wash the wet things in the freezing cold stream near camp. Not fun!
After that, I made sure to bring a liner to put in the sleeping bag. The PJs will still be wet, but at least the bag stays mostly dry. This pad works well and is reusable.
*Even if your toddler is in diapers, still bring a liner for the sleeping bag. Diapers sometimes leak!
What about Co-Sleeping with a Toddler when Camping?
I do NOT recommend co-sleeping with a toddler when camping (or co-sleeping with anyone, for that matter).
While it is doable, it is also a pain in the ass. You risk getting kicked in the head, waking your child every time you turn over, or getting peed on by bed wetters.
You will already be sharing a tent with your toddler. You can cuddle your toddler in his/her sleeping bag without having to be in the same sleeping bag. That should be enough bonding!
How to Choose a Toddler Sleeping Bag for Camping
The majority of sleeping bags for toddlers are not meant for camping. They are more for slumber parties or nights in hotels.
If you are going camping in very warm weather, you can probably get away with one of those sleeping bags. However, if the temperature will get below 50F at night, these are inadequate.
For camping, you need a sleeping bag which is:
- Mummy shaped.
- The right length for your toddler.
- Temperature rated.
Size and Shape
Camping sleeping bags should be mummy shaped (narrower at the bottom). This shape means that there is less empty space around your child, and thus heat is trapped better. You also want to make sure the sleeping bag is as close to your child’s height as possible. Too long = heat lost at the bottom.
What if you can’t find a sleeping bag to fit your child? You can:
Tie the end of a sleeping bag.
Stuff the bottom of the sleeping bag with a blanket to fill the empty space.
Temperature Rating of Toddler Sleeping Bags
All good sleeping bags for camping will have a temperature rating. Typically, they use the EN/ISO rating system. This system is pretty accurate.
But bear in mind that the most bags list the LOWER LIMIT rating.
In other words, a sleeping bag with a 30F rating will keep you alive at 30 degrees, but you won’t be comfortable.
Instead, look for the COMFORT RATING of the bag. This isn’t always listed, unfortunately. However, as a rule of thumb, the comfort rating is usually 10-25 degrees Fahrenheit higher than the lower limit. Make sure the comfort rating of the bag matches the nighttime temperature of where you are going.
Which Temperature Rating Do You Need?
To figure out which temperature rating you need, you’ll need to find the nighttime temperature of where you are going. A lot of people don’t realize just how much the temperature can drop at night. As I talk about in this post, daytime/nighttime temperatures can vary by over 30F.
To give you an idea, summertime temperatures at the Grand Canyon are usually around 80F during the day. At night, the temperature can drop to the 40s!
It is incredibly important to figure out the nighttime temperature of where you will be going camping with your toddler. Otherwise you may end up with an inadequate sleeping bag.
To figure out nighttime temperatures:
- Check the local forecasts: Pay attention to where exactly the forecast is for. Often, forecasts are given for the nearest city – which may be at a much lower elevation than where you are going!
- Remember to account for elevation. Forecasts are often given for towns at low elevations. The temperature will drop 5.4°F for every 1000 feet in elevation!
Best Camping Sleeping Bags for Toddlers
Unfortunately, you’ll see that there aren’t too many options for toddler sleeping bags. I was only able to find 3 that I could recommend with confidence – and one of these is even a bit too long for small toddlers (you’ll have to tie the end of the bag).
However, all of these toddler sleeping bags are good for cold weather and have nice features that make them easy to use.
As I mentioned earlier, this is currently the only camping sleeping bag for toddlers and babies available. It was only released in 2018 after some outdoorsy parents decided they needed to invent a sleeping bag because nothing was available to suit their needs.
The sleeping bag is friggin’ awesome. For starters, it is actually warm enough for your toddler in very cold weather. The bottom of it can be rolled up and secured so it adjusts to fit infants to toddlers up to 2 years. It also has sleeves for toddlers who just won’t keep their arms inside a sleeping bag.
I love that the sleeping bag is lined with a water-resistant material. It is easy to clean and even the down version is machine washable (in cold water). If your toddler has an accident in the bag, you just blot out as much moisture as you can. Your child will be able to go back into the bag and still be warm.
UPDATE: Starting in May 2020, Morrison will also make a version of this sleeping bag for 2-4 year olds! They are also introducing a buy-back program so you can get cash for sending back the sleeping bag when your kid outgrows it. I’ll post more info as it becomes available.
Main Features (down version):
- Rated to 20F
- Age: 3 months to 2 years (2-4 year old version available starting May 2020)
- Bag weight: 9oz
- Fill: 800 fill power down; synthetic version also available
- Colors: Red, blue, and green
- Machine washable (even the down version)
- Adjustable size
- Buy Here
The brand BabyDeeDee has made baby sleep sacks for a long time. Recently, they released their Travel Sleep Nest which is meant for indoor and outdoor use. It is made from a warm, quilted material that is fairly easy to clean. It is only a TOG 3.5 rating, which means it will be suitable for around 60F. If you want to use it for colder nights camping, you will need to bundle your toddler in layers.
Full disclosure: The brand sent me one of these to try out with my daughter. So far, both of us like it. There are a lot of nice features, particularly the removable sleeves and snaps at the top. All the features make it easy to do diaper changes and get your child in/out easily.
Note that the sleeves are a bit short and the sizes do seem to run a bit small (though my kid is giant, so maybe it’s just her 😉 ). In any case, pay attention to the sizing.
- TOG 3.5 (comfortable down to around 60F)
- Age: Up to 36 months
- Colors: Pink, blue, and gray
- Machine washable
- Removable sleeves
- Dual-sided zipper for easy diaper changes
- Stroller compatible
- Buy Here — USE COUPON CODE MOMGOESCAMPING20 AT CHECKOUT TO GET 20% OFF!
This sleeping bag is meant for toddlers and fits children up to 5 years (or 4 feet tall). It might be a bit too long for very small toddlers, so you’ll have to stuff a blanket into the end or tie off the end of the bag.
It also has cool features like a double zip. This makes it much easier to get your toddler into when he/she has already fallen asleep. It’s also good for nighttime diaper changes (or quickly getting your toddler out of in case she has to go potty!).
- Rated to 30F
- Max height: 4 feet
- Bag weight: 2lbs 5oz
- Fill: 24oz Cloudloft insulation
- Colors: Red and blue
- Double zipper
- Buy Here
I love Big Agnes products. They are lightweight, practical, and suitable for harsher conditions. This sleeping bag is no different.
I love that there is a “pad sleeve” – a sleeve where you put your sleeping pad so your child can’t roll off of it at night. It fits a 20×48 rectangular sleeping pad (compatible with the Big Agnes Short Length pad).
Some other nice features include a hood which can be easily cinched up around your child’s face. There are also storage pockets inside the sleeping bag, which is important for keeping your child’s stuffed animals (or, as we call them, “Cuddly Friends”) from getting lost in the bag. If your child has an accident, there are exterior loops so you can easily hang the bag to dry.
The downsides? This sleeping bag is a bit long for a toddler. You’ll need to tie the bottom or stuff a blanket into it.
- Rated to 15F
- Max height: 4.5 feet
- Bag weight: 1lbs 12oz
- Fill: 18oz M4 synthetic insulation
- Colors: Red
- Interior pockets
- Sleeping pad sleeve
- Buy Here
Do you go camping with your toddler? Let us know any advice you have in the comments!