Choosing suitable youth sleeping bags will help to ensure that your children sleep well at camp.
Children's sleeping bags didn't even exist when I was a kid. I used an ancient rubber backed, flannel lined sleeping bag of my father's. It did the job, but wasn't nearly as warm or as functional as the sleeping bags available today.
Children's sleeping bags are designed to fit children's bodies.
Many sleeping bags for children have ingenious features that keep kids extra comfortable.
When choosing youth sleeping bags, look first for the same things you want in an adult bag: warmth and comfort.
With a good night's sleep behind them, your children will have energy and enthusiasm for the next day!
Don't be distracted by inexpensive slumber bags. Yes, they are cute, but they don't offer much warmth. Many are made of cotton - which means that they will absorb body moisture and will take a long time to dry.
For camping, you want a real sleeping bag, constructed just as warmly as an adult bag.
Look for a synthetic sleeping bag - not cotton! Synthetic bags stay warm even when wet, and dry quickly.
This good quality bag is recommended for children aged 4 to 12.
It has a little inside pocket for storing a flashlight or a favorite toy. Having your flashlight close by on a dark night can be comforting!
I haven't been able to find down sleeping bags for children - and that's probably a good thing. Although down is very warm, it is useless when wet, and you can't dry it until you get home.
There are children's mummy sleeping bags, children's barrel sleeping bags and children's rectangular sleeping bags.
Choose between these options just as you would when choosing an adult bag.
If the bag will be used for winter camping, warmth is your main concern. Choose a mummy sleeping bag.
If comfort is your main consideration - and if you are car camping and have lots of room - choose a rectangular sleeping bag.
For the best of both worlds, choose a barrel sleeping bag.
You might be tempted to buy an adult bag for your child, realizing that he or she will grow into it eventually.
Remember, though: your child's body has to heat the air in the bag. The more empty air there is, the longer it will take to heat it - and the chillier your child will feel.
All it will take is one miserable night for you to wish you had bought a children's bag!
If possible, go to an outdoor store and have your child crawl into a number of youth sleeping bags. You want a bag with a roomy comfortable fit and with some room in which to grow.
Both the Kelty Big Dipper bag (above), and the Slumberjack Go-n-Grow are designed to grow with your child! When the bag is starting to feel small, just unzip the bottom, and you have a couple more years of use!
The Slumberjack has a built-in sleeve at the top. Stuff in a sweater or a towel, and you have a pillow!
Once you have taken care of the basics - warmth and comfort - you can start to consider other features.
A good sleeping bag zipper is important.
Many children's bags have an anti-snag system - either a special zipper or a piece of stiff webbing behind the zipper.
A stuck zipper is annoying for anyone, but especially for a 6 year old who really really needs to get out to go to the bathroom!
Look for a big, easy to grab zipper pull, too.
If the sleeping bag has a drawstring for tightening the bag around the shoulders (or around the face in the case of a mummy bag), be sure that the string is designed in such a way that it is not a strangulation hazard.
Here's a bag for the littlest campers. Your child can use this bag starting at about age 18 months old. The extra material folds up to keep little feet cozy. When your child gets bigger, just unzip the bag and it will fit your child until about age 5!
Here's an interesting design: a sleeping bag that you can walk around in! This might be just the thing for those chilly mornings when your child just can't bear to get out of bed.
Choose a youth sleeping bag just as you choose any sleeping bag: be sure that it is warm and comfortable.
Once the basics are taken care of, choose the features that appeal to you and your child.
Ensuring that you find the best sleeping bags for your kids will ensure that everyone, including you, gets a good night's sleep!