With the promise of UK holidays and overnight stays within reach, there’s never been a better time to get the kids kitted out with the essentials needed for an adventure. For children, nothing quite beats the appeal of a night under the stars, or even just a night in the spare room at grandma and grandad’s, as long as sleeping bags are concerned.
From toddlers to teens, the thought of spending the night cosy in a sleeping bag never seems to lose its appeal, so it pays to find one to suit their needs.
One of the main things to consider when shopping for children’s sleeping bags is what they are going to be used for. If you’re looking for something the kids can take with them to sleepovers with friends or overnight school trips, you want something easily portable and with a light filling, making it suited to the indoors.
If you’re already planning that long-awaited family camping trip, you need to look for a sleeping bag that is thick enough and padded enough to keep little campers warm and comfortable under canvas, whatever weather the British summertime throws your way.
Most sleeping bags will have a season or comfort rating to indicate what kind of temperature it’s designed to be used in. The season rating is a handy guide to what time of year the sleeping bag is intended for, whether it’s up to the job of keeping your child warm when camping outdoors in cold weather, or whether it’s better suited for warmer summer nights.
The comfort rating gives an idea of the temperature range you can use it in, to make sure your child stays warm and comfortable.
Age is an important factor when choosing the right sleeping bag for your child. Many sleeping bags – including a couple in our selection – are designed specifically for toddlers and preschoolers, taking into consideration their size and safety requirements.
Some junior sleeping bags are perfect for younger kids, but teenagers may need something larger, potentially an adult-size sleeping bag, to get the most use out of it. For this reason, we’ve focused on sleeping bags suited from toddler age to young teens.
Other things to keep in mind are weight and size (in particular when packed away). No one wants to be lugging heavy and bulky sleeping bags around on a camping trip, especially when that someone will more than likely end up being you, so lightweight, compact options are what you’re looking for here.
For sleepovers or occasional school trips, it’s not such a deal-breaker if the sleeping bag takes up a bit more room, or doesn’t pack down so small, though carry handles are always a bonus.
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Vango nitestar alpha junior sleeping bag
This mummy-style sleeping bag, recommended by the Scout Association, offers plenty of insulation and comfort for overnight adventures. The two-to-three season design is recommended for use in temperatures between 4-20C, making it an ideal choice for Scout trips, camping holidays and sleepovers, for kids up to 155cm in height. The two-way zip mechanism means you can easily unzip when you’re inside the sleeping bag, and the auto-lock feature stops the bag unzipping itself during the night.
One feature we particularly liked was the child-friendly, elasticated 3D hood, making it drawcord-free and extra safe for younger campers. Overall, it’s an excellent-quality buy, which our young tester said felt the cosiest out of all the other sleeping bags we tried. At just under £30, it offers great value for money too.
Buy now £29.99, Outdoorworlddirect.co.uk
Bloomsbury Mill nap mat
This all-in-one offering from Bloomsbury Mill was an instant hit with our youngest tester. Comprising a pillow, padded mat and fold-over blanket, all in the softest cotton blend, it’s a fully portable roll-out bed that’s perfect for sleepovers and nap time, whether on holiday, at the childminder or nursery. It would also be a handy and comfortable addition to a family camping trip, but we’d suggest an extra blanket for warmth. The nap mat is designed to be used from 18-months-old up to five-years-old, and it certainly has the kid-appeal box ticked.
The cute, safari animal print proved very popular with our two-year-old tester, as did the name badge and carry handles – the fact that it’s machine washable and can be tumble dried (just take out the removable pillow first) proved very popular with parents. We loved how easy it was to roll up the bed and fix in place with the attached Velcro straps, and although it isn’t quite as compact as some of the other more traditional sleeping bags, storage was no problem.
Buy now £29.99, Bloomsburymill.com
Eurohike juniors’ adventurer sleeping bag
Designed to keep you warm, even on chillier nights, this high-quality, well-insulated sleeping bag packs a punch considering the affordable price tag. The hollowfibre filling helps to trap heat without creating too much bulk, while the synthetic shell is tough and water-resistant, making it a great choice for kids and young teens when camping out.
The two-to-three season sleeping bag means it’s suitable for use from spring to autumn, while the built-in neck muff and wind draft tube will help protect against the chill. We liked the addition of a pillow pocket in the hood, for you to add your own for extra comfort, as well as the internal, zip-up, security pocket – perfect for storing away a phone and some emergency cash.
Buy now £25.00, Gooutdoors.co.uk
Snuggle Sac pirate original
If you’re fed up with battles over bedtime, this fun sleeping bag may do the trick. One look at this pirate design and our young tester was desperate for it to be bedtime, so he could try it out. Certainly not your traditional sleeping bag, the Snuggle Sac has a soft cotton lining and fleecy outer, featuring a full-length pirate design (other prints are available too). There’s a space to add your own full-size pillow to the head area and the whole thing rolls up easily, ready to store in its own zip-up tote bag.
Machine washable and suitable for tumble drying, the Snuggle Sac is a fantastic choice for sleepovers, and with a tog rating of 5.2, it’s cosy enough for summer camping as well. Recommended for children aged three and up, the sleeping bag is 180cm in length making it the longest out of all the bags we tested, so there’s plenty of room to grow and it should last a long time. Yes, the novelty value is high here, but the product also delivers in every other way – if there’s a pirate fan in your house, you can’t go wrong.
Buy now £50.00, Roomtogrow.co.uk
Outwell champ kid’s sleeping bag
Every detail of this lightweight, compact sleeping bag has been designed with kids in mind, from the chunky, easy-to-grasp zip to the back-pack style carry bag. Made of soft, brushed polyester with a single layer, Isofill filling, this one-season sleeping bag can be used for summer camping adventures, but we felt it was best suited for sleepovers and overnight school trips – it can be fully unzipped and used as a duvet if you prefer.
It’s designed for children up to 130cm tall – around eight-years-old – and our four-year-old tester was perfectly comfortable using it, so at just under £20, with around four years’ worth of use, it’s a great budget buy. This was also one of the easiest sleeping bags to roll up and fit back in the carrybag, which earned a massive thumbs up from us and our younger testers. It’s available in bright blue or maroon, with an embroidered star design of the front (which, according to our testers, is very cool).
Buy now £19.99, Outdoorworlddirect.co.uk
Great Little Trading Co. children’s dinosaur sleeping bag
Made from 100 per cent natural cotton and filled with insulating polyester wadding, this soft-to-the-touch sleeping bag impressed us with its quality. At 175cm in length it’s long enough for teenagers to use, whether it’s for school trips, summer camping adventures or sleepovers. With a tog rating of 4.5, it’s not suitable for children under three years of age due to the risk of overheating, but our five-year-old tester loved this sleeping bag, especially the dinosaur print inside.
We particularly liked how straight forward it was to roll up and secure with Velcro straps – something our young tester could do independently – and the handles that made it easy to carry around. If space is an issue, it’s worth keeping in mind that when rolled up this sleeping bag still measures 75cm in width, so it’s not as compact as other choices in our round-up. Suitable for machine washing and tumble drying, we think this is a brilliant sleeping bag that can be used by all the family.
Buy now £52.00, Gltc.co.uk
Snugpak basecamp explorer
Manufactured to the same standards as all of Snugpak’s adult sleeping bags, the basecamp explorer is an excellent all-rounder. Suitable for both sleepovers and late spring or summer camping trips, it has a super-soft lining and lightweight insulation to keep kids warm and comfortable wherever their adventures take them. Nice and roomy, this sleeping bag has plenty of space to move around in at night (something our fidgety tester approved of), or, if you prefer, you can unzip it fully to use as a quilt instead. There’s hanging tabs at the foot of the sleeping bag for easy airing and drying, and it comes with a compression stuff sack to pack away compactly.
Buy now £29.95, Snugpak.com
Infant’s Sleeping Pod in unicorn
As far as cute factor goes, this sleeper has got it nailed. This oval shaped bag comes in a unicorn and rainbow design, complete with glow in the dark stars (very popular with our little testers – and our slightly older ones, who were a bit miffed they didn’t have any glow in the dark features on their sleeping bags). Designed as a sleeping bag for first-time campers, the Infant Sleeping Pod is recommended from birth up to two-years-old, however we’d recommend sticking with specific baby sleeping bags for the littlest of campers and use this for toddlers instead.
At 130cm in length, even our four-year-old tester fitted in no problem, so don’t be put off by the suggested age range. The unique shape provides space and freedom of movement for little wrigglers, while the double-layered synthetic filling offers plenty of warmth – certainly enough for late spring to summer camping trips, as well as sleepovers. It can all be packed away in the unicorn print carry bag, which has its own backpack straps so your little camper can carry it themselves.
Buy now £15.00, Gooutdoors.co.uk
The verdict: Kids' sleeping bags
We were really impressed by the Vango nitestar alpha junior sleeping bag, which offers the warmth, comfort and child-friendly safety features you’d expect, all at a great, affordable price point. A special mention must go to the Bloomsbury Mill nap mat, which is an excellent all-in-one offering that our littlest testers absolutely loved.
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