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Advice for Camping with Kids: Sleeping Bags vs liners & a blanket

Hello all!

I’m looking at hiking/camping options for myself and my 7 year old son. I’d like to start with some hike-in overnights in the Portland area this summer. I already have an UL 1.5 person tent and a sleeping pad but am wondering about sleeping bags vs a liner/blanket combo.

kids sleeping bags are usually not UL and he doesn’t like to sleep in anything that isn’t fleece/super soft.

i was thinking of getting him a fleece sleeping bag liner, a merino liner for myself and the just bringing along a Nemo blanket. We’ll only be camping in the summer. Any feedback on if this is a viable option or any alternatives would be appreciated!

1 Reply

Hello @MnM_83

Getting kids started early can lead to a lifetime love of the outdoors.  I applaud you for getting your son started early with backpacking!  This is certainly something I have tried to instill in all of my children as well over the years.  In regards to UL options for kids sleeping, you can certainly use liners and blankets, but I would suggest just looking for a lighter weight kids’ bag.  Most are no more than a couple of pounds and while liners and blankets can be a great option, it is important to always plan for the worst, especially with the constantly changing weather in the mountains, to ensure that your little one stays warm. 

My kids have used a REI kids bag for years and have always stayed warm.  They do wiggle a lot and tend to not be in their bags all the time, but I have found that they stay significantly warmer, which in turn equals a better night’s sleep for me, when using a bag over a blanket.  This also can present an opportunity for your son to carry his own bag to make him feel more involved.  My kids always got super excited about carrying their own backpack and gear, albeit usually only their sleeping bag and water bottle. 

Here are a couple of options to start your search:

  • REI Co-op Radiant 20 kids sleeping bag. This is a 20 degree down sleeping bag that weighs 2 lbs 2 oz and packs down pretty small.
  • REI co-op Zephyr kids sleeping bag. This is also a 20 degree sleeping bag but is made with synthetic insulation so it won't pack down quite as small. It is also rated at 20 degrees.


Happy trails!


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