Gear Review: Big Agnes Little Red 15 Toddler Sleeping Bag

Gear Review: Big Agnes Little Red 15 Toddler Sleeping Bag

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I know some people have claimed that a toddler sleeping bag is unnecessary, and if you only camp in warmer weather, than that is probably true, but if you camp with a toddler in the spring and fall or at high altitudes when the night temperatures may drop substantially, then I personally think a toddler sleeping bag is a good idea (I’m not alone in thinking this, by the way.). Having a good night’s sleep is crucial for enjoying your camping trip and helping your sprout stay toasty warm will help you all get a better night’s sleep. We read what we could on toddler bags, including this review on the Kelty Woobie, but could not find a thorough review on the Big Agnes Big Red 15. I really wanted to get my hands on this bag, because based on the online description, it sounded like a great option for us. I was fortunate enough to be able to compare the Woobie and Big Red side by side at our local outdoors store, and ultimately decided that the Big Agnes Little Red 15 was the bag for Sprout. Then we crossed our fingers and hoped it would go well!

Big Agnes has a very similar bag for older kids (up to 5 feet tall), if you are interested. REI also carries a few other kids sleeping bags (Sadly, none are specifically for toddlers, though). Also, check out this post on other sleeping options for babies and toddlers.

Background

I wanted to start with a bit of background. Sprout sleeps in a floor bed at home, so she has lots of space and is not confined. We give her blankets, but she generally does not use them and often fights to get them off of her (she is getting better with heavy blankets, but seems to get tangled in sheets), but tends to be okay with a fleece blanket when it is cold or if I am cuddling her. So, we really weren’t sure how a sleeping bag would go, however, we knew we needed something to keep her warm. Worst case scenario: she’d hate it for now and we’d try again next year. Luckily she is small enough that she still has several years to use this bag.

 

What we love about this bag:

  • Pad Sleeve
    IMG_20160521_145246
    Left: Little Red over a women’s bag. Right: Sprout in her sleeping bag with a regular length therm-a-rest.
    • Like many of Big Agnes’ sleeping bags, the Little Red has a pad sleeve in the back which allows you to secure the sleeping bag to the pad. Given that Sprout does not like feeling tangled, I suspected that she would not like a sleeping bag that moved around with her when she rolled over. I also guessed that she would not stay on a sleeping pad if it was not secured to the pad, since she rolls around quite a bit.
      • Living room testing (i.e. Sprout excitedly climbing in the bag when I was trying to pack.) confirms that she gets frustrated when the bag moves around with out a pad. It is also difficult for her to get in the bag on her own when the pad is not attached.
    • We have a ‘short’ sleeping pad from Alps Mountaineering, which fits into the sleeve perfectly. We also did a brief living room test with longer pads (mine and Aaron’s) and decided you can use a longer pad if you have one around or want one that your toddler can grow into. The longer one will not be secured at the top, but I think it would still be held in place fairly well. Accordian/Egg crate style sleeping pads do not work as well because they are harder to get in and so light weight and thin that Sprout was able to roll the whole bag over even with the pad in the slot.
  • Lower temperature rating compared to other bags for kids/toddlers
    • My sleeping back is rated down to 15 degrees Farhenheit. I wanted a similar temperature rating for Sprouts bag, as I figure it will help me have a better sense of how warm or cold she might be (though she seems to run warmer than I do). I do not plan to camp in 15 degree weather, but we already have taken her camping with temperatures below freezing (it was unseasonably cold for Labor Day weekend) and were disappointed to have to cut our trip short when we didn’t have the right gear to keep Sprout warm.
  • Side zipper
    • Sprout often likes to cuddle, even if it is just an hand on her so I liked that I would be able to reach in and have an arm over her while still keeping her fully covered. Her zipper is on the left side of the bag, while mine is on the right side, so we could stay side-by-side, have a little snuggy and still both be covered by our bags.
      • The Woobie has two zippers down the front of the sleeping bag. This is nice because you can flip the top down and help your toddler get used to the sleeping bag without them being covered. This probably works best if you aren’t using the bag for the first few times in colder temps (which was our plan).
  • Lightweight
    • At just under 2 lbs, the Little Red is a pretty light bag. The only one lighter that I looked at was the Deuter Little Star, which is only rated to 40 degrees and is $40 more expensive. It isn’t likely that we will be going backpacking in the near future, but a girl can dream. I want to be prepared, just in case.
  • Pillow slot
    • There is a small pouch at the top of the bag where you can slide in a small camp pillow to hold it in place. We have not used this feature yet, as Sprout doesn’t really need a pillow, but I can see it being useful in a year or two.
  • And best of all, Sprout loved it and slept so soundly!
Details for sleeping bags we considered, with prices as of May 2016.
Kelty Woobie 30 Big Agnes Little Red Deuter Little Star REI Kindercone – Kids’
Temperature Rating (F) 30 15 40 30
Length 54in 55in 45in to 57in 60 in
Weight 2lb 4 oz. 1lb 15oz 1lb 11oz 3lbs 4oz
Price $51.96 $69.95 $99.53 $59.50
Extras Flip-down top panel Pad sleeve & slot to hold pillow Footbox expands Cute

 

What I don’t love:

  • The stuff sack is just a drawsting bag. It is compact, but I would have loved something even more compact like a compression sack. I know, I’m asking a lot here and it totally isn’t necessary (until you are trying to pack a bunch of stuff for airplane travel).
  • She’ll likely outgrow the bag by the time she is about 6 years old. However, this same feature is why it keeps her so warm.
  • I have to pack when Sprout is sleeping or she either won’t let me pack it up or she gets angry at me for packing it up.

Our Experience

Despite not wanting to get out of her sleeping bag when her Grandma first gave it to her (It was a birthday gift. Thanks, Mom!), Sprout was hesitant to get into the bag the first night. I think this had little to do with the sleeping bag and more to do with the fact that she was overtired and overexcited about camping. After trying to convince her to get in for quite some time, I opted to turn out the lights, get in my own sleeping bag, and tell her to come over when she was ready to cuddle. She came over pretty quickly after that, laid in the nook of my arm and passed out very quickly. I slid her into the sleeping bag and did not hear a peep from her all night! It was fantastic. Being a slightly paranoid mama, I did wake a few times to check on her temperature. She was toasty warm (but not sweating) all night.

On night two (and our subsequent trip), Sprout happily got into her sleeping bag, laid in there while we read her stories and sang (our typical night routine) and slept soundly. She does roll around the bag, but since she is only just 2 years old, she is still on the small side so there is enough space for her to roll and move around in the bag. The pad does a great job keeping her in place and warm. We are so happy with this bag!

 

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