Review: LL Bean Children’s Sleeping Bag

Photo of my daughter in a lime LL Bean kid's camp bag with a plaid interior lining.

A mistake new parents make is thinking their toddler requires special gear for everything.

I made that error two years ago when I surveyed the land of travel beds and settled upon an inflatable bed for my then-2-year-old daughter. At age 4, she has outgrown it.

A simpler solution escaped me — a traditional children’s sleeping bag.

Specifically, an LL Bean kid’s flannel 40 degree camp bag. You could easily miss it in a web search or even while browsing LL Bean’s website. On its product page, the only giveaway is the size selection buttons: regular, extra-large or kids’.

We were tipped to the bag upon noticing our daughter’s sleepover friend had one. First I felt stupid for not thinking of it, and second I admired the bag because it was devoid of Dora the Explorer and Thomas the Train imagery. I was sold right then and there, but here are a few additional selling points.

1. Durable, good quality. My wife argued for a less expensive option, dragging me to K-Mart where there was a nameless Dora-free bag for $10. Let’s just say it looked like a $10 bag. Yeah, LL Bean’s bag is $44, but I wanted one that would survive two kids.

2. Machine washable (cotton flannel lining, nylon shell and non-clumping polyester stuffing). Prior to this, my concept of sleeping bags was that they needed dry cleaning, but this one calls for a front loading washer and drying in an industrial (Laundromat) dryer or simple line drying.

That’s a huge selling point. I can wash the whole thing, after every use if I wish. I’ve never dry cleaned our adult outdoor sleeping bags.

3. It stores in a large kid-friendly stuff sack. In my youth, I despised how tightly you had to roll your bag in order to fit into its storage sack. The LL Bean bag has room to spare, making it easier for my daughter to pack. We keep a travel pillow inside, and when actually preparing for use, jam a teddy bear in there too.

4. While the camper in me wants to balk at the bag being rated for only 40 degrees (hardier bags are available from outdoor stores), I know my family won’t be camping in colder conditions for quite a few years. And, the higher rating means my kids won’t get overheated as easily indoors.

5. Considerable length with room to grow, yet not too imposing for a toddler. Rated to fit a child up to 4-foot 6-inches. The bag’s dimensions are 28″x60″. Weight: 2 lbs. 1 ounce.

6. A zipper latch at the top optionally prevents the zipper from moving down in your sleep.

7. A monogram is possible for $6 more. I’m not sure if that’s for the sleeping bag or the carry sack. I wasn’t interested because it reduces the bag’s reuse value. I fully hope the bag has a healthy life long after my kids are done with it.

8. The bag is thick and pillowy and would make a nice comforter once its useful life as a sleeping bag is over. It can be zipped together with a second bag to make a large comforter.

Here are a few things I learned after two years with an inflatable bed:

1. Kids don’t need extra padding when sleeping on a carpet.

2. “Inflatable” means time spent blowing up the bed. A toddler never does an adequate job of it, but will balk at the notion of your helping out.

3. When a kid learns to jump on his bed, anything inflated is doomed. My daughter didn’t do this, but I hear about it quite often.

4. Built-in pillows are unnecessary. Buy an adult travel pillow. It’s toddler-size! (A rectangular machine-washable pillow about 10″x13″.) We found ours at a JoAnn Fabric Store, but you could find a pricier pillow at a regular travel supply shop.

While there isn’t a stated minimum age range for the LL Bean bag, use common sense. I would guess at least 2-years-old and able to sleep with covers.

Photo of the LL Bean camp bag unrolled next to an inflatable Ready Bed for size comparison. The LL Bean bag is longer.

(The LL Bean Camp Bag in front of an inflatable Ready Bed for size comparison. Keep in mind the Ready Bed’s “headboard” is not sleepable space, thus reducing the usable length of the bed even further.)

Three

(The LL Bean Camp Bag sack above also contains my daughter’s travel pillow.)

Photo of my daughter and two friends sprawled out on a floor sleeping, each in an LL Bean camp bag.

Count ‘em. Three LL Bean Kids’ Camp Bags in various states of use on the infamous Thunder Cake night.

Unfortunate Update: LL Bean took the liberty of adding me to its newsletter e-mail list without my consent. Sorry, just because I’m a customer, it doesn’t mean I want their spam. I’ve since unsubscribed, but the fact I had to is shameful.

Comments

17 Responses to “Review: LL Bean Children’s Sleeping Bag”

  1. Amanda says:

    Well…if you are finished with your toddler ready bed I would be happy to take it off your hands. I don’t think my daughter is quite ready for a sleeping bag as she just started using her big girl bed this week and needs the side rails. We are going on vacation in 2 weeks and need something for her. Let me know if you are going to sell the ready bed.

    July 1st, 2008 at 4:42 am

  2. Kathleen says:

    We had this exact same problem!!!! It was my mom who finally said “Why don’t you get a sleeping bag….that’s what we used for you kids”. Once again, the obvious solution was the easiest and my son LOVES it :)

    July 1st, 2008 at 6:50 am

  3. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    it sure seems like a good idea.

    Would you have been comfortable with her in a sleeping bag at 2 years old?

    July 1st, 2008 at 8:20 am

  4. AJ says:

    Amanda, if your daughter needs rails on her big girl bed, a Ready Bed is not necessarily better than a sleeping bag. A Ready Bed elevates your child off the ground. A sleeping bag is on the ground.

    MBR, yes, my daughter would have been okay at age 2. As you can see in the last photo, she normally doesn’t use her cover, so we dress her warmly.

    My concern at age 2 would be whether a child would crawl backward fully underneath the cover while sleeping. You could try folding the sleeping bag under itself so that it’s only as long as your child from foot to shoulders.

    July 1st, 2008 at 8:44 am

  5. AJ says:

    Oh, but here’s a thought…

    For the nebulous 12-month to 2-year period where you question any solution…

    Why not lay a large blanket on the floor as bedding and a smaller light blanket on top as a cover sheet?

    If padding is a concern, pull the pad out of a port-a-crib and use it as a mattress. If you don’t have a port-a-crib, you probably know someone who does. Or buy one used.

    July 1st, 2008 at 10:07 am

  6. Inki says:

    That sounds like a good idea! My DD is not quite 11 months old and still sleeps in our bed, so this isn’t a situation we’ve encountered yet, but your picture of the sleepover reminded me of how quickly she will grow up to go on sleepovers herself!

    July 1st, 2008 at 10:22 am

  7. Sunny says:

    Thanks for another great review. DD (4.5) got her first sleeping bag last Christmas. It was a gift from her aunt and uncle, so it’s ok that it has princesses on it. She LOOOOVES to sleep in it. We will need to get something else, however, for sleeping anywhere else than her room. Thanks again!

    July 1st, 2008 at 10:24 am

  8. Kendra says:

    We’ve been in the market for a good sleeping bad for both kids – we’ve gone the cheapy Target route and both are in tatters after less than a year of occasional use. With several trips planned- these should be great. I love the travel pillow idea too – thanks!

    July 1st, 2008 at 11:08 am

  9. Audra says:

    We moved son out of his crib when he was about 20 months old, and instead of placing him in a toddler bed or an elevated twin bed with rails, we just moved his crib mattress onto the floor. It has been a great solution for us, and we’ve even packed it into our car to use during weekend visits to the grandparents. For a more portable solutions, I do like the idea of a sleeping bag and have been very impressed by the quality of L. L. Bean products. In fact, my son finds our dog’s L. L. Bean dog bed to be quite comfy, too, for the brief time he gets to spend on it before he is shooed off of it. Thank you for the review.

    July 1st, 2008 at 2:37 pm

  10. Diana says:

    We didn’t buy a kids’ sleeping bag– we just tied off the bottom of an adult sleeping bag so the Kiddos couldn’t get swallowed up!

    July 1st, 2008 at 3:05 pm

  11. kristina says:

    We bought the Ready bed after your suggestion (it was a search for a travel bed that led me to your blog, actually). I feel we have more then gotten our money out of it. Our son is almost 5 and he is just now outgrowing it. Many thanks for all your wonderful reviews! Kristi

    July 1st, 2008 at 3:58 pm

  12. modern baby blankets says:

    My son has been begging us to take him camping! We’ve been looking for a decent sleeping bag and have had no luck. Finally! This one looks great. thanks!

    July 7th, 2008 at 12:27 pm

  13. donna says:

    it seems like a sleeping bag, even on a rug, wouldn’t be enough padding to sleep on, especially for week long vacations. i know i wouldn’t be comfortable with that arrangement. i have been looking high and low for the toddler ready bed you have, but can’t locate it outside the UK. so, if you haven’t already gotten rid of it, i would be happy to purchase it from you. let me know!

    July 27th, 2008 at 7:59 pm

  14. AJ says:

    I have many camping trips spent sleeping on a floor of dirt, rocks and roots that tell me sleeping on a carpet is sheer luxury.

    One, carpets have padding. Two, children don’t weigh much, so their imprint on the floor isn’t much. Three, on top of all that is the sleeping bag itself and the kid’s head is on a pillow.

    We’re keeping our Ready Bed for the time being just in case, but for me, primarily because a second sleeping bag is one more expense we can put off for a while.

    July 27th, 2008 at 11:05 pm

  15. Amber says:

    It was actually a search for a child’s sleeping bag that led me to your review (I too dislike commercialized bedding).

    I love the idea of it coming in a bag big enough for pillow and friends. We will definitely be looking into getting one!

    Our son (22 months) never liked his pack and play. The “bottom” of it is basically a hard chipboard covered in material, and frankly I don’t blame him for being uncomfortable on it. He won’t sleep on the floor, either.

    Our stopgap solution at grandma’s was to pull the cushions off the loveseat and cover them in a blanket. Worked wonderfully. He rolled off once, but since it was just a few inches it was no biggie.

    Unless you’re sleeping at a hotel, most people have an extra couch around to steal cushions from, or at the very least an extra comforter to fold into 1/4-size–perfectly sufficient extra padding under a sleeping bag for a kid, even on wood floors. Even my son, with his extreme aversion to hard sleeping surfaces, konks right out.

    August 28th, 2008 at 11:02 am

  16. Mark says:

    Dianna. That is a cool idea. Just tie off an adult bag to the size of your tacker. Too easy.
    Thanks.

    April 9th, 2009 at 1:36 am

  17. Adam says:

    also check out the KidCo tent — smaller travel size but heavier weight and more expensive. Still, my son LOVED it!

    Get the PeadPod 201 as it is larger — the kid will grow out of the other ones too fast:
    http://www.kidco.com/main.taf?p=4,5

    August 25th, 2009 at 6:10 am