Backpacking Sleep Set Up with Kids

I recently took my two kids (ages 2 and 5) on a backpacking trip without my husband – though we did convince friends to come along – and it was a first for me! I’ve taken the kids solo to backcountry huts in New Zealand, we’ve gone backpacking as a family of 4 and I’ve been backpacking quite a bit, especially when I worked as a backpacking guide, but this was my first trip taking the kids renting without my husband.

We got to try out some new gear and all of it had great first impressions, so without further ado, here is our backpacking sleep set up with kids.


First you’ll want to select a tent. I’m a fan of sleeping under the stars, but with really little ones, I find it safest to have a tent.

We went with the Big Agnes Copper Spur 4UL. It is extraordinarily spacious and easy to put up. It’s 2.5kgs or 5lbs 11oz so it does add to your pack weight. It has two doors with vestibules (a little outside space covered by the rain fly) on both sides for gear, etc. They also have a 3 person size and don’t forget your footprint to protect the bottom.

Sleeping Pads

Next you’ll need to select sleeping pads. My husband and I each had one from our pre-kids trips (mine: a discontinued REI inflatable pad; His: an Exped 5R long) and we recently added an Exped 3R double sleeping pad.

The double was surprisingly spacious and I might try using it for me and the two kids to save on weight and pack space since they’re keen to cuddle anyways.

In case you’re wondering what the R numbers mean, 3R is made to be comfortably insulated off the ground to an air temperature of 25°F and 5R is made to be comfortable down to 0°F.

Sleeping Bags

For the kids we use Morrison Outdoors sleeping bags and have since they were babies. They are the best and possibly only thing on the market for that age range. We have the 20 degree bags which pack smaller for backpacking. If you’re keen to get Morrison Outdoors kids sleeping bags but not sure whether to go for the 20° or 40° option, check out my blog post here that will walk you through all the differences.

If you decide Morrison is right for you, don’t forget to use code SPIRITANDGUTS for 10% off your purchase! The discount often stacks with other sales so if you’re not in a rush, I recommend waiting for a sale. They usually have a couple a year including Memorial Day.

I have the Mountain Hardwear Lamina 21 sleeping bag. I’ve used Mountain Hardwear my whole life and had one of their entry level bags for over a decade before I finally let it go (and bought myself another). I love that their lower price bags are still such incredible quality. Big fan. I can’t find the exact same bag but these slightly different ones are on a crazy sale at REI right now: the 30 degree size long is 43% off at $112 and the 0 degree bag is 23% off in all three lengths around $180 [at the time of writing]!

My husband has the North Face Cat’s Meow X Long (we make lots of jokes about that name) and he loves it as well. He’s 6’4″ and it fits him well.


The internet seems to be all about the inflatable pillows but I personally don’t think they are worth the money or pack space. I stuff extra clothes into my sleeping bag stuff sack and am plenty comfortable that way.

My husband does have the Nemo Filo inflatable pillow and it makes him significantly more comfortable.

That’s all for backpacking sleep set ups with kids! I love the simplicity of backpacking. There’s little to no room for extras which makes the choices and packing easier for me.

We’ve bought most of our gear listed here on sale at REI so keep an eye out for their sales including Memorial Day coming up! There are some crazy deals. I’ve included the REI links above but it’s also worth checking your local Facebook Marketplace and other gear swap Facebook groups.

Want more tips for camping with kids? Check out these 5 tips.

Happy camping!

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