My experience is with leading kids ages 8-19 in colorado, oregon, wisconsin, and minnesota. My kids have always been outfitted with ridge rests, and roughly 5 degree synthetic bags. I think the ridge rests are great because they get the insulation they need, and enough comfort. While they might be more comfortable on an inflatable pad I think it's unlikely that they will take enough care of it to keep from getting holes in it.
I also think that kids need warmer sleeping bags than adults. I'm not sure if it's because bags don't fit them as well, or if they don't generate enough heat on their own, but I'd say they're almost always colder than I am and/or wearing more clothes than me in the same conditions. For summer conditions, even up to 11 or 12 thousand feet, I'm comfortable in a 25 degree bag, but my kids are frequently cool/cold in their 5 degree bags. Also I think synthetic is a better choice for kids because they don't have to be so careful about keeping it dry and it dries faster if they do get it wet. Also you know kids are going to out grow or wear out a sleeping bag, so best to save a little money with synthetic instead of down.
Info on gear, conditioning, and preparation for hiking/climbing.
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BearCrawl wrote:I'm looking to start some hike in camping with my son, 11, who's an absolute trooper with whatever I seem to throw at him in the outdoors. I want to keep him warm and relatively comfortable, but don't want to spend a fortune if possible. Any recommendations?
There are plenty of options out there. I have a Z rest and a Big Agnes air pad. I always prefer the air pad the only downside is the setup time since one needs to fill it obviously. I also have a thermarest pro-lite self inflating mattress and it is good but make sure you get the plus one since it is 1.5" thick mine is 1" and it is not enough sometimes. They are self inflating so setup time is fast and they pack down pretty small.
The air pads fit inside the packs whereas the foam pads need to be carried outside always.
Regarding the sleeping bag it depends on budget, expected weather and size/fit. Plenty of great options out there. For the summer alpine generally a 20-30deg. (well rated) quality down bag is ideal. They pack down small. I use a 15deg. Marmot Helium (got it at a great price) and really have mostly used it as a quilt and have always had to open it up while sleeping even in temps down to the 25F range. I have only used it inside a tent though.
That is the other key part of the setup. A comfortable, easy to set up tent that protects against the elements is vital into being comfortable out there. You can go to REi and see a bunch of options setup on the floor. I generally prefer tents that have good ventilation even for 3 season use, not full mesh interior but good sized mesh panels.
I would say get any of the air pads (2.5 inches). These are very comfortable and I've never had a better night's sleep. My boys love them too. You can also get some with insulation that brings them up to a R 4.1. I'd recommend the Big Agnes Sand Mountain, but REI has some other ones, too. They can cost you between $60-$90.
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