Feed’em, water’em, and kids grow — a lot. This fact is especially appreciated between years, where last year’s fall jeans now fit like capris. And when buying outdoor staples, like sleeping bags, growth spurts can take a cut in the wallet.
But Kelty has a nifty solution for your budding campers. A spiral zipper in the bottom of the Big Dipper 30 gives your child an extra foot of room to grow. This model has been around a while, but it has been updated recently. We gave the Big Dipper a test last summer to see how it fared.
Where to test It: Car camping, sleepovers
Who’s It For: Budding adventurers
Insulation And Design: The 30? mummy-shape bag is insulated with a double-layer synthetic fill. A draft tube runs the length of the double right side zipper.
The spiral zipper at the foot of the bag unfurls an extra 12 inches of length, extending the bag from its 4 ft., 4 in. base length to a lofty 5 ft., 4 in.
The 3 lb. bag stuffs into a 10 inch x 16 inch sack (included).
Full-Featured: You buy this bag for the spiral-zipper footbox. Unzip it, and you’ve bought an additional 12 inches without skimping on loft (it’s the same loft as used throughout the bag). The zipper isn’t protected like the full length zipper, so it will need a parents help. And it’s not as heavy duty as the main zipper.
Made in: China
Awesome! It seems like a minor thing, but two parallel strips of webbing run down both sides of the main zipper, allowing it to pull smoothly without snagging on the nylon liner. This works very well with the delicate psyche of a seven year old girl who’s more ‘artsy’ than industrious. The Poly Taffeta shell and liner is robust enough to repel years of hard use.
Flaw: It’s heavy. I’ve got 20? synthetic bags that run a pound lighter. And the insulation compresses poorly. The 30? rating seemed to be liberally applied. My child was a little chilly on a 40? summer night in the Sawtooth Mountains. But kids have smaller body mass and hence chill quicker than adults.
First impressions: There are a lot of kid specific bags on the market and most seem to be priced between $60 to $80. But not many grow with the child. The Big Dipper is a great 3-season option for parents who want to introduce children to the outdoors through a string of summer car camping trips.
But at 3 lbs and a blocky 10” x 16” packed, it’s not suitable for backpacking. It would take up too much space in your pack. Get it with the expectation that you’ll stuff it in a trunk and pull it out at the drive-up campground and you’ll be covered for several summers of satisfaction.
Who Should Buy It: Parents who want to introduce children to the outdoors through car camping.
Contact Brand/More Beta: Kelty
—Steve Graepel is a contributor. Our “First Look” column highlights new gear arrivals at GearJunkie.com. Photos © Monopoint Media LLC