The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is unlike any sleeping bag ever made. Part sleeping bag, part quilt, part top bag, part bed, it combines the thermal efficiency of a mummy-style sleeping bag with the comfort and freedom of a quilt sleeping system. Available in two different models, one insulated with 650 fill power DriDown (two season) and the other 800 fill power DriDown (three season, and male and female versions), it’s ideal for side sleepers, stomach sleepers, or people who like to roll around a lot at night and don’t like the constrained feeling of a mummy sleeping bag or hood.
Sleeping Bag Pocket
The top half of the Backcountry Bed, from the waist up, is designed as a top bag meaning that all of the insulation is in the top half of the bag and none on the back side where is makes contact with your sleeping pad. It’s the same with any ultralight backpacking quilt: all of the insulation for your back is provided by the sleeping pad itself, and the sleeping pad pocket helps ensure that you stay on your pad all night to stay warm. You will stay perfectly warm provided your sleeping pad has the correct R-Value for the ground temperature – about 2.5 for warmer 3-season weather – and an R-value of 5 or higher for early spring or late fall (near winter) conditions.
The best way to insert an inflatable sleeping pad into the pad pocket is to blow it up about 75% and then pull it into the pocket through two diagonal openings cut into the top of the pocket. Once seated, finish inflating the pad by blowing into the corner pad valve. Of course this only works if the valve of your sleeping pad is in the corner like a Therm-a-Rest or NEMO inflatable pad. You’ll have to struggle a bit more if your pad has a recessed center valve.
Zipperless & Hoodless Design
Zippers are the bane of outdoor gear and are often the single most likely component to fail on a sleeping bag, tent, or jacket. They’re also relatively heavy, both reasons why Sierra Designs made the Backcountry Bed zipperless. Rather than having a right or left zipper, you enter the bag by sliding your torso under the quilt and into the lower part of the bag that encloses your feet, legs, and waist. Not having a right or left zipper, also means that different people in your family can share the Backcountry Bed (at different times) regardless of whether they have a right or left zipper preference.
The Backcountry Bed does not have a full mummy hood although it is possible to tuck your head inside for warmth. I’ve found it more convenient to simply wear a fleece hat at night or a balaclava in colder weather and use the hood area to hold a pillow in place, which works rather nicely.
Foot Vent and Temperature Regulation
The 800 fill power, 3 season version of the Backcountry Bed gets quite toasty in temperatures above 65-70 degrees. But you can easily regulate your temperature by folding down the quilt portion of the Bed, just like you would with a blanket in your bed at home. or sticking your feet out of a zipperless foot vent in the bottom of the sleeping bag. The foot vent is an overlapping fabric slit in the bottom of the bag and doesn’t leak heat when not in use. In fact the foot box on the Backcountry Bed is quite toasty, all the way down to its 20 degree minimum temperature rating.
The quilt portion of the Backcountry Bed is sewn in middle of the bag, at the bottom of the quilt opening. It’s free however along the sides, just like a regular down comforter, so you can tuck it into the sides of the bed, up around your chin, along the sides of your head or over it. Side drafts are blocked by down filled tubes that extend up the sides of the bag and form a small hood area above your head. While the quilt coverlet is extra wide and long, side sleepers with broad shoulders or very large torsos may find that drafts sneak under the side and chill their back when sleeping. Normally the extra-large quilt provides more than enough coverage to cover your torso, bunch up over under your chin, and around the sides of your head, creating a sinfully warm and comfortable sleeping nest.
Having used the Backcountry Bed in a wide range of temperature conditions and for backpacking and car camping, I think it’s optimally suited for side or stomach sleepers who want a sleeping experience that’s as comfortable as their bed at home and can’t stand mummy style sleeping bags because they’re too confining. While the Backcountry Bed can be used for backpacking, its packed size and weight are somewhat larger and heavier than other down sleeping bags with similar temperature ratings. The Backcountry Bed is better suited for camping and ideal for sleepers who can’t sleep on their backs, but want the lower body warmth provided by conventional sleeping bag and the freedom and comfort of a down quilt.
- Very comfortable for side and stomach sleepers
- Extra width and length of quilt provides luxurious comfort
- True to its 20 degree temperature rating
- Extra tie outs to secure foot of sleeping bag to a sleeping pad
- Mens, womens, and tall sizes available
- On the heavy side for long distance backpacking (not camping use)
- Hard to vent completely in very hot weather
Manufacturer Specs (Men’s Regular Backcountry Bed 800, tested)
- EN Comfort Limit: 31oF / -1oC
- EN Lower Limit: 20oF / -7oC
- Fits To: 6 ft / 182 cm
- Fill Weight: 20 oz. / 0.57 kg
- Trail Weight: 2 lbs 8 oz. / 1.13 kg
- Length: 80 in. / 203 cm
- Shoulder: 61 in. / 155 cm
- Hip:60 in. / 152 cm
- Foot: 42 in. / 107 cm
- Sleeping Pad Sleeve Width: 20 in. / 51 cm
- Stuff Sack Length: 15 in. / 38 cm
Disclosure: Sierra Designs provided the author with a sample for review .
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