Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 Review


In today’s gear marketplace, it’s unusual to see something that really catches your eye, something unique that stands out from the crowd. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is an exception to that, as at first glance you’ll wonder if they forgot to finish stitching every together. Closer inspection reveals a clever new take on sleeping comfortably in the outdoors.

It’s a sleeping bag, with a few unusual features. For one, there is no zipper closure, instead a blanket-like swath of fabric is sewn into the bottom of a large opening. This acts like a blanket, that you can pull on or off, depending on how warm or cold you are. If it’s warm, leave it off, when the temperature drops, cover up, and if it’s really cold, you can tuck everything into the bag for a snug and toasty fit.

At the bottom of the bag, you can slip your feet out a baffled opening, allowing them to cool off when it’s warm. On the blanket, there are hand pockets so if you are a side or stomach sleeper, you can put your hands in there and secure the blanket over your body. It’s also got a sleeping pad sleeve, like you find on Big Agnes bags, to keep your pad in place while you roll around in the night, acting out the beta on your latest project. It’s filled with DriDown, which is water resistant and dries out faster than untreated down.

I tested the Backcountry Bed 800 3-Season bag, which is rated for comfort to 31 degrees (limit at 20). I liked the customizable nature of it, and as a stomach sleeper, found it much more comfortable than a traditional sleeping bag. The hand pockets on the blanket were dreamy, keeping everything in place as I drifted off to sleepy land. The foot vent took a little trickery to figure out at first, but after a few tries it’s easy to get in and out of. And the sleeping pad sleeve keeps you insulated from the ground, even if you roll around a lot during the night.

My only criticism is that because it lacks a zipper, you can’t vent heat as well as with a traditional bag. Even with the blanket off and feet out, this thing packs some heat, which means there’s a narrower range of comfort than you get with a traditional bag.

Three out of four stars. For those who mostly car camp or backpack in conditions that are not extreme, this is an excellent alternative to traditional bags, and if you are a side or stomach sleeper, will likely prove to be a much more comfortable sleeping experience. As stated above, it doesn’t vent as well and therefore is less versatile than a standard bag. These bags are also more expensive than their traditional counterparts, so you’ll have to weigh whether the added comfort is worth the cost.

I tested the 800 3-Season, there are several other options, including an 800 fill 2-season, a 600 fill 2 and 3 season, an 850 fill 2-season, and several synthetic options. To see the full line, check out the Sierra Designs website.

Retail on the 800 3-Season is $489.95, more info and tech specs can be found here. Check out the video below for a detailed look at all the unique features of this bag.

Disclaimer: Wait! Before you go handing over your credit card number, ask yourself, do you really need to buy more new stuff? If so, this product is worth a look. In the spirit of full disclosure, it was provided to for the purpose of reviewing. Don’t worry, though, our integrity can’t be bought!

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