Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: comfortable, keeps you warm sleeping on stomach, good sleeping pad integration
Cons: drafty, somewhat heavy, bulky
Best Uses: stomach sleeping, summer backpacking, camping
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 is an innovative design that combines the good attributes of traditional mummy-style sleeping bags and an ultralight quilt. While certainly not ultra-light, this bag is ultra-comfortable. The unique "bed-style" design of this bag enables you to manage temperature easily and roll around with the attached quilt to your perfect sleeping position. Stomach sleepers like this bag for the ability to lay flat on their stomach with their arms pointing toward their head, still within the warmth of a down sleeve/pocket. This bag is not the overall best performing sleeping bag in this review, but for those who prioritize comfort over weight and materials, the Backcountry Bed is a good choice. It won one of our Top Pick Awards for comfort. We can only hope that this bag gets lighter in future versions so that we won't hesitate to take it on summer backpacking trips.
See how the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 compares to other sleeping bags in our large Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 is an innovative three-season sleeping bag that combines the favorable attributes of a traditional mummy bag and ultra-light quilt design.
The Backcountry Bed enables you to closely manage your sleeping temperature by manipulating the attached quilt and utilizing the vented footbox. In colder conditions the quilt is tucked into the opening. During warmer nights the quilt is allowed to rest outside the opening. The quilt is plenty big to envelop you while it is outside of the opening, just like the comforter on your bed. There are hand pockets/sleeves that help to keep you covered if sleeping flat on your stomach. The temperature regulation is really nice and the bag is generally warm in mild to cool summer conditions. However, when in cold temperature mode (quilt tucked in) the quilt easily comes untucked creating drafty conditions in the bag. Choosing a more comfortable sleeping position and temperature is great, but it comes with drawbacks when you need to stay extra warm.
For true three season use there are warmer bags that pack down smaller. Consider the Marmot Plasma for only $40 more. For other less conventional designs that maximize weight-to-warmth ratio, see the Ultra-light Sleeping Bag review.
At 42 oz. (long size) the Backcountry Bed is not an ultra-light sleeping bag and is one of the heavier bags we've reviewed. In fact, it is only an ounce lighter than the synthetic bags we tested and the Kelty Cosmic Down 20, which only costs only $160 and won our Best Buy Award. The lack of a zipper saves weight on this bag, but better quality shell fabrics would reduce weight even more.
This bag really shines as a comfortable place to lay your head while out in the backcountry. It has a slightly wider cut in general, and the integrated quilt gives you maximum freedom of movement to find the perfect sleeping position. The manufacturer likens the experience to sleeping with a comforter in your bed at home. Although it might not be quite that luxurious, we did find it to be a nice alternative to the restrictive nature of many traditional mummy style sleeping bags. The excellent sleeping pad integration allows you to move around without the bag shifting too much.
A note on fit The size long in the Backcountry Bed felt too big for 6'0" testers. The bag's generally relaxed fit increases the function of its comfort features but we think that a better fit would increase thermal efficiency without detracting too much from the comfort of the bag.
The Backcountry Bed is slightly bulky. This can be attributed to its wider cut and heavier shell material that don't compress well.
The temperature control features of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed are the strengths of this sleeping bag. The quilt increases comfort while allowing you to adjust the temperature quite intuitively. The vented footbox helps manage overheating in the lower portion of the bag. As with all features in sleeping bags, it is a careful balance between function and detracting from the overall performance of the bag y adding too much complexity and weight. In mild to cool summer conditions, the features of the Backcountry Bed are excellent. When you need the bag to keep you warm in cold conditions, those same features can fail you when the quilt falls out of the opening. There is no cinching draft collar and you can't tighten the hood.
The sleeping pad integration with this sleeping bag is excellent. Testers used a Thermarest Neo Air X-Lite pad, which fits perfectly into the pad sleeve on the bottom of the Backcountry Bed. There is no down insulation under your core where you lay on the pad. This saves weight and bulk. By attaching the pad to the bag, you maximize the freedom of movement that this design allows. (See the photo above for a visual on how well this feature works.)
The Backcountry Bed is not the highest performing three-season bag in our review, but it does comfortably accommodate the most sleeping styles of any other bag. It is a great choice for people who spend a lot of time in a sleeping bag, even if it's not backpacking.
This bag is best suited for summer time use in environments with generally mild to cool night time temperatures. The bag is neither ultra-light or highly compressible, but it is still acceptable for general backpacking use. People who prioritize comfort over weight and size can rationalize carrying the Backcountry Bed more often than other bags. This bag crosses over well to regular use for general camping whether in a campground, in your truck, or on your friend's floor.
We feel the Sierra Designs Backcountry bed is too expensive. There are many other bags in this review that are lighter, warmer, made with better materials, and are less expensive. Overall, the Backcountry Bed is a novelty, and if you can afford a bag solely for comfort sake, then this is your choice.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is an extremely comfortable sleeping bag. It allows you to sleep in just about any position, more comfortably than any other sleeping bag in this review. The design concept is very unique, but the bag is still a bit heavy and does not pack down very small. If you spend a lot of time in a sleeping bag in mild to cool summer conditions, and prioritize comfort over weight and bulk, this is a good choice for you. Testers generally enjoyed the sleeping experience in the Backcountry Bed, but were left wishing that it was lighter and smaller.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is available in Men's and Women's versions. For both sexes you can find 600 and 800 fill options in 2 or 3 season models. The 600 fill options are about .5 lbs. heavier than the 800 fill options. The 3 season models are also about .5 lbs. heavier than the 2 season models.
The Backcountry Bed 800 3-Season - Women's, $440, is one of the women's version. You can also find the backcountry bed in an 800 2-season bag, the Backcountry Bed 800 2-Season, $350, or in a 600 3-season bag, the Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season, $300, which is less expensive and has 600-fill down versus the 800-fill down. All four versions are available in both men's and women's versions.
— Mike Phillips
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Most recent review: August 23, 2014
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