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Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season Review

Sierra Designs DriDown Backcountry Bed 600
Price:   $300 List | $187.46 at Backcountry
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Pros:  Mega comfortable, offering a near "bed-like" experience, excellent temperature regulation, complete unencumbered upper extremity movement
Cons:  Internal fabric isn't as "cozy" feeling as other bags, heavy, not as compressible as other similarly rated models
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Sierra Designs

Our Verdict

The 3-season Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 bag offers a truly unique design, creating one of the most comfortable and bed-like feels of any sleeping bag we have tested. The Backcountry Bed features no zippers, toggles or Velcro flaps of any kind, but instead offers a large "U"-shaped opening that is covered by a down flap. This down flap acts as a quilt. The quilt not only helps regulate temperature extremely well, but it also offers unmatched freedom of movement for the user's upper extremities, making tummy-sleeping as comfy as it gets.

For all its comfort advantages and range of temperature versatility, it is a little on the heavier side, and does not offer supreme compressibility. While we thought the Backcountry Bed was super comfortable, our testers found the Nemo Salsa won overall, offering more comfort for "high-knee" sleepers. The Salsa was around a pound lighter and much more compressible. That said, the Backcountry Bed 600 for 3-season use remains a rad option for someone seeking its unique advantages that few other bags can even think of offering.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Ian Nicholson
Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Thursday
November 24, 2016

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The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is a very unique bag featuring not zippers  Velcro taps  or toggles but creates a super comfortable almost bed-like feeling.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is a very unique bag featuring not zippers, Velcro taps, or toggles but creates a super comfortable almost bed-like feeling.

Warmth


The 3-season Backcountry Bed 600 was slightly warmer than average among 30F bags on the market; we feel its rating is likely closer to 25F (instead of 30F). In fact, our testing team thought the Backcountry Bed was warmer than all of the other 30F bags we tested, with the exception of the Western Mountaineering MegaLite. The Backcountry Bed was determined to be warmer than the Marmot Hydrogen, Sea to Summit Spark III, or Kelty Tuck 20 via our side-by-side testing; it was also slightly warmer than the 20 F rated The North Face Cats Meow.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed proved warmer than most of the 30F bags we tested and likely checks in with a rating closer to 25F. We loved how nicely the down flap acted like a comforter to snuggle up around our torso and necks on colder evenings.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed proved warmer than most of the 30F bags we tested and likely checks in with a rating closer to 25F. We loved how nicely the down flap acted like a comforter to snuggle up around our torso and necks on colder evenings.

This contender uses 24 ounces of 600-fill treated duck down. While it might be defined as a lower quality fill, it is actually by far the most insulation (by weight) used out of any of the bags we tested. This fill is necessary to help keep the bag rated to around 25-30F, while still ensuring that it feels spacious.

Weight


At 3 lbs 1 oz, the Backcountry Bed is on the heavier side of bags we tested. It doesn't use any zippers, toggles, or velcro flaps of any kind. Its weight derives from the volume of insulation and fabric used on this spacious and uniquely designed bag. With that in mind, it's worth noting that the Backcountry Bed was around a pound heavier than most other models.

If you love this bag but wish it was lighter, it is worth noting that Sierra Designs makes the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800 3- Season. It is a nearly identical, but uses a lighter weight 20D shell (instead of the 600's 30D) and a higher quality fill that makes it nine ounces lighter (at 2 lbs 8 oz); it's also $100 more expensive, ringing in at $400.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-season isn't super pack-able; shown here the third from the left. However it is more compressible than a handful of 20F bags and can be made 15%-35% smaller with an after-market compression sack because its include stuff sack doesn't do a great job at compressing the bag.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-season isn't super pack-able; shown here the third from the left. However it is more compressible than a handful of 20F bags and can be made 15%-35% smaller with an after-market compression sack because its include stuff sack doesn't do a great job at compressing the bag.

Packed Size


For its warmth, the Backcountry Bed 600 doesn't offer a very small packed size; it was one of the last compressible bags in our review. The only bag that didn't pack down nearly as small was the Kelty Tuck 20. The Kelty Cosmic Down offers a comparable compressed volume.

The three most spacious and comfortable sleeping bags in our review. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed (left)  Nemo Salsa 30(center)  and Western Mountaineering MegaLite (right). The Backcountry Bed offered the most freedom of movement in our upper extremeitites but these other two bags offered a little more leg room especially for side and tummy sleepers who like to sleep with a knee more-or-less straight out to the side.
The three most spacious and comfortable sleeping bags in our review. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed (left), Nemo Salsa 30(center), and Western Mountaineering MegaLite (right). The Backcountry Bed offered the most freedom of movement in our upper extremeitites but these other two bags offered a little more leg room especially for side and tummy sleepers who like to sleep with a knee more-or-less straight out to the side.

Comfort, Spaciousness, and Fit


Spaciousness and comfort are why you buy the Backcountry Bed. From the waist up, the it literally feels like you're in a bed. It's super comfortable; you can flail your arms however you like, roll over, and just plain be cozy. The down flap acts like a comforter and is quite nice to pull up around your body on colder nights. There is an overlap in the bottom of this bag that allows for folks to sleep inside the back, but with their feet exposed, adding further potential to regulate temperature.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-season offers pretty unbeatable upper body movement. Its unique design allows the user to sleep in pretty much any position they desire for their upper body.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-season offers pretty unbeatable upper body movement. Its unique design allows the user to sleep in pretty much any position they desire for their upper body.

From the waist down, the Backcountry Bed is spacious; however, our high-knee sleeping testers actually preferred the Nemo Salsa 30. While it didn't offer the same freedom and unencumbered movement of upper extremities, it did offer more leg room. If you are a belly sleeper, this is one of the best bags for you. It lets you sleep tummy-down, or slightly on your side, with your arms wrapped around your pillow. You can remain outside of the "bag", but still tucked into the comforter/flap.

The exception to this is for folks who sleep on their back or stomach, with one knee straight out to the side. In this case, you'll likely appreciate the Nemo Salsa's dimensions and stretchy seams. The only real knock for comfort on the Backcountry Bed is its internal fabric isn't as "cozy" feeling as other bags we tested. But in the end, folks will love this bag if they dislike traditional mummy-style bags, are "thrashing" sleepers, or enjoy sleeping on their tummy.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed
Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed

Versatility


The Backcountry Bed isn't super versatile, at least in the tradional sense. It is great for folks who don't like the feel of traditional mummy-style sleeping bags and want to bring that bed feeling into the backcountry. The Backcountry Bed 600 is killer for car camping and most modest backpacking trips, but it's too heavy and isn't compressible enough for most extended backpacking trips or summer mountaineering.

All tucked in under the down-filled flap/comforter feature on the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season bag. This flap allowed the best temperature regulation of any bag we tested as well as a comfortable almost bed-like feel.
All tucked in under the down-filled flap/comforter feature on the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season bag. This flap allowed the best temperature regulation of any bag we tested as well as a comfortable almost bed-like feel.

On the other spectrum of versatility, this contender does perform well in a wide range of temperatures, offering fantastic ventilation. The upper flap really helps fine tune the amount of warmth, depending on the user and the overnight temperature. Conversely, its' spacious cut does allow it to be used with multiple extra layers to increase the warmth, should you find yourself in below freezing temperatures. If it's really cold out and you do move around quite a bit, this bag can feel a little drafty - if the down flap/comforter untucks itself.

on colder nights we loved the little hand sleeves that not only keep your hands warm but more importantly help to keep the down flap in place on the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season bag.
on colder nights we loved the little hand sleeves that not only keep your hands warm but more importantly help to keep the down flap in place on the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season bag.

Features


This bag is chock FULL of features. It's more or less a wider cut mummy-style sleeping bag. What makes it different is instead of a traditional side-zipper, the top of the bag has a large "U"-shaped opening with an insulated flap. This flap acts as the bag's temperature regulator and performs like a blanket; it can be completely opened up to maximize ventilation, or closed all the way and wrapped around the user's neck to keep the cold out.

This bag does feature a deep hood of sorts; however, most folks using this bag will end up using the hood as a pillow, or pillow holder for all but the coldest nights. There is a pad sleeve on the bottom of the upper portion of the bag to help keep your sleeping pad in place. This is nice, especially considering the volume on the bottom side of the Backcountry Bed is a little thinner than normal.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season is best for folks who like to sleep on their backs  sides  or simply don't want to feel the slight restriction of movement associated with most backpacking mummy-style bags.m
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 600 3-Season is best for folks who like to sleep on their backs, sides, or simply don't want to feel the slight restriction of movement associated with most backpacking mummy-style bags.m

Best Applications


This is a sweet bag for car camping or shorter backpacking trips, where weight is less of an issue. However, we know a few backpackers who don't mind carrying a heavier or bulkier bag; they will take it on a wide range of trips because they just plain don't like traditional mummy bags, but still want something lighter than a rectangular bag. This or the Backcountry Bed 800 will hit the sweet spot.

Value and the Bottom Line


At $300, this contender isn't an amazing deal, but it is a unique bag with several comfort-oriented advantages - which is just what some folks are looking for. If you are just someone who wants a little more space than what a traditional bag offers, our Editors' Choice Western Mountaineering MegaLite provides noticeably space and still weighs a scant 1 lb 8 oz ($460). The Nemo Salsa 30 ($240) is still a pound lighter (2 lbs 1 oz) and many side-sleepers and "high knee" sleepers liked it equally or even better than the Backcountry Bed. However, for unencumbered upper body movement and a truly bed-like feel while camping, it's hard to beat the Backcountry Bed 3-season.
Ian Nicholson

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Most recent review: November 24, 2016
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