The sleeping bag monster demonstrates use of the hand pockets on the Backcountry Bed 800 to scare away bears in the Yosemite Wilderness.
Photo: Roxanne K.
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 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 Western Mountaineering UltraLite which is about the same price. For other less conventional designs that maximize weight to warmth ratio, see the Ultralight Sleeping Bag review.
At 37 oz., the Backcountry Bed is not an ultra-light sleeping bag. It is one of the heavier bags we've reviewed. The lack of a zipper saves weight on this bag but better quality shell fabrics would reduce weight even more. Better, more versatile bags weigh in at around two pounds or less.
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.
Quilt and caternary opening of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 800.
Photo: Mike Phillips
The Backcountry Bed is slightly bulky. This can be attributed to its wider cut and heavier shell material that doesn't compress as 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. 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 Backcountry Bed all tucked in for cool night time temperatures.
Photo: Mike Phillips
The Backcountry Bed is not the best 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 is a great crossover to regular use for general camping whether in a campground, in your truck or on your friend's floor.
Two highly rated bags for comfort, the Marmot Sawtooth and Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed, go on an extended car camping trip during Rocktober 2014.
Photo: Mike Phillips
We believe the Sierra Designs Backcountry bed is too expensive. There are many other bags in the Backpacking Sleeping Bag Review that are lighter, warmer, made with better materials and are cheaper. 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 won a Top Pick award in The Best Women's Sleeping Bag Review