Tired of fussing with sleeping bag zipper but fear a chilly draft in an open backcountry quilt? Sierra Designs has you covered. The Sierra Designs Cloud 20 encloses you like a traditional mummy sleeping bag but without the hassle of finicky zippers. Instead, a pair of overlapping flaps open for easy entry and closes the to seal the heat inside. Our testers found it to be an innovative and comfortable design. There are drawbacks, however, to the bag's thermal efficiency and versatility that are had to ignore. We also consider its relative, the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed to be an even more comfortable zipperless option.
Sierra Designs Cloud 20 Review
Compare prices at 2 resellers Pros: Easy zipperless closure, built-in foot vent, wider than average dimensions, fair price
Cons: Drafty hood, limited lower body ventilation, uninsulated sleeping pad sleeve
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Zippers are so 1990's. Sierra Designs can help you embrace the 21st century with several zipperless sleeping bag offerings. Our testers prefer their Backcountry Bed the most, but their Cloud also has some innovative features that we like.
Sierra Designs gives the Cloud we tested a 20°F rating, but its performance on the industry-standard EN test is a little lower (15° lower limit). Our testers thought both the manufacturer and EN ratings seemed generous. We thought it felt comparable an average bag with an EN lower limit of 25°.
Potential users should also be aware that to save weight this bag doesn't have any insulation on the bottom side of the torso area. Thus, a good sleeping pad is mandatory for sleeping comfortably with this bag.
Nestling into this bag is a pleasant experience. The closure flaps come close to achieving the familiar feel of the blanket like your are probably use to sleeping with. Its overall comfort, however, did not equal its Sierra Designs cousin, the Backcountry Bed, because the Cloud's narrower dimensions leave it with the same constrictive feel as many other mummy bags.
Like a lot of bags reviewed, the Cloud comes with a simple drawstring stuff sack that's unable to compress it effectively. With a third-party compression sack, we were able to pack a size long to 8.4 liters in volume. This leaves it with an above average packed sized, comparable to the similarly warm, but synthetic, Mountain Hardwear Lamina.
There are several different aspects of this bag that harm and hurt its versatility. The foot box, for example, has a slit on the underside for your feet to escape. This lets you keep the bag on while you shuffle around awkwardly or sit and sip your morning coffee. The same slit, however, isn't very effective at venting should your lower body overheat.
The main entry/exit flaps make up for this to some degree with a range of configurations for different outside temperatures. But when the bag really hits the pad, you still have fewer options than a traditional full-length zipper bag if your legs start to sweat.
Features and Design
To cinch the hood tight, the Cloud features a drawstring like that found on most sleeping bags. For this drawstring to be effective, however, the main closure flap must be pinned beneath your body on the left side of the bag. When you roll onto your right side, it's difficult to keep this flap pinned down. But without it, the hood will not stay cinched closed.
Sierra Designs also brags about a sleeve on the underside of the bag that ensures you can't slide off your sleeping pad in the middle of the night. That's true, but unlike some other bags, this pad attachment system isn't removable if you prefer to save weight and not to use it.
This zipperless bag is great for the same things as a traditional sleeping bag, but it's probably best for longer backcountry trips where you can savor its considerable comfort night after night. The uninsulated sleeping pad attachment area, however, necessitates that it be used with a good sleeping pad. Therefore, it might not be the best choice for hammock or portaledge overnights.
For its middle of the road performance, the Cloud comes with a middle of the road price. At its full MSRP of $330, we don't consider it to be a particularly good value, but bigger fans of the no-zipper design will likely disagree. For a few bucks more you grab a Nemo Riff 30, which offers a similar degree of comfort with better performance in other areas.
Although most of our testers weren't fond of the Cloud, it did garner some passionate supporters. These supporters liked its simple flap closure design that provided a similar feel to sleeping with an ordinary blanket. Its critics, however, maintain the same design limits its versatility and adds unnecessary weight. The bottom line: if the no-zipper concept sounds like heaven to you, don't let this review discourage you. The Sierra Designs Cloud 20 and Backcountry Bed are both decent bags whose innovative designs are sure to please many.
— Jack Cramer