Hands-on Gear Review

Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 - Women's Review

Price:  $290 List | $216.49 at Amazon
Pros:  Comfortable, versatile, good for stomach sleepers
Cons:  Heavy for a down bag, bulky, expensive
Bottom line:  The Backcountry Bed offers an exceptionally high level of warmth and comfort, offering a non-mummy bag option.
Editors' Rating:   
  • 1
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  • 5
EN Comfort Rating (F):  20
Women specific features:  Women-specific mummy design
Total Weight (oz):  39 oz
Manufacturer:   Sierra Designs

Our Verdict

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed is unique and hard to describe. It is one of the most comfortable women's sleeping bag in this review. Its clever half quilt and "catenary" shaped opening cradle the sleeper and feel comforting and warm. We love the versatility. The quilt allows for different sleeping positions, as well as the ability to adjust to many different temperatures. The new version of the Backcountry Bed is less expensive, but Sierra Designs has lowered the quality of the down fill to 700 fill, making it less lofty and warm than the previous 800 fill. If you're fed up with traditional mummy bag design, you should seriously consider the Backcountry Bed.


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Our Analysis and Test Results

Review by:
Jessica Haist

Last Updated:
Tuesday
May 8, 2018

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The Backcountry Bed 700 is a stomach sleeper's best friend. This comfortable and versatile sleeping bag allows you to sleep in all different positions and regulate your warmth with its quilt insert.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed a great choice for hanging out on a portaledge in Zion.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed a great choice for hanging out on a portaledge in Zion.

Warmth


The intricacies of the bag/quilt interface took some time to get used to. At first, our testers found this bag a bit drafty in colder temperatures if the quilt wasn't properly tucked. We have a similar problem with the Sierra Designs Cloud's comforter. This is one drawback to the design of the Backcountry Bed, but once you get used to it, it becomes easier to use. When the quilt is completely tucked in it seems to stay put, even when you move around. This bag has no zippers, so once it's all tucked in, there are no draft points to worry about.

The Backcountry Bed's quilt tucked in with the cord closure system done up.
The Backcountry Bed's quilt tucked in with the cord closure system done up.

The temperature rating of EN comfort 20F seems slightly ambitious. We'd hesitate to take the Bed out below zero. We feel comfortable and warm in this bag at night when temperatures get down into the mid-30s. Luckily if you're a warm sleeper, it is effortless to regulate your temperature with the integrated quilt and foot vent. If you are too hot at night, you can open up the bag by lowering a corner of the quilt or throwing the whole thing off. The Backcountry Bed has cozy hand pockets in the edges of the quilt that you can use when the quilt is untucked, like a folded down comforter, or put your hands into wrap it around you inside. We like that the bag does not have insulation on the back through the torso, as it is meant to have a sleeping pad insulate you from the ground. But it is insulated all the way around the foot box — an area that women tend to get very cold. If you really want warmth, the toastiest traditional mummy bag we tested was the REI Joule.

Weight


Even though the quality of down is lower in this new version of the bag, we were impressed to see that Sierra Designs shaved 3 ounces off the Backcountry Bed's weight. Weighing in at 39 ounces, it is 11 ounces heavier than our Editors' Choice Award Winner, the Rab Neutrino 400. However, this is a very lofty, comfortable bag with a decent 18 ounces of down fill. For some people that extra weight might be worth it for a quality night sleep. For the ounce-counters, it's probably not.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed's quilt un-tucked for stomach sleeping.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed's quilt un-tucked for stomach sleeping.

Comfort


This bag scores high in the comfort department. It's a top scorer in this category along with the Sierra Designs Cloud 800. The quilt feature allows you to do virtually anything with your arms, including sticking them out of the bag.

When the quilt is all tucked in it feels very cozy, almost as if you are being cradled in it. The ability to regulate your temperature by adjusting the quilt and the foot gasket make it extra comfortable at many different temperatures. While the NEMO Rave 15 is designed to offer a lot of leg room, the Backcountry Bed has more room for the upper torso and arms and less for the legs. Side sleeping is still quite easily done — your legs just rotate inside the bag.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed's quilt folded down  you can see the hand pockets on the corners.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed's quilt folded down, you can see the hand pockets on the corners.

In this new version of the Bed, the bottom of the bag seems to have been widened to allow for more leg room, similar the Kelty Cosmic Down or the Neutrino. If you're looking ultimate leg room, check out the Big Agnes Roxy Ann.

Packed Size


Luckily this bag's shell material and fill are quite compressible. We can just barely fit it into a small compression sack when we are trying to keep the size of our pack down. It is not as compressible as the REI Joule or the Rab Neutrino, but still more compressible than all the synthetic bags in this review like The North Face Cat's Meow.

The Backcountry Bed in its stuff sack. It compresses pretty well and could be made smaller in a compression sack.
The Backcountry Bed in its stuff sack. It compresses pretty well and could be made smaller in a compression sack.

Features


Sierra Designs has put a lot of thought into the design and features of this sleeping bag. We like how well all the features work together to create the whole package. The catenary shaped opening of the bag is somewhat womb-like, cradling you and keeping your arms tucked in, holding the quilt in place as well. Sierra Designs has added a cord closure system in the new 700 version to help keep the quilt tucked in when you want it. The quilt itself is lofty and cozy, and the hand/arm pockets work well when your arms are outside the bag, either on your back or stomach. We like the zipper-less foot-venting gasket, although it is quite easy to stick your feet out of it accidentally, this is only a minor problem.

The DriDown hydrophobic down fill will give you a bit more piece of mind if things are starting to get wet and soggy, and should keep the bag loftier longer. The Neutrino and the Mountain Hardwear Heratio 15 also come with treated, hydrophobic down. The updated version also has PFC free down. Read more about hydrophobic down in our Buying Advice Article.

Two of our most comfortable bags  Sierra Designs' Cloud 800 and Backcountry Bed 700.
Two of our most comfortable bags, Sierra Designs' Cloud 800 and Backcountry Bed 700.

Best Application


This sleeping bag is great for three season camping and backpacking trips. If you are a stomach sleeper or feel claustrophobic in a regular mummy bag, the Backcountry Bed could be a great solution. As we have already mentioned, this bag is very versatile. It allows you to sleep in any position — except for starfish since your legs are still confined to the mummy bag shape. The ability to tuck and un-tuck the quilt allows you to regulate your temperature easily. The only downside is that this bag will never be able to mate with another sleeping bag if you have the desire to combine bags with another human.

Value


With the drop of quality and quantity of down fill, price on the Backcountry Bed has dropped significantly with the new 2018 version and is now a reasonable $290. Personally, we would save ourselves 11 ounces and spend $10 more for the Sierra Designs Cloud 800 for a higher quality product that has a similar comforter style.

The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 and Cloud 800 in their stuff sacks. The Cloud packs down smaller.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 and Cloud 800 in their stuff sacks. The Cloud packs down smaller.

Conclusion


This unique, versatile sleeping bag is a good, comfortable choice for backpacking. We like the innovative partial quilt design and how the bag cradles us. It has lots of great features and high-quality materials. The 2018 version is less expensive, lighter and more compressible, but has lower quality down and doesn't seem as warm to us. Nine times out of ten we would recommend a lighter, more conventional sleeping bag over the Backcountry Bed, but for those who need more room for their torso to move around, this could be the solution.
Jessica Haist

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Most recent review: May 8, 2018
Summary of All Ratings

OutdoorGearLab Editors' Rating:  
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 (4.0)
Average Customer Rating:  
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