Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700 - Women's Review
Cons: Heavy for a down bag, bulky
Manufacturer: Sierra Designs
Our Analysis and Test Results
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. It wins our Top Pick Award because the quilt makes you feel like you're sleeping in an actual bed and is very comforting.
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. 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. It also allows you to be stealthier getting in and out as not to disturb your tent mate undoing your zipper.
The temperature rating of EN comfort 20F seems slightly ambitious. We'd hesitate to take the Backcountry Bed out below freezing. We feel comfortable and warm in this bag at night when temperatures get down into the mid-30s. It has 24 ounces of 700 fill down, which is lower quality than other competitors but still feels fluffy and cozy. 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 in to 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.
Even though the quality of down is lower in the new version of the bag, we are impressed to see that Sierra Designs shaved 3 ounces off the old Backcountry Bed's. Weighing in at 2.55 lbs, it's a lofty and comfortable bag but not the lightest out there. While it's great for the average backpacker, this bag isn't a top choice for women looking to go ultra light on the trail.
Earning a Top Pick for this metric, this is the bag if you're seeking the ultimate in comfort. The quilt feature allows you to do virtually anything with your arms, including sticking them out of the bag, making the fit of the bag quite versatile.
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 makes it extra comfortable at many different temperatures. The Backcountry Bed has more room for the upper torso and arms. Side sleeping is still quite easily done — your legs just rotate inside the bag.
In this new version of the Bed, the bottom of the bag seems to have been widened to allow for more legroom, offering a more restful sleep. Because of its ability to allow you to twist and turn with ease, it's a perfect option for stomach-sleepers or those who look for a bag that will simply stay in place.
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. That said, it's a great option for the traditional backpacker or car camper. However, if you're limited on space, you might seek a different option that offers a little more compressibility.
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 peace of mind if things are starting to get wet and soggy, and should keep the bag loftier longer. The updated version also has PFC free down. Read more about hydrophobic down in our Buying Advice Article.
The price on the Backcountry Bed is very reasonable for this unique, comfortable product.
This unique, versatile sleeping bag is a good, comfortable choice for backpacking and camping. It wins our Top Pick Award because it is so comfortable. We like the innovative partial quilt design and how the bag cradles us. It has lots of great features and high-quality materials. The latest 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 and want to feel more like they're in their bed, this could be the solution.
— Jessica Haist
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