Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Sierra Designs lists this bag as a 20℉ quilt, but the EN Comfort rating puts it a little higher at 28℉. We found the comfort rating to be about right, as any night lower than around freezing would be pretty chilly in this quilt. To get the most warmth out of the Backcountry Quilt, one tester slid her head through the tuck-away hood and tucked either side of the bag under herself.
The Backcountry Quilt is filled with 17.6 ounces of 700 fill Dridown hydrophobic duck down. This is substantially more down than most of the other bags we reviewed, but this quilt has to compensate that it's using a lower fill power and duck down instead of goose down. Still, the quilt seems to be warm enough to temperatures just under freezing, if more due to it's construction than it's down.
Weighing in at 30.1 ounces, this bag squeaks in under 2 pounds, which is often regarded as a general benchmark for ultralight sleeping bags. With the included stuff sack, it is about 31 ounces, and we're hard-pressed to really consider this an ultralight quilt, especially given that most of the other bags in the review are more than half a pound lighter. We hope that in the future Sierra Designs continues to refine this cool design into a lighter version (and fingers-crossed for no big price jumps).
We found the Backcountry Quilt 700 to be far and away the most comfortable quilt in the review. It really feels more like sleeping with a big comfy blanket than a piece of camping gear. Instead of a series of straps or zippers, the Backcountry Quilt is large enough to wrap around oneself, even overlapping itself below the sleeper. This way there aren't any straps or buckles to lay on, and nothing to come unbuckled or loose in the middle of the night. It even stayed on top of our more restless tester, who tends to sleep rotisserie style. The hood is also quite comfortable and stayed on our tester's face.
This quilt is very versatile, easy to either sleep with it like a loose blanket on a warm night in the desert or wrapped like a burrito on a shoulder season trip around freezing. It's almost as versatile as the Feathered Friends Flicker UL 40, which can be fully opened or fully closed. It's mostly versatile because of its construction, with the extra wide blanket cut and the sewn foot box. It's easy to adjust in the middle of the night, just like your bed covers at home.
This quilt doesn't have a ton of features, because it generally doesn't need them. The wide cut makes pad straps or other closures superfluous and is much simpler and more adjustable than something like the Western Mountaineering Astralite. The other two features are a hide-away hood and two hand pockets on the top corners. We found the hand pockets unnecessary and could be eliminated to save a bit of weight.
We loved the hide-away hood, which is unnoticeable until you put your face through it. It wraps over your forehead and under your chin but doesn't put pressure on your neck, and the back almost acts like a tiny pillow under your head. In fact, we preferred it over mummy bag hoods, as it stays with your face when you roll around. Because the opening can't close over your mouth, it also doesn't collect condensation. It's the first new hood idea we've seen, and frankly, it's great.
This quilt works well as a three season bag down to about freezing. While it's not the lightest bag, it still works well as a backpacking sleeping bag, especially for larger folks. It barely makes the cut for an ultralight bag, making thru-hikers potentially scoff at the extra ounces. But those who value comfort as much as the weight, this bag is pretty awesome.
At $250, this is a relatively inexpensive bag. It's still $90 more expensive than the Best Buy on a Tight Budget Hammock Gear Econ Burrow 20, but its warmer, much more comfortable, and a bit more versatile. Both achieve their lower prices probably due to duck down, which makes them heavier. All things considered, this bag is worth its price.
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 is hands down the comfiest quilt we tested. It feels more like sleeping with a down duvet than a sleeping bag. It's also warm down to freezing, which makes it a good three-season choice. However, it is almost 2 pounds, and way heavier than most other bags in this review. The weight will probably turn off those looking for a real ultralight option, but for those willing to carry a bit more for a really comfortable option, it's worth looking into.
Other Versions and Accessories
The Backcountry Quilt 700 also comes in a lighter 35℉ rating, which weighs in at 24 ounces and is $30 cheaper.
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