The desert is a notoriously tricky place to camp — especially in the unpredictable weather of shoulder seasons. During the day, the sun beats down on your skin, spreading warmth over your body. But at night, when the sun goes down, the desert can be a dark and cold place — and you better come armed with a damn good sleeping bag if you’re planning on spending a night under the desert stars. But when it comes to picking the right sleeping bag for you, so many different factors come into play. For backpackers, something lightweight and extremely compact is a must. For car campers, something a little more spacious will do. For those hardcore three-season or four-season campers, a bag that provides the ultimate warmth-to-weight ratio is important. But thanks to the Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed 700, it doesn’t matter which type of camper you are, you won’t have to sacrifice the comforts of home to get a good night’s sleep in the outdoors. This bag is so damn cozy, even though its shape is a slim mummy-style design. The first time I slid into this bag was on a 15 degree night outside of Moab, Utah. Still dressed in jeans, a puffy and a few pairs of socks, I shivered and shook for a few minutes while my body worked to get warm. Getting into the Backcountry Bed is like getting into your bed at home, so I pulled the hood of the bag over my head, pulled the covers up tight, and before I knew it, I woke — warm and cozy — to the first rays of the desert sun peaking into my tent.
Pros: Did I mention that this bag is comfy? Because it is. As a restless sleeper, I feel like this bag was designed just for me. For campers that don’t love feeling confined in the body-hugging quarters of a mummy bag, the Backcountry Bed will be a welcomed breath of fresh air. The foot of the bag features a self-sealing foot vent, which means you can pop your feet out if you get hot, or if you’re just looking to get more comfortable. Instead of unzipping the sides of your sleeping bag to allow for more movement and ventilation, with the Backcountry Bed, all it takes is pulling off the oversized comforter that tucks into your sleeping bag, still providing sealed-in heat, but offering much more movement than the average sleeping bag. You know those hot summer nights where you push off the covers in your own bed at home? You can do the same with this bag, and it’s awesome. The top of the interior of the comforter also includes an insulated arms and hands pocket to help seal out drafts and provide another level of warmth on those really cold nights. The Backcountry Bag has been tested to offer a comfortable level of warmth down to 20 degrees, and as someone that tested those boundaries thoroughly, I can vouch for that rating. To further offer warmth in cold conditions, the bag features a stretch cord closure system around the hood to capture as much heat in close to your body as possible. And adding yet another level of comfort to the bag is the zipperless design. Restless sleepers tossing and turning in the night won’t have to worry about rolling over on an uncomfortable zipper. The bag easily moves with your body, but also includes a sleeping pad sleeve to help anchor you to your pad and the ground. With it’s ripstop fabric, this bag is durable, and 700-fill PFC-free dridown, it will loft better and dry faster than a lot of sleeping bags on the market. This bag comes in a men’s design and women’s specific design (20 degree only for women’s) and a unisex design available in 35 degrees. All three bags weigh less than 3 lbs and pack up easily and compactly.
Cons: The foot vent, and the movement and comfort that it offers, is one of my favorite parts of this bag’s design. But on that cold 15 degree night at a campsite in Moab, cold drafts kept finding their way in through that vent, making it harder to keep my feet warm. Although it’s advertised as self sealing, it would be nice to find a more reliable way to securely seal that vent when needed.
Where We Took It: Camping in and around Moab, Utah.