Very comfortable: accommodates all sleeping positions
Easy to read/play cards/etc. while tucked into the bag
Heaviest in the class
Least compressible in the class
The Sierra Designs Backcountry Bed tossed out many modern design strategies and started fresh–and made it work for the most part. The roomy bag felt remarkably comfortable regardless of sleeping position in large part because that quilt panel can be tucked under your chin, around your shoulders, or down below your belly just like a comforter on your bed at home. Though not the lightest, most compact or warmest of the lot, the bag earned universal accolades as the most comfortable bed in the class.
Compressibility The generous, roomy cut and the broad quilt panel provide great comfort but they also contribute to the bag being somewhat bulkier than its competitors. The 800-fill down does mitigate that somewhat, but this is still one of the bigger bags in the class when fully stuffed and compressed.
Warmth to Weight The lack of a zipper would suggest a substantial reduction in weight, but it seems the roomy taper and the cozy quilt make up for any weight-savings gained by dropping the zipper. Still, the warmth can’t be beat. Though the EN limit rating is 20ºF, I spent one comfortable night sleeping peacefully despite the mercury dropping into the teens. For some, the bag proved too warm but a convenient foot vent allowed up to regulate our temperature without having to leave the bag.
Comfort What’s more comfortable than sleeping with a big down comforter tucked up under your chin? Maybe having the comforter being part of a warm down cocoon wrapped comfortably around you. That’s exactly what we have in the Backcountry Bed and without fail, every tester we threw into this bag deemed it the most comfortable sleeping bag they’ve experienced in recent memory.
Durability The 20-denier ripstop nylon shell and taffeta lining resisted tears and without a zipper to catch and cut the fabric, we had zero snags despite heavy use (this was the one bag all our testers wanted to try). We were concerned, however, about the strength and durability of the stitching holding the quilt panel onto the main bag. Some of our heavy movers reported that they put some serious strain on it at times when they rolled and pulled during the night. Despite the strain, though, the seams held firm.
Value Joining the bulk of this class in the $400 range, the Backcountry Bed offers the best comfort in the class, but also the one of the highest weights. Its value will be highest for those who are finicky sleepers while weight-watching fast packers may want to check out something else.