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Preview: Sierra Designs 2018 sleeping bags || Highlight: “Zipperless mummy”

The mens Nitro (left) and womens zipperless Cloud (right), SD’s new premium mummy bags.

The Sierra Designs 2018 sleeping bag program includes four distinct models, each with several temperature rating options and in a male and female version: an updated Backcountry Bed and Zissou mummy, and an entirely new Nitro and Cloud, which are an ultralight mummy and “zipperless mummy,” respectively.

The Backcountry Bed and Nitro will be available on September 1, exclusively from Backcountry.com, Backcountry Edge, Campsaver, and Moosejaw, as well as SierraDesigns.com. The other models will arrive for Spring 2018.

An overarching theme for Sierra Designs in 2018 is the return to well designed and built gear at attainable prices. This goal was perhaps fulfilled best by its sleeping bag line-up — it will be difficult to find bags of this quality at better prices.

Nitro

The new Nitro is a straight-up mummy made with premium materials like 800-fill PFC-free DriDown and 15d shell and liner fabrics. It includes several nice design features, like a zipperless foot vent, 5-inch baffles (not 6-in) for better down control, and a unique “draft dodger” draft collar in the 20- and 0-degree versions.

It will be available in three temperature ratings:

  • 35-deg ($299, 1 lb 6 oz),
  • 20-deg ($329, 1 lb 12 oz), and
  • 0-deg ($379, 2 lb 8 oz)

These low weights were not achieved by giving the bags slim-fit dimensions. Shoulder girth is a standard 62 inches.

Cloud

The more innovative of SD’s two new models is the Cloud, which is a “zipperless mummy” made with the same premium materials as the Nitro. Earlier this month I used the 35-deg version on an 8-night trip, and feel that its recognition at Outdoor Retailer by passer-bys and by Gear Institute (“Best New Gear”) will be validated once it’s taken into the field.

The 35- and 20-degree Cloud bags are less expensive but marginally heavier than their Nitro counterparts.

  • 35-deg ($270, 1 lb 7 oz)
  • 20-deg ($300, 1 lb 13 oz)

Weight was dropped by removing the zipper, but added back with a pad sleeve and due to overlapping materials in the opening. The sleeve keeps the bag on the pad and tensions open the hole. The overlapping materials were a function of the design, but also happen to give the Cloud a variable girth of several inches. This useful if you plan to sometimes wear your insulated clothing to bed, and the lack of it is a limitation for conventional mummy bags.

I plan to write a more in-depth review about the Cloud, but for now I will say that its performance is about what you might expect: between a mummy and a quilt. It can be sealed up like a mummy, thanks to a thoughtful comforter design. But its simplicity and versatility is more quilt-like.

The comforter is designed such that it gently wraps around the user’s shoulder, helping to seal up the bag. #photobomb by my BFF Oden.

Backcountry Bed

With the introduction of the Cloud, the innovative Backcountry Bed could be moved to its rightful place: a very comfortable but relatively heavy sleeping bag with a budget-friendly price that will be of greatest interest to backcountry campers, not gram-weenies. There is simply too much build in the BCB to achieve weights competitive with a simpler mummy or quilt.

The new BCB has PFC-free 700-fill DriDown, 20d fabrics, and 5-inch baffles. It will be available in two temperature ratings:

  • 35-deg ($249, 1 lb 15 oz)
  • 20-deg ($289)

In comparison to the current Backcountry Bed, the 2018 model has undergone several revisions:

  • The hood is more contoured (less boxy), to improve thermal efficiency.
  • The hole opening is one baffle longer, making for easier entry and exit. And,
  • The hood was made larger, so that there is room for a pillow.

Sneak peek 2018: Backcountry Beds allow you to sleep in the backcountry with all the comforts of home. #sierradesigns #milesfromordinary #orsm17

A post shared by Sierra Designs | Think Outside (@sierradesigns) on

Zissou

This mummy seeks a similar balance of comfort, weight, and price as the new Backcountry Bed — but in a traditional design. (Well, not entirely traditional — it has a second zipper so that it can be opened like a comforter if so desired.) Specs include PFC-free 650-fill DriDown, 20d fabrics, generous dimensions, and competitive prices $199, $239, and $279 for the 35-, 20-, and 0-degree versions.

7 Comments

  1. jaun on August 6, 2017 at 4:46 am

    How was it for you to go from ultralight equipment (MLD, Golite etc) to Sierra Design ?

  2. Ty on September 6, 2017 at 8:43 am

    Andrew what type of sleeping pad do you prefer? Anything that is a good bang for the buck?

    Thanks

    • Andrew Skurka on September 6, 2017 at 1:48 pm

      For the summertime I use a discontinued uninsulated air pad that I bought for $30 on clearance. It works great. For cooler months I use the NeoAir XLite, and while it was a pricey purchase it has withstood 150+ nights now with only one small leak that I found and patched.

  3. David on October 27, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    I have been considering a Backcountry Bed to replace my mummy bag since I sleep on my side and move around a lot. I tend to get twisted up in my mummy bag and also move off my pad. The Cloud, as mentioned in the article, may be a lighter weight alternative that could work for me. I am also a cold sleeper and prefer the warmest bag possible. I would like to see one in person before buying one, but as I mention below, this may not be possible.

    It appears that REI will not be carrying these bags as well as other Sierra Designs products in the future. REI is not mentioned in the article and all Sierra Designs products look like they are on sale on the REI Garage section of their website.

    Also, all the outlets where the products will be available appear to be online only with the exception of Moosejaw and they have very few physical stores. They have one each in Illinois, Colorado, Missouri and seven in Michigan. This means it will be extremely difficult to see a product in person before buying it.

    I am curious to know the business reasons for REI not selling Sierra Designs products in the future if that is truly the case, as it will severely limit the locations to see products before buying them.

    • Andrew Skurka on October 27, 2017 at 8:03 pm

      If you haven’t already, you should read my review about the Cloud, https://andrewskurka.com/2017/review-sierra-designs-cloud-35-20-zipperless-mummy/.

      As far as distribution, SD would love for REI to carry the Cloud and other SD products. But REI has chosen not to, for reasons of their own. So the Cloud is like an increasing number of products, available only through online retailers or directly from the manufacturer. Retailers accept unused returns, and sometimes even with free shipping in both directions; even if you have to pay to ship it back, the shipping is probably less than the value of your time and gas money in visiting a nearby store.

  4. David on October 27, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Andrew,

    Thank you for taking time to respond. My family and I have several SD Items we have used over the years and have been pleased with them. The new products developed over the last few years are very inovative with very useful and well thought out features. It appears your relationship with SD is a good match. They have respected expert to help with product development and you have a company to implement you ideas.

    I did read your review of the Cloud and that is what got me interested in it. I will give one a try when they are available. Hopefully it will allow a little more room to move around or as you mentioned, wear additional layers if needed. Plus the sleeping pad sleeve is something I really need. Will the long version add any width or just length at the foot end?

    Thanks again – I appreciate your wealth of knowledge and experience that you share.

    • Andrew Skurka on October 30, 2017 at 7:56 am

      The Long sizes are usually a little bit wider, too. I could confirm this with SD, but I’m reasonably confident this will be the case. Consider that the Nitro series, which is a simpler cousin of the Cloud, is 62/56/40 inches in diameter at the shoulder/hip/foot for size Regular, and 64/58/42 for the Long.

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