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.
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.
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.
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.
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.