The Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 surprised us: It’s one of the best sleeping bags we’ve tested — and it’s not exactly a sleeping bag nor is it a true quilt. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt is more quilt than sleeping bag, but it’s sized so generously it can work almost like a bag.
To learn more about the innovative new style, Sierra Designs provided Man Makes Fire with a 15-degree Backcountry Quilt model. Our gear testers promptly took it backpacking in the Eagle Cap Wilderness in Oregon in August. Here is what we learned.
*Note: Sierra Designs no longer makes the 15-degree version; instead, Sierra Designs now offers a 20-degree and a 35-degree option.
Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 Review
The Backcountry Quilt combines an enclosed foot box with a full-size upper blanket-like quilt. It’s plenty long, so even users well over 6’ tall will have enough quilt to wrap over their shoulders. As for the shoulders, the quilt has two pockets at the corners that you can tuck over the ends of a sleeping pad — if you have a relatively stiff and squarish sleeping pad. For us, the tuck corners kept slipping out of our curved sleeping pads . . . but it wasn’t much of a problem because there is plenty of blanket to wrap around your shoulders no matter which way you turn and tuck.
When it’s hot, you have lots of ways to create gaps to regulate temperature.
If it gets really cold, Sierra Designs has a new “Hide-Away Hood” feature that looks a bit weird but works fantastically well. This hood is basically an opening with a hood pocket on the back side. If you put your face through the opening, the hood will wrap around the back of your head. It wasn’t cold enough for anyone to use it long in the Eagle Caps, but during testing it rapidly increases the warmth factor. It’s a lot like wearing a down stocking cap. Better yet, unlike many traditional mummy-style hoods, you can fully turn onto your side while using this hood and it stays in place.
In short, we were surprised by the functionality of the hood. Where we might have concerns about three season warmth with a quilt, the hood gives us an extra measure of confidence that the quilt style will still keep us warm even if the temperatures dip — at least down to the European Norm comfort limit of 17 degrees that the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 is rated to.
Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 Review: Sizing
Interestingly, the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 is sized up to handle people up to 6’4” tall. The length is 80 inches. The Shoulder width is 58 inches with a hip width of 58 inches. In real-world use, the quilt feels much more roomy than a standard mummy style bag, and it accommodates most every sleeping style.
The foot box is plenty big for size 14 feet, and our smallest tester actually placed her 23-inch wide Klymit Static V2 sleeping pad inside the foot box and had plenty of room. She liked how it anchored the bottom of the quilt for her. Here is how this works out: Once the temperature starts dropping around 4 a.m., having the foot box sort of anchored makes it easy to put your feet back in the warm foot box — you don’t have to fully exit your slumber if you’ve pulled the quilt around at some wild angle in your sleep. (If you’re a bigger guy and want to anchor the foot box, too, there are two loops near the bottom of the quilt you could use to run cord under your pad to help you keep everything aligned.)
Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700 Review: Materials and Weight
The weight of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt is 1 lb 15 oz, putting it into the competitive under 2 lb backpacking sleeping bag category. The shell and liner material is a surprisingly durable 20D nylon ripstop fabric. Just feeling it, I would have guessed it was a bit heavier at 30D. Either way, if you backpack with dogs and still want an ultralight sleeping bag, you’ll likely want at least a 20D material for when your dog walks over your bag.
What about the down? It’s a 700-fill power duck DriDown, which is duck down that has a hydrophobic treatment to help it resist moisture better than bare down.
This down isn’t as lofty as 850 or 900-fill power goose down, but it’s still good down — and it’s lighter and better than most every synthetic option. While the down has a midrange fill power, the price-to-value ratio is where the Backcountry Quilt stands out: It retails for just under $250. To get a backpacking sleeping bag that weighs less than two pounds at this price point is pretty amazing. Many competing bags and quilts hit $350 and many ramp well past $500. Consequently, the price-to-value ratio of the the Backcountry Quilt is superb.
All-in-all, we were surprised at how much we liked the friendly, warm and versatile functionality of the Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 700. In fact, without any zippers, the quilt pretty much invites you to grab it out of your tent in the cool mornings and use it for a bit more insulation while you drink a cup of coffee. The Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt is deceptively simple but incredibly functional. Highly recommended.