Outside of a tent, any backpacker knows the heaviest, bulkiest item in the pack is the sleeping bag. I don’t particularly enjoy cramming my down mummy bag into my pack, so I was excited to review Sierra Designs’ lightweight, highly compressible Backcountry Quilt 15 over the Presidents’ Day Weekend. In the below photo, I just used the included stuff sack, but I was able to easily compress it further with a dry sack. And at 1lb 15oz, this little guy really doesn’t weigh much at all for a sleeping bag alternative.

I would normally be wary about relying on down to keep me warm on a winter camping trip in the Cascades (Washington snow is notorious for its wetness), but the Backcountry Quilt’s 700-fill has been treated with DriDown. These duck down feathers are water-repellent! So I dragged the Backcountry Quilt outside my tent for its photo op, despite the quickly falling snow. I brushed the snow off and found no dark, wet spots at all compared to my experiences with my mummy bag.

Next, I dragged the quilt into my tent for a trial run. I paired it with my go-to inflatable air pad with an R value of 3.9, and I wore a base layer, wool socks, and a wool cap. The Backcountry Quilt has a European Norm (EN) Comfort Rating of 28F, which means that 28F is the lowest temperature at which the bag will keep the average woman or “cold sleeper” comfortable. I am both a woman and a cold sleeper. As evening approached, the air temperature in the tent was clocking in around 37F — near the lower limits of the bag.

I curled up in the Backcountry Quilt, enjoying the comforter-like nature of the quilt (you can wrap yourself up like a burrito). It has no zipper and is not constraining like the standard mummy bag, so if you’re a side-sleeper like me and you shift sides frequently (to give your poor shoulder with all the weight a break from digging into the ground), you’ll probably like the freedom of the Backcountry Quilt. The quilt also features a neat little alternative called the “Hide-Away Hood” for you to tuck your head into, which I found more comfortable than my mummy’s drawstring hood, which is a bit too tight for my head when I’m wearing a cap.

The downside: I could not get warm. I was frigid. Even after I put my down jacket on, I was still cold, so I had to call the test after an hour and get into my mummy bag (EN rating 23F). To be fair, I’ve heard that some people use sleeping pads with an R value of 5 and above for winter camping, although I didn’t feel cold radiating from below me. I wasn’t particularly toasty in my mummy bag either, just adequately warm.

Upon further analysis, the Backcountry Quilt only has 17.85 oz of fill, but it measures 76″ long. That’s a lot of area to cover with that amount of fill; it’s stretched pretty thin. Now the thinner material makes it easier to wrap around yourself like a blanket, but it comes at a price if you’re a cold sleeper.

Conclusion: I would be happy to take this bag with me spring and summer and save on pack space, but I wouldn’t want to rely on it for warmth during temperatures below 50F. Warm sleepers may be able to take better advantage of the Backcountry Quilt’s temperature range, however.

Sierra Designs Backcountry Quilt 15 Dridown








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