It’s hard to even know where to begin with this bag. It may be one of the more unique sleeping bags i’ve used in my 20 or so years of backpacking.
In the past couple months I picked up the Sierra Designs Cloud 800 sleeping bag after some less than awesome experiences with various quilts that I had been testing. Some of that was user error and some was from the manufactures. With that said, I decided I wanted to dive into a traditional style sleeping bag again and since they were announced, the Cloud series from Sierra Designs really caught my eye.
I first laid eyes on the Cloud while attending the Outdoor Retailer trade show and got a quick look at the bag then. What struck me about this bag is its design more than anything. Here we had a design that achieved almost a hybrid of a mummy style sleeping bag with a quilt. And most notable, was the lack of a zipper. Okay, you’ve got my attention. No this wasn’t the Backcountry Bed from Sierra Designs, but a whole new design that was a play off the Backcountry Bed.
Essentially you’ve got a mummy shaped bag with a little bit more room, that has a quilt like system that folds out from one side and allows you to slide your legs into the footbox, then wrap the quilt around your torso and cut off any draft points in the bag. Pretty slick. This feature/design alone is what drew me to this bag. I’ve always loved the concept of a quilt, but for ground sleeping, a quilt just really isn’t ideal for cold weather. The Cloud brings the two together and makes it a great system.
Now after several nights in the Cloud, I can say it’s been one of the more enjoyable sleeping experiences that i’ve had. It has a setup with an integrated pad sleeve where you slide your pad into the sleeve, making the bag and pad one unit. This is important as it allows you to move within the bag and not have the bag slide around with you. Another important aspect to point out is the lack of insulation within the back panel of the bag, which can turn into a negative if you do not have a well insulated sleeping pad, or you don’t use the pad sleeve. Why you ask? Not using the pad sleeve will allow the bag to move with you when you turn from side to side and may result in the back of the bag lifting from the pad/ground and now opening a cold spot on the bag. Easily managed by using the pad sleeve and a well insulated pad.
So what else? Why not just get a quilt if there isn’t insulation on the back panel? The thing about the Cloud is you’re truly getting full coverage with the bag around your shoulders and your head, as there is a full hood for those colder nights.
Let’s talk about some of the specs and one more feature, then a couple potential negatives.
First, Sierra Designs is using an 800 fill power dri down in this bag. Not only that, they are some real sticklers about where their down is sourced. You can rest assured you’re sleeping in a bag that has down that was taken from happy feathered friends. That’s important to me and to a lot of people. Second, they are using durable yet lightweight 15 denier nylon fabrics for the inner and outer. One more feature that stands out about this bag is the foot vent system. I cannot even begin to tell you how nice it is to have the ability without having to take my hands out of the bag, or get out of the bag to adjust temperature in the bag. Simply lift my knees and slide my foot out the foot vent. Genius! But really this has been a rad system, and if it were a quilt with a draw string setup, i’d have to sit up, lose all the heat I trapped and adjust the tension on the foot box to stick a foot out or close it to eliminate a draft point. This is a big deal for me, and I applaud Sierra Designs for thinking of this feature.
Now the potential negatives. You could argue if you are a gram counter that this bag compared to the competition is a little heavy. I mean it weighs on my scale just under 2 pounds, and the advertised weight is 1 pound 13 oz. For me, I don’t mind the weight, but there will be those who will argue otherwise. Second, the colors seem to be something that a few have commented they don’t love. Again, I don’t mind, but if you’re an earth tone, keep it boring kinda person, then you’re not going to love the yellow stripe.
Another aspect that some might find an issue is this may not be the best side sleeper bag, as the quilt only opens on one side, which can make facing the side that doesn’t open kind of awkward and depending on your body size, could make it difficult to ensure the quilt is fully covering your back and draft points are eliminated. If only every bag was the perfect bag.
I’ve been quite pleased with the performance of the Cloud 20 degree. Sleeping down to temperatures of mid 30’s without getting cold was a nice change from previous 20 or even 30 degree bags/quilts i’ve used. Well done Sierra Designs, you’ve made this outdoor gear nerd a happy camper!