Camping has historically been a bit prohibitive for me in non-summer months. Because I have Raynaud’s Syndrome, sleeping outdoors with overnight temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit has literally and figuratively frozen me. Having changed my approach to life last year, that camping was going to change. I’ve tested a couple different sleeping bags this spring, each with a very different style. They both delivered the goods. And I was particularly impressed with the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed sleeping bag.
Calling the Frontcountry Bed a sleeping bag is technically correct: you sleep in it, and it’s a bag. But although it is rectangular, this ain’t your mama’s or papa’s sleeping bag. For starters, the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed comes in sizes ranging from “normal” to “obscenely huge.” I tested the Frontcountry Bed Duo, which is the size of a double bed and accommodates two people. That in and of itself is radical, and I’ll address it in a minute, but Sierra Designs also offers a queen-bed-sized version. All iterations include a sleeve on the bottom that allows you to insert a sleeping mat or, in the case of the queen-size version, an inflatable air mattress.
There are two things I’d call the “secret sauce” of the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed. First is that it accommodates two people. For years my wife and I have used sleeping bags that zip together, which allows us to cuddle for warmth but forces one of us against a cold zipper in the middle of the night. By comparison, the Frontcountry Bed sleeping bag is just one huge compartment. While the zip-together sleeping bags get the job done, the solution isn’t really comfortable. You can tell the functionality is a whizbang feature, but it’s not really the sleeping bags’ calling card. Sierra Designs’ new sleeping bag series puts two-person sleeping on its ear. The Frontcountry Bed not only accommodates mid-night cuddling, but frankly embraces and encourages it.
Aside from sheer size, the Frontcountry Bed’s innovative comforter really makes tandem sleeping possible. Most rectangular sleeping bags have a full-length zipper up the side. When you zip two bags together, you don’t have any way to get out but “up and over” the top. The Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed doesn’t have a single zipper. Instead, there’s a large opening that begins about halfway down and extends almost to the top. Filling this hole is an integrated comforter that feels exactly like a blanket would at home — and allows each person to make personalized adjustments.
For example, if my wife got too warm she could easily put one or both arms out of the blanket while I stayed huddled underneath. If I needed to make a midnight toilet run with the kids, I could easily clamber out of the sleeping bag’s opening while my wife stayed tucked under the comforter. And, while the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed is wide by design, the built-in comforter adds an extra level of maneuverability for rolling around in the middle of the night.
Another comfort-focused feature is a sleeve on the bottom that allows you to insert any sleeping pad between 20 and 25 inches wide. I used a three-inch pad on either side, which basically meant we never felt the hard ground. The Frontcountry Bed is rated down to 27 degrees, so it kept us nice and toasty, but adding sleeping pads as we did with a good R-value added to the warmth. Now, it’s true that anyone can put a sleeping pad underneath their sleeping bag. But the sleeve on the Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed kept the pads from floating out from underneath us at night.
Since it’s so large, the Frontcountry Bed is definitely designed for car camping. In fact, Sierra Designs deliberately named it. The Frontcountry Bed sleeping bag is nearly eight pounds; there’s no way it’s suited for backcountry camping. It also technically has a rolled-up size of 13″ wide by 21″ long. But it’s nearly impossible to pack down to that factory size. Sierra Designs should’ve included straps to keep it wrapped-up as you put it into the stuff sack. They also should’ve included some way to clip the left and right sides together before rolling-up this beast. My wife struggled to roll it up herself for a five minutes before slamming it into the ground and storming away from the tent. She never gets pissed. I was able to roll it up by myself afterward, but her reaction was telling.
Other than roll-up frustrations, I love the new Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed sleeping bag. It’s warm, it really supports cuddling, and its integrated comforter makes it truly feel like an outdoor bed. If car camping is in your future, the Frontcountry Bed definitely deserves a spot in your trunk.
The Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed sleeping bag was provided for review. All opinions and words are my own and honest, and the article contains no affiliate links.
Sierra Designs Frontcountry Bed
- Natively accommodates two sleepers
- Awesome comforter really works and isn't just a gimmick
- Great temperature rating keeps you warm
- Material at the top of the opening keeps pillows from falling out
- Way too hard to pack-up when done
- Difficult to get sleeping pads inserted once they're inflated