Although this El Nino year has put a damper on some mid-winter excursions, there’s no question that camping fans already have their eyes on the next two seasons. To add fuel to that fire, a new Sierra Designs sleeping bag called the Frontcountry Bed has just hit the scene, and its unique design may have you reconsidering whether it’s cool again to be square. Or, more accurately, rectangular.
Many sleeping bags in recent years have been mummy bags, a form factor that definitely has its proponents. But the new Sierra Designs sleeping bag is an insulated, padded re-imagining of the decades-old rectangular style that builds on the company’s momentum from last year’s Backcountry bags.
To be clear, the Frontcountry Bed includes an oversized, integrated comforter that’s larger than the Backcountry’s and can be tucked into (or pulled out of) the bag to accommodate any sleep position. It also has a fully insulated bottom and room for standard pillow. In other words, the new Sierra Designs sleeping bag is best suited for destination camping and car camping, not backpacking. But, for people who have Raynaud’s syndrome and are just venturing back outdoors, that type of camping is most likely on tap, so the insulated Frontcountry Bed could be a nice option.
Interestingly, the Frontcountry Bed has no zipper. Instead of zipping you up, the bed’s oval opening adjusts in width as you roll over to reduce chilly drafts going down your back. I’m particularly keen on this aspect, as rolling up into a warm fetal-shaped ball in the middle of the night often leads to an uncomfortable blast of cold. It will be interesting to see if this works as advertised.
Depending on the size of Frontcountry Bed you choose, a sleeve on the bottom adjusts between 20 and 25 inches in width to fit sleeping pads of various widths. The larger Queen-sized Frontcountry Bed gets into the act as well, with a larger sleeve that lets you insert an inflatable air mattress. You can see a photo of this in the sixth image on this page.
When Sierra Designs first announced the Frontcountry Bed last summer, the company said it would “include both DriDown and Poly-Fiber synthetic fill options.” That’s technically true with the new Sierra Designs sleeping bag, though only one — the single-sleeper 600 model — offers DriDown on the top. The remaining five options, from Queen to Youth, all use short staple synthetic.
Regardless of insulation, all six sleeping bags offer that integrated cushion at the bottom and comforter, both of which look nice and toasty. The prospect of having both a mattress-like cushion and a sleeping pad underneath it may conjure images of the princess and the pea, but I’m not too proud to admit I like my comfort. And the Frontcountry Bed’s mix of padding and warmth sure sounds mighty comfortable.