Q&A

Have a question about down? Get answers in the gear selection forum.

Reviews

A bag with the magic of 800 fill DriDown for about…

Rating: rated 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: received for testing via the Trailspace Review Corps (Sample for testing and review provided by Sierra Designs)

Summary

A bag with the magic of 800 fill DriDown for about $100 less than the other bags in the same weight category.

Pros

  • Pocket for your sleeping pad
  • No zipper to snag
  • Foot vent for warmer nights

Cons

  • Not able to attach to other bags

Sierra Designs Cloud 20

800 fill down

Regular: 1 lb 13 oz

In the mountains you need your gear to be as light as possible and still able to do its job. Being light reduces fatigue and lets you move through hazard zones faster thereby reducing your exposure to risk. In short, light is right.

Another philosophy is summarized by, “pack light, freeze at night,” the idea that comfort and good sleep bring safety by reducing fatigue. Also not a bad philosophy.  

So what is a climber/hiker to do? In general, there are three areas where hikers/climbers can make big cuts in their carried weight—pack, shelter, and sleep system. A fourth is you; just lose a few extra belly-pounds, but that isn't as easy as it sounds unfortunately.

To help you on your quest for a light load with gear that still works and doesn’t require a trust fund, Sierra Designs brings us the Cloud 20. This bag seems to do a good job of fixing a few common sleeping bag complaints.

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_164358079.jpgGreat stats for a fair price
thumbnail_IMG_20180621_163958087.jpg

Creepy looks come standard

My Momma says that Zippers are from the Devil:

She’s right, Bobby Boucher! Sierra Design’s idea is to reduce weight in their sleeping bags by removing the zipper completely. And truly, does anyone really like sleeping bag zippers? They ALWAYS snag and catch the lining until the day when they fail altogether and basically turn your bag into a quilt or a prison. Sierra Designs just ditched the zipper and replaced it with a flap you can wrap around yourself.

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_164235503.jpg

All tucked in

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_164249258.jpg

Climb in and wrap up

My bag gets too hot sometimes:

Another headache in sleeping bags in that your warm, cozy feather cocoon becomes stuffy and unbearable on those nights that AREN’T really cold, making you either unzip in the middle of the night (that zipper again) or have to own a quiver of bags for each temp range. Sierra Designs seeks to partially alleviate this with a flap closure and foot vent that allows you to easily bleed-off heat at night without dealing with a zipper.

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_164223297.jpg

Shaped foot box
thumbnail_IMG_20180727_201039148.jpg

Let your feet out for some air

Shoulder Room:

Either your old bag is too spacious, making you heat up useless air with your body or it’s too restrictive and you sleep in a down straight jacket. With the Cloud, the closing flap tucks in as an extra layer under narrow-shouldered people and expands to cover “broader” sleepers. Now you have an adjustable sleeping bag. Sierra Designs says, “you’re welcome.”

Side Sleepers:

Many bags are useless to side-sleepers because they have a fixed shoulder box shape. With the Cloud the shoulder area can conform to the way you sleep. You can even wrap it up under your head like your favorite blankie from home.

Falling off your pad:

Remember how slick those old inflatable pads were? Remember slipping around on them in the night and ending up freezing on the tent floor while camping on a glacier? I do! The Cloud has a sleeve for your pad to slide into which keeps it where it belongs, even for us insufferable tent-mates who roll around in our sleep (mea culpa). To further reduce weight the Cloud doesn’t even have insulation on the underside because we all know that down is useless when it is compressed underneath you. 

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_164636444.jpg

Slide your pad in the pocket and never fall off again

“All is not well on the hippie front…”

As Rainey implied, nothing is perfect. My biggest gripe with the Cloud is that I cannot carry it when I go into the mountains with my wife. I’ll explain: Unlike all men and women’s REI sleeping bags, the Sierra Designs Cloud cannot zip together with your partner’s sleeping bag because, duh, it doesn’t have a zipper! My snuggle-loving wife says, “BOOO!”

Those not “blessed” with a snuggle buddy in their tent or who are looking for an excuse to escape their temperature-incompatible significant other, rejoice!

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_164326157.jpg

Cinch the hood down

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_165619989.jpg

In its storage bag

Price:

Compared to the Feathered Friends Swallow 20 YF ($439), Western Mountaineering UltraLite ($500), and REI Co-op Magma 10 ($349) which all feature similar down power, temperature ratings, and weight, the Cloud 20 ($299) is a fantastic deal. Save that extra scratch for some nicer sunglasses (like the Revant F1), or you could buy me a beer. The options are endless, but buying me a beer is probably the wisest one. 

Packability:

I’ve included some pictures of this bag in its storage and stuff bags with comparison items. With a compression bag you could get it even smaller if that’s your preference.

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_170020591.jpg

In its stuff sack

Durability:

As a lightweight bag I don’t expect to be able to set the Cloud on fire with my stove and still be able to use it years later like I did with my old bag. With the Cloud I can even see down clusters through the fabric of the bag in the right light, which worried me initially. Still though, this bag held up to me airing it out on volcanic lava rock while I broke camp and showed no signs of wear or poor craftsmanship anywhere.

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_165910145.jpg

Gossamer thin fabric, be careful!

Water resistance:

Mountaineers and wet-weather backpackers used to fear down insulation because down becomes a useless wad of feathers when wet. DriDown has changed that so that now we can wear our wet clothes in our bags and still stay warm. A little water doesn’t hurt these things as much. I’ve spent more than a few wet nights in tents with DriDown gear and lived to tell the tale without any ill effects. I even enjoyed myself. If you are reluctant to use DriDown, give it a chance. The 1970s were groovy and all, but things have gotten better. At least down insulation has. 

“Your chicken’s name was Colin”:

Those interested in where the down in your bag was sourced (or Portlandia fans) will rejoice that Sierra Designs lets you know where the hardworking geese who made your bag lived out their final days. I scanned the QR code on my bag and learned that the down in my bag was from a Chinese source. It makes sense, I understand that they eat a lot of goose there and I’m glad they saved the down for my bag.

thumbnail_IMG_20180621_165109317.jpg

Colin was Chinese, evidently

Test Conditions:

I took my two youngest kids and my oldest one on a weekend summit trip to Mount Adams, a 12,000+ foot mountain in Washington (the state). Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your take, the weather was fantastic and the trip was epic-free. I slept in the Cloud on my inflatable Therm-a-Rest pad with the tent door open all night. I usually sleep terribly in the mountains; lucky to get two good hours of real sleep. I was plenty warm as the temps barely reached forty degrees at night with no issues with the Cloud at all. I wore nothing to bed but what The Lord blessed me with plus a beanie, and I swear I had the best night of sleep in the mountains ever. I hit the sack at about eight PM and woke at one AM for an alpine start, fresh as a daisy.

Truly unbelievable. The Cloud never once came open as I slept on my side, belly and back. The pouch on the underside of the Cloud held me right on top my pad perfectly. I believe that my great sleep was owed to the Cloud’s non-constricting shoulder area and good breathability. 

Other than backcountry testing I was also able to test the Cloud in several backyard campout adventures with the kids which got down to the lower forties.   

IMG_0059.jpg

thumbnail_IMG_20180727_160015124_HDR.jpg


thumbnail_IMG_20180727_200918797.jpg

Conclusion:

If you always wanted a lightweight, 800 fill down bag but never thought there would be an affordable one, here it is. If you share any of my frustrations with mummy bags the Cloud may help. If zipping together and snuggling with your tentmate is non-negotiable, well you can keep searching because this isn't your bag. Otherwise I give the Cloud an enthusiastic thumbs-up.


Disclosure: Trailspace received a sample of this product from the brand for field testing and review. The product was assigned by Trailspace to this volunteer Review Corps member. 
 

Charles Brodeur II

To Jeff: Nice review. I agree that SD bags are well constructed with very good materials for a great value, but you might be surprised to know that they DO NOT USE GOOSE DOWN. It's duck down which differs mostly in that the goose down is larger clusters than duck. The advantage being that larger clusters will create more dead air space; read insulating quality. Second is that if you read all the information on the "TRACKMYDOWN" site you'll be amazed, as was I when I read it for my SD Nitro 800/20 bag. That Allied lot number has complete test results and mine were;
Content Analysis IDFB-3 - USA Report Format
Down Cluster 94.1%
Down Fiber 1.8%
Feather Fiber 1.6%
Waterfowl Feathers 2.2%
Broken / Damaged Feathers 0.1%
Quill 0.0%
Landfowl 0.1%
Residue 0.1%
Total 100.0%
Fill Power
Method Conditioning 2-Day Final
IDFB/Lorch Cylinder (in³/30g) Steam IDFB-10-B 910 930


2 months ago
Jake W

Great review Jeff!


2 months ago
FlipNC

Nice review...what will they think of next...tracking your stove fuel back to the holocene period?


2 months ago
Charles Brodeur II

In our current understanding, fossil fuels like oil were formed in the Carboniferous Period in the Paleozoic Era 300 million years ago. Some scientists say that tiny diatoms are the source of oil. Diatoms are sea creatures the size of a pin head. They do one thing just like plants; they can convert sunlight directly into stored energy. The diatoms died they fell to the sea floor. Here they were buried under sediment and other rock. The rock squeezed the diatoms and the energy in their bodies could not escape. The carbon eventually turned into oil under great pressure and heat. As the earth changed and moved and folded, pockets where oil and natural gas can be found were formed. Imagine when our current over use has exhausted the supply what we might replace it with.


2 months ago

Where to Buy

sponsored links
Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support Trailspace's independent gear reviews.