Review: Sierra Designs Nitro 800 mummy || Great price, ordinary design

Cowboy camping in Tablelands at 11,000 feet in September, using the new 20-degree Nitro 800 mummy bag from Sierra Designs

The Sierra Designs spring 2018 line-up has two themes: (1) back to basics, and (2) better pricing. Innovation is not entirely lacking, evidenced by the “zipperless mummy” Cloud series (my review) and the High Side Tent (my review), but the “better and different” mantra was no longer a requirement of new products.

Review: Sierra Designs Nitro 800 mummy bag

These two themes are both embodied in the new Nitro 800 bags: the designs are solid and well executed, but relatively ordinary; and the prices are very competitive.

I slept in the 20-degree Nitro 800 for two consecutive weeks last month while guiding trips in Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park. Nighttime low temperatures were normally in the high-20’s, except for a few nights after a cold front moved through — a nearby monitoring station recorded 13 degrees, although our deliberately selected campsite was probably five degrees warmer. Some nights I slept inside a full-sided tent, but most others I slept my favorite way: cowboy camping under the stars.

In sub-freezing conditions, I abandon my summer quilt in favor of a mummy bag — quilts are too drafty and they leave my head too exposed. Yes, I could carry an insulated balaclava, but a hooded mummy bag is simpler, lighter, more thermally efficient, and less expensive all things being equal.

Based on these two weeks of use, I found the Nitro 800 to be:

  • Lightweight and compressible, for its warmth;
  • Comfortably sized, with room for me (6′ and 160 lbs) while wearing hiking clothes, mid-layer fleece top, puffy jacket, puffy pants, and booties;
  • Thoughtfully designed, e.g. functional hood adjustment, sufficiently long side-zipper, effective anti-snag zipper guard, and simple draft collar.

I will not offer a personal testament as to the Nitro’s temperature rating. The bags were EN tested, and these results are much more reliable when comparing the relative warmth of sleeping bags.

In terms of performance, the Nitro bags are unexceptional: the mummy market is crowded with high-quality bags, and most brands use the exact same materials, construction techniques, and Asian factories. Some brands differentiate their products with premium materials and Made in USA manufacturing (e.g. Western Mountaineering), but for the others it’s a war of weight, warmth, and price point. In this regard, the Nitro 800 generally outperforms the competition.

Another cowboy camp in sub-alpine at around 10,000 feet

Line review & specs

There are five Nitro models:

  • Nitro 800 / 35-deg ($280, 1 lb 6 oz)
  • Nitro 800 / 20-deg ($330, 1 lb 12 oz)
  • Nitro 800 / 0-deg ($380, 2 lb 8 oz)
  • Women’s Nitro 800 / 20-deg ($330, 1 lb 11 oz)
  • Women’s Nitro 800 / 0-deg 9$380, 2 lb 7 oz)

The men’s/unisex models are available in sizes Regular (up to 6′) and Long (up to 6’6″; +2-4 oz vs Regular lengths).

The temperature ratings on the women’s bags are conservative. These models are shorter and narrower (i.e. less surface area), yet contain the same amount of 800-fill down insulation as the men’s bags. As a cost-savings measure, the women’s bags were not EN-tested separately, so the published EN ratings are the same as the men’s models.

The Nitro 800 bags have a 40-inch side zipper. It was sufficient for comfortably getting into and out of the bag, while saving weight over a full-length option (at the expense of versatility).

Materials and construction are consistent across the line:

  • 800 fill-power PFC-free water-resistant DriDown
  • 15-denier shell and liner fabrics
  • 5-inch baffles, which reduces down shifting better than standard 6-inch
  • 40-inch zipper with anti-snag track
  • Cord tension system on the hood
  • Shingled foot vent for lower extremity venting
  • Contoured draft collar on 20- and 0-deg models

To learn more about the Nitro 800 series, watch this video with the Product Manager, Casey Sumnicht.

The 5-inch-wide draft dodger collar runs seam-to-seam and stays in place using the tension of the bag, not a cord tensioner. It’s a feature on the 0- and 20-degree models, not the 35 deg.

Product comps

How does the Nitro 800 compare to existing products? In the chart below I’ve tallied specs of popular mummy bags that are similar to the 35-degree model. Overall, the Nitro 800 35-degree hits a good combination of weight, warmth, and price. There are lighter 35-degree bags and there are less expensive 35-degree bags, but as far as I know there are currently no 35-degree bags that are both lighter and less expensive than the Nitro 800.

Questions or comments about the Nitro 800 series? Post it below.

Disclosure. This website is supported mostly through affiliate marketing, whereby for referral traffic I receive a small commission from select vendors, at no cost to the reader. This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support.

Also, I am a product and marketing consultant for Sierra Designs. But I had zero involvement in the development of this bag.

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