sierra-designs-nitro-800-dridown-20-deg-review-dirtbagdreams.com

ProView – Sierra Designs Nitro 800 Dridown 20 Deg

The Sierra Designs Nitro 800 packed down small into my pack for multi-day and overnight ski traverses in the Cascades of Washington. It was the warm, cozy hug I needed at the end of a long day to get me ready for another hard push!

Sierra Designs Nitro 800 Dridown 20 Deg

Product Description: "A strong environmental consciousness scored big points for us here." - Elevation Outdoors

Offer price: MSRP: $359.95 - $379.95

  • Quality
    (4)
  • Features
    (4)
  • Fit
    (4)
  • Durability
    (5)
  • Eco-Friendly
    (4)

Summary

The Sierra Designs Nitro is a versatile, comfortable, lightweight sleeping bag that can cover all sorts of outdoor adventures, from alpine missions to car camping trips to long-distance thru-hikes. It packs down small, resists moisture and condensation, and is packed with features, such as a foot vent, that make it feel luxurious while still disappearing into the bottom of your pack.

Overall
4.2

Pros

  • Warm for weight
  • Comfortable with luxurious features
  • Packs down small
  • Foot vent
  • Comfortable hood

Cons

  • Foot vent can cause drafts 
  • High-volume fit takes a while to warm up

I brought the Nitro 20 degree bag along with me on ski mountaineering trips, either camping out of the back of my car or on the frozen glaciers beneath high peaks. For the most part, I used the Nitro 20 degree in above freezing temperatures; only once did I take the Nitro into overnight temperatures near its limit rating of 20F. 

sierra-designs-nitro-800-dridown-20-deg-review-dirtbagdreams.com
An impromptu bivy with the Nitro on Snowking Mountain.

For years I have used the REI Igneo 20F mummy bag, which has a very similar design and construction to the Nitro. The Nitro, in comparison, has more features and packs down smaller than the Igneo, while adding on some additional features.

Fit/Comfort

The Nitro is on the “roomy” side for a mummy bag. At 6’1”, I tested out the long model. The length was perfect, but the interior volume was certainly spacious. For me, this meant that the bag slept a bit colder than smaller volume bags, which have less air volume that needs to be heated by your body. I would have preferred a slightly more tapered fit to the Nitro if I was to take it on really cold nights. 

sierra-designs-nitro-800-dridown-20-deg-review-dirtbagdreams.com

I loved the comfort of the hood design, which wrapped around my face and provided both protection from the wind and a sufficient breathing channel. In other sleeping bag models I have found the hood design to be too constrictive, and I often have a hard time breathing when I cinch down the hood for added warmth. With the Nitro, I was able to cinch down the hood and keep my mouth and nose exposed for air, while keeping my head and face nice and warm.

Look/Style

The Nitro comes in a red/black/yellow color scheme that is visually appealing. I don’t normally carry much red in my wardrobe, so it was a nice addition.

Features

The Nitro stands out from other sleeping bags because of its features, particularly the “self-sealing” foot vent. At night, I could walk around camp with the Nitro on like a jacket; if I got hot during the night, I could slide my feet through the vent for some extra airflow. 

sierra-designs-nitro-800-dridown-20-deg-review-dirtbagdreams.com
Sticking my feet out through the foot vent

My only complaint with the foot vent is that it is not truly “self-sealing”, as Sierra Designs claims. There is no zipper or cinch to seal up the vent; it is simply a flap design that overlaps. For really cold nights, drafts could easily come through the foot vent and make the bag sleep colder than if it did not have the foot vent.

The one feature that I feel is missing from the Nitro is a zipper pocket inside the sleeping bag for a phone, headlamp, etc. At night I stuff all my electronics and batteries into my sleeping bag to avoid them getting cold and losing their battery life. With the foot vent and no internal zipper, this resulted in some loose items in my sleeping bag falling out of the bag at night, or becoming tangled up in the fabric and hard to find in the morning. Just one zipper pocket would be much appreciated.

Weight/Packability

I was very pleased with the Nitro’s packability and weight. The Nitro weighs in under 2 lbs, which is standard for most 20 degree bags. For comparison, my REI Igneo weighs in at 1 lb. 15 oz., the same claimed weight as the Sierra Designs Nitro.

The Nitro comes with a stuff sack, but it does not compress or cinch down. I used a smaller volume stuff sack and was able to significantly reduce the packed volume of the Nitro. I would recommend buying a smaller volume stuff sack or compression sack for the Nitro if you are looking to reduce its packed volume; the stuff sack that Sierra Designs provides simply doesn’t cut it, in my opinion.

Function/Performance

The Nitro performs well in multiple areas: warmth-for-weight, water resistance, and wind resistance. Sierra Designs infuses the Nitro with 800 fill-power DriDown, which makes it both warm-for-weight and water-resistant. I noticed that the Nitro repelled both incident water splashes and condensation well, especially morning dew that many times had soaked through my Igneo 20d. 

Durability/Construction

The 15-denier ripstop nylon outer material of the Nitro provides a sturdy outer surface for the Nitro. I did not notice any ripping, tearing, or leakage of feathers in my weeks of testing.

Eco-Friendly

Sierra Designs uses PFC-free DriDown in their construction of the Nitro, and responsibly sources their down products, tracing their sourcing and suppliers. In 2021, Sierra Designs plans to make their products with fully recycled materials, and will have an estimate of how many recycled water bottles are put into their 2021 sleeping bag models. A neat metric from Sierra Designs and a clear indication that they are keeping their eye on their environmental impact!

Room for Improvement

To make the Nitro just a bit better, Sierra Designs could add a cinch or sealing feature to the foot vent to avoid overnight drafts on cold, windy nights, and could add an internal zipper pocket for phones, electronics, etc. 

The Final Word

The Sierra Designs Nitro is a versatile, comfortable, lightweight sleeping bag that can cover all sorts of outdoor adventures, from alpine missions to car camping trips to long-distance thru-hikes. It packs down small, resists moisture and condensation, and is packed with features, such as a foot vent, that make it feel luxurious while still disappearing into the bottom of your pack.

Overall, the Nitro is a great product and will last for years as your go-to sleeping bag!

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About the Gear Tester

Outdoor Prolink Pro
sam-chaneles
Sam Chaneles
Trip and Expedition Leader for ORGT ::

Sam Chaneles is currently a Mechanical Engineering student at Georgia Tech, where he is a Trip and Expedition Leader for the school’s Outdoor Recreation program (ORGT). He has led expeditions to New Zealand, Alaska, Corsica, France, and throughout the United States. When not leading trips for ORGT, Sam is an avid mountaineer and backpacker, climbing peaks in the Cascades, Mexico, Ecuador, and Africa, as well as hiking the John Muir Trail and off-trail routes in Colorado. He has climbed peaks such as Aconcagua, Mt. Rainier, Cotopaxi, Chimborazo, Kilimanjaro, and many more. You can follow Sam and his adventures on Instagram at @engineeredforadventure, or on his website at www.engineeredforadventure.com.

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