Established in 1982, Rab sleeping bags quickly dominated the performance end of the sleeping bag market. But other brands rapidly caught them up and arguably superseded their design. But for 2010 Rab is back with a stunning new range of sleeping bags that look set to place the company back at the top.
The new range of Rab Alpine bags take everything the brand has learnt since the Eighties with the addition of modern materials. Firstly there is the down quality, which is 800 fill power goose down. This is combined with Pertex Quantum, the lightest of the range at 32g/m2, plus Pertex Endurance on the outer for better water resistance as this material has a hydrostatic head of 1 metre, making it almost waterproof except for the seams, which are not waterproof. The Rab Alpine 400 uses the trapezoidal construction method, where each baffle is shaped like a box with sides that taper together a little towards the top. This reduces cold spots without adding too much weight. Also the foot is angled so the toes don’t squash the down in this area. There is an anti-snag webbing tape down the full-length zip. A shoulder baffle completes a great design.
On the hill
The Rab Alpine 400 packs down to a reasonable size and weight for backpacking, but it is not the smallest or lightest here. Tugging it from the stuffsack there is a robustness about the feel of the bag. It feels like it has more insulation and loft than some other bags. But what I liked straight away was that the zip that didn’t snag as easily as some others tend to. The zip baffle is also wider than some other bags, which adds weight and cost, but reduces cold spots of course. The bag is very comfortable thanks to that tapered foot in part, but also the body and hood fit well. The drawcords worked well and this bag felt right straight away. Over recent years I have been less than impressed with Rab bags, but at last we see the brand returning to the quality it was known for in the Eighties. A great product.
In the lab
Our test results (11TOG / -12.5 deg C) were warmer than the manufacturer’s ratings, but this allows performance to drop a little over time and still be within the limits for 3-season use. More importantly there was quality insulation throughout the bag and a water-resistant shell, so the Rab Alpine 400 is good on the hill as well as in the lab.
Outer fabric Pertex Endurance
Inner fabric Pertex
Fill weight 400g 90/10 goose down
Fill power 800+
Lower comfort temp rating -6 deg C
Trail temp rating -12.5 deg C
Packed size 35x16cm in stuffsack; 26x16cm compressed
Weight 1090g bag; 64g stuffsack
Made in China (shell), filled in UK
Stores across UK 32
Stockist details tel. (01773) 601870; www.rab.uk.com
The Rab Alpine 400 has a water-resistant shell, tapered foot, excellent zip and baffle; easy-to-adjust drawcords. However, there are lighter and more compact bags, but if you can tolerate the weight, then this is ideal for backpacking in a wide variety of British or Alpine conditions. It won the ‘Best in test’ accolade.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2010