Some more new toys

Last week I booked a long weekend off work to enjoy a camping trip with my wife in Snowdonia, Wales.

Incidentally, up the road from us en route to Wales happens to be the HQ for Rab – whereby we pulled over and paid them a visit.

Here, I picked up two new toys to have a play with out on the hills.

The first, a Rab Neutrino 400. As many of you know, for warmth to weight ratio – you just can’t beat down insulation.

Rab use only the best down feathers for their bags and it shows – they are extremely light, pack down very small and the loft is quite simply incredible.

For example, you can flatten this down bag to nothing – yet take your hand or weight away and it quickly floats back up.

I shall not go too in-depth about this particular bag for now but what I can say is that I was absolutely roasting    on it’s first night’s use. The bag was comfortable – not too tight or too wide – the zip didn’t snag and so on.

Excellent. On initial use a superb 3 season down bag.

Secondly, I picked up a Rab Assault Bivvi. I’ve not tried this out yet – but will do soon. I’m indifferent to bivvi’s in the main simply because my Laser Competition tent weigh’s less and packs smaller than most – with the added benefit of more room, a porch and so on.

But there’s something appealing about spending a night under the stars with nothing enveloping you and your senses.

However, bivvi’s can be notorious for condensation – especially with the UK’s maritime climate – never mind the rain we can get out the blue for prolonged periods and temperature fluctuations.

Not wanting to potentially ruin a new and expensive down bag, I was fortunate enough to purchase a lightweight synthetic sleeping bag in Betws-Y-Coed, Wales.

I managed to get hold of a Mountain Hardwear Lamina 45 for £50 in a clearance sale!!

Synthetic bags maybe bulky, heavy and not have as good a shelf-life as down bags – but if you get them wet or damp – they are still effective at retaining warmth for the user during and after use. As opposed to down bags, of course which are duly ruined.

All said and done, this synthetic sleeping bag has a comfort rating of 6 degree’s centigrade and weighs just under 800g’s. About the same as my new Rab Neutrino but not as potentially warm.

So, this bag would make a brilliant choice to use with a bivvi one summer’s night in the UK.

All in all a bloody good weekend for me with gear – it’s just a shame that the good weather didn’t last for all of my weekend in Snowdonia. It started off so well with blue skies and sunshine but after a couple of days it turned into a monsoon!

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11 Comments Add yours

  1. IAIN says:

    how would you compare the rab bag to alpkits pipedreams?

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  2. terrybnd says:

    Hi Iain,

    You can immediately tell the difference in the quality of the down used.

    Alpkit's feels tough and a bit heavy – whereas Rab's feels like fluff.

    Plus, the shell fabric is lighter like silk on the Rab bags.

    In all you can see the price difference but performance-wise they are the same, really.

    You still get warm etc.

    So, in effect the lighter, softer, better loft for less weight – get Rab.

    If you're not so fussed, then Alpkit.

    However, saying all that – the Alpkit down bags are much better than other higher-priced down bags I've used and come across with other brands!

    Mountain Hardwear, The North Face and so on. IMO your good to go and save money with Alpkit.

    Cummulus are as good for me as the Rab bags – but tend to have less comfort features.

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  3. Martin Rye says:

    RAB have come on with their new range Terry. I was looking at the 400 vs my summerlite bag made by Western mountaineering.

    Neutrino 400g of down 830g total weight ¾ zip 48.19% of total bag weight is down.

    Summerlite 295g down 603 g (confirmed total weight) full length zip 48.92% of total weight is down

    So for a 105g more of down I would get a shorter Zip and 122g more material as well. I still think RAB have to up their game to touch the top bag makers. Think that a top down vest or my light down Jacket which weighs 317g in a XL and adds warmth in the bag, or standing in camp sipping a brew. So the extra down and excess material come to 227g which is not much less than my down Jacket which gives me as much or more warmth than the RAB bag combined, and more options like a down jacket to wear and all for as much or near about the same weight. In fact 90g more. The Jacket has around 95g of down and a superb hood. All have 850 US fill power. Total weight for the bag and jacket is 920g.

    Still the loft and design is a great step forward for RAB. But others still out perform it. Looks a good bag to try Terry. Is it on test?

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  4. Paul says:

    out of interest how tall are you & chest size. The Rab assault is one of the bigger bivvy bags out there and wonder what you think of the dimensions.

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  5. terrybnd says:

    @Paul – I'm 5'11″ and have a 44″ chest and the bivvi fits me fine. It's long, too which is a bonus. I'd say you couldn't use something thick like a NeoAir mattress and yourself in it as it would be a bit cramped and the bivvi woudl be too constricted around your face.

    Hope this helps!

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  6. terrybnd says:

    @Martin – I hear ya mate. But believe me it's a good down bag. I'm familiar with Cummulus bags but fancied a slight weight penalty for a little more comfort.

    I like to vent at my feet for example and lots of down around my head area.

    Besides – I couldn't pass the offer of this Rab bag up 😉 😉 😉

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  7. Paul says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Paul says:

    Cheers, I'm 6'4″ with 44-46″ chest, always been left with the thought that this was one of the few bivvy bags I'd get in.

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  9. terrybnd says:

    Hi Paul

    You'll be fine. However, it's worth noting that if you lay on your side the bivvi may begin to feel like it will constrict too much.

    But I say this when the bivvi is completly zipped shut.

    In the UK it's much better to bivvi without being fully enclosed – use a small tarp/poncho alongside (of which I will post soon with some figures for you).

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  10. Paul says:

    Hi,

    Bivvy isn't for UK use, tried that and other than being jammed in a tight body bag it was miserable, I'll stick with the Laser Comp.

    My bivvy bag trips now will be mountains, and bikepacking, awaiting for some gear from Alaska for carrying the bedding on the handlebars :o)

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  11. Maz says:

    Definitely fancy a bivy soon – just a case of which one & how light to go! MLD Soul, ID Micro or Bugaboo or BMW Vapr? Not sure I am as worried as you about my bag getting soaked – I feel sure that judicious prep when setting up camp would be enough or, if it's going to rain torrentially how about adding a tarp?

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