|Rab Alpine 600|
Just in today for testing – and good timing, too considering the current weather conditions – I have the new Rab Alpine 600 Down Sleeping Bag.
I’ve not took it to the scales in my garage yet, but it seems light enough at a purportedly 1150g’s and packs reasonably small. Good signs, eh?
Outer shell is Pertex Endurance fabric which is highly water-resistant, windproof and strong while being light enough to let the down within to loft at it’s maximum. The colour is red which is indicative of Rab’s coded system for 2010 – red being the warmest bag in it’s range, in this case the ‘Alpine’ group.
The inner is the ever delightful, soft and silky Pertex Quantum fabric. Should feel nice against the skin and nestle nicely over the body and limbs. ‘Calculated slack’ is the order of the day here – the light inner shell helping to relax the down bag over any dead space and trap warm air while helping the down to perform at it’s best.
|Internal pocket and lofty neck collar/draft tube|
There’s a small pocket near the very thick collar – handy for your phone or in my case ensuring camera batteries keep warm in the colder climes of winter. A 3/4 length zip runs along the left of the sleeping bag and on initial playing around doesn’t snag one bit.
Saying that – it’s a bloody long 3/4 length zip – running from the hood and practically to the angled footbox! I’m not complaining, mind as it could come in very handy if it gets a bit too warm and some venting is required.
As usual, the down used appears of super quality (800 fill power U.S) – the bag lofts in next to no time and in this case is a good 4 inches thick. Nice!
That’ll do me for winter wild camps.
First impressions are good. In-depth thoughts will come in good time – I’ll be out most weekends for the rest of this year and so the bag will get a thorough testing.
For me, a good winter bag has to pack small, and be comfortable in use. The weight is secondary for me in this case. I want to feel at ease, warm and sleep well. No cold spots, no drafts, no snagging zips and no concern over condensation dripping onto my down bag. It needs to perform. I’m indifferent to whether there is a zip on the down bag or not (as with other brand models) and so on.
Is it fit for purpose and worth the money is what I’m interested in. Take Alpkit down bags, for example – great for the money. Not the best down, or shell fabric – zips tend to snag like there’s no tomorrow, they can be bulky and so on. But they perform as required and are a great buy (I got two and love them). It’s the little things that make the difference and so you get what you pay for.
Also, I sleep cold very easily as I’m one of those sorts who radiates a lot of heat. My wife loves this of course, as it transforms me into one large hot water bottle to cuddle in bed at night! But I can still feel cold.
Compromises are made when it comes to hikes and camps in the hills during winter make no doubt. For me these tend to mean heavier gear (though not bulkier). A stronger and more roomy tent, for example or a few more home comforts to keep warm and cosy during the long dark nights. Heck, I may even take a book sometimes!
I still take a fleece with me as I love it’s immediate warmth and comfort – sure, it can be bulky but it’s a price I’m willing to pay with weight on my back.
Talking about warmth – I notice that the Rab Alpine 600 has horizontal tube chambers. As good as these are – vertical ones tend to perform better, namely due to the prevention of any down inside sliding to the sides of the sleeping bag and thus not on top of your torso. However, Rab have endeavoured to counter this by using mesh side walls within the chambers – the down grips onto this and so stops sliding or clumping about – and of course it helps keep the weight down.
That said, this bag does have a comfort rating of -7c (extreme -14c). This should be fine for U.K use with perhaps an extra boost from a down jacket, fleece etc on real cold nights.
So, we’ll see how it all goes. I’m really pleased it’s arrived now as only recently I encountered sub zero temps one night at a measly 1000feet altitude. I needed a hot water bottle in the shape of a Platypus hydration bladder to generate some more warmth.
|Impressive dry compression sac|
Oh, and I forgot to mention….not only does the sleeping bag come with a storage cotton sack but a bloody marvellous dry sac!
The dry compression sac to store your bed in transit has a roll top enclosure along with another flap sealed with a draw cord below. No chance of any rain water or melted snow getting in then!
Though in all honesty, I tend to pack my down bag loose in a larger dry sac along with any other ‘keep dry’ items (well, clothing) as it fills the space in my rucksack better….