On test – Rab Infinity 300 down sleeping bag, Merrell Intercept Gore Tex shoes and Karrimor X-Lite 45+10

All new Rab Infinity 300 sleeping bag and a Karrimor X-Lite 45+10

I’ve had a few bits and bobs on test for a while lately but not mentioned it because I’ve been so damn busy out on hikes and filming. Anyway, here’s one batch I think some folk will find of interest.

First off the Rab Infinity 300 down sleeping bag – part of a new range which will be Rab’s lightest ever. They also have some synthetic options on the way which are handy if you’re allergic to down. Not copped my eyes on any yet, I have to admit. Marmot and Mountain Hardwear do some good synthetic sleep bags so it will be interesting to compare at some point.

Some good loft with the Pertex Quantum GL – as shown with a Travel Tap

There’s some impressive stats on the Infinity 300. It weighs a total of 625g (excluding stuff sack), and has 300g of 850 (US) fill power european goose down. The inner and outer shell is Pertex Quantum GL, has a drawcord hood, neck collar and 1/2 length zip. To top that off the down is held in place with longitude baffles – which helps keep the internal fluffy feathers up and along your torso for thermal efficiency – as opposed to potentially migrating around your sides when inside.

This ‘infinity’ range probably won’t come as any surprise for those who are familiar with Rabs products – particularly the Infinity down jacket.

But it’s nice to see how they keep on pushing the boundaries for not only themselves but against the competition, too. Not often you can say that about a British company. Even so, for a sleeping bag that’s likely to keep you snug as a bug in some minor sub zero temps, it’s an impressive total weight with decent design.

I’ve only used this sample for one night so far – last weekend in fact as Rab dropped it off while at the Monsal Head social meet. I slept too warm in it to be honest – might be the ale, who knows? But it feels dreamy getting inside it. Such a silky smooth material the Pertex Quantum GL and really does help the down loft in next to no time. So, I’m looking forward to trying this baby out over the coming months.

They look ‘cool’ and feel cool but are they tough enough?

Next up, are a pair of Merrell Intercept Gore Tex trail shoes.

I’ve had these for a couple of weeks or so now and admittedly, Merrell footwear in general tends to be the perfect fit for my feet. My problem with their products in general has been durability and grip – they’re often quite weighty too.

Saying that, so far (touch wood) they’ve proved extremely comfortable out on the trail and thanks to the deep lugs on the sole have conquered bog and rock easily. That’s not to say I don’t have some minor concerns. They certainly appear and feel tough – but a nice big sheet of porous leather on either side of the shoe makes me concious of the odd stray thorn or sharp blade of grass sneaking through and in turn piercing the Gore Tex liner within.

However, they do feel cooler than most such waterproof lined footwear (which is to be expected) when walking non-stop for miles and light, too. I’ve got size 10.5’s and they weigh in as a pair at 925g. Up to now, they’ve only covered around 120 miles – so we’ll see how they get on. I’ll push them to the 500 mark before making a judgement. With my current schedule for the next 8 weeks, I’ll get close to that figure.

Proving to be a comfy pack that should suit most backpackers needs

Finally, there is the Karrimor X-Lite 45+10 rucksack.

On my scales it comes in at 1230g, has two side pockets with compression straps, hidden pocket under the lid, one in the lid, mouldable foam hip belt and shoulder straps. It’s not made of Dyneema or anything like that (ya usual rip stop fabric in this case) – but it feels it can take a knock or two and has proved really comfortable after one sneaky nights wild camp recently.

I like it. Clean and simple with just the bare necessities most backpackers look for. But I am a little suspect at it’s stated volume.

For a starters, the main internal compartment though split in two (if you so wish) seems a tad small. And the way it’s been constructed to have the side pockets expand – well, they don’t expand very much and consequently force themselves back into the main compartment.

I may well purchase a shed load of light balls and check out how many litres it really is by chucking them inside and measuring what comes out. But I do like the pack and it is comfortable.

It’s one of those products from Karrimor that they do really well – it’s just the rest of the range and how it’s managed that pulls the brand down in most outdoor folks eyes – including myself if I’m honest. All said and done, on merits as a product it fits most backpackers bills including my own and so far, it get’s a thumbs up. And I’ve been told they’re really making the effort to up their game and reputation.

So, we’ll see how these three products perform over the next couple of months or so…..

*PS* Rabs wonderful new sleeping bags are not out for quite some time. 2012 I’m afriad.

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7 Comments Add yours

  1. Terry, that Rab bag looks good for the weight. I don't think they are out until next spring – pity ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  2. ditto, bag looks excellent

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  3. terrybnd says:

    @markswalkingblog – It's a bloody good bag aye. Fabric is really light but what with the colour, you can clearly see through to the down. Ace LOL

    I was a little worst for wear when Mark handed over after swapping test gear, can't remember when it's due out. I'll find out and let you know ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @blogpackinglight – I know. Got a sneaky feeling it's out sooner than we think (and I don't remember). We'll see. Got to speak with Rab soon anyway. But for it's weight, features and down – it's certainly impressive, eh?

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  4. swanscot says:

    Rab, may I ask about Karrimor. You say “…it's just the rest of the range and how it's managed that pulls the brand down in most outdoor folks eyes.”

    I've been wondering about the lack of Karrimor gear for the last couple of years. When I started out hiking and backpacking 30 years ago. Karrimor rucksacks were the bees knees. I've still a couple of their rucksacks and DH still uses his backpacking sack, but when I restarted reading gear reports in the past couple of years and looking to buy some new stuff, they are conspicuous by their absence. (Except in the bushcraft world). Is it purely a fabric/weight issue or are there other issues that I've missed?

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  5. terrybnd says:

    @swanscot – Rab? LOL I don't work for Rab mate. Just test gear.

    Karrimor is owned by Mike Ashley of Sports Direct fame. Often they produce cut price (and generally) inferior gear (quality, design et al) via their stores to the general public with the Karrimor brand label.

    This in itself has had a knock on effect with perception of the brand from outdoorsey folk.

    However, Karrimor do have a separate dept. concentrating on quality gear and it's come leaps and bounds in the past couple of years or so. This pack is one example.

    Nevertheless, the way the brand is managed and marketed in different avenues hasn't helped with the perception and production either. Some online stores would love to stock some of Karrimors 'top end' gear but they're unable to do so.

    Even the military side of the kit is managed separately (bushcrafters tend to go for that kind of kit by the brand)

    It's a real hodge podge and doesn't help in my opinion.

    Either way, as I've said, on merit first impressions of this pack are really good and that's all I'm concerned with at the end of the day. Not necessarily how a brand is perceived but I thought it would be worth mentioning.

    If kit is good, it's good. Simple as. No matter who made it or what the price may be etc.

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  6. swanscot says:

    Oops, slip up there with your name! :-O Of course I know it's Terry, Terry! I must stop reading blogs and writing comments at the *exact* same time.

    I remember hearing that Karrimor has sold but didn't realise they were with Sports Direct! What a shame that what was once a great brand has gone out of the radar of the discerning walker.

    But as you say, there is loads of good stuff out there now.

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  7. terrybnd says:

    @swanscot – LOL No worries ๐Ÿ˜‰ It's been like that for a long while with Karrimor.

    Like I said, they still some decent kit. No doubt. Just gets lost in the mire, so to speak.

    The packs a good one. They do some nice looking trail shoes too. Most out next year, though. Hoping to get a pair in the next few weeks.

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