Yes, we’ve been out of the stone age for some time, however the new Rab Neutrino and Neutrino Endurance bags will make you want to yelp with glee like a Flintstone leaving work on a Friday.
Not only are the new Rab designs a far cry from the old ages of down sleeping bags, but the new tech will take you for a trip. Most of the time we review new developing technologies to see if those changes are for the better or worse, or if they have any effect at all. We only promote gear that improves the end-user experience and these new bags are no slouch. I took the new Rab’s through extensive field testing in the least favorable seasons to find the benefits- and was thoroughly impressed.
After using many other top tier brands , I came to comparing the best of the two that I had found in 10+ years of searching. The real testing began when I questioned if my ‘current best’ is the best that can be achieved. Hopefully you read an unbiased gear blog, instead of investing your hard earned dollars to buy both and play testing dummy. That is, unless you are me, and fall into your own trap.
The two best bags that I found were Rab and Western Mountaineering. My experience with WM is extensive, from seasons as a backpacking wilderness ranger to multiple 15 day long backcountry hunts. Before November 2016 my experience with Rab was none. At the end of the day, all I want is to crawl into my bag and wake up rejuvenated, never having to think past falling asleep.
Conditions and Seasonality
If you’re like us, planning for your next adventures starts at the end of the last one. Cycling year long chains of adventures is something we love to do, but most of the legitimate multi-night adventures seem to occur from March-November. That being said, the spring season usually produces the most abusive testing conditions - conditions that can punish the down user if not prepared. Hence, my down filled bags induce a Smeagol-esque hydrophobic paranoia during the months of March and April.
After analyzing the fabric suites, the down treatments, source tracking etc, both companies are on par with each other, and any website research could tell you the same. But how do they perform? Starting in November of 2016, I began side by side analysis of competing bags (RNE 400 v WM Ultralite and RNE 600 v WM Apache MF). Finally, after my most recent adventure last weekend, long and wet then frozen hours in poor spring/wintertime conditions, I felt relieved to be able to share my findings with you, and I hope you find the same.
Rab Neutrino Endurance 400 (25℉)
Weight: 1lb 15oz
Rab Neutrino Endurance 600 (15℉)
MSRP: $499 USD
Weight: 2lbs 6oz
Functionality because of the fabrics. Pertex Endurance - a windproof and highly water resistant outer fabric. Nikwax hydrophobic down- a fluorocarbon free down treatment disperses moisture to alleviate ‘sweating out’ your down. These two technologies make moisture management and convective heat loss a thing of the past. Back in the day, body perspiration, exhaled air condensate, ambient condensation, cold drafts , windy nights all had negative effects on my sleep. Rab seems to almost thermo/moisture regulate within a certain temp range and leave you warm, dry and crisp when you wake.
For the first time ever, using a down bag with a Seek Outside floorless shelter had no negative effects on my sleeping bag. Usually the moisture from the ground has a depressed down effect, but with the Rab, the loftiness of the bag stayed the same throughout the entire trip. This makes any fair-weather bag-only bivouac possible. For a down bag user, these improvements are earth shattering.
The fabric placement of Pertex Quantum and Endurance, along with Polygiene ‘stay fresh treatment’ made Rab more comfortable than any other UL bag I’ve ever used. This may seem like an odd feature, but you optimize the warmth of the bag when you are nearly naked and that means fabric against the skin. Also, if you ever need to wait out a storm for a day, this makes you feel like you’re at home on the couch with a blanket watching a movie - a drastic improvement. Lastly, the cut of the bag was even roomier than the WM with less side compression of the loft which meant for a warmer all-around feel.
The zipper guard occasionally snagged when zipping the bag up for storage, but was easy to untangle due to the reinforcement ribboning. Once inside, the snags seem to stop completely. The WM taffeta is much more rigid.
The cordage lengths were a bit much. What started as a possible positive proved to be an annoyance of figuring out which cord operated which feature. The addition of a more robust and comfortable fabric suite equates to an addition of on average 3.5 oz. I felt this was a much wanted benefit for the ounces.
You can’t go wrong with either brand. They are both at the top of their class with slightly different feature sets. Western Mountaineering makes a great sleeping bag and they are damn hard to beat, but the new Rab bags push the limits of a WM with equal loft, function and feel with just a few more ounces of protection. For most, the difference will almost be negligible, but if you pay attention to what activities you do and value most, the answer will be obvious.
Rab, is a Sheffield England company established in 1981 by founder Rab Carrington, an outdoor and climbing and gear enthusiast. Since its inception, Rab has nestled in as a cutting edge design and manufacturing company https://vimeo.com/158889274