Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Rab Ascent 700 Sleeping Bag

A grumpy Dave Slater demonstrating "The Rab Ascent 700" in Bupsa, Nepal, during our first trek in that region.

I first acquired this bag, from Rab, in early 2012 and it has since been on four high-altitude trips to The Himalaya. I think I can now give it a fair assessment.
Firstly it's squarely a 3 to 4 season sleeping bag, and from a UK perspective you are unlikely to use it outside of the November to February Winter period. Internationally, of course, you might well use it much more than that.
It is manufactured from the excellent Pertex Microlight fabric and is filled with 700gms of 650 fill power European duck down.
Which means that is reasonably light and very warm.
I have the (now) older version of this bag and it weighs about 1400gms when packed into the stuff sack.
(The information from Rab, provided below, is for the current model).


Size-wise it is quite wide as mummy-bags go. I'm fairly small and found that there was a generous amount of room. 
Lengthways it measures about 1950mm (195cm) up to the shoulder baffle plus about 300mm (30cm) for the hood. Across the shoulders is 750mm (75cm) which should be sufficient for even the most broad-shouldered of mountaineers. The toe box is a comfortable 500mm (50cm). At no point have I felt constrained, there's lots of room for manoeuvre. It's probably good for anyone up to 6 feet 5 inches tall. If you're taller than that then you're a freak of nature or a Yeti! (In which case you won't need a sleeping bag because you have fur; why are you even reading this?) :D 
The zipper on my bag can be a bit of a nuisance at times, catching on the inner material, it's a minor irritant but one which does need pointing out.


It packs away easily in to the stuff sack.


Cinched up nice and small.

The elasticated collar and hood draw-cord's work really well; it closes up nice and snug to keep out any chill or wind.
It also has a really useful zipped pocket inside the bag at the left shoulder. It will store a compact camera, mobile phone, and a small headlight, with ease and is perfect for keeping batteries away from the cold.
After a damp night in the tent it dries out very quickly, within minutes in direct sunlight, and the down fill seems to be well protected from moisture by the outer fabric.

The useful, internal, zipped pocket.

When packed it measures 400mm long x 240mm in diameter and it will comfortably cinch down to 300mm long, about the size of a football (or "Soccer" ball if you're from The US!).
The stuff sack, webbing, and fittings, are robust and will repel all but prolonged exposure to wet conditions. It packs easily in to the stuff sack without any excess material flapping around. It also lofts back in to shape very quickly after unpacking and comes supplied with a large cotton storage sack to protect the down when it's not in use for a long period.



The cotton storage sack that is provided with the bag.

In terms of use I have given it a good testing period. Certainly 70 plus nights of comfortable sleep up to and over 5000m above sea level.
At lower altitudes in The Himalaya it was too warm and I slept with it either open at the zip or as a duvet cover. However once the temperatures start to get nearer to zero centigrade it really comes in to its own. I have been nice and warm at temperatures as low as -15c with just a base layer on.
When we camped at Everest Base Camp (EBC) prior to The Hillary-Tenzing Everest Marathon we slept on the glacier with just a thin foam mat and I had no issues whatsoever. Likewise during The Yak Attack I have spent some extremely cold nights at Thorong Phedi (4450m above sea level) on The Annapurna Circuit and stayed nice and warm.

With no signs of wear and tear after all this use & abuse you can rest assured that this bag will be a sound investment.


It was quite cold at EBC!

I was here! The Khumbu Icefall at EBC.

To sum it up it's robust, warm, reasonably light, weather resistant, and very well manufactured. It's a great all-round hiking & trekking bag.

Below is the latest information from the Rab website:

The Ascent range are duck down filled performance sleeping bags designed for regular use. The bags use durable and lightweight Pertex Microlight fabrics. These bags offer fantastic value for money, quality build and construction, durability and low weight for warmth of the bags. the bags are designed in a semi rectangular shape that is more user friendly for general purpose use or for those buying their first down bag.
  • Pertex® Microlight inner and outer fabric
  • 650FP European Duck Down
  • Rab® fluorocarbon free Hydrophobic Down developed in conjunction with Nikwax®
  • Wide mummy shape
  • Proportionally assigned differential cut
  • Internal YKK 3 coil zipped stash pocket
  • Wide foot area for extended comfort  
  • ¾ length YKK 5 coil main zip
  • Left and right hand zips available
  • Left and right hand zips will zip together
  • Anti snag zipper webbing tape
  • Internal collar and hood drawcord
  • Improved close fitting neck baffle design
  • Trapezoidal baffle chamber design
  • Angled foot box
  • Compression stuff sack
  • Cotton storage sack
  • Temperature tested to new European standard EN13537: 2012 (excluding 900 fill)
  • Hand filled in Derbyshire UK
Comfort -2°C
Limit of Comfort -8.5°C
Extreme -27°C

Weight: 1290g (45.5oz)

With a retail price of £240 it sits roughly in the middle price-range for a quality bag.
A quick search on the internet will find you one of these for around £160! That's a very good price for a bag of this performance and quality.

Full details available here: Rab Ascent 700 Sleeping bag



Rab also operate a popular factory shop at their UK headquarters at Alfreton, Derbyshire; just off Junction 28 of the M1 motorway. Open Wednesday and Thursday from 12.30pm to 15.30pm.

Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd
Wimsey Way
Somercotes
Alfreton
Derbyshire
DE55 4LS



Useful information printed on the inside of the bag.
(L to R) Neil, Dan Thompson (Marketing Manager at Rab UK), and Dave Slater.
(L to R) Neil, Wilco, & Dave, braving high winds at the Lamjura La Pass, Nepal. You can see the bag strapped to the base of my pack
It's gets very cold at Thorong Phedi, Nepal.

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