More hot news from the recent OutDoor trade show in Germany, this time a rapid glimpse into Rab's spring 2014 range including most notably a shock range of new packs and a complete overhaul of the brand's sleeping bag range with new baffle design and down fill weights to give what Rab says are 'the most efficient sleeping bags ever'.
Rab Does Packs
Why's that a shock? Mostly because Equip, the company behind Rab also owns pack brands Pod Sacs and Lowe Alpine. So what's going on? An educated guess is that while Pod has always produced tough, effective mountain packs, it's still very much a niche brand bought mostly by climbers from Sheffield.
Rab meanwhile is a much bigger name. Has a proven reputation for good mountain kit and is making inroads in the States as well. It doesn't necessarily mean the end for Pod Sacs, but it's not exactly a huge vote of confidence in its ability to grow either.
Anyway... the packs build on Pod's expertise in the area and there are seven of them in the range from a full-on big expedition load hauler through alpine-style sacs through to three lighter-weight Dynamo packs. The similarities with the Pod range are pretty obvious and while there's nothing obviously radical about the Rab packs, they should be solid and well thought-out with tought fabrics - Rab uses a Nylon-based material called Robic with a PU caoting that increases both tear-strength and water-resistance - and sound construction.
Biggest pack in the range is the Expedition 70, then there's the Super Alpine 55, a 1600g mountain pack that'll strip down to 900g thanks to removable lid, hip-belt, frame-sheet and alloy staves - the packs feature thermo-formed, snow-shedding back panels too.
There are also smaller, strippable, Alpine 45 and 35 packs - 1300g/800g and 1150g and 850g respectively and finally three smaller Dynamo packs, 35, 25 and 15 litres, with the smaller pair using panel-opening, zipped designs for easy access.
Down Sleeping Bag Range Revamped
The names remain the same, but there are some serious tweaks across the sleeping bag range making them, says Rab, the most efficient sleeping bags ever. The new down is hydrophobic and uses a treatment developed with Nikwax, baffle sizes have been changed and down quantities per baffle amended to make them more efficient.
The differential cut of the bags has been tweaked as well and slightly confusingly, Rab says that while changes to the EN testing stystem means bags may appear to be less warm than before, that's actually not the case, it's simply the result of changes to the test.
Finally, while most of the range stays the same, there's one new down bag in the shape of the Neutrino 800, a light but seriously warm 1200g, four-season bag that's rated down to -20˚C. Looks an interesting option for gramme-counting, high altitude mountaineers.
New Technical Synthetic Bags
Also new is a range of synthetic sleeping bags called Ignition and using a fill called Pyrotec which is a mix of hollow and micro-fibres for optimum performance. There are '2', '3'' and '4' versions with XL and women's variants in some cases.
The Ignition 2 is comfort rated down to 5˚C, the 3 down to 2˚C and the 4 to -1˚C. Weights are 1050g for the Ignition 2 up to 1635g for the Ignition 4 winter bag. Features include angled foot-boxes, YKK zips, internal collars with adjustment and a shingled upper/blanket lower construction.
Alongside the new packs and revised sleeping bags, there's some new clothing too. There's a new Women's Sawtooth Hoodie made from a non-membrane stretch soft shell fabric with a helmet hood, slim, technical cut and a weight of 430g. We like the Sawtooth and this looks good, it'll sell for £120.
On the waterproof front, there's are new Men's and Women's Newton Jackets made from eVent 3-layer fabric with A-line pockets, helmet hood and weights of 375g and 325g respectively. It's a replacement for the lightweight Momentum jacket and the main difference is that it has non-Napoleon pockets, meaning you can warm your hands if necessary. Price is £200.
Finally Rab has been using 2.5-layer Pertex Shield + fabric for a while, but for spring it has a 3-layer version of the fabric with a more substantial, durable feel thanks to using a proper inner fabric instead of a protective print, so it should cope better with heavy pack use, while says Rab - having similar levels of breathability.
The men's and women's Xiom Jacket is a stripped-down three-layer Shield + jacket with a helmet hood and pit-zips and just one Napoleon pocket. It's either 415g or 375g depending on gender and a regular fit. Priced at £190.
Then there's the slimmed down, minimal, Atmos Jacket with a slimmer fit, helmet hood with stiffened, but not wired - we think - peak, A-line pockets and the usual water-resistant YKK zips. It weighs in at 300g and will retail for £160 when it's available in February 2014 along with the rest of the kit above.
Information on Rab's current range at www.rab.uk.com.