A combination for fast and light solo adventures where speed of movement is the priority rather than comfort. The bivi is hooped giving head space and a less claustrophobic feel than a conventional bivi bag while the sleeping bag does without down on the underside to save weight and bulk. The hooped Bivi would also be useful as a solo emergency shelter and the bag great for general summer camping.
The Rab Ridge Raider Bivi is a lightweight (930g packed weight on our scales) single hoop bivi shelter. It’s dimensions are a 215cm x 80cm footprint and 60cm height. The shell is Exchange Lite eVent fabric and the base is tougher waterproof laminated nylon. It has an external pole sleeve, glow in the dark zip pullers and a mosquito net door. It comes in a waterproof roll-top stuff-sack along with twelve pegs.
The Neutrino SL Sleeping Bag weighs in at 677g on our scales packed in its roll top dry bag compression sac. It’s filled with 800 90/10 goose down but only on the top and hood. Its outer and inner are Pertex Quantum fabric. For the base of the lower legs there’s 100gsm Primaloft. The rest of the base comprises a sleeve for a sleeping mat. It has a traditional tapered Mummy shape and an angled foot box. The zip is half length and is left hand only.
How They Performed
I’ve always been a big fan of bivis and, for one or two night fast packing or mountain biking journeys, they’ve been my go-to sleeping option. I love the simplicity, ease of packing and pitching and you can’t beat falling asleep with the stars twinkling above and a light refreshing dew on your face in the morning.
Before I get accused of being overly slushy and romantic though, I’m more than aware of their limitations and have had some hellish nights. Non-hooped designs can be buried alive claustrophobia inducing affairs if you have to be fully zipped in and, without any sort of porch for gear storage or cooking, if it rains you and your kit are likely to get wet. Some biviers also carry a tarp for this reason but that grates a bit against my minimalist ethics and isn’t an option on stormy nights.
Your systems have to be spot on for successful bivvying and often hot food and drink has to be forgone. My ten year old primitive Gore-Tex unhooped bivi and I had had a lot of adventures together but, after one particularly miserable night where I had six inches of snow fall on me adding to the coffin experience, I was ready for an upgrade. Similarly, my lightweight sleeping bag had certainly seen better days and together, these two products from Rab, seemed a perfect lightweight combination.
First time out was a beautiful warm and dry summer’s evening (remember those?) on the hills above my village. They packed down brilliantly into my OMM pack and pitching was a sub one minute job. To be honest, it wasn’t much of a test but I was pleased to see in the morning, despite a heavy dew, that the sleeping bag was still 100% dry.
Throughout the summer and early autumn, I got plenty of nights out in my Rab combo and, especially compared to my old Gore-Tex coffin, it was the height of luxury. The hoop made such a difference and I no longer dreaded having to zip up. Even when fully zipped in there was enough space for my 6ft 3” frame and the eVent fabric breathed brilliantly. The external pole sleeve and ability to peg out the bivi made pitching in the wind and rain fast and easy.
If I knew things were likely to be wet and windy, I packed the bag already in the bivi with my sleeping mat in place and the whole “sleeping sausage” wrapped in a bin-bag. The bivi did a great job of keeping out some serious downpours and with only the merest hint of dampness around my feet in the morning. The Ridge Raider has stood up to numerous packings, pitchings and repacks, often in a rush on rough ground, and has displayed admirable robustness.
With a Thermarest Prolite mat I was always comfortable and, despite the lack of down underneath me, never cold. I probably do sleep on the warm side but a baselayer was always plenty. The bag was plenty long enough for me and, with an internal drawstring for the hood, I was always able to get super snug.
The Neutrino SL, because it’s only half a sleeping bag, can’t be put through the standard testing procedure to get a sleeping range but Rab suggest using their Neutrino 200 as a rough guide. Going into late November, I’ve now had a couple of nights out where the temperature has hovered near 0C and still haven’t been cold. I’ll definitely try the system in the snow when we hopefully get some and get some sub-zero testing done.
With super lightweight tents such as the Terra Nova Laser now available, you could argue that bivi bags are redundant but I’d counter that for their versatility, ability to be pitched in the tightest and most precarious spots and simple fun factor, they’ve definitely still got a role to play in outdoors adventures. The Ridge Raider is a fantastic example and, although you can get far cheaper and simpler bivis, such as the Alpkit Hunka for £30, if you’re going to be bivvying on a regular basis, it’s well worth shelling out for. Having that space above your face and not waking up soggy is priceless.
The concept of the Neutrino SL is spot on and really appeals to my minimalist tendencies. The down underneath you gets squashed anyway and, if you’ve got a decent lightweight mat, is just unnecessary weight and bulk in your pack. It’s kept me warm all the way down to freezing and I’m sure I’ve got a good ten degrees or so to play with. For fast packers, adventure racers, mountain marathon competitors and fast and light alpinists, every gram and cubic centimetre matters and, by packing this bag, you’ll be making significant savings on both.
Buy if you want a great combination for fast and light solo adventures and don’t mind paying for it.
The perfect bivvying combo.
Not for everyone and a bit pricey – £205 for the bivvy and £225 for the sleeping bag.
More details: rab.equipment.