We've already brought you the scoop on Rab's new for Spring

2010 clothing, but at the same time, the company

has also completely redesigned and improved its range of down sleeping bags

with improved construction and down.

Rab Expedition 1200

Serious Research

Rab's been making down bags for almost 30 years now so the guys know a

thing or two about how to make them work, but a couple of years back,

they decided to go back to basics with a research project at Leeds

University. The aim of the project was to work out the absolute optimum

amount of down to use in any given sleeping bag chamber for the best

balance between warmth and weight.

The results of the research mean that Rab now knows exactly how much of

any particular fill power down to put inside each baffled compartment

of any of their bags, so when bags are being filled, the down is

precisely weighed out for each chamber. Not too much, not too little.

'The golden ratio', Neil Mcadie of Rab calls it.

Rab 2010 hood upgrade

Hood has neater internal

drawcords for 2010

Other crucial factors are the weight of shell fabric - the lighter the

fabrics used, the easier it is for the down to achieve maximum loft and

the more insulation it will give - and the construction of the bag.

Differential cut and chamber shapes are both important as is the

direction of the baffles, so for example, chest baffles may be vertical

to reduce down slippage. Another factor here is that Rab uses mesh

side-walls inside the chambers both to save weight and because the mesh

grips the down and stops it slipping around inside the bag.

The final ingredient is the down itself. This year's top-end bags use

new 850+ fill power, US-rated down, the best the company has ever used.

Neil Mcadie says that 850+ is the maximum possible in their experience.

The company has switched to US ratings partly because it's expanding

into the American market.

Rationalised Range

Rab's exiting range had grown organically becoming quite

hard to understand in the process, so this year, all that's been

simplified with easy to understand categories and less overlap:

top-end, super-warm bags are 'Expedition', then there's 'Andes', still

very warm, 'Alpine', where weight becomes more of a consideration, and

'Neutrino' which is all about weight savings.

Rab Expedition and Andes bags

Expedition and Andes bags

have longitudinal chest and foot baffles to

reduce down migration within the chambers.

The bags are colour coded - red is very warm, orange next step down and

yellow less warm.

Below that level, the cooking Atlas bags are replaced by 'Ascent' and

'Explorer' bags, still made to Rab's high standards, but with less

highly specced fabrics and fill and at a more affordable price.

Expedition Bags

Do what they say on the can: these are the warmest Rab

bags out there, use 850+ eastern European goose down and Pertex

Endurance coated and water-resistant fabric. To put things in

perspective, the 2105g Expedition 1200 has a comfort rating of -29˚C

and a limit of comfort of -40˚C.

Features include longitudinal chest and foot baffles, a generous cut -

80cm across the torso - so you can wear down clothing inside the bag

for extra insulation, anti-snag webbing tape and lots more. The bags

are hand filled at Rab's HQ in Derbyshire. Sizes: 800, 1000 and 1200.

Andes Bags

The Andes series bags are similar to the

Expedition ones in fabric, cut and features, but use 800+ fill power

down instead. There's some crossover, the Andes 1000 is a little warmer

than the Expedition 800, but mostly they're slightly lower specced

bags, though still very warm.

Rab Expedition 1000

Colour coding means

redder bags are warmer - this is an Expedition 1000.

The Andes 800 - also available in women's version - has a comfort limit

of -21˚C for example. Andes bags come in 800 and 1000 sizes with

a women's option for the 800. Big mountain bags.

Alpine Bags

The alpine range, as you might guess, is aimed more at the

alpine climber where weight is a serious consideration. In 200, 400 and

600 versions, they use highly water-resistant Pertex Endurance outer

fabric and Quantum inner and the same 800+ fill power down as the Andes.

Rab Alpine and Neutrino Bags

Alpine 400 bag (top) and

Neutrino 600 - outer fabrics differ, down is the same. Production

Neutrino will not have reflective piping.

Baffles are horizontal on chest and foot and cut is 5cm closer to save

weight. The 200 weighs just 745g, comfort limit 0˚C and even the 600

tips the scales at 1185 grammes for its comfort limit of -14C. Aimed at

lightweight mountaineering use.

Neutrino Bags

Neutrino has always been Rab's lightweight flagship range

and it carries on this year in 200, 400 and 600 sizes. Inner and outer

fabrics are Pertex Quantum, their current lightest fabric for weight

saving and better loft. Down is 800 again and there are women-specific

versions of both 400 and 600 bags.

Rab Alpine and Neutrino Bags

Colour coding again on

Alpine and Neutrino.

Compare a Neutrino 400 and an Alpine 400 and the Neutrino is slightly

lighter at 920g compared to 970g, though the Alpine sleeps around 3˚C

warmer thanks to the water-resistant outer fabric. It's less breathable

though, which means more regular airing than the Quantum-shelled bags.

Aimed at lightweight, all-round use.

Cooking Bags

Last but definitely not least, it's goodbye to the Atlas

series and hello Ascent series

bags. They use 650 fill power down and Pertex Microlight fabric and

come in 500, 700 and 900 versions. There are women's and XL versions of

the 700, should be ideal for general all-round use right up to serious

high mountains with the 900 version.

Rab Ascent 500 top and 900 bottom

Ascent 900 and 500 - more

colour coding. Or you could read the labels...

You're not losing that much in performance terms either. An Ascent 900

weighs 1795g and has a comfort rating of -11C while a far more

expensive Expedition 800 weighs 1640g and is comfort rated at -15C.

Finally there's an Explorer range of adaptable travel-esque bags,

squarer shape and all round zip and the minimalist Rab Top Bag lives on

in two different forms, more about that shortly.

In the shops about now, full details of the entire range at www.rab.uk.com.