For some time now Equip outdoor group, custodians of the hugely successful Rab brand, have refrained from taking Rab into the backpack market; seemingly due to their ownership of the primarily pack-making brands Lowe Alpine and Podsacs. Their sale of Podsacs in 2013 however, confirmed that there were changes afoot to Equip’s ‘divide and rule’ approach to outdoor kit…
Utilising the ‘typically Equip’ combination of in-house design experience and renowned Rab build-quality, a brand new pack range bearing the Rab name has been released for the Summer Season of 2014. Spanning a 70-litre expedition backpack, 35 to 55-litre Alpine packs, and a range of fast and light ‘Dynamo’ styles, the new Rab pack range can’t compete with the sheer depth of styles that Lowe Alpine offers – but more than makes up for that in quality and user-appeal.
In their respective size and activity brackets, every new Rab pack hits the nail right on the head. And don’t just take our word for it – the team at Trail Magazine describe Rab’s first foray into backpack manufacture as “accomplished from the off”. They praised the Rab Alpine Backpack range even more highly, awarding it their coveted 5-star verdict.
Rab Alpine Pack Range
The Rab Alpine Range of packs range includes the 35-37 litre Alpine 35, the 45-47 litre Alpine 45, and the 55-57 litre Super Alpine 55. Aimed at mountaineers and alpine climbers, you can tell quite how much thought went into the design of these packs just by looking at them: the picture is one of all clean lines and purposeful intent. Rab designed their Alpine packs for long, challenging days in the mountains, and as such have constructed them from the extremely robust ‘High Tenacity Robic Nylon’, which receives added protection against snags, tears and dirt infiltration from a DualGuard PU coating. All seams are triple-stitched, and stress points internally bartacked – so construction techniques match the materials in terms of toughness.
Although the Rab Alpine 35, 45 and Super Alpine 55 Backpacks are all built to the same simple top-loading plan, as with all Rab products their beauty is largely in the well-executed smaller details. Rather than a traditional drawcord top closure, the Alpine packs have a buckled roll-top closure entry point beneath a removable ‘floating’ lid. This adds to their overall robustness and enhances weather resistance, especially when in ‘stripped’ mode with lid completely removed. When stripped, Rab’s Alpine packs see their weight reduced by around 25%.
Other ingenious Rab touches include the unique ice-axe carrying system, which allows the axe head to be tucked neatly and safely away behind the ‘flap’ on the lower front part of the pack.
Structural stability for the Rab Alpine 35, 45 and Super Alpine 55 is provided by a lightweight high-density foam and wire framesheet, which can be removed like the lid, should the user wish to strip the Alpine 45 back to it’s bare bones for a lightweight summit push. The back-panel which this sits behind it is a thermoformed full-contact design; keeping the weight of the load close to the body for climbing or scrambling. This is faced with a water-resistant closed cell foam that provides padding, and sheds snow and water.
Other features of the Alpine 35 and 45 packs include a YKK Aquaguard zipped outer pocket in the lid (you get an additional internal zipped lid pocket in the Super Alpine 55), two stretch mesh side pockets, and a removable waistbelt with gear racking loops in the case of the Alpine 45, and Super Alpine 55 (the 35 has a fixed waistbelt without gear loops). There are also two extremely sturdy compression straps on either side of all Rab Alpine packs for load control, and thanks to the inclusion of a clip-buckle on each, they double as straps to hold additional kit items in place – walking poles, tent flysheets etc. This is another example of how Rab really have thought hard about every section and component of their Alpine backpacks in order to maximize functionality. Finally, all Rab Alpine packs are hydration-compatible.
As touched upon earlier, Britain’s favourite walking and mountaineering magazine, Trail, thought very highly of Rab’s Alpine range when they tested the Alpine 35 in their May 2014 edition. They praised its excellent design, robust construction and comfort, calling it “…ideal for hillwalking and alpine mountaineering. Rab? Fab.”
Most importantly they awarded the Rab Alpine 35 Trail Magazine’s coveted 5-star rating, giving it 5 stars for the separate criteria of design, comfort and performance. High praise indeed for a debut backpack, from a debut backpack manufacturer: something that can only bode well for Rab’s future in the backpack market.
Follow the links below to check out the new Rab backpack and daypack ranges on Webtogs. The Super Alpine 55 has yet to arrive in stock at the time of writing, but should be along shortly!
Rab Daypacks (45 litres or smaller) – http://www.webtogs.co.uk/rab-day-packs
Rab Backpacks (45 lites or larger) – http://www.webtogs.co.uk/rab-backpacks
More to come on the new Rab Dynamo pack range in due course!