The Rab ignition range of sleeping bags are relatively new, so when I was choosing which bag to take there were no reviews available for them. We both have a Rab ascent 700 down bag which is the most luxurious outdoors item I have, they are so incredibly warm, light and packable – but this comes at a cost (£220) so we made the decision to buy something cheaper that we wouldn’t ruin on this trip. We also thought that the warmth of the down bag would be too much, and cleaning it would be very difficult on the road. Guided by nothing other than our experience with these bags and therefore brand loyalty we chose the cheaper synthetic ignition bags to take with us. Synthetic sleeping bags can be washed much more easily and still retain their insulating properties to a degree if they get wet. They were half the price so it wouldn’t matter too much if after a years use they were in a bad state – we wouldn’t be ruining our little slice of camping opulence. This was perhaps the worst gear decision we have made for this trip as we have almost nothing positive to say about the ignition 3 sleeping bags – in fact I would go as far as saying this is the worst sleeping bag I have ever used! After sleeping in this bag most nights now for three months, we feel we can write an accurate review based on our experiences.
There are 3 sleeping bags in Rab’s ignition range, the ignition 2,3 and 4 – the difference being the weight of insulation material packed inside (100, 160 and 200 grams per m2 respectively). XL verions are available for all three, and a ladies version is available for the ignition 3. Some are available with both left and right handed zips. Full details here: http://rab.uk.com/files/downloads/sleepingbags.pdf
(We both have the ignition 3 which is what this review will focus on.)
The filling: Rab have used their own ‘in house’ filling called pyrotec polyester microfiber insulation that has been temperature tested to European standard EN13537:2012.
The temperature rating: Comfort: 20C, Limit of comfort: -3.50C, Extreme -200C
Shape and features: A tapered mummy shape, drawcord collar with baffle and hood, angled footbox, ¾ length zip and compression sack.
Our opinion of the bag:
I must scratch my head here, but to be fair we have to come up with some positives. It is a bag, you can get in it so it does fit the primary objective of its purpose. They managed to make it with a hole in the top so you can get in, it has a zip and a hood. The baffles around the neck and hood are fairly good,
the lining on the inside is soft and comfortable to sleep in. It is quite light and compresses down to a non offensive size considering the amount of filling. The packed down size seemed the best out of the other contenders we were looking at in the shop. The bag has a small inside ‘stash’ pocket which is useful for keeping important documents/money if you are outside of the tent or when crossing borders.
The wide cut and roominess on the inside would suit anyone who doesn’t like to feel ‘restricted’ in their bag (so long as you don’t want to use it in colder weather!).
Unfortunately, after using this sleeping bag in a variety of conditions almost every day over the last five months we do not have much love for the rab ignition 3 for the following reasons:
Outer material – Unlike other sleeping bags we have used, the outer ripstop material does not seem to have any level of water repellency. Even though after waking there is limited condensation on the inner fly of our tent, the outer shell of the sleeping bag was always saturated with water. As this could not have dripped down from the tent shell, the sleeping bag must be drawing it in from the air around us. Sometimes this can be felt on the inside, especially around the feet (it could have come from the inside, in which case the breathability of the bag is very poor) which can be uncomfortable. Damp materials around the body will only make you feel colder and is very bad for a sleeping bag! It is difficult to dry a damp sleeping bag if you are moving each day, mornings tend to be cold don’t allow drying before you pack the bag away. The constant damp fabric of the sleeping bag from absorbing condensation made it quite smelly (despite a liner being used) and uncomfortable.
Hood – Rab make a lot of climbing clothing, the hoods are often helmet compatible. It seems they have made the sleeping bag hood compatible with a giants motorbike helmet. It is huge, so big I’m sure if you were camping in Andorra there might be the risk of the whole country falling in. We don’t understand how this could at all be representative of peoples head, we don’t have particularly small heads yet we are dwarfed inside the hood (even when a fleece or two have been put in to use as a pillow). As a result, when you pull the baffles closed to keep the cold out you just cant get them drawn in enough resulting in a large open space.
The cut – This is the real killer, the cut and shape of the sleeping bag is terrible! It is so wide in the mid area that we can both fit into one comfortably. They really are huge! We are average size, but there is so much wasted space that it renders any efficiency of the filling completely useless. For a sleeping bag to keep you warm, wasted space on the inside needs to be kept to a minimum. Unless you are quite bulky, this sleeping bag is likely to be far too wide for a comfortable nights sleep when the temperature starts to reach close to the comfort level. At 5 degrees (which is above the comfort level) we were waking up cold, something that I have not experienced in sleeping bags before. Temperature ratings are highly subjective, and whether you are cold or not in the night depends on many factors (did you eat, have you consumed alcohol, are you male/female etc), but I am usually warm when I sleep and the primary reason for the poor efficiency of this bag must be its shape. If you move during the night then cold air fills the vast amount of space in the bag making you quite uncomfortable.
Zip – Sleeping bag zips can always be a bit of a nightmare, the fabric either side often gets caught and jams leading to a bit of a struggle as you ready yourself for sleep. This one seems to be particularly prone to jamming, a bit disappointing considering there is a hem that looks like it is supposed to help prevent it.
Other points: Apart from acting as a desiccant to surrounding moisture, being wide enough to fit Pavarotti, having a zip that Bob Marley would like (its jammin’) and a giant sized hood the quality of the ‘bits and pieces’ has been really poor. The stuff sack broke very quickly (a strap detached making it hard to compress the bag), the eyelets that the baffle control string passes through have all separated from the fabric and toggles have come off.
I would not recommend this sleeping bag to anyone unless they intend to use it in temperatures stated on the rating label. If it to be used in the UK then you need to be comfortable at temperatures ranging from 0-10 degrees at a minimum and this bag does not seem to be able to achieve this which is bad news when it is marked as tested lower comfort at -3.5. The drawing in of moisture is really bad considering the humid nature of British mountain weather, the wet surface further reduces the efficiency of the bag when you are cold. The cut can only be described as abnormal and it is difficult to close the baffles to obtain any level of comfort, the huge amount of space around you makes it feel cold and any movement bellows cold air inside. The material on the outer is disappointing as is the zip. The only saving grace we have is that we were able to buy the bags with a substantial 50% discount, if we hadn’t then I would seriously consider posting them back to get our money back!
In China I once bought a fake North Face jacket, it looked identical to a normal North Face jacket, but clearly a cheap poor quality fabric had been used and it just didn’t perform. The cut and materials of this sleeping bag makes it feel like it is a ‘fake’ rab product; the materials are poor quality and it hasn’t lived up to our expectations especially considering the RRP. I wouldn’t be surprised if the factory assigned to production had replaced the materials to make the bag with cheaper ones, after using it for a month it really felt that bad!
Our recommendation: Avoid!