Rab Quantum Top Bag AR Review

WHW Kit Review

This was one of the last things I decided on packing as I kept an eye on the weather. Snow and 200g of down, would that be a bed of roses or would I be leaning on a cold shoulder all night?

Well, the answer is a rather dull “It did fine”. On the Sunday morning I woke and looked outside and the bivvy was completely covered in snow, but I was quite warm and comfy. I did keep some clothes on as well. This bag is designed for adventure racing, those guys will keep their shoes on and maybe take off their rucksack before getting in it. A coating of merino upon your person does boost its rating and not your odour next day, always worth bearing in mind the clothing you’ll be wearing before buying that 1.3kg bag.

The design is very basic. It’s a top-bag (no insulation on the bottom), the top has a narrow box wall construction filled with the best quality down, under the head and feet there’s Primaloft synthetic insulation which will resist the damp if you’re only using a short sleep mat. The fabric is Pertex Quantum which is soft and comfortable, very down proof as well. I haven’t seen one cluster floating about since it arrived. This new version of the bag has a hood of sorts which works fine. You can cinch it right in withy the single drawcord to stop heat escaping or leave it open for venting, as there’s no zip it’s your only option. The fit is slim as well, again the racer angle so fat folk are out. The shape leaves not much room around your shoulders for heat to escape. I’m happy with it, but there will be folks who find it restrictive. The sleeve on the insulation-free back takes your mat. The choice of mat can make or break a top bag system.

When I unpacked it from it’s compression sack it lofted very quickly. I was pleasantly surprised using it and also happy that I didn’t struggle getting in and out of it. I think in the snow it might have been on it’s limit, but as we get into summer I’ll try it higher up and see how it does.

21 thoughts on “Rab Quantum Top Bag AR Review”

  1. Hmm – looks very good.

    I keep wondering how low I could push one of these in combination with the PHD Minimus that I use in summer.

    Very, very hard to say without sleeping in it but I reckon I could get away with -5 or so. Add a duvet jacket and who knows?

    I’m just trying to come up with something that means I don’t have to carry the old ME Iceline (-27 rated) monster bag when it gets really frosty!

  2. The Iceline, a home from home indeed.

    Bag layering is such a good idea. The sizing is the thing though. Crushing the down and the like. I wonder if the Rab inside a ME Xero (stretchy seams) on top of a good mat would be ultra warm.

    It’s too late at night to be getting these ideas!

  3. In terms of cutting weight by combing kit it is the way to go. On my last backpacking trip in February I took my Marmot Atom which has approx 4.8cm of loft and about 680g in total weight, (280g of 850 fill down approx). I also took my PHD Minimus down jacket. It got down to -6 and maybe hit a little lower, the bag was good to -1 then I used the jacket in side the bag. I had ice in side my tent and ice crystals forming from condensation. The combination worked fine. In the cold dawn the Jacket and a base layer made perfect camp ware to stand around making a brew. I would say the Rab bag would work with a down jacket just as well

  4. Definitely Martin. I’ve got a pair of down boots that pack to nothing as well, so add that to an insulated jacket (which I’d carry anyway) and the Rab bag and you’re saving a chunk of weight and pack volume.

    Frost on the inside of the tent? It’s either time to get back inside the bag or get a brew on :o)

  5. Yea it was cold! I think it was the coldest wild camp (only 450M in the Lakes as well) I have done, but I was fine with the Kit used. I think that the way to measure any warmth is by the Loft of a bag, not the manufactures guide. People like Ryan Jordan of BPL have been doing this and it makes sense. Adopt the same with any kit combinations and you can soon see what you need to put together in terms of your bag/jacket combined loft for your trips lowest projected temperature. So a very light summer bag with say a PHD Ultra down vest would be fine in summer/autumn no problem. How about PCT giving say a GoLite Ultra 20 quilt a test to see if this sort of bag will cut it over in the UK?

  6. The quilt thing has been on my mind for a while. A lot of folk like them and the lack of restriction, the adaptability of opening them right up in warmer weather or wrapping them around another bag for a rating boost.
    Top Bags have most of the benefits, but much less faff as a stand-alone piece.

    It’s something I’ll have to get a hold of and try properly, maybe one of these? http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?cPath=34&products_id=60&osCsid=32a912fce702645885e9c9673efa89d0

    We’ll need to see if someone picks up Golite’s distribution in the UK. Backpackinglight are bring some in from Europe, it’s a shame to see it disappear as some of the kit is excellent.

  7. In terms of cutting weight with a quilt I would still go for a down filled one. The main producer of quilts I have found is Nunatak at http://www.nunatakusa.com/ they look great, but I do like the look of the GoLite one. Just like to see a review in UK conditions first, you would think some of the Magazines would have done a test of a few models by now. The Mountain Laurel Designs look cutting edge. As for GoLite equipment your right that it’s good stuff and it would be a shame to see it unavailable.

  8. It would be good to get a hold of one.
    It would be nice if Nunatak, MLD or even Golite were thinking about pushing into the UK market and getting some test samples over here.
    Golite have never been pushed hard enough in the UK, a shame.

    The EPIC fabric Nunatak use is a great alternative to Pertex, it’s going to making more of a showing over here in the future as a few manufacturers are testing in on prototypes.

  9. Your right it is a shame that these companies do not push the UK market. If they did with there products having more options of: width, length sizes and quilts vs traditional bags, they would push the UK manufactures to compete. The Top bag is light but I would pass as I do not see huge gains on the bag I have got (130g approx less) It is narrower in width and length for my 6’2 frame. Where a Quilt offers big savings in weight with the room as well. The Arc Specialist in a long length from Nunatak is 482g that is light! But Rab could do the same if they wanted to.

  10. Aye, the Rab bag is definitely for racers or those that don’t mind the slim fit.
    As more folk get into lightweight camping, the manufacturers will follow to where the sales are.

    The BigAgnes stuff I test crosses over better from regular bags as they only do top bags and they do them from winter mountaineering grade to the lightest of summer bags. Mummy and square shape. The large size is nicely wide and long.

    I’ve got one of these http://www.bigagnes.com/str_bags.php?bid=11 to give away as a prize soon as well. Summer lightweight or winter liner?

  11. Does anyone know where I can buy one of the 2008 versions of this top bag ar? Everyone seems to still have the old model in stock!

    Your help would be appreciated.

  12. Hi Mark, I’m sure it was only due in the shops about now.
    The only worry is that because there’s a few of the old model about there might not be a lot of shops stocking it.

    Give them a shout at rabinfo@equipuk.com

    I’ve used it quite a bit now, it’s a great bag.

  13. Hello,

    Thanks for the reply. You’re right, I spoke to Rab and they say it won’t be back in the shops until July at the earliest.

    Couple of questions if you don’t mind –

    1 – Would this do for a Four days Cairngorms trip in September?
    2 – What sleeping matt would you recommend for use with this bag?

    Your help is much appreciated.


  14. Mark, I would take the bag to the Cairgorms at that time of year quite happliy unless it was going to be unseasonably cold. But, I would still factor in wearing clothes at night if you had to. It is meant to be a 0-rated bag, and with the right mat I think it’s a winner.
    I’ve only used it with the Exped Airmat and Synmat and they’re a pretty good fit. My Big Agnes mats are too wide and I think a Thermarest would be tight as well.
    Racers tend to have shoulder to hip sleep mats cut to the bear minimun, so the sleeve for the mat is narrow, but the Exped mats go in fine.
    There will be others that fit as well, Multimat, Alpkit and the like.
    I don’t know if the dimensions will change from my prototype, so I would definitely get the bag first and mat second :o)


  15. PTC, is that the standard width Exped Airmat you got stuffed in the AR as opposed to the DLX sized mats? I’m a gnat’s over 6 foot but don’t want to get the big mat if I can help it.

  16. Aye, it’s the regular size Exped mats I used, both Primaloft and Air versions.
    Fits fine, although there’s no room for any more mat in there, that’s for sure. I’m a baw hair under six feet and it’s fine on me.

  17. Oooooh! I was just about to stump up for this bag today then someone sent me the backpackinglight.com review that said it’s only just big enough for someone of 5’10” let alone 6 footers. The thought of the top of the Rab AR coming up to half way up my chest has got me swinging back towards a full bag like the Cumulus. I seem to be, as ever, an odd size.

  18. I’ll do a proper measure of it, and me, and maybe even a photie of me in it.
    I think Americans are just maybe a little soft :o)

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