Rab Alpine Bivi Review
Cons: Expensive, fiddly velcro closure
If you want to stretch your dollar further, there are some excellent other options out there that overlap the Rab Alpine bivy's characteristics and ring up a bit less at the register.
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|Pros||Simple, lightweight, weather-resistance||Lightweight, weatherproof, roomy, ease of use, bug screen||Lightweight, versatile, stows easily, price is right||Extremely lightweight, packable||Light, durable, warm, affordable|
|Cons||Expensive, fiddly velcro closure||Stuff sack too large||Leaky zippers||Expensive, no zipper||Not waterproof, tight fit for taller individuals|
|Bottom Line||If storm protection is your sole need from a bivy sack, the Alpine is a strong contender||This very well may be the new standard in what we expect from a top-notch bivy sack||This model boasts an enticing weight, comfort, and versatility ratio||An effective and lightweight bivy that far outperforms other emergency or minimalist shelters||The Escape is an excellent lightweight choice for cold dry climates or emergency situations|
|Rating Categories||Rab Alpine Bivi||Outdoor Research He...||Sierra Designs Back...||MSR Pro Bivy||SOL Escape Bivvy|
|Weather Resistance (25%)|
|Packed Size (15%)|
|Specs||Rab Alpine Bivi||Outdoor Research He...||Sierra Designs Back...||MSR Pro Bivy||SOL Escape Bivvy|
|Measured Weight (oz.)||18.0 oz||16.3 oz||13.6 oz||8.9 oz||8.4 oz|
|Packed Size (in.)||4" x 10"||4" x 12.5"||3" x 9.5"||8" x 3.5"||4" x 7.5"|
|Waterproof?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Water-resistant fabric with waterproof seams|
|Open Length (in.)||87"||82"||80"||88"||84"|
|Shoulder Width (in.)||35"||26"||36"||36"||31"|
|Material (top/bottom)||Top: eVent DVStorm 3 layer fabric
Bottom: 70d coated nylon
|Top: Pertex Shield Diamond Fuse 2.5L 100% Nylon, 30D Ripstop
Bottom: 100% 40D Nylon w/ TPU lamination
|Top: 20D Nylon Ripstop
Bottom: 30D Nylon Ripstop
|20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm||Metalized Spun-bonded Olefin|
|Sleeping Bag or Pad Attachments?||No||Yes||No||No||No|
|Poles?||No||Yes, one overhead shockcorded Delrin pole||No||No||No|
Our Analysis and Test Results
This Rab Alpine Bivi is a strong contender for light and fast alpine missions. Staying shielded and dry in cold environments when it's probable that you will be bivied out in a snow cave or on wet ground is what this bivy is designed for.
Throughout the testing period, we encountered several types of weather and precipitation from snow and wind to warmer periods of rain. There were several situations where the Rab Alpine performed well and a few that we found ourselves feeling a little too miserable. During periods of cold blowing snow, the Rab model performed well.
The waterproof fabric and simple bathtub floor design kept us shielded both from blowing snow and ground snowmelt. The downside of the simple design rears its head in warmer rainy climates. The only way to create any ventilation while it's raining is to unzip the opening and use the fiddly velcro closures. Not only is this process tedious when it's raining, but it doesn't ventilate very well. When we found ourselves holed up in the bivy for a night of rainy yet warmer weather, we were saturated in the morning. The condensation from our body didn't vent, and the velcro closure had allowed water to blow in.
Once again the Alpine lands right in the middle of the pack. At 18 ounces (1 pound, 2 ounces), the Rab isn't exactly a heavyweight. Because the creature features were cut out of this bivy, Rab was able to use three-layer 70-Denier coated nylon to create the waterproof bathtub floor as opposed to the ~30-Denier fabrics of comparable models in this review.
While this cut out some of the comfort factors when the ground was wet, or the weather turned for the worse, it made a noticeable difference.
Through the testing process, we found all of the models we tested fit nicely into three different comfort categories. Emergency bivies were suitable for a night or two of use out of absolute necessity. Minimalist models were suitable for several days of planned bivouacking, and expedition bivies were suitable for extended expeditions where comfort was critical for success. The Alpine from Rab fits nicely into the minimalist category.
The Alpine from Rab is simple. There is no way to elevate the ceiling away from your body, and the zipper/Velcro closure was consistently frustrating. All that being said, there was ample space inside for our tall gear tester, Z-Rest sleeping pad, and lofty down bag. We didn't find the bivy to be either too large leaving dead space, or too snug and constricting. All in all, the Alpine was comfortable though we wouldn't want to be married to it for ten days in the backcountry.
One of our biggest issues with the Alpine was the lack of ventilation. There is no bug netting and no easy way to reliably ventilate this bivy sack.
The one climate the Alpine from Rab functioned flawlessly was in cold, windy, and snowy conditions. At times, we had the zipper unzipped just enough to allow the wind to circulate air without much snow blowing in. If you're buying a bivy primarily for colder alpine conditions and just want something that will keep you dry, this could be a pretty good option for you.
Packed, this bivy is a reasonable 4x10 inches. Small enough to disappear into most small backpacks. Considering the thicker, more durable, and waterproof fabric of the Rab it does pack down quite well.
While the Rab isn't quite as comfortable as some bivy sacks, it does save a lot of weight and room in the pack over the heavyweights.
Our biggest struggle with the Alpine was the price tag. With a high price tag, there are simply so many options that outperform it that we couldn't recommend getting this bivy. That's not to say it wasn't excellent in performance, only that there are other bivy sacks that are cheaper, offer the same weather resistance, and infinitely more comfort/features.
The Rab Alpine Bivi is a great bivy sack offering fantastic cold weather/storm protection. It was roomy and comfortable but had a few drawbacks. The zipper/velcro closure system was pretty frustrating, especially with cold hands. We also feel like the price is on the extreme high end for what this bivy offers.
— Brian Smith & Brian Martin
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