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Rab Alpine Bivi Review

If storm protection is your sole need from a bivy sack, the Alpine is a strong contender
Rab Alpine Bivi
Photo: Rab
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Price:  $275 List | $249.95 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Simple, lightweight, weather-resistance
Cons:  Expensive, fiddly velcro closure
Manufacturer:   Rab
By Brian Smith & Brian Martin  ⋅  Nov 8, 2021
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60
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#4 of 9
  • Weather Resistance - 25% 6
  • Weight - 25% 6
  • Comfort - 20% 5
  • Ventilation - 15% 6
  • Packed Size - 15% 7

Our Verdict

The Rab Alpine was lacking in features but retained excellent wind and water resistance when the weather took a turn for the worse. For the price, we would like to see a bivy that has a few more features including a bug screen, a way to elevate the ceiling from one's face, and a better zipper closure system. That being said, this bag performed well when we needed it to, and if you're on an alpine adventure in a cold climate, bugs are probably the least of your worries.
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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Rab Alpine Bivi
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Rab Alpine Bivi
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award Top Pick Award 
Price $249.95 at Amazon
Compare at 2 sellers
Check Price at REI
Compare at 3 sellers
$140 List
$112.68 at Amazon
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Pros Simple, lightweight, weather-resistanceLightweight, weatherproof, roomy, ease of use, bug screenLightweight, versatile, stows easily, price is rightExtremely lightweight, packableLight, durable, warm, affordable
Cons Expensive, fiddly velcro closureStuff sack too largeLeaky zippersExpensive, no zipperNot waterproof, tight fit for taller individuals
Bottom Line If storm protection is your sole need from a bivy sack, the Alpine is a strong contenderThis very well may be the new standard in what we expect from a top-notch bivy sackThis model boasts an enticing weight, comfort, and versatility ratioAn effective and lightweight bivy that far outperforms other emergency or minimalist sheltersThe 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%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
6.0
3.0
Weight (25%)
6.0
6.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Comfort (20%)
5.0
9.0
7.0
5.0
4.0
Ventilation (15%)
6.0
9.0
8.0
6.0
4.0
Packed Size (15%)
7.0
7.0
8.0
9.0
8.0
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 2.5L 100% nylon Bottom: 100% 40D nylon Top: 20D Nylon Ripstop
Bottom: 30D Nylon Ripstop
20D ripstop nylon 2 ply breathable 1000mm Metalized Spun-bonded Olefin
Bug Mesh? No Yes Yes No No
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.

Performance Comparison


The Rab Alpine has a simple, elegant design that performs well in...
The Rab Alpine has a simple, elegant design that performs well in most conditions.
Photo: Brian Smith

Weather Resistance


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.

The Rab Alpine performs well in dry, cold climates, like an autumn...
The Rab Alpine performs well in dry, cold climates, like an autumn bivy on a wall in Zion National Park.
Photo: Brian Smith

Weight


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.

Considering the thicker more weather resistant material of the...
Considering the thicker more weather resistant material of the Alpine, 18 ounces isn't too bad.
Photo: Brian Smith

Comfort


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.

A good night's rest and coffee in the bivy sack have Joe Stern...
A good night's rest and coffee in the bivy sack have Joe Stern smiling prior to our second day climbing Tatoween in Zion National Park.
Photo: Brian Smith

Ventilation


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.

The Rab's ventilation system consisted of unzipping and using the...
The Rab's ventilation system consisted of unzipping and using the velcro tabs. When we would toss and turn, the velcro would come undone.
Photo: Brian Smith

Packed Size


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.

The Rab Alpine packed into its stuff sack, with room to spare.
The Rab Alpine packed into its stuff sack, with room to spare.
Photo: Brian Smith

Value


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.

Conclusion


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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