There are many many brands of sleeping bag out there, with price ranges from £17 all the way up to £400 and beyond. My brief was an all round sleeping bag that would be suitable for warmer climates as well as comfortable for daily use for an extended period of time.
The main and first decision in choosing a bag was down or synthetic filling. There are many opinions on this all over the internet, but the consensus seems to be that synthetic is cheaper to buy and its warmth is less afected by water, but that down provides greater warmth in a lighter weight package, but with the draw back that it loses its warmth if it gets wet.
Like most of us Brits I’m a duvet lover and therefore down seemed like the best option from a comfort perspective, and as I wasnt too concerned with it getting wet my decision was made. I scoured the internet for advise and in the end focussed on bags that have a comfort rating around the 0 degrees celsius mark to give me the flexibility to be warm in those cold Africa nights but not too warm when the temperature doesn’t get down that low. It also made sense from a UK use point of view as bags in this range are fine for most seasons. My final choice was guided by a couple of fantastic websites: OutdoorsMagic and Terrybnd who both extol the virtues of the Rab Neutrino 400.
For the full technical details please see Rabs website, but in brief it has a 800+ goose down fill with a 90/10 down/ feather split. It is made out of a Pertex Quantum fabric. It weighs in at 820g with a pack size of 40cm x 22cm. It comes with a cotton sack for long-term storage as well as a waterproof stuff sack which gives it the required added protection from the damp while on the move. Sadly it currently comes in this bright blue colour, which although is inoffensive, does not seem as fun as the previous years bright orange colour.
It felt great to the touch, a bit like silk, and although it packs down very small it lofted up well and feels cosy and warm in a way that only down can. I’ve yet to test the long term ruggedness of the bag, but for use in the UK and for sofa surfing it is extremely comfortable, with the angled foot box especially helping one find a good sleeping position. It is easy to stuff away in the waterproof stuff sack and once in there would happily disappear inside a rucksack or bag (shown next to the excellent North Face 70 litre duffel for comparison). I will of course report back with any updates, and most importantly with how it fares during 6 months on the road in Africa.
There are many online sellers for this great bit of kit, i purchased mine from Towerridge for £229. The service was speedy, efficient and hassle free.