Great quality, durability and weatherproofing join forces in Rab’s reliable Ascent 500 for women, a three-season female-specific bag available at a decent price point.
Great design details
Tough outer material
Only available in one size for women
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Rab Women’s Ascent 500: first impressions
The Rab Women's Ascent 500 is a good, midweight bag from a well-regarded British brand whose down sleeping bags are extremely popular with climbers and mountain hikers all around the world (which is why it performs well in our Best women’s sleeping bags buying guide). Packed with 500g of 650 Fill Power R.D.S. Certified European duck down, the mummy-shaped (see: Types of sleeping bag) female-specific version is designed to be wider at the hip, to better accommodate female campers.
The Ascent 500 is a hard-wearing bag, using highly durable Pertex Quantum outer fabric that's designed to withstand the rigors of wild camping. The feature set is also mightily impressive for such a reasonably priced bag. In addition to the water-resistant down fill, there’s a fitting neck baffle design, an internal draught collar, a hood drawcord that let you “batten down the hatches” when temps are low, a large internal storage pocket, a three-quarter length zipper with a glow in the dark puller, and a bonded zipper guard to keep out draughts. For more on all of these features, check out How to choose a sleeping bag.
• RRP: $275 (US) / £240 (UK)
• Weight: 1025g / 36.1oz
• Length: 200cm / 78.74in
• Max user height: 170cm / 66.9in
• Packsize: 22 x 39cm / 8.66 x1 5.35in
• Fill: 650 Fill Power R.D.S. Certified European Duck Down
• Comfort: 0°C / 32°F
• Limit: -6°C / 21°F
• Compatibility: Three-season camping adventures in campsites and wilder spots alike
Rab Women’s Ascent 500: in the field
Rab reckon the Ascent goes from ‘bothy to bivvy’ – and we’d say they’re right, as long as you’re adventuring outside of the very coldest weather of the year. A middling weight of around 1kg makes this bag suitable for faster-paced wild camps as well as for traditional camping from early spring through to late autumn (depending on how high up you’ve ventured).
Many down-filled sleeping bags lose insulation over time, or are rendered useless if they get wet or even damp – not so the Ascent, which uses hydrophobic down treated with Nikwax, and works well even on damp mornings or inside a bivvy bag.
While the bag itself is soft and comfy to sleep in, its outer nylon material is tough enough to take scrapes and scratches. Other nice little details show the quality of make and design involved, including a glow in the dark zip pull, angled foot box, and internal stash pockets.
All in all, this is a great three-season sleeping bag designed to last for many adventures in all sorts of conditions and locations, which is light enough to take on camping trips way off the beaten track.
That versatility and durability also comes at a good price point, making the Ascent 500 a sound investment if you’re after a first female-specific bag that can go from campsite to backcountry without blinking.
An award-winning travel and outdoors journalist, presenter and blogger, Sian regularly writes for The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC Countryfile, Coast, Outdoor Enthusiast and Sunday Times Travel. Life as a hiking, camping, wild-swimming adventure-writer has taken her around the world, exploring Bolivian jungles, kayaking in Greenland, diving with turtles in Australia, climbing mountains in Africa and, in Thailand, learning the hard way that peeing on a jellyfish sting doesn’t help. Her blog, thegirloutdoors.co.uk, champions accessible adventures.