“We are the kindred spirits. We are the fellowship hewn from granite and grit. We are the restless, the persistent, the plain stubborn. We are the strivers for perfection, the vanquishers of ghosts. We are forgers of dreams, crafters of comfort.”

Quality outdoor gear is often born from need. Conceived by pioneering adventure seekers who are out there pushing the limits. In the process discovering what works, what doesn’t and what’s missing. It could be said that the mountains are a breeding ground for innovation, a sentiment that certainly rings true for British clothing and equipment manufacturer Rab. The brand is named after it’s founder, Rab Carrington, who was a visionary climber and mountaineer long before his first sleeping bag was sewn into existence.

Britain in the late 1970s and a revolution is brewing. Burdened with strikes, a three-day working week and relentless power cuts, the local working class have become disillusioned. Escaping the opressive factory floor, for the lure of the the hills in the surrounding peak district. Rab Carrington was a young climber forged by this era, and he spent the late 1960’s and 1970’s putting up bold first ascents, many throughout Britain and later the world’s greater ranges.  Carrington first served his alpine apprenticeship in his Native Scotland, quickly progressing further afield into the European Alps, Andes and Himalayas. It was during this time that Carrington developed a keen understanding of the pivotal role clothing and equipment plays in ensuring the safety and ultimate success of mountain activity.

It’s now 1973  and Carrington finds himself Stranded in Beuenos Aires,whilst en route to an expedition in Patagonia. His equipment had been delayed due to dock strike back home in the UK, and he found himself in need on money. Turning to his friend Hector Vieytes, Carrington was employed in a sleeping bag factory and began acquiring skills that would later be used to redefine the future of technical sleeping bags.

During his long climbing Career Carrington achienved many impressive climbs, and some of his notable ascents include: 1968 – FA – The Pin (E2), Cairngorms, Scotland; 1972 – FA – Cramming (5.10d), Yosemite, California, USA; 1976 – FA – Travesía Cresta Sur, Patagonia; 1978 – FA, Alpine Style – Jannu (c7710m), Nepal.

Upon settling home in the UK, Carrington and his family moved to Sheffield. It was here that fueled by his extensive mountain experience he stated making down clothing and sleeping bags for the climbing community. Rab as a brand, a philosophy and later a community, was born. Demand for Carrington’s no-nonsense, well crafted designs quickly outgrew the family home’s attic so Rab’s first factory was set-up in Sheffield in 1981. Alongside running a growing business and starting a family, Carrington continued to climb throughout the 80s. He put up more bold first ascents on the local Gritstone, many of which still stand as test-pieces today.

Moving into the 1990s Rab was motivated to further push the capabilities of the gear the company was making, thus begun several relationships with leading fabric innovators like Pertex. This continued into the 2000s, and 2001 Rab began a long and ongoing relationship with Polartec® Materials, that is still very important to the brand today. Following on from this, in 2007 Carrington retired and handed over ownership of the company to Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd. Meanwhile Carrington has continued to climb, and climb hard. Also in 2007 dispatching his first 8a (Grade 30 in Aus) – New Age Traveller (8a), Mallam Cove, Yorkshire UK, at age 60.

Throughout the following decade the brand has continued to grow, but the founding principles have endured. Including the constant quest for innovation, dedication to quality and of course, Rab Carrington can still be climbing on occasion at 70 years young.

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About The Author

Lachlan Gardiner

Lachlan works as a freelance photographer, writer and videographer. He loves spending time in the outdoors whenever possible - be it hiking, mountaineering, climbing, or just being on the road - He'll take any excuse to get into the mountains! He also works in our Paddy Pallin store in Fortitude valley, Brisbane. Drop in and say hi!

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