UPDATE July 2015: Ken and Hannah are now running Scottish walking, mountaineering and climbing courses for West Coast Mountain Guides.
Review of the Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 45:55 pack
Two words sum up the latest Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 45:55 pack: simple and robust, and it’s not really a surprise as it’s these two principles that Lowe Alpine packs have been renown for over the years. It’s this simplicity and robustness that ensure that this pack is particularly versatile and can be used for a whole host of mountain based adventures.
Since getting my hands on the Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 45:55, I’ve certainly used the pack for a whole host of mountain based adventures. Throughout the winter, I was working as a Mountaineering Instructor in what turned out to be a particularly tough, yet enjoyable season, largely due to the sheer amounts of snowfall coupled with stormy weather. Scottish winters have a habit of thoroughly testing clothing and equipment, and so any flaws in your systems (leaking jackets, ill-fitting boots, blunt tools etc.) can quickly become exposed. Following the winter, I ventured out to Norway, to ski tour in the Jotunheimen National Park, including ascents of Norway’s two highest peaks and then on to some more ski touring in the Silvretta Alps in Austria. It was whilst ski touring that the stability of the pack was really put to the tests, particularly when skiing downhill with a pack full to the brim. I then returned to Scotland, and spent time guiding on the Cuillin Ridge on Skye, where the sharp, abrasive volcanic rocks put the durable Trishield Nylon fabric, which the pack is largely constructed of, to the test. Since then, I have spent most of the summer working in the Spanish Pyrenees, with a month spent personal climbing in the Alps thrown in amongst it all. So, the pack has definitely been put through its paces!
Lowe have used a number of innovative, yet almost ridiculously simple features on the Alpine Attack some of which have fancy names but all of which can be manipulated easily with gloved hands and work very well.
This is Lowe’s patented system for securing the heads of ice axes to the base of the back, and has been both simplified and improved from its previous system. The new system has two separate metal bars which slot through the heads of each ice axe , and this works well with either one or two ice axes of any shape. The shafts of the ice axes are then secured further up the pack using the WebCatcher System.
Another simple yet effective and easily adjusted system designed to secure poles, skis and the shafts of ice axes in place. Aluminium hooked buckles allow for quick release.
Rather than using traditional plastic buckles, which can clog up with snow, to secure the lid to the pack, Lowe use a very robust and easily manipulated aluminium hooked buckle. There’s less to go wrong, and again, is designed to be used with gloved hands.
Packs designed for mountaineering need to carry well both during an approach, when full and bursting at the seams, and during a climb, when the pack can be next to empty. For both situations, the Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 45:55 performs brilliantly. When full, the floating lid extends to accommodate for the most gear intensive routes, and the hip belt is stiff enough to spread the load evenly, whereas when empty, the lid tucks away neatly into the main compartment and the hip belt packs away in purpose built pockets on the side of the pack. The compression straps can be fully tightened, giving the pack a slim and clean profile, with very little to catch when climbing narrow gullies and chimneys.
As with many great pieces of kit, it’s the little detail that also has a huge effect upon how well it performs, and this is very apparent with the new method by which the chest strap is attached to the pack. It’s super simple, yet far better than many other methods used by other manufacturers and the previous version of this pack, and involves a durable yet easily adjustable clip that attaches to one of four pockets of daisy chained webbing on each shoulder strap.
It seems that Lowe Alpine have hit the nail on the head with the latest version of the Alpine Attack 45:55, a pack which can handle every adventure thrown at it, not just once, but time and time again.