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December 2014 Issue
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Lowe Alpine Airzone Trek 45:55



Our Rating:

I really struggled with the design of this pack. It is loaded with features, most of which will sound plausible in a shop, but for me at least half of which were of marginal value in the real world.

The basic sac design is a good example of this. Lowe Alpine make a big deal out of the multiple entry points to the pack. Not only is it a twin compartment pack, but it has three entry points, including a front and rear zipped entry. For wet New Zealand conditions, this means gear will need to be safely packed away in waterproof bags or pack liners.

Because the sac design is compromised by these zips, the pack has a built-in rain cover. Rain covers can be a useful addition to a pack, but I’ve always thought a design that incorporates it as standard is almost a confession that the basic sac is not sufficiently engineered to prevent water egress.

The adjustable harness is the main point of difference between this pack and similar sized packs from other manufacturers. Some will find this appealing with its potential to allow most of your back to breathe and avoid the sweat build-up that comes with back-hugging harness designs. This works to a degree, but not well enough to offset the extra complexity of the harness and its lighter construction materials that may not be as durable as simpler systems.

There are plenty of pockets on this pack. Some useful like the side and top pockets. The shoulder strap cellphone pocket I found impractical.

This pack didn’t compare well with some other packs of the same size I’ve tested where the trend is to go lighter and simpler. It tries to deliver too much of what it thinks the customer might want, rather than more of what you actually need. It violates the KISS principle of smart design, which is a shame because the harness idea has some merit and if it was matched with a no-nonsense sac then it might be a product I would look at again.