Kit Review: Lowe Alpine Altus Pack

As an independent we pride ourselves on keeping up with the brands' new releases and making sure that we stock the pick of the crop. Usually this takes place in showroom conditions with a plentiful supply of biscuits and coffee laid on whilst we work our way through ranges of new and current stock, trying on and discussing pros and cons. As much as possible we try to use the product in real world conditions as this is where flaws can be revealed, and genius hacks come into their own, in short it's how we really get to know our products.  Lowe Alpine were keen for us to try their new Altus range and we were happy to oblige. 

Being out for just one day, I picked the Altus ND30, a women's specific pack and the smallest in the Altus range. Lowe describe the range as "All Season, All Mountain" and indeed the new Air Contour+ back system lends it's self perfectly to warmer days when keeping cool is preferable. The range of sizes covers all bases, and indeed mountains, from the 30ltr day pack to 50ltr overnight packs with places to stash poles and ice axes should you be carrying them. Our hike was a modest day hike from Coniston heading up The Old Man and back down in a circular route. The day was mild but overcast so I packed the standard layers of fleece and waterproof for the British summer. The big main compartment easily fitted these with plenty of room for a first aid kit and packed lunch. Snacks were stashed in the small but ample hip fin pockets and map, compass and gloves were safely stowed in the front zipped pocket with valuables in the top pocket. I found the pack roomy and could have loaded plenty more in had I needed to. I swung it easily over my shoulders and had my first feel of what designer Dan Jenkin described as the Altus "giving you a hug". It did indeed, as the hip belt fell into place and the shoulder straps sat snug and secure I buckled up and used the forward pulling adjustments to perfect the fit. I had already adjusted the back length which was insanely easy. What struck me most was how easy it had been to personalise the fit. Once this has been done once it shouldn't need to be done again other than tweaks as loads vary, but if you do need to it's an easy process that can mostly be done on the move. 


When the inevitable happened and the heavens opened, the zipped side entry ensured I could get quickly to my waterproof and once on I easily released the rain cover and secured it. Lowe packs are made from waterproof fabrics however during prolonged and heavy rainfall water will work it's way in through zips and seams and the bottom line is that if you're out in the wet for a while a rain cover is essential. Waterproof covers can catch the wind but Lowe design the covers to fit each pack and they fit securely at various points. Once the downpour passed I was able to stow the cover away and stash my waterproof  in the top compression strap under the hood whilst it dried out. On this point, I need to tell you i'm slightly obsessed with compression straps, and this pack has a few! They are another great way to customise the pack to your needs; don't need enough kit to fill the pack - tighten the compression straps. Need more space - loosen the straps and use them to secure jackets, sit mats, hats etc. The daisy chains down the front of the pack also give you extra stashing options and can be used or ignored as you like. The straps around the side pockets worked well, meaning slim bottles and chunky flasks alike can be carried securely without fear of being lost. 


In summary I very much enjoyed using the Altus, it was comfortable and had everything I needed from a pack and much more. Most brands now thankfully make female specific packs and I would urge all our customers to find a pack that fits them well, we are happy to fit you in store and can advise on the best product for your needs. The ND30 was for me a more than adequate day pack, with plentiful features and thoughtful back design which kept me cool and prevented sweaty back syndrome!  At £125 it will become your go-to pack for days out & adventures.