it’s been more than a month now, since I purchased the Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 backpack. Some may say I have too many backpacks (and, this may be true…) but I was keen on this purchase due to its low weight and I saw it as an ideal accessory for summer hiking when I may not need all of those extra thermal layers.
One month on, I’d like to share my impressions so far.
For reference: I went for the regular back length (which is adjustable, although large is also available) and chose the almost-black anthractie colour, where shades or red, white and blue can also be found. Lowe Alpine’s Aeon series is available in both a male and female (ND) fit, in sizes ranging from 16lt to 35lt.
For a full specification, please see the Lowe Alpine website.
Let’s start with the negative and get that one out of the way:
I tore my brand-new backpack only nine-days after purchase!
To be more specific, I’ve actually torn the stretchy mesh pocket on the front of the pack (a feature that I always look for, regardless of volume). I was following a footpath through local woods and had to duck beneath a fallen tree, suspended across the path… Then, I heard the rip.
I would like to reassure you that the pack is otherwise tear-free. It may also be worth knowing that I managed to tear the same pocket on my Osprey backpack two years ago by forcing it our of a National Trust locker.
What good is a backpack without storage? I was pleased to find that the zips on this one extend more than halfway down the height of the pack, meaning you have good access to those items at the bottom. My previous daypack has much shorter zips, as well as a narrow compartment, despite the fact that it’s 1lt larger in capacity.
In my 27lt Lowe Alpine Aeon pack, I’m able to stow a waterproof jacket, long-sleeved top, first aid kit, spares for my camera, a phone case, and lunch… All as you see and with room to spare.
I’d saying before purchasing this one that I’d be looking for a 25lt pack with a floating hood (or ‘brain’, as some prefer), as I find them very handy for storing smaller items and valuables. I believe the larger Aeon models do have this but, the 27 instead offers a small zipped pocket (with a key clip inside) that’s large enough to hold my wallet, ICE card, keys and a pen.
Opposite this on the front of the pack is a pocket that would probably be used to store sunglasses by most people. Well, this is where I keep my hand sanitiser, insect repellent and suncream, as there are no side pockets on this model.
I can also fit a banana across the top of these without it getting bruised (I had already eaten said banana before taking this photo).
One of my favourite features – and, this is something I’d like to see more of – is that the hydration bladder pocket sits behind the back panel but outside of the main compartment. It is just enough for a water bladder and nothing more. I think this is ideal if you’re someone who’s likely to top up your bladder part-way through a hike.
I will say that, while a 1.5lt hydration bladder (as in the image) fits in here just fine, I’ve found that a 2lt model is a snug fit, to the point where I’m inclined to say it’s too big.
I’ve been impressed with the performance of this back panel, which is designed to sit against your back, where many other models, across a range of brands, will offer a suspended trampoline design that adds grams to the overall load. I’m very pleased and surprised to say that my back has remained dry whilst using this pack (unless I’m wearing a cotton shirt).
Shoulder straps are very thin and contain less padding than what you may find elsewhere. This does help to keep the weight down and I’ve generally found it to be very comfortable.
What I will say though is that, should you pack a loaf of weight in to it, you may feel that lacking of extra padding. I recently carried 3lt of water (plus food and everything else) on a thirty-mile hike across the Mendips and could definitely feel it around my shoulders, even with the hipbelt snug.
Anything up to 10kg (although I didn’t weight my pack) should be alright. I’ve typically been carrying between 6.5kg and 8kg on summer day hikes (I do overpack).
Aside from that tear, I’m very happy with the mesh pocket itself. In here, I tend to keep my OS map (when not required) and a folding sit-mat. I actually had two maps in the pocket at the time of taking these images.
If you’re wondering what the red item is, it’s the optional raincover… It does only cost £5 but I was surprised to find that they are not supplied with the Aeon packs as standard. These work by threading each half of the hipbelt through a corresponding loop before pulling the rest up and over the top.
If they were to include the cover, I guess they would’ve also had to incorporate a pocket for storage. I could be more considerate and decide not to pack it on days that are likely to be dry.
Additional mesh pockets on either side will hold a 750ml bottle or flash with comfort, to the point where they would probably accommodate a 1lt bottle, if necessary.
Like most packs, the Aeon 27 incorporates a means of holding walking poles on its rear. Alternatively, you can attack an ice axe or helmet used for cycling or climbing. This utilises Lowe Alpine’s trig-grip system. My only gripe with this is that I have to remove the rubber foot to fit them, which does not appear to be an issue with larger capacity rucksacks.
When the poles are fitted behind me, I find the handle extends a good 10in or so above the top of the back. Although, it’s worth bearing in mind that my walking poles are an ‘XL’ model and that shorter, more compact items may not get caught in branches as often.
I often stash them away at my side(s), on the off chance I might use them. Modern Osprey packs tend to feature a ‘stow-on-the-go’ arrangement that I now find to be fiddly (two years after buying their pack), to the point where I’d rather stuff them through the shoulder straps, if that makes sense.