Tuesday, 18 July 2017 08:17

Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro tested and reviewed Featured

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Designed for carrying comfort the Lowe Alpine AirZone Pro packs, 35+10 or 45+10, combine good ventilation with an easily adjustable back system that reinforces the brand's reputation as one of the best rucksack producers in the world.

Perfectly sized for a long weekend wild camping or a few days on the trail it's a classic Lowe Alpine pack, solidly built and durable with the advantage of side access and effective compression straps.

AirZone 10

What the manufacturers say:

Finally it's time for another mission. You've been planning this one for months and the date has finally arrived. Your gear is laid out and your boots are clean, all you need to do is grab the lightweight, AirZone Pro+ backpack to make your vision a reality.

Utilising the adjustable AirZone Centro back system, with its unique design to aid ventilation you will enjoy less harness contact on your back which simply put equals less sweat. Your back won’t be groaning under the weight as the wrap around, AdaptiveFit hipbelt gives you all the stability and support you need to ensure that even when carrying heavy loads, comfort is king.

Hydration compatible means you can access your water easily as you can with any of the extras you have brought along for the ride, stashed happily away in the large stretch side pockets. Practical side entry means you can grab an extra layer without putting the pack on the ground, and clever features such as walking pole tip grippers and an integrated raincover mean life on trail can be even less stressful.

Features:

Easy-access side entry.
Hipbelt pockets for easy-access storage
Unique walking pole tip grippers
AirZone Centro adjustable back length and AdaptiveFit™ hipbelt & harness
Large front pocket & expandable volume giving versatile storage options
Sternum strap with whistle
Side compression
Internal zippered pockets
AirZone breathable back maximising airflow
Hydration compatible
Key clip
Large stretch mesh side pockets
Versatile Spider Plate bungee system for secure storage
Raincover
Ice axe loop

Available in Azure Blue, Black, Oxide Red and Shaded Spruce Green

On test with Matt:

Moving on with my Duke of Edinburgh journey from participant to leader I quickly found I no longer needed the larger 70+ litre rucksack for expeditions. I needed a lighter weight but technical pack to fit my new needs as a leader.

I spent some time trying out bags in stores, ensuring they would fit my needs in the outdoors as well as personal trips with photography. The Lowe Alpine Cholatse was recommended to me but after trying the Cholatse and AirZone Pro+ out I much preferred the AirZone Pro+.

AirZone 1

Initially I thought I would miss the bottom access that is traditionally found on rucksacks but what I like most on the AirZone Pro+ pack is the side access and haven’t missed the bottom section. This side access opens the whole bag up so it makes it convenient to get to kit around the whole of the pack.

AirZone 9

I can have quick access to a sleeping bag at the bottom, food in the middle and camera plus the side compartment has a large pocket which is handy for smaller items such as sharpies, food or sporks. The pack as a whole has plenty of pockets and quick access points. The lid of the pack has a sizeable pocket which can fit lunch and a jacket inside and on the inside is a handy brightly coloured pocket which I have dubbed my first aid pocket which is accessible from the rear of the pack or opening the lid gives full access to survival blanket, plasters etc.

AirZone 4

Along the front is a sizeable pocket which although large isn’t deep, it’s a good size to fit map cases inside or a jacket folded up for quick access but you couldn’t fit anything bulky inside but why would you need to with the full access side zipper. Even with a bottle, walking poles or large tripod on the side access system, it is still easy to access and close up again despite the countering weight. This could had been a disaster if you had to take everything off just to use the system.

AirZone 6

My one flaw I would say with the bag is the side access pocket has clips on the straps which are very helpful for larger items and making it more flexible. This isn’t mirrored on the opposite and the straps are sewn straight into the pack.

Pockets can be found on the hip fins and two deep mesh pockets for bottles, trainers or a tripod. These mesh pockets are brilliant and have a lot of give to them so whether you have a slim or bulky bottle it can fit all sizes.

AirZone 3

The spider plate and bungee system is a welcomed addition and allows a lot more freedom with attachments to the outside of the pack, rather than a traditional pocket.

For long distance cycling and climbers it’s great for holding your helmet or for multi day hikes a tent or roll mat can be attached. It’s a tough bungee cord and can take a good weight. Although further fastening was needed for the Terra Nova tent to stop it from bouncing around but as a whole it comfortable fitted inside the spider plate and the pack didn’t feel odd in weight on my back.

Remaining on the exterior of the rucksack and one of the core reasons I opted for the AirZone Pro+ over the AirZone Trek or Cholatse packs is the AirZone Pro+ has two loops and also includes walking pole grippers, coupled with the spider plate and side access systems. This pack is the ultimate in adaptive situations and can fit to multiple requirements.

AirZone 8

This pack is the ultimate in adaptive situations and can fit to multiple requirements.

Although on the larger side for a day walk, the AirZone Pro+ in half weight is extremely comfortable and doesn’t feel slack where the bag isn’t filled out. To make the pack flexible between single day use or to multiple the lid can be adjusted so for a smaller day walk you can pull the straps down to fix it in, which stops the lid from bouncing or falling forward.

For multi day purposes the lid can be drawn completely out to allow the expandable 35 – 45 litre or 45 – 55 capacity and further yet you could fit a tent or items between the lid and pack again. However it does look very odd in doing so.

AirZone 2

When packed for 2-4 days use with full camping kit the pack would typically come in weighing between 10-13kg and the pack again felt very comfortable. The hip belts are very well padded and do not rub, the split between them helps to avoid moisture build up which can happen and cause rubbing on some larger hip belts.

The shoulder straps and sternum straps are both comfort again and can take some weight, even at full load with the 13kg I could comfortable run around with the rucksack.

Now as the name suggests “AirZone” the back features the AirZone Centro and breathable back system. The Lowe Alpine bag as a whole I believe the system is more extruded and a larger gap between your back and the rear of the pack is greater than other manufacturers. Not that other bags fail in this area but this larger gap is more noticeable and you can feel and see the evidence for yourself when using the pack in hotter weather. The Centro adjust system is also very easy to use with a simple pull up to adjust the back height and when adjusted the system locks in. At no point did I feel the system would go slack and all of a sudden the bag drops.

AirZone 5

Yes the bag might be more extruded off your back with the AirZone but when at full weight when I packed it out for my needs (13kg) the pack didn’t feel of balance or back heavy. It floats just right and while wearing you don’t feel the need to lean forward to counter the weight making hiking for long distances a lot more enjoyable and pleasant.

“Comfort is king” It certainly shows with this pack.
It’s a pure joy to wear whilst on exped.

Overall I am very pleased with the pack. In fact pleased is an understatement! I am thrilled with the pack, specially as this is my personal pack and one I bought myself. It fits my needs as an expedition leader with Scouting and Duke of Edinburgh with plenty of pockets for food, pens, compass, maps and other kit or whilst out for my personal work in photography the quick access allows me to grab photographic kit quickly without the main of the pack getting dirty on the ground.

AirZone 7

A very comfortable, adaptable rucksack with plenty of external options for varied users, the pack is suitable not only for day hikes and longer trips but also climbers and even cyclists for longer trips. The spider plate and bungees are a great addition and something I would miss off other packs.

Hydration compatible and deep mesh side pockets means no excuse for lack of water and with the numerous loops and attachment points for axes and poles you don’t have to sacrifice a pocket to house extra kit.

A truly amazing rucksack to fit multiple uses for all outdoor needs. The bag is also very easy to customise, mine is now a patch work of badges.

Last modified on Tuesday, 18 July 2017 09:53

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