Rob Greenwood has been gear testing the Lowe Alpine 'Alpine Attack' 45-55 - the flagship rucksack model in Lowe Alpine's Mountain Range - over the summer. He tested and attempted to destroy it in several locations, including while climbing the American Direct on the Petit Dru. Here follows an account of the pack's survival in the hands of this DMM rep, keen climber and generally nice bloke.
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A wet day at Bull Bay
UKC Gear, Nov 2011
© Rob Greenwood Collection
In the Beginning
Lowe Alpine was founded in a shed back in 1967.
I personally take this as a sign of quality and have often found that such humble beginnings lead on to great things.
The Alpine Attack is the flagship model in Lowe Alpine's Mountain Range. Sporting the latest fabric technology as well as a host of features, it was time to see how quickly I could destroy (and review) it. Neither happened as quickly as I might have liked...
At 45-55 litres the Alpine Attack is the perfect all-round size for climbers and mountaineers looking to head into the mountains throughout both summer and winter. I don't have a specific pack for each individual activity; in fact, I quite like carrying a massively over-sized rucksack while sport climbing because it allows you to carry a far greater quantity of sandwiches, tea, cakes etc...
Anyhow, back to sensible reviewing...
The extendable lid allows capacity to be increased while the various side-straps and buckles allow further 'bolt-on' options. I have stuffed helmets, crampons, axes, skis, karrimats, and baguettes down the side while approaching larger objectives and, due to the pack's alloy back-support, such loads are still surprisingly comfortable.
"...The 'Head-locker' Ice Axe attachment (see below) was of particular use while climbing the American Direct on the Petit Dru. It was critical the axes were stored securely (it usually is!)"
The 'Head-locker' Ice Axe attachment (see below) was of particular use while climbing the American Direct on the Petit Dru. It was critical that the axes were stored securely (it usually is!), dropping them would have cut-off our means of descent on the other side of the mountain. When you are climbing throughout granite cracks + chimneys strange things can happen - lots of scraping, battering, and bruising – conventional ice axe holsters would be vulnerable to shift and sticking them down the side-straps would have got in the way. The climbing was still awkward, but at least we had one less thing to worry about.
The Alpine Attack has been designed by mountaineers, for mountaineers. Comfort and usability play major parts here, the addition of any unnecessary extras will just increase weight and clutter the pack – something guaranteed to annoy you whilst having an epic.
Features such as the tuck-away waist-belt have clearly been thought out by an end user and allow easy access to gear loops on lead or second (inc. photograph) - perfect for scrambling or mountaineering. The adaptive shoulder fit harness contours nicely around the body. Alongside the removable alloy back support it is this that really adds to the overall comfort and usability of the pack. Range of movement is critical and by removing excess material from around the base of the straps Lowe Alpine have succeeded in providing greater freedom of movement.
David Suddes of Lowe Alpine talks us through the 'Head-locker' ice axe attachment system:
The Alpine Attack's other main features:
The Dyneema fabric used on the Alpine Attack is both lightweight and durable (although technically I am sure this is impossible). However, I have tried hard to ruin this pack. I have hauled it up granite and limestone with little ill-effect. From previous experiences of hauling on El Cap one thing is certain – dragging things up abrasive surfaces it is not particularly good for a packs lifespan. I mean really, even haul-sacks wear out and they're designed for it!!
Another trick I thought up to aid my mission of destruction was to pack crampons without protective cover (not my best idea but it did save around 250g). Obviously this 'test' was slightly different to that of the hauling, going for more of a rip than a scrape, but once-again there was no effect....
The weight quoted on the Lowe Alpine website is 1200g ; however there is a 'stripped' weight of 1000g– a respectable figure for a pack of this size/nature (especially considering the durability!). If you want something lighter you will have to compromise on capacity – you choose what is most important to you. Fortunately Lowe Alpine offer a smaller model (Alpine Attack 35:45), but obviously this won't fit in the same quantity of goodies from the picnic hamper.
The Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 45:55 is a superb all-rounder that is built to last. -If you are looking for a bomb-proof pack to do-it-all then I wouldn't hesitate in recommending it. However, I am very sorry I couldn't break it, I tried my hardest...
Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack
About Rob Greenwood
'Crazy' Rob Greenwood is a rep for DMM and is based out of North Wales. He is a keen summer and winter climber, a huge sea cliff fan and a generally nice bloke. He also runs those super long ultra-endurance races and is consequently very fit. Which is great for him, but not so nice for Jack 'desk jockey' Geldard when he is trying to keep up on long snow slopes...
UKC Articles and Gear Reviews by Rob Greenwood: