The Alpine Attack from Lowe Alpine is one of their flagship rucksacks (or backpacks as everyone calls them these days), and it is designed as a 'do everything' pack. We had the 45-55 litre version (there is a smaller 35-45 litre model available too) and it weighed in at 1277g on the UKC kitchen scales.
The 45-55 litre pack is a medium to large size, capable of carrying all your cragging gear, ropes, hardware, etc and more if needed. We thought the size was absolutely spot on for Scottish winter, where you might not be carrying all that much up the route, but having a bit of room inside the pack makes it easier to find you spare jacket or flask or whatever, and you don't need to tie everything on to the outside on the approach, which is nice.
FIT & COMFORT:
We found the Alpine Attack to be a medium length fit - and all of the staff that tried this pack (all men, all around average or above height) didn't have any fit issues. The strap adjustments were easy to use and the length of the back panel suited us all.
The hip belt fit well, was comfortable and the gear loops on the hip belt were the big, plastic covered ones (similar to an actual harness) and could be used easily if needed.
The molded back panel is quite smooth, which sheds snow really well if winter is your thing, but was also very comfortable on the back.
The shoulder straps were well padded and very comfortable even with heavy loads.
The black (or it also comes in yellow) material that covers the whole pack is super tough and is called 'Trishield Grid Fabric' - and after over six months of abuse it is still looking smart, not ripped at all, and doing the business. It's not the lightest pack out there, but it should last you more than 1 season!
We really liked the floating lid (which has 2 pockets) - it could be tucked inside the pack if the pack was not very full, meaning a smaller beast on your back when climbing, and it could also be extended up away from the main body of the pack if you had loads of stuff to cram in the pack, or under the lid. We're a big fan of floating lids.
The ice axe holders at the base of the pack are superb, called the 'Headlocker Buckles' they easily fit through all of the axes we tried (including the Grivel's pictured, some Petzl Nomics and DMM Switch) without any problems and can easily be used with gloves on. Having the two separate headlocker buckles is a real improvement from the earlier Alpine Attack that only featured one central buckle.
The upper fastening for the ice axes was also chunky, tough and easy to use. One thing we might change is the fact that these straps are also the side compression straps / ski carrying straps. We did find that when we had an overloaded pack on an Alpine approach, with skis strapped to the side, then there was a potential for a slight faff if your partner was grabbing your axe from your bag for you, which could let your ski slip down. Not a major issue, but it's the only thing we can come up with as a negative!
We also remember back when the Alpine Attack had an external crampon pouch - which we really liked... (for crampons or a flask!) Is that coming out again at any point? It would mean reverting back to double closure straps instead of one, so it seems unlikely, but we can live in hope! ;-)
BITS AND BOBS:
Just a quick section to point out that the Headlocker buckles, the ice axe strap buckles and the main buckle are all metal in construction, meaning they won't break or go brittle in the cold which could leave you with a flapping pack halfway up the Ben. Bombproof = great!
Not the lightest pack out there, but certainly one of the best. Tough, high quality components, a brilliant simple design, all the stuff you need, none of the stuff you don't and comfortable too.
A strong recommendation from the UKC staff on this one - if you are in need of a new cragging pack for summer and/or winter then this will do the business.
Updates from the original Attack series include:
- The main body is now completely seamless. This helps reduce weight and improves durability.
- All interaction points are easy to operate even when wearing winter gloves or mitts; including the axe and ski attachment systems and all buckles and zippers.
- The HeadLocker system for attaching axes has now been updated and improved to accommodate even the most technical axes on the market and the LoadLocker buckle has been tweaked so it's even easier to use than ever before.
- The AdaptiveFit hipbelt and shoulder harness ensure a comfortable fit whatever your body shape, while the shoulder straps feature extra padding where it is needed the most.
- The hipbelt tucks away into specially-designed pockets for those who prefer to climb without a belt, and there's a quick-access loop for ice screws.
- The tough moulded back panel with its internal wire frame saves weight and minimises the chance of any snow build up either while climbing or when placing the pack on the ground.
- The lid of the pack is completely removable to save weight. Once removed the excess space can compressed using a compression system ensuring it reduces bulk while climbing.
- The special Trishield nylon ripstop fabric is the strongest Lowe Alpine have ever used. In addition it is then coated with a silicone treatment that increases tear resistance by an additional 20%.
MORE INFO: Lowe Alpine Website
VIDEO: Andy Cave Introduces the Alpine Attack
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