UKC

Lowe Alpine - Alpine Attack Rucksack Review

© Dave Searle

Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 35:45 Black Tangerine  © Lowe Alpine
Over the last winter and spring we've passed a Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack rucksack around between our staff, taking it out winter climbing in Scotland, summer cragging in North Wales, up some classic Alpine peaks and even a spot of European drytooling. All in all it has performed brilliantly in every scenario. We might make a quick tweak or two, but basically we loved it. Read the full run-down below.

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 Alpine Attack in Scottish Winter Mode!  © Dave Searle
The Alpine Attack in Scottish Winter Mode!
© Dave Searle

SIZE:

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.

With the lid popped inside the main sac, and the drawcord pulled tight  © Dave Searle
With the lid popped inside the main sac, and the drawcord pulled tight
© Dave Searle

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.

MATERIAL:

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!

The Alpine Attack from Lowe Alpine, loaded with gear and two axes securely attached  © UKC Gear
The Alpine Attack from Lowe Alpine, loaded with gear and two axes securely attached
© UKC Gear

OTHER FEATURES:

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! ;-)

Big enough for all cragging gear in winter or summer - no problem  © Dave Searle
Big enough for all cragging gear in winter or summer - no problem
© Dave Searle

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!

CONCLUSION:

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.

Lowe Alpine Alpine Attack 35:45 Black Tangerine  © Lowe Alpine

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%.

 

PRICE: £90

MORE INFO: Lowe Alpine Website

 

VIDEO: Andy Cave Introduces the Alpine Attack

 



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18 Jun, 2015
Are the rear straps now long enough for the floating lid to be used if the extension tube is filled and a rope is thrown over the top? That's really my only complaint about my original version with the single headlocker, it's awkward to get the lid done up if you're packing climbing and bivvy gear for a big walk-in. Otherwise it's super durable and pretty close to being the perfect Winter rucksack. :)
18 Jun, 2015
I have an old c.1997 Alpine Attack 50 which is still going strong and remains a very nice beast. Light, strong, carries well, and the external crampon pouch does indeed hold all sorts of things, including on one occasion a baguette, some cheese, half a cucumber and an avocado. Also good for a bottle of wine (allegedly). The lid actually fits too, without flapping and falling down, and the lighter interior lining means finding things easier. The only design features I didn't like were the bandoliers (I'd rather use my harness or - a bandolier) and the interior side pockets (which need elastic across the top or every time I try to stuff a jacket in the main compartment it ends up crammed half in a pocket). The new version looks a worthy successor. b
18 Jun, 2015
55 which was from the first batch when they switched suppliers (I presume... had one stolen which was when the new headlocker unit came out, so rebought, the design was almost the same, but build quality "less good") Yeah, its a wicked pack, it works really really well... The way the lid goes up is great in scotland when you top out and its too windy to coil the ropes ---BUT--- having had the new pack 2.5 years (use as a crag rucksack, 3 weeks scottish winter total) the compression straps on the side are ripping through the main fabric. Will get onto lowe alpine to see what they say, but i am super dissapointed, becuase the design is absolutely amazing. If they all fall apart after 2 years, that makes it a shame because there'd be no point anyone buying one of the best designs on the market.
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