Lowe Alpine Peak Attack Rucksack Review

1st Aug 2015

If I could commission a rucksack manufacturer to make my ideal rucksack it would simply be a tube of nylon with comfortable shoulder straps.  Oh, and a supportive back panel which would keep it comfortable and stop the contents digging into my back.  It would be made from durable materials, have a small pocket or two for little items, be lightweight and have some system for adjusting volume.  That would be about it....apart from it being comfortable to carry when fully loaded, have a carrying system for ice tools, a decent waist belt that could be removed when not needed, look good and have a system for stashing ropes under a well fitting lid.  Phew, I guess I am quite picky about my rucksacks.
Recently, Cal and I have been using rucksacks that ticks all these boxes.  They come from Lowe Alpine and are called the Peak Attack 32 (men's model) and Peak Attack 38 ND (women's model).
Target Users
The Peak Attack’s suits a broad range of uses including scrambling, hillwalking, lightweight alpine style ascents and it is also comfortable enough and shaped well for multi pitch climbing voyages.  It is a great all rounder. So far our own rucksacks have been used in various contexts including 2 multi day Moroccan mountaineering tours, scrambling in Snowdonia and the Lake District, lightweight winter mountaineering in Scotland and plenty of hillwalking days in the Peak District.
Rucksack features
The main body of the Peak Attack is made from a durable fabric called 300D Nailhead combined with a durable moulded back panel.  The style is what I would call 'classic'.  That is, a single compartment main body with a fixed lid that is secured by 2 adjustable closure straps.  The shape of this main compartment is best described  as 'boxy' and it loads and carries really well.  Unless it is fully loaded so that it sits really high you'll find plenty of space to crane the head back and it also sits high enough to be used with a harness.  The lid has an exterior top pocket and a smaller pocket concealed underneath.  
Alongside that the rucksack is hydration system compatible and down each side are 2 compression straps, a long gear loop, ice tool holders, ski holders, retainers for trekking poles and additional lashing points in case you wanted to fasten equipment or crampons on the outside.  There's a rope retainer under the lid, chest strap, haul loop, well padded waist belt with gear loops,  the back panel is well padded back panel and there are equally well padded and shaped shoulder straps with plenty of adjustment. There really aren't any features missed off this rucksack and yet Lowe Alpine have still ensured that any features you don’t require can easily be stripped off.
In Use
The shoulder straps are nicely sculpted to avoid bulk at the neck and they are well padded with a firm foam that has, so far, really kept its shape.  The waist belt is also sculpted and well padded.  We've found this rucksack comfortable even when carrying fairly heavy loads.  The back panel is also spot on.  Firm, supportive and yet none fussy.  We used the rucksacks in winter and the back panel also sheds snow well.
If you are loading the rucksack up to walk into routes and you find the rope won't fit inside then a handy retainer strap keeps it secured under the lid.  Even better, this strap is designed to allow the rope to swing out of the way if you need to keep it secured and yet still have access to the contents of the main compartment.  The main compartment is, in turn, also protected by a nylon seal which does a good job of keeping the contents in and the weather out.
The build quality of the Peak Attack is solid.  Durable fabrics and fittings, top notch build quality which includes reinforcements in the key areas, bound seams and user friendly additions like chunky YKK zippers and solid buckles.  Ours have stood up to some heavy abuse without any problems and the fabrics scuff resistant finish has shrugged off encounters with rock and have so far stayed looking pretty unblemished.
The Peak Attack comes in the gender specific models we have been testing and it has been useful for Caroline to try both to assess the difference.  In reality she has found both to be comfortable but she definitely prefers the fit of the female version.  The key differences between the models is in the fit of the shoulder straps.  The 'ND' in the title of the female version stands for 'narrow dimensions' and Lowe Alpine have narrowed the distance between the shoulder straps to cater for the narrower shoulder width of most females.
When writing product reviews it can feel like you should find some features you don't like so you can comment on them, but there is absolutely nothing about this rucksack that either of us dislike or would want changing.  It does what you want and does it flawlessly for either men or women. A great product and great value at around £60 (although if you shop around you should be able to find them cheaper).  More details can be found on all Lowe Alpine products on their website here.
Product reviewed by Paul and Cal
Review written by Paul