Lowe Alpine Peak Attack Group Review

7th Sep 2015

The number of product reviews the Peak Mountaineering team conduct has grown significantly over the last few years.  We love being able to feed back on some of the equipment we use regularly and reputable manufacturers always value good quality feedback on their products by professionals who will be using them in all weathers and in different environments.  
Sometimes, when we want a different perspective or there are question marks about an item we may give it to friends, fellow instructors or clients so that the reviews reflect the experiences of a range of users.  A key point about equipment is, of course, that not everything suits everyone.  Even so, it's still not often we get the chance to give a whole group the same product and ask them to use the item on a daily basis for many days in a challenging and changing environment.
Our recent Trek and Mountain Stok Kangri team used a range of wide range of products kindly provided by Rab, Lowe Alpine and Polartec (the photo above shows Emma from Rab/Lowe Alpine demonstrating the Peak Attack rucksacks at our pre departure training weekend) and, given a multiple day walk in, the ascent of a 6000 metre peak and all the associated travelling around before and after, this was one time when we had a not to be missed opportunity to see how a range of people with different gear preferences, different genders, different experience levels and different body shapes would find using the same products.  
It is also handy that, on an expedition of this type, there is plenty of time spent sitting in mess tents where we could chat about the products.  It was the ultimate gear testing panel and believe me.....this Stok Kangri team were very happy to talk about gear!  So, over the coming weeks we will be producing gear reviews on specific items the team used and sharing their honest feedback.  Hopefully it will help your gear buying choices.......
The first piece I wanted to consider is the Peak Attack 32 (and female specific Peak Attack 36 ND) rucksack.  All the team were issued with these and they used them as their everyday trekking pack and summit day rucksack.  I have already written a review of this product and I would suggest reading that in addition to this information (my original review can be found here).  If you read the review you'll see that Caroline and I have both been using these for over 6 months and really can't fault them.  So, it was really interesting to see what the team thought.
Each trekking day the team were carrying 3 litres of water, some food, spare clothing and small items of equipment like cameras (although some of their cameras weren't so small!) and sun protection.  On summit day there was a significant amount of additional equipment like crampons, helmets, harnesses, ice axes and additional warm layers to add.
The group found the rucksack a perfect size for trekking and, given the weight carried on those days, they also found it very comfortable. For summit day some of them found that, although they could fit everything in, it was a tight squeeze.  I don't personally mind setting off on summit days with my pack bulging as, once the walk in is over, I'll undoubtedly be taking out various bits of equipment and at that point it will be a perfect size.  For usage of this type rucksacks of this size also suit a lightweight packing approach. For example, if you pack a full weight climbing sit harness then you'll take up a fair bit of room in a sack like this but, if you pack a lightweight unpadded mountaineering harness, then you'll save a litre or so of space.
The team all thought the packs were very comfortable.  They were well padded and the sculpted shoulder straps and a very comfortable hip belt are perfect for the 10 kgs or so of weight this rucksack will handle.  There are plenty of adjustment options in the harness system but the pack comes in a single back length.  We had team members with a range of heights and they all found the back length comfortable.  Another key determinant in the comfort of a sack is the back panel design. My original review offered some information on this but sometimes you only find out if the information provided is lacking when someone asks you for more detail about it.  
A few days ago a blog reader called Francisco sent me an email asking for just that (as least when I get emails like this I know my reviews are getting read!).....
Francisco's original email said - Hi! I want to know more about the back panel performance. Great review by the way!!
My response to Francisco might offer useful advice to anyone considering the Peak Attack.....
Hi Francisco,
Many thanks for getting in touch about the review.  I am pleased that you found it useful
The back panel on the Peak Attack is a fabric covered foam pad.  There is no internal frame or strengthening supports.  The panel is made from a high density foam and I have found it to be supportive and comfortable.  It is also firm enough to protect your back from items inside pressing into your back and will keep its shape if your rucksack is only partly filled - it won't bend in half.  
The surface fabric is comfortable against your back and has stood up to a lot of use without any visible signs of wear.  I have used the rucksack in all conditions from winter to recent use in a very hot India and, although there isn't a lot of airspace between your back and the pad so your back will get sweaty, this gives it a close comfortable fit that will make it good for sports like climbing.  Overall, I would summarise that the back is very well designed and yet simple.
Of course, it's always nice to be appreciated so a big thanks to Francisco for her final reply - 
Perfect Paul! That's just what I needed to know!  Thank you very very much!!!  Keep doing so!!
The team tested out all the rucksacks other features and, without exception, liked every one.  The lid pockets are great, lots of them used the hydration system storage and found it worked perfectly.  The trekking pole storage was new to most and many tried this and thought it simple,  effective and crucially, secure.  The ice axe retention system is also a doddle to use and no axe is going to come loose after being secured in there. They also complimented the chest strap vertical adjustment system and all liked the overhaul styling of the pack.
Infact, despite hours of conversation and a combined total of almost 200 days of use There was only one suggestion mentioned.  The only, and I do mean only, thing that was identified was that it would be useful if the chest strap buckle incorporated a whistle like many rucksacks do nowadays.  In truth, if that's the only thing we could find there is no doubt Lowe Alpine are on to a winner!
Posted by Paul