Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35:45 Rucksack Review
In the second part of our 3 rucksack group review (the first review of the Osprey Variant 37 can be found here) we explore the Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35/45. In common with all the rucksacks tested, this well appointed mountain pack has been thoroughly tested over about 6 months of use and has also been used by a number of clients and friends. Here are my thoughts......
Lowe Alpine Mountain Attack 35/45
Lowe Alpine describe this pack as a ‘a true all rounder, the Mountain Attack is perfect for mountaineering, hut to hut alpine adventures and winter ski touring trips.’ The rucksack is definitely well featured but, although is has everything you want in a technical mountaineering pack, I was delighted to see it has nothing more. In my experience this is admirable feature of the Lowe Alpine design team - add nothing extra, but make sure everything needed is there.
The Mountain Attack has a single compartment which can be accessed either by a long side zip or the traditional top opening. Lowe Alpine have used their lightweight and yet durable TriShield® Grid fabric for the main body and the well padded back panel features air mesh fabric for comfort and breathability. The pack features Lowe Alpine’s ‘Adaptive Fit’ which is designed to allow the harness to cope with varying body shapes and it also has a removable frame.
The sculpted shoulder straps and well padded hip belt again feature air mesh fabric and are designed to make the rucksack comfortable with heavy loads. When needed, the hip belt (which includes gear loops) can be removed to leave a simple webbing belt which can be worn with a climbing harness.
Beyond that, there is a side compression system, an extendable lid (allowing an additional 10 litres of storage) with 2 pockets, chest strap and rope strap under the lid. There are also what Lowe Alpine describe as ‘HeadLocker axe attachments’ which securely attach any type of ice axes and side ski slots will house any width of skis.
I have used this rucksack for the longest period of the three packs tested and I make no secret of the fact I am a big fan of Lowe Alpine rucksacks and the Peak Mountaineering gear store has more packs from the brand than any other. I certainly didn’t want personal opinions to mask any failings with this pack and I also think gear reviews are more meaningful if there is input from various users. So, in line with the other rucksacks reviewed, all the sacks were also used by many clients and friends during the test period. In total, this rucksack has been used by 24 people over 178 days in a variety of areas (although most days were in winter in Scotland). The rucksack has completed climbing days, mountaineering outings and winter hillwalking days. It was also taken to the Alps for a few days of hut to hut ski touring and is currently heading out for cragging days in the Peak District and has had a number of mountain days in Snowdonia.
Put simply, this rucksack has been impossible to fault and full credit to the design wizards at Lowe Alpine for producing such a peach. The fit is comfortable and secure even when the pack is heavily loaded. Between myself and the other testers we tried it with the padded waistbelt on and off and played around with the removable back padding. There is no doubt that the rucksack carries more comfortably when fully padded up, but if stripping it down to save weight and reduce bulk is required, it will still perform well.
The shape is streamlined and the lid, which has a couple of pockets, fits snugly. Of course, the capacity is also adjustable (hence the 35:45 name) so you can carry pretty big loads and lots of kit. Having said that, I've found that the 35 capacity is generous and easily accommodates climbing kit. The various attachments are well thought out and well placed - they work as they are supposed to work in the conditions they are supposed to work in. Fasten your skis on, strap up your ice tools, compress it or just fastening up the main alloy buckle - everything is quick and efficient. It doesn’t look like it has as many bells and whistles as some other models out there, but there is everything you need.
I always see any zips as a potential weak point on rucksacks (even on lids) and so it is quite a leap of faith to use a sack where the manufacturer has deliberately added a vertical zip on the main compartment. In reality the zip is a super chunky durable job and has shown no signs of struggling to cope. I'm not saying it is an essential, but I've found it useful and it's a quick access point provided you place the items you want in the right place. I'm sure adding a zip like this doesn't help with water resistance, but I never assume rucksack are waterproof and make sure stuff inside is water protected anyway.
The build of the Mountain Attack has stood up to a tough winter extremely well. Infact, it shows very little sign of wear anywhere. Very impressive considering the varied use it has had. The Tri Shield fabric feels lightweight and yet it is definitely durable - the grid pattern looks good too. My thoughts on this rucksack were echoed by all the other users and no one really had a bad word to say about the Mountain Attack. I'll sum up how this stacks up against the other models after the final review tomorrow, but suffice to say Lowe Alpine have created a peach.
More details on the Mountain Attack are available on the Lowe Alpine website here.
Posted by Paul
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