Our Lowe Alpine Renegade 28 Rucksack Review details a lightweight climbing and mountaineering pack with zipped bucket entry load system. We hope you find it useful if you are looking for a new technical pack.
The Lowe Alpine brand needs little introduction. Since Greg, Mike and Jeff Lowe produced their first pack (called the Expedition Pack) in 1967, the company has been at the forefront of pack manufacture. They have produced many models for varying uses over the intervening years, but their climbing focussed products have always been industry leaders. The Renegade 28 fits that heritage perfectly. It is designed to be a minimalist lightweight pack with the durability needed for vertical adventures. I was very pleased to be asked to test one and here is my review.
On first inspection you might say the Renegade 28 is essentially a bucket style pack with shoulder straps. There’s a lot more to it than that of course, but that’s the basic form. In my opinion that’s also the greatest thing about it. Over my years in the mountains I’ve found my most used packs have fallen around the 25-30 litre capacity. I am also a big fan of packs that avoid unnecessary features. Keeping it simple really works for a climbing and mountaineering pack.
I also really like the bucket style packs that close with a simple zip lid closure. This style makes it so easy to access the pack without items falling out. It also makes it simple to find things. In the case of the Renegade 28 Lowe Alpine have used a burly 2 way waterproof zipper for the top closure. The top of the lid has an external zipped pocket and there’s a smaller internal zipped pocket under the lid. The inside of the back panel houses another zipped organiser pocket.
Lowe Alpine have always prided themselves on their back systems. The original 1967 Expedition Pack changed the game as it featured an innovative internal frame. Like on the Renegade, this style has become a rucksack staple. In this case there is a removable anatomically curved EVA back panel paired with a snow shedding outside layer.
The load carrying system features Lowe Alpine’s Flexion Technology harness. The pack comes in a single size, but Flexion technology is designed to flex to your body shape. Lowe Alpine say it therefore isn’t critical if your back doesn’t exactly match the back length. Some adjustment is also possible due to top tensioners on each shoulder strap. These tensioners are also equipped with quick release buckles designed to make it rope carry compatible
The shoulder straps are well padded but streamlined. They are designed to offer comfort and yet allow a full range of movement when climbing. A simple sternum strap with attached whistle and unpadded removable waist belt complete the carrying system. At the top of the shoulder straps there is a hand carry loop.
Each side of the pack features thin 10mm compression straps. The top one has a quick release buckle and the bottom one has a tension lock buckle. The compression straps are long enough to allow items like a rope to be secured or a sleeping mat to be attached. All the quick release buckles are designed to be glove compatible.
The Renegade features Lowe Alpine’s well thought out HeadLocker ice axe attachment system. This includes a pick retaining panel to stop ice tools swinging around when stowed. The front panel also has a short daisy chain on each side with small haul loops.
I always like to research the fabrics used by manufacturers. Initially, for this Lowe Alpine Renegade 28 rucksack review I found it hard to get much information. I couldn’t even find details on their website. I eventually discovered the pack is made from 210D 4 axis ripstop and Hydroshield Dura fabric. This is a tough pack fabric that also features a Ripstop weave to reduce the chance of holes developing. It is designed for very hard use. A weather proof Hydroshield Dura coating is then applied to the fabric outer of the fabrics. There is also a double thickness bonded base panel.
The Renegade weighs 950 grams and can be stripped down to 590 grams. It is available in the dark grey (called Pinstripe) colour tested and a red colour (called Fire). The retail price is £120.
Before my Lowe Alpine Renegade 28 rucksack review, the closest packs I’ve previously used to this pack are the Osprey Mutant 20 and Mutant 28. My review of the Mutant 28 is available here. Both of these packs feature a similar zip top design. I still have the Mutant 20 and think it is a fantastic design. Similarly, the Mutant 28 (no longer available) was also a brilliant pack. This bucket style opening makes packing the rucksack and quick access really simple. It also, crucially, makes the pack extremely light. My experience with the Mutant 28 was really the thing that made me so keen to test the Renegade 28. For so many missions I find this size and style works so well.
Packing & Organisation
I haven’t been disappointed. Packing and organising the Renegade 28 is simple and the various external and internal pockets really help to organise smaller items. This makes it really simple to get to essentials on the go. Organisation is also helped by it being lined in orange and white colours. The light colours ensure it is easy to see into the depths of the pack.
I have tended to use the under lid pocket for valuables and the pocket on the back panel can fit items like sunglasses or snack bars. The standout pocket is really the external lid pocket. This works exceptionally well. It is large enough for spare liner gloves or a headtorch. Similarly, it will easily fit a map, compass or food. Crucially, though, even when this pocket is full the pack seems to retain its streamlined shape. I love this feature.
The carry system is minimal and yet comfortable. The shoulder straps, while thin, are well padded and well shaped. For the weights this type of pack will carry they have offered a very comfortable carry. They also, crucially, offer completely unrestricted movement. The waist belt is simply a length of webbing with no padding. I like this and it for my uses it was quickly removed anyway. I really like the fact it is removable. However, I’m sure some people would prefer more padding.
The back panel is very supportive and fits well. You will notice its pre-formed shape. The smooth nylon also ensures snow won’t stick to the fabric. The downside to this is there is little to no ventilation. If you are wearing this on a hot day your back will undoubtedly get damp through sweating. This is a common design on packs of this style, but is still something to be aware of.
The ice axe attachment system is fantastic. A mountaineering axe or pair of ice tools can be attached in second. Once attached, they are held firmly with no concerns they will come loose. I think it is a perfect system.
Having side compression straps is very useful. They can be used to attach skis, trekking poles, sleeping mats or even spare items of clothing. Having mentioned poles, I always prefer to store poles inside a pack when I can. This was explained here. They also, of course, serve to compress the pack to secure the contents if the renegade isn’t completely full.
The daisy chain and haul loops on the front panel are minimalist. In reality, they would work but I haven’t had chance to trial them yet. Infact, they aren’t something I would imagine myself using much. For others, I am sure they will be a useful addition.
The rope carrying system confused me a bit and I’m still not sure I’ve worked it out exactly as designed. But, it works well for me. There are quick release buckles on the load adjusters and it is possible to secure a rope under these (see photo above). This certainly works, but I don’t find it very comfortable to carry a rope like this. I like the rope to sit more on the top of the pack.
However, I have found a solution that works well. The top side compression straps have quick release buckles and they can be brought over the top of the pack and clipped into the same buckles that are on the load adjusters. This works really well (see photo).
Also, for a pack of this size I often find myself needing to secure my helmet on the outside. I’d always rather it was inside, but this isn’t always possible when the pack is fully loaded. Some manufacturers provide a helmet holder to get around this problem. Lowe Alpine don’t provide anything to do this, but I have an Ortovox one that works really well (see photo). You could fasten a helmet through the daisy chain, but I always find they swing about when I do this on rucksacks.
Durability & Weatherproofing
For weatherproofing any zip lid bucket style pack relies on the zip. The Renegade has a weatherproof zip. It is stiff to open and yet seems to do a good job of keeping out moisture. Some water did get into the pack on a very wet day in Snowdonia, but I really suspect any pack would have struggled that day. I can’t be sure the water came in through the zip. I don’t know whether the zip will become less weatherproof over time, but for now it is holding its own well.
The fabric of the Renegade seems very durable. My pack has picked up a few scrapes, but certainly nothing significant at all. It seems well prepared for the rough life a mountaineering pack will inevitably get.
As I hope my Lowe Alpine Renegade 28 Rucksack review shows, I am a big fan of this pack. Infact, for my purposes I think it is pretty much perfect. For lightweight climbing adventures and scrambling it has truly excelled. Although I’ve not been able to test it in the Alps yet, I imagine it will excel there too. As always, whether it works for you will depend on your activities and load carrying requirements. If it does, I would say don’t hesitate. I also think, for the build quality and features, it is great value. More details are available on the Rab website here.