Well, its been a pretty mental few weeks. Work has exploded with all the new and exciting kit coming in for this season (I have never seen so much down in my life!), and Jamie and I ran away to North Wales for a few days to try to squeeze in some more scrambling and hiking before we lose more sunlight (walking blogs will follow soon!).
As we were packing to head up North, the boys from upstairs asked us to take the new Lowe Alpine Aeon packs for a test run to see what we thought. We were honestly blown away by them; so I thought I’d fill you in on why these excited us so much.
So, I took the Womens Aeon ND16 and Jamie took the Mens Aeon 35 (Lowe Alpine have developed these packs in three sizes for women and men). They are slightly different beasts, so I’m going to focus on the ND16 (although most of these points will apply to all of them).
This pack ended up suiting me for pretty much everything. On the one day it rained we headed to Beacons climbing centre for a little training session indoors. Between the two packs we fitted our 40m rope, 4 pairs of climbing shoes, chalk bags, water, snacks, and we still had enough room to throw in our quickdraws (important if we were going to climb outside). We also did all of our trekking, scrambling, running and general mooching in these bags (the ND16 also fits our MacBook Pro in pretty perfectly).
It’s designed as an all season bag and boasts that in its stripped down, functional style. The aeon does everything you need it to, all year round. Nothing more, nothing less. It doesn’t have any extra faffy straps, it’s simple to use, it’s incredibly lightweight and it’s amazingly comfortable. Let’s get into the (ever exciting) techy stuff!
The Back System
Lowe Alpine use their own Air Contour back system, which is pretty epic for several reasons. First of all, it’s exceptionally breathable. It’s constructed with moulded foam and spacer mesh which means that air can pass between your back and the bag (no more sweaty backs, yay!). This also means that this back system is totally flexible because it doesn’t have a solid frame; so the pack be folded or rolled up and put into a larger pack if you are off travelling. This back system is also adjustable (Yup, even in the smaller packs!) and will fit back lengths of 36cm – 46cm – just slide the velcro back panel up or down to suit you.
Shoulder Harness and Hip Belt
The shoulder straps are incredibly lightweight, flexible and breathable. They don’t chafe, they don’t hold any sweat and they distribute the weight really well. I was surprised with the hip belt though. I’ve found it really difficult to find a small day pack with a substantial hip belt (they all seem to be tiny straps that dig in and don’t take very much weight at all). This pack, however, has a hip belt that’s a bit more substantial. It still doesn’t get in the way if you’re scrambling, and they sit really well on your hips making any weight you have in there feel really light (I honestly forgot I had the pack on half the time).
So all of these aspects together result in a pack that is incredibly supportive because it hugs the contours of your body, breathable, lightweight and carries any load really really comfortably.
Even though this pack is only 16 litres, Lowe Alpine have absolutely nailed the pocket space. The pack has three mesh pockets on the outside; two on the side that fit a litre bottle in each, and a larger pocket on the front which is perfect for maps and jelly babies. It also has a smaller pocket on the front (just above the mesh pocket) that’ll fit in your phone or sunglasses. Behind the velcro back panel there is also a large hydration compartment with a clip at the top to hold your hydration bladder in place.
The main compartment opens up almost fully in a clam shell style; it’s spacious and simple with plenty of room for all the rest of your bit’s for the day. It also has a small internal zip pocket with a key clip (losing your keys in the bottom of your pack is the WORST after a long day of trekking). There are also two small pockets on the hip belts which will fit your headtorch or a few energy gels.
Another cool feature to the pack are Lowe Alpines multi-lock straps on the front of the bag. They are compatible with Ice axes, walking poles and helmets (if your use the chin strap).
In My Opinion
I was amazed by the bag as a whole. It was light, flexible and is far more versatile and technical than other packs in this kind of literage. Lowe Alpine also haven’t priced themselves out of the market with these packs, so you can get a much more diverse pack for not a great deal more money.
An added bonus it that Lowe Alpines marketing for the new packs feature a lot of SUPER cool, athletic females just doing their thing. That’s what I like to see!
The colour choices are predictable – Pinkie/purple, blue and black for the ladies (of course). I think I’m starting to sound like a bit of a broken record. Common guys, really? I thought we were past this! It does feel like having to choose the best out of a bad colour palette… “I mean, black goes with everything.. right?”. If it annoys you as much as it annoyed me, then have a look at the mens rage instead. They have a black, a deep blue, a red and a light grey to choose from (the red is my favourite).
This is something I’ve seen quite a lot in other packs and occasionally technical jackets – The womens version will have fewer features or pockets than the mens, and will still be the same price. With these packs we have the same issue. Don’t worry, the features are all the same. We do still have the same amount of pockets – however the mens equivalent packs have 2 extra litres of storage space for the same price point (E.g. 16 litres for the women and 18 litres for the mens equivalent pack). Whenever I’ve raised this kind of issue with suppliers or other colleagues I get met with the same side smile, gentle shrug of the shoulders and a “it’s just the way it is” kinda comment (like, I understand you can’t do anything, but at least admit it’s a problem?).
Like I said, it isn’t unique to this pack so try not to let it cloud your judgement, because it is absolutely gorgeous.
*Side Note* We had to carry Millie across Crib Goch on day 4 and she fitted into Jamie’s pack (along with a few other bits) pretty perfectly!
I think that’s about it for the new Aeon. I hope I’ve managed to get across just how excited I was about this pack (I plan on permanently adding this to my kit pool before the depths of winter so I can test it in the REALLY cold conditions).
If you have any further questions then leave me a comment or pop me an email!