New for 2010, lightweight packs claim to combine lightness with durability and comfort.
We've already told you a little about Lowe Alpine's interesting new lightweight
after we saw them at this
year's OutDoor trade show in Germany, we've now had much more up close
and personal look at the new Zepton
packs that will be appearing in the shops early in 2010. In fact, we
even have one here for ongoing evaluation.
The thinking behind the new packs, says Lowe Alpine, is that they're
intended to combine lightness with more traditional qualities like
durability, stability and, in short, carrying well and comfortably even
when loaded up with a more than ultralightweight load - 15 kilograms is
the target figure.
To achieve that, the company's pack team headed by industry veteran
Martyn Hurn, has made a point of using light but strong Dyneema fabric
for the main pack bodies mated to a light but supportive back system.
That back system is at the heart of the way the pack works and it uses
a combination of a stiffened plate, a sprung steel internal frame, a
proper lumbar pad for improved load transfer, air mesh and an adaptive
fit hip-belt that adjusts to suit individual hip contours. In the case
of the less minimalist Nanon
the back length is even adjustable in a stripped down version of the
The new pack comes in two versions, the Nanon 50-60
sort of halfway house, so it gets that adjustable back system, a side
entry zip, three stuff pockets, hip-belt pockets and more, so it's far
Weight is saved with the lightweight but tough Dyneema fabric and
special 10mm webbing, though the buckles used are larger, 20mm items to
increase durability and make them easier to use.
The Nanon weighs in at a claimed 1300g for a pack with a 50-60 litre
carrying capacity and a comfort limit of 15 kilos, though in tests it's
managed more quite happily. Price when it's available with be £140
The more stripped-down version of the pack is the Zepton 50
weighs 200g less at 1100 grammes and is more minimalist. The
back system has a fixed back length and there are no external stuff
pockets, side entry zip access or hip-belt pockets. Again it's designed
to carry 13-15 kilos in traditional Lowe Alpine comfort and will retail
Interestingly, though both are designed as pure backpacking sacs,
they've also attracted attention from the brand's sponsored guides in
the Alps as climbing sacs, which you can see as a big hint at the way
Lowe Alpine's technical packs are likely to be going next year...
We have a Nanon 50-60
sitting here next to us right now and we'll report back, but in theory
we reckon Lowe Apine's theory is spot on. Ultra-lightweight packs are
all very well, but many of them need careful packing and minimal loads
to carry half comfortably.
Zepton (left) and Nanon
(right) - Nanon weighs 200g more thanks to
additional pockets and side-entry zip.
The idea behind the HyperLites is to have a pack that's still lighter
than a traditional 60-litre backpacking sac, but will still carry a
reasonable load in comfort. If you've ever been in the sort of state
where you'd happily have carried a kilo more in exchange for a more
stable, more comfortable pack, you'll know exactly where we're coming
More once we've used the Nanon for real and also fuller details of Lowe
Alpine's extensively redesigned TFX big packs in the near future.
More Lowe Alpine information at www.lowealpine.com