The Alpinist Mountain Standards reviews apply Alpinist's tradition of excellence and authenticity to gear reviews by providing unbiased, candid feedback and anecdotal commentary to equipment tested (hard) in the field. Our panel is comprised of climbers who use the gear every day as part of their work and play. Only the gear they would actually buy themselves, at retail price, qualifies for the Alpinist Mountain Standards award. The five-star rating system is as follows:
One Star = Piece of junk.
Two Stars = Has one or more significant flaws, with some redeeming qualities.
Three Stars = Average. This solid piece of gear is middle-of-the-road on the current market.
Four Stars = Better than most comparable gear on the market. It has one or two drawbacks, but still 90% positive.
Five Stars = Is there such thing as perfection? An Alpinist Mountain Standards award-winner.
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Lowe Alpine 20+20 Extreme Attack Pack: Be Comfortable whilst Extremely Attacking
Posted on: January 9, 2008
Weight: 3 pounds, 2 ounces
Size: 40 liters (2400 cubic inches) fully expanded
Lowe Alpine released the 20+20 Extreme Attack special edition pack (only 2,000 made) in commemoration of their 40th anniversary. It's a great name. And a great pack.
The 20+20 refers to its expanding volume. In the pack's normal state, it has a 20 liter capacity, but when unzipped it can expand into a gear-swallowing 40-liters. This feature enabled me to pack in all my climbing schwag for the approach and then zip it down, accordion-style, giving me superb freedom of movement while climbing. That's the main feature in a pack tripped out with lots of thoughtful, functional features, and few extraneous ones.
With a padded back, adjustable torso, molded shoulder straps and reinforced "Superfabric" the 20+20 isn't the lightest pack on the market. Yet sometimes super-lightweight packs with floss-like shoulder straps and hip belts seem to burn more energy because they are so uncomfortable. The 20+20 is comfy even when it's fully loaded.
Other benefits: the pack sits high enough to allow easy harness access while climbing, and its buckles and zippers are easy to use with gloves on. The two internal zip pockets keep necessities handy, and ropes strap easily to the outside. I thought the "Webcatcher" system was a little insecure for holding ice tools, and I would have preferred having a pouch or straps to secure crampons on the outside. Although the 20+20 was created for mountaineering, I found that its trim shape and superb fit also made it great for skiing. All in all, the 20+20 is a versatile pack built with tough materials that take a beating and go anywhere.
Pros: Comfortable; designed to be snug for 20- or 40-liter loads; design allows for freedom of movement (climbing or skiing); made to last.
Cons: No exterior crampon pouch/strap; ice tool holder is insecure; a little on the heavy side.