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 Summit Attack 30 Hyperlite: A Solid Little Pack
Posted on: April 15, 2008
Volume: 30 liters (1800 cubic inches)
Weight: 1 pound, 11 ounces
In my decade-long quest to find the perfect little pack, one that has all the right features and none of the bells and whistles, this one comes as close as it gets. The Lowe Alpine Summit Attack 30 Hyperlite is the only pack I've owned that's been spared the knife and trimming that my other packs have been subjected to. It may not be the beefiest, but as long as it lasts, it'll be comfortably on my back.
This was one of the snowiest winters Colorado has seen in decades, so I've been on skis plenty. Although this lightweight pack isn't designed for skiing, it's proved versatile. The compression straps carry skis as well as any pack this size does (although the lightweight material has suffered somewhat from the sharp edges). A good-size shovel and probe fit nicely inside, and the padding is thick enough that I don't feel anything poking into my back, crucial for any pack. The shoulder straps are padded so nicely that carrying a decent load is actually somewhat comfortable.
Although the lightweight material on the body of the pack isn't the longest lasting, Lowe Alpine has reinforced where necessary. The bottom has burly Cordura that won't blow out with any ordinary use. And its Alloy Load Locker lid attachment is super durable—in addition to being easy to use.
But what really blew me away about this new pack are all the sweet, subtle features that set it apart from others in its class. Sewn-in seam tabs make it easy to attach accessory cord for external gear like crampons; they're also decently strong, and in a pinch you can use them as haul loops. Lowe Alpine has included lightweight bungee cords for ice tools that have unique and effective holding power, and all the cords have nice tabs and grabs to make them user friendly with gloved mitts. The pack has a generous sleeve for a hydration system, which also doubles as a decent way to separate gear. Two zippered pockets on the lid, one inside and one outside are handy, and another innovative addition is a little diagram on the inside of the lid that provides mountain distress signals and emergency phone numbers for the EU, UK, US, and New Zealand and Australia.
One thing I don't like about the Summit Attack 30 is the sewn-on lid, which limits how the pack can expand. When fully packed, the lid makes it difficult to look up with a helmet on. If Lowe Alpine added straps to expand the lid, this pack would be a five-star medal winner.
Pros: Lightweight; versatile; well padded; can handle heavy loads.
Cons: Sewn-on lid does not allow pack to expand and can make pack uncomfortable.