It’s always great to receive any new free kit but to get something of this high a quality is truly fantastic.
The Aeon 35 is a lightweight feature rich 35 litre rucksack and part of Lowe Alpine’s new Aeon range. The range has a selection of packs ranging from 16 to 35 litres. The packs will suit a range of activities from climbing to hillwalking and many other activities besides, including mountain biking and trail running.
The first thing I look at in a rucksack is the back system – and straight away there are some very interesting features here. The back panel is what Lowe Alpine call the Air Contour system which, I understand, is a name and design nodding back to their well renowned and long established Contour system.
The Air Contour back system features a laminated dual density EVA foam back panel designed to offer sufficient rigidity while enhancing ventilation. When the pack is empty the back is flexible enough to bend and when it is packed full, there is ample of support. This is combined with a lightweight low profile Flexion harness designed to contour around the body and shoulders. There is a sternum strap and the low profile padded waist belt has stretchy zipped pockets.
At the front Lowe Alpine have incorporated a very handy stretchy panel pocket – perfect for a map and all those bits you want close to hand, a main compartment with hydration compatibility and a single clip closure lid with zipped outer pocket and small interior zipped pocket with a clip to hold car keys. There are also side compression straps, a single ice axe and trekking pole storage and a very handy zipped entry into the main compartment.
So, every feature you could really wish for is there, but there is one more superb feature. The Aeon 35 also has an adjustable back system. This operates via an extremely easy simple velcro plate that can slide up or down and secure quickly in place. A great addition that, despite its simplicity in use, doesn’t add any noticeable bulk.
The Aeon pack range is constructed from a strong, abrasion resistant nylon which is coated in Lowe Alpine’s tough TriShield® coating to increase durability.
The Aeon has been well and truly tested on my many daily treks as I guide on Ireland’s highest – Carrauntoohil and have also put it through its paces on a few a number of cragging days aswell as a few days guiding the classic mountaineering route – Howling Ridge.
It is well worth mentioning that this is a very attractive looking pack. The Aeon is available in various colours and the one I was given is in a really attractive reddish colour called auburn. Other colours available are blue and grey. Beyond colour, the pack has subtle detailing and the fabrics have a pleasant slighty shiny appearance – it looks really great.
I said the Aeon is feature rich, and it actually has so many features you really need to get used to its intricacies. Perhaps the first thing you’ll want to do is adjust the back panel to suit your back length. I understand the system adds about 10cm of adjustability and so Lowe Alpine still offer a variety of sizes, but it really allows users to fine tune the fit.
The length adjustment is really easy to do – just pull apart the strong velcro padding, slide into the chosen position and stick the velcro together again. The velcro adjustment sits under the back panel and is neatly concealed. It also doesn’t add any significant extra bulk to the back panel – a really innovative and useful system. I loaded the pack up and played around for a while until I felt the sizing was spot on. It is unusual to have an adjustment feature on a rucksack of this size – very welcome, but unusual.
Once the Aeon is loaded up and sized up, the next learning curve is to try it on. The back panel design is very interesting. The system has a fair amount of rigidity but also conforms to the shape of the users back – this makes for a back hugging fit that feels great. The pack moves in tune with the users body and yet has plenty of support.
Lowe Alpine have ticked all the boxes with this back system and it easily equal to anything similar I’ve used before.
The straps hug you and offer plenty of support whilst ventilating well and minimising lateral movement. This has been well tested particularly when the rucksack was used for mountain biking where any side to side movement will soon be noticed. Oh, and there’s an efficient sternum strap with handy whistle included too.
The waist belt is also very well designed. Lowe Alpine have used the stretchy nature of the back mesh material to allow the waist belt to grip snugly around the users waist. Then, on each side of the belt there is fin shaped padding with a central cut out. I imagine this reduces some weight, but it also makes it very well ventilated without sacrificing comfort and support.
On each side of the waist belt there is also a zipped stretch mesh pocket which is ideally sized for my GoPro, or a phone, compass or perhaps some sweeties!
There really is nothing left out in the load carrying department – in which case it makes sense to consider the load carrying facilities of the Aeon. The main load compartment is a traditional style compartment that will swallow the bulk of your gear. This closes with a traditional drawcord closure but there is also a handy side zip entry for this pack too. This can be really useful if there are items like waterproofs that you want to pack in the right place for quick deployment. Lowe Alpine have also ensured this zip sits under a protective flap for weather protection.
The lid has a zipped exterior pocket and a smaller under lid zipped pocket that will house small items like keys or a wallet. On the front of the main compartment there is also an additional, and really useful, pocket. This is a zipped stretch mesh pocket that can be used for carrying things like snacks, additional clothing or a map. This sits flat when not in use, but will spring into life when needed.
Cleverly, Lowe Alpine have added a separate hydration sleeve that sits outside the main load compartment (please note that a bladder isn’t included with the pack) and so it is fully hydration system compatible. Lastly, there are side compression straps and a clever multilock system that will hold a helmet, ice axes or trekking poles and stretchy pockets on each side that will hold everything from drink bottles to clothing – as I said earlier this rucksack has every feature I could possibly imagine…..and they all work exactly as designed…oh yeah…it also has reflective flashings down the back panel too!