Lowe Alpine has always made great packs, and the Cholatse II 55:65 is no exception. But what is a surprise is the cost, as at £100 this sack is offering all the features and performance of packs much higher up the price scale. The back system has an air vent channel set between two vertical padded areas. The back also has internal stiffening with a metal frame – and the result is a good, stable carry close to the back with reasonable airflow. The hipbelt is stiffer than some lighter packs, which makes it far better at carrying loads over 15kg than some of the higher-priced but lighter models. The main body has a main compartment plus a base compartment with external entry and a removable divider. Entry to the main compartment is via the extendable lid or a zip-out front panel. I’m not a fan of front openings personally and I’d prefer those zips to be used to create external pockets, which this pack does not have on the main body. But there is a good lid pocket and two hipbelt pockets. I’d like a stretch stash pocket too, but at least there are stretch wand pockets and compression straps. I’d choose the Lowe Alpine Cholatse II 55:65 without hesitation for weekend or week-long hut-to-hut or backpacking trips. But if you want to fine-tune those features for superlight backpacking, longer trips with heavy loads or even more durability for regular use, then some higher-priced packs do have advantages.
Capacity 55 to 65 litres
Internal compartments 2
External zipped pockets 3
Wand pockets? yes
Compression strap? yes
Women’s version Cholatse II ND50:65
The Lowe Alpine Cholatse II 55:65 is unbeatable at this price. But you may feel some higher-priced packs offer features you can’t live without. It won Trail’s ‘BestValue’ award.
Review by Graham Thompson
First published in Trail magazine Spring 2014