Lowe Alpine Lightflite 28 2011

The smallest, lightest pack on test, the Lowe Alpine Lightflite 28 is part of a new range from Lowe Alpine designed primarily for mountain marathons. However, its low weight, cost and size make it viable for those who need a multi-activity day pack but don’t want to break the bank.

Design
Though the Lowe Alpine Lightflite 28 is the smallest pack we tested by only a couple of litres, it also feels smaller thanks to its teardrop design. This increases stability by making the top of the main compartment thinner than the bottom, but it also makes packing a little harder. The back system is a simple foam affair that can be removed to bring the already very low weight down even further. For snacks and so on there are two well-sized zipped pockets on the padded foam waistbelt, and two large mesh pockets on the side, accessible while on your back. You also get a very small zipped pocket on the lid, but it’s not big enough for a map. A bungee cord system on the back facilitates compression or the attachment of kit, and there are two detachable water bottle holders that live on the shoulder straps.

On the hill
The Lowe Alpine Lightflite 28 was the only pack we looked at that was not big enough for the basic lightweight camping gear I used during the test, and the teardrop shape made it awkward to get a 3-season sleeping bag inside. That minimalist lightweight back system would not tolerate poor packing either. However, the pack’s low centre of gravity made it surprisingly stable when lightly loaded and strapped on tight, but I did have difficulty getting it to carry any kind of heavier load comfortably. Basically, unless you are racing and need that extra low weight, this is not a pack you’ll want to carry much in. With a lighter load it was quite adequate for day walks, but even then I wasn’t carrying much more than waterproofs and lunch. Unfortunately, my list of grumbles doesn’t end there. While the bungee system is good in concept, the cord on our sample was too thin for the clasps and kept coming undone. Also, the drawcord eyelet ripped out almost immediately, and then that thin fabric tore every time I pulled the drawcords tight. Finally, those water bottle holders were incredibly unstable and irritating as they bobbed around my face, plus they had no drawcord to hold anything in but water bottles. They were, however, easy to remove.

Capacity 28 litres (15.42g per litre)
Fabrics 70 denier honeycomb nylon ripstop
Features removable foam back system; side mesh pockets; hipbelt pockets; compression/ attachment bungee; external lid pocket; hydration system-compatible; reflective piping; shoulder bottle pockets
Sizes 28, 25, 14 litres
Measured weight 432g
Made in Vietnam
Stores in the UK 45
Stockists (01539) 740840; www.lowealpine.com

The Lowe Alpine Lightflite 28 is extremely lightweight; great stability; can shave off grams if it really matters to reach the ‘race weight’ of 326g; reasonably low price.
However it’s not a particularly comfortable carry; frustrating to pack; irritating water bottle holders; build quality questionable. One to look at if you need a super-lightweight pack for a multitude of activities, but a bit small and insubstantial for multi-day use unless racing.

Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine April 2011