Lowe Alpine TFX Summit 65+15 2009

A luxury pack that oozes quality craftsmanship, the Summit is excellent and comfortable. It sports a variety of frills, but most of all it’s a great way to carry heavy loads.

 

Design

The Torso Fit Expedition (TFX) back system is sturdy and well-padded. It offers a degree of flexibility that is a good compromise between freedom of movement and stability, and you can stabilise it further with a pull of a strap or two. The back system is easily adjusted to fit anything from 40-58cm, and there’s a quirky, pump-action, inflatable pillow in the lumbar pad. The body of the pack is streamlined, clean and simple, with zero side pockets but it tries to compensate with a foldaway water bottle holder that is accessible while walking. You do get a monster pocket in the lid, however, which detaches to form a huge bumbag, and inside this there’s a small valuables pocket. There’s also a GPS receiver pocket on the shoulder strap. Hugely encouraging is the decent rain cover that’s included in one of the wand pockets (but it is the heaviest pack on test).

 

On the hill

The biggest problem I had with this sack was overloading: ramming too much into it, and setting off thinking it didn’t weigh much. It did. And, after a few miles, I was wondering what I could dump. Although not strictly the Summit’s fault, had it not being so comfy and efficient at transferring weight directly to my legs, I might have been more cautious in the packing. ‘Great carry’ is an understatement. This is possibly the most comfortable load-lugger on test. It’s not all good, though, because I missed the variety of pockets some of the other contenders have, and found that many small things don’t do well in cavernous lids. The wand pockets weren’t big enough to accommodate tent poles easily when the bottom compartment was full, and the waistbelt pump worked, but not well enough to convince me it wasn’t a gimmick. And I didn’t have much call for the detachable bumbag on the hill. Two little design quirks that were appreciated however were the ‘Noggin Notch’ depression which allows free movement of the head, and the haul loop on the front which made lifting the pack easier.

 

Stated capacity 65 + 15 litres in extendable lid
Trail tested capacity 73 litres
Weight 3.13kg
Back lengths 40.5-58.5cm
Materials 330d honeycomb ripstop nylon, 630d nylon, 1680d ballistic
Made in Vietnam
Stockist details tel. (01539) 740840; www.lowealpine.com
Stockists in the UK 40

Verdict: A great pack for carrying heavy loads in comfort, striking a good balance between freedom of movement and stability. It sports a few really good features as well as a few that pack evolution will probably look back on with sympathy – but it remains a pleasantly clean and simple design. And although the heaviest on test, it feels well-made to last. It won ‘Best Value’ in our test.

 

Review by Ben Winston
First published in Trail magazine April 2009