Lowe Alpine Aeon 27. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lowe Alpine Aeon 27. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Price: £90
Weight: 828g
Colour: red
Rated capacity: 27 litres
Country of manufacture: Vietnam

The Aeon 27 is part of a new range introduced by Lowe Alpine aimed at multi-activity users.

The collection includes a large, top-loader pack in both men’s and women’s designs, with 35 litre and 33 litre capacities, plus the smaller zipped-top version, with the men’s having a capacity of 27 litres and the women’s 25.

The Aeon 27, which we tested, sits close in to the back, giving good stability. The designers have a variety of uses in mind for the Aeon, from walking to climbing, mountain biking and perhaps even the daily commute.

The Air Contour back is constructed from a main flexible enclosed plate with a further foam section with lots of ventilation cut-outs, including a long longitudinal one in the centre of the back. This is then covered in a tough mesh. There are no metal stays.

The Flexion shoulder harness attaches to the back via a large hook-and-loop patch, which allows for back length adjustment of 9cm. It’s unusual for a small pack such as this to have back adjustment. Top marks to Lowe Alpine for acknowledging it’s not just large backpacking rucksacks that can benefit from this feature.

The pack's Flexion harness. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The pack's Flexion harness. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Flexion harness is probably the most innovative part of the design. It’s very thin and flexible. The problem with thin harnesses is that usually when you’re carrying a reasonably heavy load, they tend to fold and ripple, leading to discomfort. Lowe Alpine have disposed of this problem by incorporating a layer of softish, plastic material into the straps which help support the load very well and also enable the whole harness to hug the body’s contours over the shoulders and down the chest. The Flexion material has a slight stretch too. This helps eliminate ‘hot-spots’ where too much pack weight gets concentrated in certain areas.

The thin foam backing of the harness is ventilated and the plastic inserts also have ventilation holes. There are load-adjustment straps at the top of the harness to enable the body of the rucksack to be pulled in closer to the top of the user’s back, handy when maximum stability is required on the bike or on a climb.

Each harness strap has two elasticated loops that enable a drink tube to be routed through them. The Aeon 27 has a hydration reservoir compartment between the back and the main body of the pack, with a suspension loop and clip. This enables a drink tube to be routed down either strap of the harness.

The sternum strap can be adjusted in any one of four positions on the webbing daisy chain on the harness. It also has a built-in emergency whistle and a short elasticated section. The adjustment arrangement is not as flexible as a continuous rail system found on some packs and changing positions of the sternum strap on the hoof was fiddly. We found it easier to take the pack off to change position.

The harness adjusters have good big webbing loops to grab which made it easy to get the right amount of tension on the straps while wearing the pack.

Lowe Alpine Aeon 27's Multi-Lock Tool. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lowe Alpine Aeon 27's Multi-Lock Tool. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The hip belt is more conventional, with wide, foam-backed ‘wings’ on the hip area and webbing centre section. The foam sections have a substantial cut-out area to aid ventilation and there’s a small, ventilated, zipped pocket on each side, handy for snack bars and other small items. The buckle felt sturdy and was easy to use while wearing gloves.

The main compartment of the Aeon 27 is fairly roomy, and the zip unfastens for about three-quarters of its length, making it easy to pack if you lay it on its back. Inside the main compartment is a small zipped pocket containing a key clip on a webbing strap. The pocket also has printed emergency signal instructions.

On the exterior of the front of the rucksack is another, similarly sized, zipped pocket. The pack also has a largish stretch mesh exterior pocket, useful for putting wet items in after use. This pocket narrows considerably towards the bottom, but it still accommodated wet overtrousers. A nice quality touch is the toughened plastic lip on this pocket.

The main fabric of the rucksack is tough-feeling nylon, with thicker reinforcement at its base. The material is also given Lowe Alpine’s TriShield treatment to enhance durability.

There are two sets of compression straps on each side of the pack, to adjust volume, and the Aeon 27 also has twin stretch mesh pockets on its sides for drinks bottles or similar. There are two lower walking pole attachment points, alongside separate ice-axe loops. The upper attachment points for both of these are Lowe Alpine’s Multi-Lock Tool, which can also be used for climbing or cycling helmets. They’re a neat combination of plastic hook and sprung plastic friction toggle and elasticated bungee cord.

The pack also has an attachment loop for a lamp, useful for cyclists.

The Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 rates as a Best Buy. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 rates as a Best Buy. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

We always say the best gear is that which you’re unaware of while you’re using it, and the Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 satisfies this test. We put quite a bit of weight into the pack, including usually a full-size DSLR camera body and extra lens, plus winter clothing and waterproofs and all the other bits and bobs necessary for a trip to the hills.

The Aeon 27 just about accommodated all our gear and was comfortable in use. The harness worked well at supporting the load, and the hip belt had just enough padding to enable it to be tightened well to share the load. It was useful to be able to adjust the pack’s length so the hip belt was at the right height.

There was adequate ventilation in the back, even when pushing the pace uphill.

Lowe Alpine’s pedigree in designing rucksacks is evident throughout. There are lots of little design and construction touches that demonstrate the brand knows what works. Quality of the rucksack and its fittings was very good.

The pack shape is fairly streamlined, which works well for mountain biking and scrambling as well as general walking.

The 27 litre size is on that bridging capacity where small daysacks meet larger, more technical packs. Lowe Alpine haven’t scrimped on any features, and the Aeon 27 has all the touches you would find on much bigger packs.

For everything short of a full winter hill walk with the extra gear that demands, the Aeon 27 is ideal for day walks. Mountain bikers and climbers will also appreciate the capacity. It’s not the lightest of packs, but comes in well under 1kg, but the fabric feels robust and should be durable.

Performance 30/35
Comfort 30/35
Features 8/10
Quality 8/10
Value for money 7/10
Total score: 83/100

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