Lowe Alpine AirZone Trek 45:55
(This story originally featured in Wild #181, Spring 2021)
While Lowe Alpine’s AirZone Trek 45:55L pack is not new (the redesigned version hit Aussie shores earlier this year), I only recently got around to trying it out. Perhaps I should have sooner. The thing is, I’m not always convinced by mesh-panelled, ventilated pack designs; by moving the load further from your back, if the system isn’t designed well, the load gets levered away from your centre, which in turn makes the pack feel heavier. If, I said, the system isn’t designed well. But that’s definitely not the case here; the AirZone Trek 45:55L carried a load with an ease that’s astonishing for any pack, let alone a ventilated one. Laden with ten kilos, I had to keep reminding myself I was lugging around, well, ten kilos. It just didn’t feel like I was. I genuinely kept forgetting the weight I was carrying. When I spent a day with the load upped to 17kg, (a typical load for a three to five-day trip) it still felt supremely comfortable, although my legs definitely felt the weight on the hills.
There’s a reason for this comfort: Lowe Alpine’s AirZone+ system. It really is the pack’s headline feature. Complete redesigns of Lowe Alpine’s entire AirZone lineup were released last year, with the company spending two years in R+D and creating more than 30 prototypes. The result was something definitely different from other mesh-panelled, ventilated systems. It’s knitted, for starters, and is completely seamless, and it runs all the way down the back panel and around onto the hip belt. There’s a variable density pattern to the holes, too, with bigger holes where you’re most likely to sweat, and a tighter knit in those places where you need the most support. I really never came close to finding a hotspot with this pack. I also found the internal frame design did a great job at transferring weight to the hips.
While the pack was made primarily with hiking in mind, it’s hard not to see it doubling well as a travel pack. The back zip is huuuge, and it opens the pack sufficiently for you to access pretty much all contents with ease. Other features, in brief, include twin hip-belt pockets, well-placed compression straps, an integrated rain cover, mesh pockets on the front and sides, and trekking pole and/or ice axe attachment points. There’s the extendable lid to increase the pack’s capacity from 45 to 55L. Last but not least, it’s worth knowing there’s a women’s specific version, the AirZone Trek ND 43:50L.
NEED TO KNOW
Intended use: Multi-day hiking
Volume: 45L, expandable to 55L
Weight (M-L, as tested): 1635g
More info: lowealpine.com.au