Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15
Design: internal frame
Size: 90 litres
Number of Pockets: 1
Max. Load Carried: about 120 lbs
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $350 Canadian
Contrary to what other reviewers here seem to think, I don't like this backpack! If I could afford it, I would sell it ASAP and purchase a better pack. It is however relatively inexpensive compared to other packs of the same size - possibly it's biggest advantage.
Problems I have include -
1. The silly adjustable shoulder strap suspension system jumping off the webbing "rail" under heavy loads - I most recently had this happen carrying a load up into the Bugaboos this summer. It took 2 of us to fix it. In a more serious situation i.e. a steep technical alpine route - you could be hosed!
2. The base of the pack is just too wide. I find gets in the way, especially climbing or when using ski poles.
3. The coating on the interior of the pack cloth (notably in the pockets on the lid) is delaminating.
4. Under heavy loads (i.e. 100+ lbs), which is what I bought the pack to carry, I find the suspension unstable if the load is at all top heavy (i.e you make use of the extension sleeve) (and yes - I know how to pack a backpack!). The pack shifts around on the shoulder straps, unless the top is cranked into your shoulders, then it's uncomfortable.
I may not be the typical user of this pack (often using it to haul large amounts of climbing gear (i.e. 100+ lbs) typically rather than long backpacking trips), but I know I'm not alone in my opinions of this pack. A friend of mine bought the same pack (against my advice) and ended up selling it after a single trip. Just my $0.02.
Size: 90 + 15
Number of Pockets: 1 main, 1 top
Max. Load Carried: 45 lb
Height of Owner: 5' 9"
Price Paid: $250
I have taken this on one fairly strenuous 10 mile trip into the Ventana Wilderness. A lot of 17 to 23 degree steepness.
The pack when fitted properly provides you with a nice ride. However after a few miles I noticed that the fit begins to shift and you need to keep tightening up the hip belt. You can do this and cut off your circulation. I never had a backpack do this before. And it's frustrating.
Although I have a small and lightweight sleeping bag, I noticed that the lower compartment is shaped too large at the base. I think this is a design flaw, and instead the lower compartment could be higher and narrower. This makes you look like a fat bottomed woman.
I know what a fine pack should feel like, and this is not one of them. And I think for the price you can find something that offers better value. The quality is fair.
Overall I would put this in the mid range of rankings for a middle of the mountaineering. That way you won't be dissappointed.
Design: Internal frame
Size: 90 + 15 L
Number of Pockets: 2 side, 1 top
Max. Load Carried: 45
Height of Owner: 6 foot
Price Paid: $159
Long the flagship of Lowe Alpine, I picked up this Contour IV '97 model through REI online cheap -- and I've noticed Campmor has some left even as 1999 approaches. I have a long torso, so the pack's adjustability has been great for me. For the most part, I don't wind up very sore after a trip with this one. The sleeping bag compartment takes a little getting used to. The expandable top and the top lid are nice features -- you can really load this pack down. Hard to beat it for the price -- a REALLY solid pack, especially for under $200. The '98 is the same model, but with built in hydration system (I don't like 'em, so the '97 was a steal for me).
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 70 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'4"
Price Paid: $235
I love this pack. I was helping out with a climbing school at Devil's lake state park this past summer. I had all the climbing gear needed (or wanted for that matter) for 6 people. Thinking our climb was going to be 'reserved' before we could get to it we broke into running. I never have had a comfortable pack with so much weight that I could run in and not totally kill my self. Also I kind of impressed myself. If you're looking for a pack for a reasonable price. here is where it's at.
Number of Pockets: 1 on top
Max. Load Carried: 70 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'11"
Price Paid: $200
I tried on North Face Renegade before i bought this bag. It fit me really well because of the ajustable abs system. The price was what i really liked, i got it through campmor and paid $200 which is a really good deal. It is usually about $250 at REI. I have seen it as cheap as $189 in some catalogs. so shop around. But if you have the money, go buy a Dana Design! Other than that, it is a really good pack for the money.
Max. Load Carried: 75lbs
Height of Owner: 5'8"
Price Paid: $150
Great pack, absolutely huge. I attached some external pockets and can load it down. I have to carry medical gear on campouts with the Boy Scouts and even fully loaded this is not that "heavy" a pack.
Number of Pockets: 1 (top)
Max. Load Carried: 50lbs.
Height of Owner: 5'10
Price Paid: $135
I got this through Campmor for real cheap. It held up real well. I think it's a great pack for the money.
Where to Buy
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