Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75:95 XL
Price Paid: $107 shipped (gift from my father)
This is my initial review of this cavernous pack. I needed a well-rounded, large capacity pack for the long trips I plan for the future, but also to serve as a weekend winter pack to carry the bulk of the equipment for backcountry snow trips with my two children.
Having a pack with a load capacity of 70 pounds provides plenty of flexibility. This was a Christmas gift and so far I couldn't be happier.
This pack is a mid-level model, but is laden with quality and innovative features. The TFX 8 adjustment system was simple and quick. My Torso is 20 1/2", on the smaller end of the frame length adjustment for this extra large-framed backpack. The fit is great across my shoulders, and the waist and shoulder belts move on rockers side to side to allow for a natural gate. I don't have this on my excellent technical pack, but it really helps when climbing steep trail sections carrying 55 plus pounds and using trekking poles.
Speaking of trekking poles, L.A. has a dual pole tip grab system that functions perfectly for storing the poles when not in use (like when using ice axes, which also store when not in use). More on this excellent feature and the people behind it later.
My ultimate test for this pack was to put my 55 pound (w/ clothing and shoes) 7-year-old daughter in this pack for a hike to test. She had remarked at the pack's size and that she thought she could fit in it. She was right, as long as I unzipped the sleeping bag compartment shelf.
With only her head sticking out, I secured her with the compression straps and drawcords (as much as I could) and hiked for 2 1/2 hours up and down some tough terrain. One of the most fun and enjoyable hikes I've had in years. There's nothing like giggles to keep a dad pushing up a tough ascent. Total pack weight w/ 3 liters of water and a few other items was 64 pounds plus the 5 lb 12 oz weight of the pack itself.
The hipbelt and back padding, plus the myriad of cinching adjustments helped control what was easily the most unstable, moving cargo I've ever carried :) And yet the weight was dispersed very well across the hipbelt and shoulder straps. The air channels in back are sufficient enough without loosing stability against the back, something I've experienced with packs having a mostly mesh back panel.
The sleeping bag compartment is huge, with room for a bag, jackets, pillow, and a few other items. The ice axe and trekking pole attachments stay clear of the compartment's access (easy with the huge zipper pulls) just as advertised. The large mesh water bottle pockets on each side could be canted forward a little more for really easy access, but I'm nit-picking here. They easily store 1L bottles plus some other small items.
The bellowed side pockets above them make this a 100L pack and still includes several lashing points for more gear on the outside (dual buckled straps at the bottom for sleeping pad or tent). This is highly useful if you decide to turn your pack into a kid carrier...
Quality reinforced stitching abounds in combination with durable ballistic nylon and double ripstop. The only quality control issue I could find inside or out was that the ripstop panel on the sleeping bag compartment is slightly off (the ripstop grid alignment, not the zippered panel itself). It's not visible except very close up. The rest is very attractive.
The pack is loaded with extras like an excellent included raincover w/ built in storage, a pack notch for your head (great especially when wearing a full-brimmed hat), an SOS panel, key storage clip, a whistle in the sternum strap, 3 liter hydration sleeve and port, and a shoulder strap mounted (but removable), zippered GPS pouch.
There were two features that I wish were included. The first are pockets on the hip-belt. But Lowe Alpine makes accessory pockets that can easily be strapped to the belt, so it's a minor gripe. The other feature (found on L.A.'s most expensive models) is a second ice axe loop and trekking pole grabber. This brings me to Lowe Alpine's customer service.
I plan to own a pair of axe's (I borrow a BD Raven from my brother in-law when I need one) and so I wanted to modify my Appalachian TFX with another webbing loop and pole grabber to match the OEM setup on the other side (which actually includes 2 pole grabbers, allowing storage of a pair of poles on the same side).
I sent an email inquiring about purchasing the parts to install on the pack. Within a day I received a reply requesting my address so they could send the parts free of charge! I had offered to pay and they refused and just thanked me for my business! I received the parts a few days later. Awesome, and not suprising from a subsidiary of Asolo.
I will wait until a 1-2 week heavy backpacking trip before giving this 5 stars, but to date I am thoroughly impressed with the product and the people behind it.
Where to Buy
Here's what other sites are saying:
Key Features of the Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75:95 XL BackpackTFX 6 XL back systemSeveral pocketsRain coverHydration compatibleNoggin notch for head clearanceWalking pole tip grabbersLowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75:95 XL BackpackThe Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75:95 XL Backpack is ideal to carry on all your� adventure trips. The 75:95 XL Backpack is suited� for larger men, as it� ensures a perfect fit and provides great carrying comfort, even with bigger loads. The pack has several pockets to help you organize your load. The rain cover provides protection against inclement weather, as well as wear and tear. The pack is hydration compatible so that you can carry� a hydration bladder, if you need one. The Noggin notch allows you head room for extra comfort. The pack enables secure storage for your walking pole, as it has unique walking pole tip grabbers. The Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75:95 XL Backpack is just the right backpack for the tall and burly adventurer.
The Lowe Alpine TFX Appalachian 75:95 XL Backpack is a better fit for those with a waist of 34" and above. Includes raincover, 2 compartments with zip out divider, stretch water bottle pockets, hydration compatible, SOS panel, key clip, mitt friendly zip pulls, unique walking pole tip grabbers for secure storage, Noggin Notch TM for head clearance, pole and ice axes are clear of lower compartment allowing access, secure internal lid zipper pocket, removable GPS harness pocket.
Adjustable, spacious, and aimed at the committed trekker, Lowe Alpine's fully-featured design pairs with a suspension that has been put through hundreds of hours of tests - all to create the expedition-comfortable TFX Appalachian 75:95 pack. Dial in the fit quickly for the ultimate in trail comfort and versatility with Lowe-Alpine's adjustable TFX 8 fit system, a soft foam hipbelt and spacer mesh on the straps and back system help promote comfort and breathability while also reducing weight.
- Mountain Gear
The Appalachian is another classic Lowe Alpine pack. This years design features the upgraded TFX 8 back system. The TFX 8 back system is excellent for carrying comfort. More sophisticated that the TFX 6. This pack can handle the heavier loads. Built with wider shoulder straps but thinner straps going around the armpit area. This pack also has venting to release the heat built up between you and the pack. One unique feature is the pack has a head pod so that you can lean your head back.
- Rocky Mountain Trail