Lowe Alpine Saracen
The Saracen has been discontinued. If you're looking for something new, check out the best expedition packs for 2023.
Though this is no lightweight pack it is a comfortable pack that can easily handle loads well north of 80 lbs. It has lots of straps to help manage loads, a floating top lid, and the well known and liked torso fit system for adjustability for torso length. Tough and durable and well made to give decades of use.
- Well made and adjustable frame, almost one size fits all.
- Heavy loads are easily managed
- Very strong material, Lowe Alpine's triple stitching, and well padded
- Weight, if you insist on lightweight gear this is not your pack.
- The colours available will not appeal to many
The Lowe Alpine Saracen is now discontinued but can be found on the net and eBay for fair prices. They are a high end pack with some excellent features that make packing a comfortable experience.
These features include the Lowe Alpine Torso fit system. This allows the torso length to be adjusted to almost any body length. The hip belt and shoulder straps have the balance between padding and stiffness figured out perfectly and are fully adjustable in many different configurations. Shifting weight from shoulder to hips is fast and easy. There are plenty of compression straps to keep the load against the back and not shifting no matter the weight. I've had well over 80 pounds in it and the load did not shift at all once tightened down.
The two side pouched zip off the main pack to form a neat little day pack. There are equipment loops for axes and crampons, sleeves for skis, anchor points for more pouches, but with 5440 cu/inches (120L when including side pouches) of cargo space it would seem it's not needed. The floating lid is an awesome feature that will let you compress a bulky load (i.e.. extra cold weather gear) evenly and away from your head.
There are compression straps for your sleeping bag in the bottom compartment and another set below the lid for a sleeping pad. This is a well made and thought out pack where all the features do exactly what they are designed to do.
The Saracen is made of 1000d waterproof nylon Cordura. Very tough, but not light. If durability trumps weight this is a pack that will fit the bill. It can be had in only olive drab and different countries version of woodland camouflage, and this will put many folks off. That said, it is a premium pack equal to Mystery Ranch or Kifaru and such for a fraction of the cost. I bought mine for $160 used, but the pack was a Swiss SOF soldier's spare and it wasn't used at all.
I have been using this pack for the past few months in some tough coastal mountain country and it has delivered as promised. Easily the most comfortable pack I have ever used.
This is now almost 7 years later and this pack is still going strong. It has outperformed many other "premium" packs I have tried in comfort, stability, and load carriage. They do come up every now and then on eBay.
Source: bought it used
Price Paid: $160
If you are really strong...this pack will outlast by far the poor guy who has to carry it--it's heavy and expensive, but if you are never coming back to civilization, this is the one that will see you through.
For comfort, I would take the Gregory, but for sheer durability and top quality materials, this is the best I have seen. No lightweight compromises here for yuppie hikers (like myself...).
One flaw: the stitching is single--for the price, Lowe could have done triple stitches on their top-of-the-line pack. And I would have preferred a hard-shell belt, but I guess if you are going to be dropping it out of low-flying airplanes, the soft belt will hold up better.
Price Paid: 120 British Pounds ebay
Big, strong, easy to carry...expedition backpack.
Size: 120 liters
Number of Pockets: 3
Max. Load Carried: 40 kg+
Price Paid: 250 euros
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Historic Range: $212.46
Reviewers Paid: $160.00