Review: Lowe Alpine AirZone 32L Hiking Pack

An unpretentious and ergonomic hiking pack for mountain adventures and more

Feature type Review

Read time 4 mins

Published Oct 20, 2023

Photographer Jethro Kiernan

Jethro
Jethro Kiernan North Wales based adventure photographer, happy being in or on the sea, lakes, mountains and crags usually with a camera.

An unpretentious and ergonomic hiking pack for mountain adventures and more.

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Weight 1.25kg
Volume 32l
Dimensions 56 x 30 x 31cm
Back length Medium 48cm/ Large 53cm
Features AirZone™ carry system, walking pole attachments, 3l hydration bladder compatible, easy adjust hipbelt, twin compartments with internal divider

Pros

  • Comfortable to carry
  • Helps temperature regulation with AirFlow system
  • Tried and tested features that cover all the bases a quality hiking pack should

Cons

  • Mesh pockets not robust and susceptible to snagging
  • Not suitable for a heavy load
  • Colourway might be a little ‘dull’ for some

WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR

Generally my rucksacks are relatively technical, and I do like a stripped-down pack with minimal straps and pockets. However, there are times when a pack designed for rambling around is what is needed, because those straps and pockets do serve a function and if designed well should make life easier. My wife and I have started doing sections of the Welsh coastal path lately, and not all my days in the mountains involve scrambling and climbing, so a pack designed to comfortably carry the essentials for a days walking would certainly be worth trying.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Lowe Alpine is now part of Rab and now covers the trekking, hiking and travel end of their backpacks, with Rab covering the more technical end of the range with mountaineering, skiing, running and climbing packs. They do overlap slightly in function with the lightweight but more expensive Aeon range.

The thing that jumps out at you when you first pick up this pack is the back, The Lowe Alpine AirZone system is very obviously designed to do what it says – that is, to allow air to move around the back and keep you cool whether you’re going uphill or out in hot weather. The AirZone moves the pack away from the back, creating an obvious gap which allows air to flow and heat to dissipate with open mesh padding at the contact points. This is definitely something I can put to the test as I run pretty hot and the feeling of damp base layers on my back is just something I’ve put up with over the years.

Other than the AirZone system, the pack is pretty neat and functional in appearance, with features that fit in with its design purpose: walking poles attachment points, 3 mesh pockets, H20 sleeve… nothing fancy or innovative, just tried and tested features which is no bad thing.

the pack is pretty neat and functional in appearance, with features that fit in with its design purpose

THE TEST

As summer approached, getting out walking was on the cards, including days on the Welsh coastal path and plenty of family days in the hills. At 32 litres the pack hits that sweet spot of being large enough to carry all the extra gear as the family packhorse, but is small enough to cinch down for a solo day in the hills.

The test included a few blustery, changeable days in the hills, some sweltering coastal walks and an overnight camping trip. The first thing to say is the AirZone system did work at keeping my back cooler and relatively sweat-free, which made a pleasant change from my usual packs. The three side pockets made accessing clothes changes and snacks much easier, especially if you’re with other people who can dig into the pockets and pass you stuff. The carry system is comfortable and has a breathable open mesh fabric on the shoulder straps and contact points to continue the breathable theme. I found this to be a pretty versatile pack for general spring/summer walking, and if I was looking at a continental walking holiday I would certainly consider taking this, it being a good size for a hut to hut walk and ideal for hot weather.

The body of the pack is well put together and well laid out, it’s not at the cutting edge of material and design, but doesn’t pretend to be, concentrating on getting all the basics right in an un-flashy way using tried and tested features and materials.

The pack carried well, the shoulder straps and waist belt spreading the load comfortably with plenty of adjustment in the straps. The AirZone Trail Duo comes in a range of back sizes to suit your build, but it’s worth noting that this isn’t a pack for carrying heavy, dense loads as the AirZone system pushes the pack out from the back – which is fine for hiking gear, not so great if you tried to fill it full of climbing gear.

WHO IS THIS PACK FOR?

This is an ‘every person rucksack’. If you walk or hike, whether that be in the mountains or elsewhere, this pack will comfortably carry your gear for the day and with enough versatility for an overnight bothy trip or a continental hut to hut trip.

The AirZone system is definitely worth considering if you run hot or walk in the heat, but if you want to go smaller and lighter then there are packs in the Lowe Alpine and Rab ranges that might be a better bet.

WHAT STANDS OUT?

Tried and tested features

All the bells and whistles you need for hiking, none you don’t. It just comfortably and competently does what’s required of it.

Very cool back system

The AirZone system works well, resulting in a comfortable carry.

Well designed

All the features and pockets are laid out in such a way that they’re easy to access.

All the bells and whistles you need for hiking, none you don’t. It just comfortably and competently does what’s required of it.

VALUE FOR MONEY

This pack isn’t pretending to be a mountaineering rucksack, so if you scramble, climb, spend time in the winter hills or need to pack a heavy load then you’d do well to look elsewhere, or towards the newer Rab rucksacks that cover this end of the market.

That said, for the purpose it’s designed for, the AirZone Trail Duo is very reasonably priced, with just the right features for hiking – no more and no less. The cleverly designed, cooling carry system makes it particularly good value for those who run hot and will appreciate a much less sweaty back than with other packs of its kind.

BASE BOTTOM LINE

An impressive pack for hiking that is good value for money in a size that covers day hikes to light overnighters. The carry system consistently helps keep things cool, while the pack reliably does everything required of it.

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