If you are a regular multi-day hiker I think you will agree that it takes a little time gradually honing your kit to find what works best for you. I have been guilty in the past of thinking I needed a big pack for several days walking. The trouble was the bigger my pack the more stuff I was tempted to take, and that was not good – it was heavy.
Last year on my long distance walks I decided to try and lighten my load, minimising my kit so that it was more about what I really needed. I used a 36L backpack which worked pretty well. I had to strap my tent to the base of the pack on the outside, but the rest of my kit fitted snugly within (very snugly!) However on my walks I did come to the conclusion that perhaps just a slightly larger pack would be better. Firstly so that I could put my tent inside the pack – it is so much neater and the rain cover would fit better providing better protection. And secondly having just a little more room for my kit, so it was not so compact and easier to fit inside the pack was quite appealing.
So I was quite happy this year when Lowe Alpine brought out their new Altus range of backpacks to be able to try out their 42:47 pack. The main pack has a capacity of 42L, it also has an extendable lid that provides an extra 5L should it be needed.
Two days, thirty four miles and around thirteen kilos.
For a little while I have been wanting to walk the Sandstone Trail. A 34 mile trek through Cheshire following the dissected central Cheshire sandstone ridge. It is a very popular walk which appeared on ITV’s program ‘Britain’s Favourite Walks’ with some spectacular views and colourful woods. I planned to do it over two days camping somewhere at the half way point. This was an ideal opportunity to try out the Lowe Alpine Altus 42:47.
Walking with the Altus
When I was packing the Altus with my kit the first thing I noticed was how large the base of the pack was. I could easily fit my tent, sleeping bag and roll mat beside each other, and there was still room to stuff my thermal jacket down beside them making all this kit at the base of the bag secure. The beauty of this was that all my main bulky kit was in, leaving plenty of room on top for all the other bits and pieces – like food!
When the Altus was full it did seem to protrude back quite a way. I was a little worried that it would inevitably pull on my shoulders – but no. In fact what really impressed me over the two days of carrying this pack, was how little I was aware of the weight I was carrying.
The back of the Altus is quite stiff. There is not a lot of flexibility which I think will suite some folk more than others, the hip straps also feel quite solid fortunately they are well padded. However this combination did transfer the weight of the pack remarkably well from my back onto my hips. At no time did I feel the weight of the pack pulling upon my shoulders neither did I really feel it upon my hips (it was just my knees that kept reminding me that I was more than my normal weight!) It took me a little while to get the shoulder straps right, but once I had the Altus was a very comfortable carry. It held well to my back and did not wobble around even when climbing over stiles.
The air flow system on the back of the Altus worked ok. To be honest I do not think I will ever find a backpack systen that works 100% efficiently when working up a sweat. In the balance of a backpacks airflow ability to provide ventilation to my back, the Altus rated on the better side of the scale for me.
The hip belt and the lower part of the back was very comfortable, I found no chaffing or rubbing at all. I also liked the size of the hip belt pockets, I could not quite get my phone (it is quite large) in them but there was plenty of room for snacks.
Pockets are pockets
There is not much to say about the pockets they are pretty standard. There are two zipped pockets in the lid, and mesh side pockets with a fabric guard on the sides which easily accommodated my water bottle and were deep enough to keep it secure. The main pack pocket can be divided into two, but I kept it as one so that I could stuff my tent in it’s own bag into the Altus.
Three features I really liked
While I am talking about pockets there is a stuff pocket at the front of the Altus which I really liked. While it is not an original feature there are other brands that have the same on their packs. It is an incredibly useful pocket and I am glad that Lowe Alpine have added one to the Altus. I like to stuff my waterproof jacket into this pocket, it makes it easily at hand when I need it, there is no need to open up the main pack and rummage around to find my jacket. The Altus also has a zipped pocket just behind the stuff pocket which again is really useful for items like waterproof trousers, which could be needed at any moment.
Some packs have walking pole carry mechanisms which are a bit fiddly, the Altus system is simple and very straight forward to use. What I especially like is that it is incorporated into the two side compression straps so the walking poles are pulled tight and snug into the sides of the pack while pulling the pack tight at the same time.
Lastly what often wins a pack for me is if it has a rain cover – the Altus does!
My final thoughts
I found the Altus to be a very versatile and easy to use backpack that carried the weight of my kit well. Efficiently transferring the load from my back to my hips comfortably. Lowe Alpine say that the Altus is designed for lightweight alpine hut to hut walking and winter walking in the mountains. I think that it is ideal for any multi-day lightweight hikes.
As I have said the back and the waist belt are quite stiff which some people might not get on with, and it is not the lightest weight pack in this size of backpack.
I do think Lowe Alpine have a serious contender here to some of the other well known brands in the medium size multi-day backpack world with the Altus 42:47. It is well made and designed for efficient use, and the Altus is tough enough for some serious use. I will certainly be using it for some of my longer treks this year.
I have done a video of all the features of the Altus 42:47 backpack, if you would like a more detailed review of these click here – backpack review
- Air Contour+ adjustable back system
- Fine-tune torso length with easy to use hook and loop adjustment
- Internal 15mm frame, links into the lumbar and hipfins for efficient load carrying
- Adjustable shoulder straps with load lifters
- Sternum strap with whistle
- Laminated dual-density moulded EVA back panel with channels for ventilation
- Ergonomic wrap-around forward pull padded hipbelt
- Zipped mesh pockets on hip belt
- Extendable lid with zipped pockets (one external, one internal)
- SOS panel graphic on lid underside
- Zipped front panel pocket
- Zipped front panel access to main compartment
- Zipped base compartment with internal zipped divider
- Hydration bladder compatible
- Ski compatible side compression straps
- Large stretch mesh side pockets
- Secure TipGripper walking pole attachments
- HeadLocker ice axe attachments
- Daisy chain lash points
- Integrated raincover
- Capacity: 42-47 litres
- Weight: 1.7kg
- Buy from e-outdoor Lowe Alpine Altus 42:47