Brand: Lowe Alpine
Model: Descent 35
We took the Descent on any trip where we didn’t know what the next day would hold. “On a weeklong vacation to Mammoth, California, the pack’s compression straps slimmed it down for inbounds days, but the Descent also expanded enough to fit my sleeping bag, layers, and the group’s s’mores and whiskey for an overnight hut trip,” one tester says. A stiff, high-density foam backpanel and 7-inch hipbelt wings let us shoulder loads up to 30 pounds comfortably. One tester reported no stability issues even while postholing on approaches to ice climbs near Mt. Lincoln, Colorado.
Two rubberized compression straps carry skis diagonally and in A-frame, as well as splitboards and snowshoes. Backpanel entry keeps shoulder straps out of the snow and provides convenient access to the entire packbag. A roomy avalanche tool compartment sports a larger-than-average, 24-inch zipper for fast access. Bummer: The single hipbelt pocket isn’t big enough for a phone, and the neoprene goggle pouch is a little too shallow: Eyewear tended to fall out when we opened it wide.
“The hipbelt wings glommed onto my hips like a baby koala,” one tester says. “Whether I was carrying 5 pounds or 20, the pack felt like it was one with my back. And the narrow profile never hindered arm swings.”