Lowe Alpine Zephyr 55:65
Best for mountaineers and backpackers who want a low-profile, big-load hauler with on-the-fly adjustability
Brand: Lowe Alpine
Model: Zephyr 55:65
A tunnel-like, 9-inch spindrift collar and single 21-inch, crescentshaped, waterproof side zipper provide access to most of the packbag, but side compression straps block the zipper, making this pack more difficult to live out of than the Bergans. Bonus: The collar adds an extra 10 liters of space.
The lid is removable, but you need to unthread straps on three buckles.
The wire perimeter stay surrounds a plastic framesheet and a perforated foam backpanel, which comfortably supported a 55-pound load on a four-day trek in Jasper National Park, Canada. Two testers preferred the pronounced lumbar pad to the flatter one on the Bergans.
You can micro-adjust the torso while wearing the pack. Cords on either side of the lumbar pad let you move the shoulder harness up or down 5 inches. “I could get the pack close for climbing, then settle the weight on my hips for the straightaways,” one tester says.
On a 2,500-foot ascent in Banff, we discovered that the dime-size perforations in the backpanel and shoulder straps are effective at venting. Our backs stayed even cooler and drier than with the Bergans under similar conditions.
$240; 4 lbs. 1 oz; 55+10 liters; lowealpine.com