Lowe Alpine have thrown everything at the Eclipse 35, but nothing particularly superfluous. The key feature I like is the main zip opening. I generally prefer zips to lids on smaller bags as it cuts down on straps and means there’s less to open and close, but it does mean the capacity is capped – no stuffing things in the top willy-nilly. With the Eclipse, the zip opens at the top as you’d expect, but on one side the zip runs all the way down to the bottom and can be opened from either end – a brilliant idea and one that saves a lot of faffing. For that alone it could get the Best Buy, but there are other great points. This is one of the lightest backpacks here. There’s a good mesh pocket at the front, and two convenient ones on the side. The back is a mesh-covered foam with no frame, and sits against the back. It’s not the most well-ventilated, but comfortable, and there’s little chance of it not fitting well. A bit more support would be need for very heavy loads, but for day walks, it’s fine. There are a couple of neat grippers that hold the tips of walking poles. It also folds up fairly well. For a day sack, it’s a good balance of lightness and features in a fairly pared-back, er, backpack. A very good all rounder.

First published: Aug 2014