Lowe Alpine’s latest back system is a lightweight version of the Axiom, introduced last year. It consists of a flexible internal frame, a thick sheet of perforated foam and a mesh backband. The shoulder straps slide up and down two slots in the upper back and their position can be altered when wearing the pack by cords either side of the lower back. One cord releases the shoulder straps, the other adjusts their position. The range of adjustment is 13cm.

There’s only one frame length for men and one for women (the smaller Zephyr ND 55:65) though so the pack won’t fi t everyone. In use I found the back system comfortable and ventilation quite good. The well-padded hipbelt is supportive but I did find it slipped down after a while, especially with a 20+kg load. It’s straight cut from top to bottom rather than shaped, which I think is the reason.

The pack is made from tough fabrics and the design gives ample access to gear. I like the seven external pockets and the long water-resistant side zip, though I wouldn’t rely on it to be 100% waterproof (the pack seams aren’t sealed anyway so watersensitive gear still needs packing in waterproof bags). Putting the tent next to the side zip meant I could extract it in the rain without opening the pack. And when the tent was wet I could stuff it into the big front mesh pocket. The capacity is similar to other 65-litre packs

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Reviewed in October 2015 issue