REVIEW: Lowe Alpine Aeon 27 BackpackGear
ITEM: Lowe Alpine Aeon 27
STYLE: 27L backpack
ACTIVITY: Walking, backpacking, mountain biking
WHAT THEY SAY: Quite possibly our favourite creation ever. A wide zip-entry makes accessing your gear efficient, and the 27L capacity is ideal for those in need of a ‘one pack does all’ solution. Fast and light overnighters? No problem. Four-season hiking and lightweight mountaineering? Let’s go!
The logistics of a trip to the Faroe Islands go something like this. Bus, train, airport, aeroplane, layover in Copenhagen, aeroplane, bus, car, hike, boat, hike, car, hike, overnight camp, hike, car, aeroplane… you get the idea.
What does a backpack get put through? All of the above, several times a year, for several years. Manufacturers have traditionally looked at a particular end use, e.g. hut-to-hut hiking, long day walks, winter backpacking, commuting, mountain biking, trad climbing or mountaineering. The backpack in most active people’s reality is used for a vast range of activities (and that includes picnics in the park, weekends in Paris, getting shoved in gym lockers and being filled with junk at a boot sale). Now, I’m sure the designers of Lowe Alpine’s Aeon 27 didn’t have in mind it being packed with bananas and Pom Bears and getting mauled by a dog in the park. But what they did want to create was a multi-sport bag, one that would accompany you on all of your adventures, whatever they are. It fits the reality of use and its versatility makes it more sustainable too, as you only need one.
I packed the bag the morning of our flight to Copenhagen. One of the most enjoyable parts of any journey is laying out the equipment. Camera, lenses, drone, books, laptop, backup drive, water bottle, coffee mug: check. Right now, it was my carry on bag. Later during the trip it would become my day hike bag.
The Aeon’s main compartment opens widely. Its tapered geometry allows you to see right down to the bottom, so it doesn’t feel like you’re throwing items into a vortex only for them to emerge later at a customs checkpoint. This means that when it’s laid on the ground, you can open the main section and easily reach most bits of kit. The small compartment at the top is handy for quick access to a book and there’s a security pocket inside for those important documents.
More planes, trains, metros, taxis. Sixteen hours later and I was packing it again. Rain and wind were battering the window of our wooden lodge. Through the torrent, a large fishing trawler was making its way out into the wild Atlantic, yet even that vessel seemed insignificant against the raging waters and the steep-sided, boxy mountains that rose almost vertically out of the sea. I was packing with hiking in mind. Waterproof, down jacket, camera, drone, food, water, stove, gas and coffee. Always coffee. The small compartment became a space for a Leatherman®, and a Klean Kanteen® water bottle was stuffed effortlessly and securely into one of the large mesh side pockets. I threw the bag into the back of the camper (does any other bit of outdoor kit take such a hammering?) and we drove over to the island of Kalsoy. The van stopped and we jumped out into thick grass. And here lies the rub of outdoor equipment: it needs to be inconspicuous, it needs to be unobtrusive, and it just needs to work. The cursing from our group was about gimbals and stuck zips on jackets. Without thinking, I opened the bag’s long side zips a little, grabbed my camera, took a quick snap in the rain and returned it to safety. Simple. Later, as the sun appeared, I stuffed my wet waterproof into the bag’s huge mesh pocket at the back. I didn’t need to learn where everything was and I didn’t need to read the instructions, because the Aeon was intuitive. Not all backpacks are like this.
Similarly, adjusting the pack to fit was natural. No fiddling with velcro, just a tug here and a loosening there. The pockets on the hip belt were right there when I needed them.
The Aeon 27 is also well-sprung, with a hip strap that probably holds more weight than other similar-sized backpacks I’ve come across. It’s just about big enough for a summer overnight camping trip for example, or for carrying ropes. It should be said that the Air-Contour back system (with its Flexion harness) is one of the most comfortable I’ve tried. The key is that it moves easily with the back and the body. There are no stiff wire frames, just a flexible back that spreads the weight evenly.
The bag is also pretty neat with no flapping straps, which was important in the winds we were up against. Other nice little extras include a Multi-Lock Tool™ for attaching poles, and the fact that it’s hydration pack compatible.
Since the Faroe Islands, Lowe Alpine’s Aeon 27 has joined me on a road trip to Yosemite National Park, on a mountain biking journey through Argentina’s Lake District, on a weekend in Lyon and on countless commutes to London. Herein lies the significant advantage of the Aeon 27: its versatility. One bag to rule them all.