Lowe Alpine Cholatse 55
- Entry level price point
- Three body access points
- Removable frame
- Big zipper pulls and large water bottle sleeves
- Long tag ends on many straps
- Optional zippered divider adds weight
- Limited use of one gear loop
The Lowe Alpine Cholatse 55 performed very well in this test and tied for the second best rating. Its best features are its lightweight and removable frame, both of which make it appropriate for a wide range of situations. The cons are small, though the biggest annoyance is one of the gear loops on the back that can only be used for trekking poles.
One of the best features of the Lowe Alpine Cholatse 55 is the airflow system providing ventilation to the back during use. The padding used on the shoulder straps and waist band is flexible and compressible. The buckle and webbing used on the waist band are wide, which prevents the pressure of a smaller gauge belt. Overall, this is a comfortable bag for loads up to 35 pounds. There are only three options for the adjustable sternum strap, but it is a quick and easy clip toggle that won’t get pulled around during use.
The Cholatse 55 has three linear cinches on each side of the bag, which give it unparalleled compressibility for day trips or summit attempts. In the main body of the pack, there is a zippered divider, which adds weight and doesn’t seem necessary for such a small bag. There are three entries into the main pocket. The back sleeve is small, but closes with a zipper.
The Lowe Alpine Cholatse 55 has a somewhat squat construction, which keeps the center of gravity low, particularly when it is not fully packed; day trippers will find this useful. When fully packed, its height-to-width ratio tends more towards the wide, which will also be useful to weekenders trying to get a bulky tent and sleeping bag into the body. The six linear cinches on the side of the bag will help lock down different sized loads to keep the pack stable.
The buckles on this Lowe Alpine bag are plastic, but they’re reinforced and don’t give when you press on them, and were unscathed after some off-trail abrasion. The toggle for both gear loops on the back is a plastic hoop on an elastic drawstring, with a flexible piece of plastic reinforcing where it connects to the body. The exterior treatment lends this bag to moderate water resistance.
The Cholatse is the only bag in this test set with a removable whistle. It has one gear loop on the back that can handle an ice tool or trekking poles, and a second gear loop that can only hold a set of trekking poles. The Cholatse also has two sizable pouches on the hip belt for small items that need to be accessible. There are two small gear loops on the top of the brain.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used throughout the winter and spring of 2017, during day hikes ranging from a few miles to a summit attempt on Mount Hood. Tests were conducted on Maryland’s Western Shore, in the Olympic Range of Washington State, and in the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest. This geographic diversity of conditions allowed for a look into each pack’s strengths and weakness. Each pack was loaded down with at least 15 pounds.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our other backpack tests, our Best 3 Person Backpacking Tents of 2017, along with our sleeping bag tests, and other related hiking and camping gear tests.
The products featured in this test have been loaned to the Gear Institute. For more on our policies regarding editorial objectivity and sample returns, see here.
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- Type of Backpack: Weekend Pack
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