Lowe Alpine Manaslu 65:75
- Easy torso length adjustability
- Good value
- Efficient expandability
- Small, two compartment brain
- Two drawstring cinches on top closure
- A touch heavy
The Best In Class title goes to the Lowe Alpine Manaslu 65:75, which cruised to the top spot largely due to its comfort and consistent performance. The limitations are cursory, besides a general desire that it was a few ounces lighter to allow it to break into the ultralight scene.
The torso length on this pack is the easiest to adjust—with the pack off your back, you pull on one tab and are then able to slide the shoulder harness up and down. When you release the tab, the harness locks in place. The ventilation strategies incorporated into the back padding allow for a basic level of air flow. The padding on the waist straps and shoulders is puffy enough to be comfortable and forgiving, but firm enough to secure heavy loads without swaying or jostling. The sternum strap is adjustable via a three-sectioned clip system, rather than the slide systems on the other packs in the set, which can get pulled out of place during use.
The Manaslu has three entries into the body compartment: a zippered closure on the bottom, a cinch closure on the top, and a horseshoe zippered entry on the side with two zippers that allow for entry into any part of the body compartment. The zipper pulls are convenient T-shaped pulls, which can be used while wearing gloves. The body compartment has an optional zippered divider. The pack’s gear loops are on the bottom of the back, rather than the bottom of the seat, which allows the pack to balance well and sit up straight. There are two small loops on the top of the brain and ten very small loops that run in two parallel lines on the back sleeve.
The two waist straps are connected, and can move independent of the frame, which gives this pack a pretty good amount of pivot. The height-to-width ratio of the body feels about right for a good, balanced center of gravity. That, together with the compression abilities, make this bag easy to pack with a balanced load that will remain comfortable after a few miles of moving, shifting, and sliding.
There is a bit of exposed mesh on the back sleeve and the water bottle sleeves on either side, but its small-gauge design will keep it intact much longer than other packs that have big, holey mesh that is just begging for a snag. The seat is not overly reinforced, but care has been taken in the design of the stitching, so there’s never an undue amount of strain being placed on unprepared seams. The plastic buckles are about average for this test set, with no center reinforcement on the female side, but there are sturdy enough to maintain form under pressure.
The Lowe Alpine Manaslu has two gear loops on the back of the pack—one that has a medium sized loop for climbing gear, and another with a small tether than can only be used with trekking poles that is designed to keep the sharp point of the poles away from your belongings. There is a hand-sized haul loop on both the top front and top back of the body.and a whistle on the sternum strap. Inside the body compartment is a sleeve for a water bladder and a clip to keep it upright. There are two hip pouches on the waist straps, both water resistant.
How We Tested It
The packs in this test were used throughout the winter and spring of 2017, during day hikes and overnight backpacking trips from 1-4 nights, with mileage hovering around a dozen miles a day. Tests were conducted on Maryland’s Western Shore, in the Olympic Range of Washington State, the Cascades of the Pacific Northwest, and in the central Sierra Nevada. This geographic diversity of conditions allowed for a look into each pack’s strengths and weakness. Each pack had at least 20 pounds in them, and some had as much as double that.
For more reviews beyond this 2017 test, check out our Best Weekend Backpacking Tents of 2017 and Best One Person Backpacking Tents of 2017, along with our sleeping bag tests and stove tests, as well as 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.
About the Author
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- Type of Backpack: Expedition Pack
- Volume (unverified): 75 L
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