What’s It For?
The Alpiniste 35+10 is a medium-sized technical mountain pack that you could happily use for summer cragging and mountaineering, as a winter day pack or in the Alps.
The Techy Bits
The Alpiniste gets a bucket-load of technical features, most of which are pretty standard for technical packs – axe loops, floating lid, rope strap, wand pockets and so on.
A few more unusual touches include a removable hip-belt – it’s held in place with Velcro and simply pulls off and out to save approximately 200 grammes – and a front panel that’s been reinforced with some sort of coating to increase abrasion resistance in that area. The base of the pack uses a tougher fabric and has a neat, slanting cut which should reduce the chances of it catching when descending face-out on steep ground.
One neat touch is that the gear loops on the pack aren’t attached to the belt, so you can remove it and still have racking options on your pack.
The other removable bit is the Fformat. Originally Fformats were minimalisty bivvy pads that also formed a structural part of the pack thanks to wired reinforcement. This latest version doesn’t do double duty though, it’s too slim and splits to fit inside the mesh-covered back.
How It Performed
We weren’t really sure what to expect from Karrimor, it’s been a while since we’ve used a pack from the brand and they’ve been through some ownership and personnel changes over the past few years.
But as our ‘Just In’ summary suggests, it has pretty much every technical feature you’d expect including some interesting touches like the separate bladder pocket which fit between the back panel and main zip and is accessed by a zip under the lid and that slanted base to ease down-climbing snags when facing out.
A few mountain days out later and we’re thinking yes, but… First the pack carries okay, especially given its weight, but it lacks the limpet-like solidity you feel with, say, an Osprey Mutant and overall it feels a tad lightweight for a climbing pack particuarly when loaded up with ropes and hardware.
Then there’s the detailing. On the face of it there are some good features, quick release buckles on the side-compression straps for example, shock-corded ice-tool attachments and so on, but we also had a number of niggles.
Take the shock-corded upper attachments for axes – the length on one side was slightly too short making them hard to use. The separate hydration pocket is still compressed by the contents of the pack, so you need to empty it for a bladder fill-up anyway. Then there’s the mesh on the back panel, in certain conditions, snow will stick to it, which is why most mountain packs use smooth-surfaced backs.
We’d probably take the shock-corded stowage gubbins off as well for climbing use, they could easily snag in some situations and we’re also a little wary of the gear loops for the same reason.
A friend who used it managed to pull the sliding chest strap off its rail twice, which is unusual – we’ve only had this happen a couple of times with the now almost universal system – and also felt the pack generally didn’t feel ‘planted’ on his back.
All of which are minor flaws, though a little irritating. The one thing that did really put us off, is the design of the lumbar pad – see red circle above. Although the base of the pack is reinforced, the bottom of the pad projects beyond it with a stitched seam joining mesh and pack fabric right at the point where it’s likely to be abraded every time you put the pack down on its base.
That may sound fussy, but we’d be surprised if that area didn’t wear relatively quickly compared to the rest of the pack. It just hasn’t been very well thought out.
In many ways the Alpiniste 35+10 is quite a capable pack albeit with a couple of niggly faults, but we’re not keen on the mesh back panel and more importantly, the vulnerable way the bottom of the lumbar pad sits at the base of the pack.
It’s a shame because there are some good touches to the pack and overall build quality feels pretty decent. With a few revisions, this would be a decent enough mountain rucksac.
Buy if you’re looking for a technical pack with a Karrimor badge on and can live with the minor flaws in exchange for light weight and heritage