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Price:

£55.00

Weight: 1380 grammes
Features: 35-litre

pack - also available as 45 and 25 litres - with integrated

side pockets, Pure Air Zone back system, rain cover, sliding

sternum strap, padded waist belt, lid lash points, internal

and external zippered lid pockets, single ice-axe attachment

point, trekking pole attachment, front mesh pocket,

hydration system compatible, key clip.

Good build quality and we like the Pure Air Zone

gubbins.

Small for it's stated

capacity and strangely flattened making access a bit

fiddly.


What's It For? The Walkabout's been around for donkey's years

and has always been a no-nonsense walkers' sac with top quality build

and no silly gimmicks. For 2006 it gets the new Lowe Alpine Pure Air

Zone back system.

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PAZ is Lowe's take on the ventilated air back system though unlike

most, it replaces the mesh net trampolene with a pure air gap. It

should make the back system more comfortable in hot summer conditions

and increase overall clothing breathability the rest of the time.


The Techy Bits The Walkabout 35 is mostly tried and tested

with a few modern touches. That means you get Lowe Alpine's bomber

construction with triple-stitched seams, but also the in vogue

sliding sternum strap attachments that are popping up everywhere and

were first seen on the Osprey Atmos and, of course, Pure Air

Zone.

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The latter differs from standard issue trampolene systems by using

two blocks of foam to hold the top and bottom of the pack away from

your back leavng the centre section completely clear. The theory goes

that mesh is, in fact, 60 per-cent mesh and only 40 per-cent air, so

replacing it with air should make a big difference to venting.

Venting the back should not only make for more comfort in hot

weather, but also improve breathability in colder conditions by

making more surface area accessible to the atmosphere.


How It Works The Walkabout lacks the body-hugging luxury of

packs like Osprey's Atmos, but it sits comfortably enough as long as

it suits your back length - definitely try before buying.

In warm and breezy conditions, we found the Pure Air Zone back

system pretty efffective, which is to say that we hardly noticed it.

Two plus points, one was that when we stopped, there was no

characteristic cold, wet back feel, the other was that the pack is

built narrow enough, front to back, that it doesn't try to lever away

from your back in the way that some of the trampolene-type designs

do.

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The pay-off for that is that the main body is wide and shallow -

see below - with a bit of a lengthways curve, which makes it more

awkward to stow and remove larger items than with a more

conventionally-shaped pack. A zipped front panel opening system might

have worked better.

For walking the width with the handy side pockets full, makes no

odds of course, though it might be an issue used for scrambling

through very narrow gaps, but then that's not really what it's

intended for.

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The stretch mesh pocket on the back is great for wet or spare

clothing and also handy for a map. It would be better with a securing

strap at the top though, there's was always a nagging doubt over the

safety of our Houdini-like Dark Peak Explorer...

Otherwise the Walkabout Air is hard to fault. It's not a

dramatically exciting pack, but it pretty much does what it's

intended to do in an understated way.


Verdict

We reckon the Pure Air Zone system works well and there's no

negative pay-off in terms of comfort or stability. The pack does feel

small for a 35-litre sac though, partly due to the shallow profile -

see pic - but also because Lowe Alpine's measuring system is more

realistic than some.

It's a cool carry in summer and we reckon it would also work just

fine in colder conditions and marginallyincrease the overall

breathability of your clothing system along the way.

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At a suggested retail price of £55, the Walkabout isn't

cheap, but then having spent some time with Lowe's pack designers, we

know much of that is down to invisible build quality features like

the triple-stitched seams, high quality buckles and fasteners and

carefully specced fabrics.

Overall, a neat, no-nonsense walking pack with a good back system,

though be aware that it seems smaller than its stated capacity.

Pushed for time No-nonsense

walking pack complete with new Lowe Alpine Pure Air Zone

back system that's great for warmer conditions with no real

negative pay off. It is wide and narrow though, which can

make for awkward access and feels smaller than the stated

35-litre capacity. Good build quality.