Salomon X ALP 30 Pack | Review
Salomon's experimental lightweight alpine pack has some really interesting features, but works best if you keep things fast and light.
'Fast and light is the Salomon way and the X ALP works best with light to light-medium loads. Central back zip gives amazing access to the main compartment, but displaces the hydration sleeve and makes the back system a little bendy and unsupportive.'
Outdoors Magic: Interesting ideas including central zip in back system, good access to main compartment, light, tough fabric, Extrem Box at base, perimeter alloy frame.
Outdoors Tragic: Hydration compatibility an afterthought, back system requires careful packing, no rope holder.
Outdoors Grabbit? Fast, light and minimal is the classic French alpine ethos and it shows. While similar packs have reinforced back systems to cope with heavier climbing loads, the X ALP's radical solution uses a soft centre with access zip and a perimeter frame. You get great access to the main body of the pack, but the pay-off is the need to pack carefully and a certain lack of support with heavier loads. We do like the reinforced 'Extrem Box' at the base for crampon or wet kit storage though and lid and belt-pockets are welcome. Best if you go light.
Lightweight mountaineering pack / Butterfly frame back system / 100D triple ripstop Nylon with PU coating / compression straps / hydration compatible / internal zipped pocket / Harness Lite shoulder straps / 3D mesh / U-zipped top opening / zipped belt pocket / two ice axe loops / Extrem Box / removable diagonal ski carrier / E-Lock sternum-strap / top external zipped pocket / Ergo Belt
Full Review Below
Salomon X ALP 30 Pack | Performance
There's something beguilingly French about the X ALP 30 in the combination of lightness and slightly quirky innovation. It's decently light at 930g on our scales, but there's a lot going on.
The whole pack's made from carefully calibrated lightweight rip-stop Nylon, with different combinations of weave and fibre types in different areas and at first glance, looks like a conventional, zip-top opening, narrow profile alpine sack.
And at one level it is. Except that in addition to that top opening, there's a zip running down the centre of the back-system which gives fast and easy access to the lower parts of the main compartment, which on one level is brilliant if, say, you need to drag out an insulated jacket for a stop or grab a stove for a quick brew.
The downside of this is that there's no backplate for support and stop stuff digging into your back, just a 'butterfly' perimeter frame, which gets less effective if you load the pack too far. It also means that the hydration sleeve - there's no opening for the tube btw, it has to exit through the top-opening - is displaced to one side, which unbalances the sac slightly when the reservoir is full.
Things we did like include the belt and top pockets and the neat Extrem Box, a sort of reinforced tube at the base of the pack where you can put anything you like from crampons to wet kit. There's a drain hole for excess water too.
Finally, there are no rope or helmet holders, stick one in the pack and wear the other is the inference.
Salomon X ALP 30 Pack | Verdict
The X ALP 30's very, well, French, which isn't a bad thing per se, but does mean you need to keep loads light if you're not going to overload the basic back system. The pay-off for that is excellent, rapid access to the main compartment through that central, back-panel zipper.
Other good points include that Extrem Box and the provision of an actual top-pocket in lieu of a lid one, the neat metal belt buckle and snap-on and off sternum strap fastener similar to the one used by Montane. We'd add some cord to the fastener for easier release.
In a nut-shell, we reckon the X ALP's got some interesting ideas to it, but lacks support if you're carrying slightly heavier loads.