During our “Inside-Out” project with Lowe Alpine we got introduced to the Aeon at length by Lowe’s brand manager Joe White. The day after that I took it out for the first time on a day hike with Andy Cave, British mountaineer, and ambassador for Lowe Alpine. It’s great to get a pack really explained to you before you use it. The ideas and the technology behind it. There are some really smart things on this backpack that I really got to test the past few months.
Conditions and circumstances
The hike with Andy Cave was along Stanage Edge in the Peak District, and I carried camera equipment (including a tripod) and some extra clothing. After the first hour, the rain came pouring down. The Aeon is not waterproof, nor does it have a rain cover, but it did ward off the rain pretty well. After that, I used the Aeon while riding on my MTB in the Netherlands and the Pyrenees, but also on regular hikes and approach hikes to rock climbing routes.
There are a number of features I’d like to cover that also give an idea of how Lowe has approached the construction and design of this pack to follow their mantra of making packs that facilitate movement in the mountains. If you want to know what that means, be sure to check part 1 of our Inside-Out with Lowe Alpine video.
Air contour back system – Stability
Stability is one of the key elements to a good activity pack. If you go running or hiking or climbing or anything really, you want the pack to fit well and not jiggle or bounce around on your back. The Air Contour back system is a close contact system, so it fits directly to your back. Added to that, it is adjustable to the length of your back, which you don’t get a lot in day packs.
So what did I notice? To begin with the last one, the system is adjustable with a velcro construction that needs to be really strong, resulting in a bit of a difficult handle to actually adjust it. But once you get it in place you do notice that the pack feels tighter.
The close contact of the AirCountour means that there is no space between the panel and your back for ventilation. It is a perforated / mesh construction though, and using it in 35-degree celsius Spain I did not notice too much excessive warmth developing on my back (at least not more than you would expect in those conditions). I did notice that as promised, the pack is very stable: even while carrying my camera equipment and a heavy tripod.
The hip belt, which you can tuck away behind the back panel when you don’t need them are well constructed and sport two wide zippered hip pockets of slightly stretchy mesh material. Great to stow your car keys, an energy bar or your phone.
Flexion harness – comfort
The harness is a very interesting part of the pack. Where normally you would get fairly rigid shoulder straps with padding to provide comfort as you carry heavier loads, the Aeon has a very thin and loose shoulder harness with a 5% stretch on them. The idea behind it is that the shoulder strap will follow the line from your shoulders down along your body more easily. And with the 5% stretch, the straps will spread the load more evenly.
Although I am not sensitive enough to feel the effect of 5% stretch, I did always feel the comfort of the harness. It feels soft and well constructed, the thinness of the harness in no way compromises on strength and it also produces less transpiration along the contact area with your shoulders. And of course, having carried the heavy loads mentioned before I at no time felt the straps cutting into my shoulders.
When the main compartment of the pack and the large stretch mesh pocket on the outside of the pack do not suffice, or if you are carrying awkward items, ranging from a camera tripod to a pair of ski’s you can use the multi-lock tool. It’s simply a smartly constructed pair of elastic bungy cords fitted with a plastic hook-buckle. You can hook the one to the other, and with that, fix a variety of stuff to your pack. I used it primarily for the aforementioned heavy tripod which it carried easily and with stability.
Together with the multi-lock, the tip gripper will hold your walking poles securely, and with lopes at the bottom of the pack, it helps you secure your ice axes. With side compression straps you can strap your ski’s to it.
Compartments and pockets
The one drawback I could find with the Aeon, where the choices made in the zippered compartments. There are actually three, the large inner compartment and two smaller ones, both on top of the pack, back-to-back one on the outside and a small pouch on the inside. It does sound enough, but I have questions about the placement. I use the smaller pockets for my valuables, wallet, car keys, telephone, and when the pack is not fully packed, the two pockets on top, stuffed with heavier stuff, tends to loll around a bit. So I would have preferred those pockets being placed a bit lower on the pack. Or a separate larger compartment within the main one.
Having said that, you can slide a hydration pack behind the back system and it has two really easily accessible stretch mesh side pockets on the outside where you can slip a bottle in and out easily or access other stuff without taking the backpack off your back.
The Aeon comes in a variety of sizes. As Top Loaders (20, 22, 33, 35 liters) or Zipped entry (16, 18, 25 and 27 liters), with the zipper running the length of the size for easy access to even the bottom of the pack.
The Aeon has clearly been designed with versatility and a wide variety of activities in mind. The carry system is really good, the pack, light or heavily packed, is comfortable and stable. Zippers, buckles and fabric materials feel and look good. You can stretch and pack a wide variety of tools to your pack. So if you are a multi-sporter, this might be a really good pack for you.