Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Lowe Alpine Sting Pack

The Lowe Alpine Sting is an awesome pack that takes the best from the civilian market and makes it into a military style pack. I've used this pack for about a year and have found it to be very durable and it's features perfect for both military and civilian use.

For my review I'll consider the back of the pack the portion where the backpack straps are and the front the portion with the MOLLE webbing.

In regard to webbing, you'll notice that all the webbing is made of web material that is in the same camo pattern as the pack itself. This camo pattern is the DPM woodland pattern used by British troops and is very effective.

With a main compartment at 3576 cu inches this pack can hold a TON of gear. The main pocket is one large pocket with one smaller zippered pocket toward the top. I like this because it gives you a place to store some smaller stuff, but other than that it's a pretty simple main compartment. This main compartment can be used with it's full capacity or tightened down with the side compression straps to shrink the main compartment.

The closure for the main compartment it a drawstring neck with a top flap. The top flap has a pocket in it that is larger than you would think. The zippered opening for the top flap pocket is at the back of the pack. On the front of the top cover is a loop portion of velcro for attaching name tapes.

Moving to the outside you'll notice 2 "rocket" pouches on either side of the pack. These pockets are a great feature themselves. Not only do they provide additional storage to the main compartment. but they can be used individually as well. The pack comes with 2 additional smaller backpack straps. These are used with the rocket pouches. The rocket pouches detach from the pack and the straps attach to them to be used alone. There are 2 ways to use these pouches when detached from the pack:

  1. Individually - The rocket pouch now becomes a rocket pack and can be used with one strap and slung cross ways over the shoulder as a sling pack or both straps can be attached and used as a backpack.

  2. Together - These pouches can be zipped together to make a larger 2 compartmented pack. The only thing I've found with this is that the straps tend to be wide on the shoulders and feel as if they're going to fall off your shoulders. To remedy this I took a sternum strap from another pack and used and this solved the problem. You can also use the sternum strap from the main pack.
This feature is great for taking smaller items on a scout or short trip away from camp. I did this on a recent camping trip and was impressed with this concept. This pack isn't the height of comfort, but isn't uncomfortable either. It's great for it's intended purpose. Each of these pouches also has 2 straps on the front with side release buckles (SRBs) where additional gear can be strapped (as you see in one picture I have my rifle strapped there).

Under these rocket pouches on the main pack are the compression straps for the main compartment. Also on both sides, under the rocket pouches, there are sleeve pockets toward the bottom portion of the pack. These are intended for skis, tent poles, etc etc. I've found it useful for a short tactical rifle. When the rocket pouches are attached they help in holding these items in place. When the rocket pouches are removed the compression straps help with this.

Moving to the front of the pack there is plenty of MOLLE style webbing to attach additional pouches, hydration bladders, knives, tools, etc. Above the MOLLE webbing is a carry handle. I've found the handle placed here is very helpful. I use it a lot. At the bottom of the pack are 2 additional loops to hold the handles of tools like hatches and ice axes in place. Up further on the pack are loops to hold the upper portion of these tools. The front also has straps to hold down the top flap and compress the pack.

The back of the pack is great. At the top is another carry handle, but what I really like is the torso adjustments. The straps move up or down along the back of the pack to properly fir the pack to the individual for proper load distribution on the body. There is a nice padded lumbar support as well. The shoulder straps are very comfy and adjustable with a sternum strap and padded waist strap.

With a huge load carrying capacity, camo webbing, great features, and great durability I feel Lowe Alpine has outdone themselves with their military line of packs.

Volume: 3576 cu in
Load Zone: 20 - 55 lbs (although I believe this pack can hold more)
Weight: 7 lbs 14 oz
Torso: 15 - 20 inches
MSRP: $299.95


Tacticalgearhead (youtube) said...

Looks like it would make a good bushcraft pack.

Brian said...

Where can I buy one? I have had a hard time even locating one.

Jake said...

That was the problem with this review, I got the pack and started to review it, but then the company stopped selling it in the US. I found a OD version on Sierra Trading Post, but not sure if it came with the rockets.

Jake said...

just checked again, it is sold with the rockets, just not pictured on the page.

ahjno (youtube) said...

Great review! I own one in OD and love it! That little pouch you where talking about in the pack itself isn't for a military radio but for hydration bladders (Platypus, etc).

Jake said...

ahjno, Thank you for the comment. The pouch could hold a hydration bladder, but in the pack I have it's more of a square pouch as opposed to the hydration bladder shape/size. It's the same size as a SINCGARS/Harris "man-pack" radio. There is also no holes for routing a hydration tube out through the pack. That's why I referred to it as a radio pocket.

Paul said...

Hi Jake,
I also own a Lowe Alpine Sting (in OD).
The pocket is to fit a hydration bladder. "There is also no holes for routing a hydration tube out through the pack." There is, it's situated at the corner of the pouch (to your right when wearing it.) And at the side, above the 'rocketpocket' there is a small triangular flap. That's where a tube goes through. I guess it's hard to find on a camo-rucksack! ;-)
The camo-pattern is actually Dutch DPM, the rucksacks are standards for the Dutch Army. (British DPM has some minor colouring and detail differences.)

Jake said...

I stand corrected. The pouch doesn't seem like a 100 oz pouch, but after looking at it again I was able to find the hole for the hydration tube. Even knowing where it is took a few minutes of searching. Easiest to find looking from the inside. I suggested to Lowe Alpine to include an instruction guide on proper fit and all the features, so things like that aren't missed. They said it was a good idea and planned on it, but since they aren't distributing the Mil packs in the US anymore I'm not sure I'll see this.

Zloner said...

I have used this backpack during my active duty in Gaza (backpack is used by the Israeli army), and during navegations training, carrying up to 80 lbs.
It has NEVER let me down..
this is for the "heavy loaders"... great pack and review!!

Paul said...

A thing you might have figured out yourself; the straps on the sidepockets (pouches) are to be diagonally attatched.
When zipped together, you have to place the straps on the lower part on the outside, on the high part, you place the straps in the middle like so: /\ It'll fit tighter on the shoulders, so you won't have the feeling as if they're going to fall off.

Jake said...

Tat does help out a lot with that feeling of it slipping off your shoulders. I did try this during the review process....the only thing I didn't like about this is that the top outer portion of the pack then tends to be more "floppy". I guess you have to experiment and see which works for your specific load out. Thank you for including this info on the page....great feedback!!!