BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Lowe Alpine Nanon 50 60 Pack > Test Report by Pamela Wyant

LOWE ALPINE NANON PACK

Initial Report - September 14, 2009
Field Report - November 23, 2009
Long Term Report - January 26, 2010




Tester Information:

Name:  Pam Wyant
Age:  51
Gender:  Female
Height:  5 ft 5 in (1.65 m)
Weight:  170 lb (77 kg)
Torso Length:  18 in (46 cm)
Hip:  42 in (107 cm)

E-mail address:  pamwyant(at)yahoo(dot)com
Location:  Western West Virginia, U.S.A.

Backpacking Background: 

Pursuing a long-time interest, I started backpacking five years ago.  In addition to day-hiking and weekend backpacking trips I try to do one longer trip each year.  A couple of years ago I began a project to section hike the Appalachian Trail (AT), accruing a little over 250 mi (400 km) so far.  My backpacking style always seems to be evolving somewhat, and I like trying different gear and techniques.  I can probably best be described as lightweight and minimalist; cutting as much pack weight as I can without sacrificing warmth, comfort, or safety

Initial Report - September 14, 2009


Product Information:

Manufacturer:  Lowe Alpine
Year of manufacture:  2009
Model:  Nanon ND 50:60
Color:  Cress (light green)
 
Advertised weight:  2 lb 12 oz (1.25 kg)
Measured weight:  2 lb 13.72 oz (1.30 kg)

Capacity:  50-60 L (4000-4600 cu in)

Recommended carry weight - 22-33 lb (10-15 kg)

Measured Dimensions:  approx. 25" x 14" x 11" at largest areas


MSRP:  not available
Features on front side of pack

Product Description:

The Nanon is a light weight, yet roomy full featured pack.   In addition to the large top loading main compartment with a generously-sized hydration sleeve, there is a floating top lid, two large stretchy side pockets, two small hip belt pockets, and a medium sized front zippered pocket which sits in front of a good sized shove-it pocket.  The shove-it pocket has a drain hole at the bottom. 

top lidThe top lid features both a roomy domed compartment accessed from the exterior via a zipper on the back, and a flatter compartment accessed from the interior, also by a rear zipper.  The 50 liter main compartment is constructed of a gridded Dyneema fabric which appears to be coated with a waterproofing material on the interior.  An extension collar, constructed of a similar material but without the grid pattern, adds an additional 10 liters of storage space.

Cinch cords are located both at the top of the main body and the top of the extension collar.  This seems as if it might make the pack more stable when carrying smaller loads than a single cinch cord, since additional excess fabric can be tightened up.  The area where the upper cord cinches is reinforced with grosgrain ribbon, and the lower one passes through a grommet with some sort of reinforcing material that can be felt but not seen.  A thin adjustable nylon strap with a quick release buckle further cinches the top to stabilize the load.

The top lid fastens to thin nylon straps adjusted by ladder lock style buckles on the back side.  The front side has daisy chained straps running down to each side of the zippered rear pocket, and has quick release buckles to allow the top lid to be flipped back to access the main compartment.   At the bottom of each daisy chain is an adjustable webbing loop that can be loosened to hold a sleeping pad or tent, or tightened up to fit more snugly against the pack.  At the bottom of each loop is a small plastic holder for trekking pole tips.  At the top of the shove-it pocket is a looped elastic bungee with a hook style fastener that can be used to stabilize the top portion of trekking poles and hold them neatly in place against the front of the pack.  It appears that an ice axe could also be carried, using the adjustable webbing at the bottom to secure the head of the tool, and the bungee and hook at the top to secure the handle.

Back side featuresOne of the really clever features of this pack is a curved zipper running along the bottom edge of the left side pocket.  This allows convenient access to items stored in the bottom of the pack, without adding the weight of having a totally separate bottom compartment.  Both sides feature two compression straps each, which run diagonally down from the front to the rear of the pack.  The upper one starts about 2.25" (5.7 cm) below the top of the main compartment in the rear, and runs to the top of the shove-it pocket.  The bottom one starts about 1" (2.5 cm) below the top of the side pocket and runs to a reinforcement tab near the bottom of the pocket.  The left side lower compression strap has a quick release buckle to allow better access to the pack contents when the side zipper is opened.

A triangular shaped hydration port is located on the right side of the pack.  The port is generously sized, and I had no trouble fitting my drinking tube through it even with an on/off valve assembly attached to the bite valve.  The side pockets are made from a very stretchy fabric and are generously sized both in depth and volume, being about 7" (17.75 cm) deep on the front side and 8" (20.5 cm) deep on the back side.  The pockets are angled so that the front side, although not as deep, is the higher side of the pocket.

The back panel of the pack is thinly padded with large open weave mesh.  On the interior a hook and loop fastener can be opened to reveal a thin metal rod-style stay which is squared off at the top and runs down each side.  A little experimental tugging moved the stay, however it was difficult to push back in, so I did not totally remove it to see how far it extends, fearing I might not be able to get it back in properly if I removed it totally.  A composite frame sheet runs the entire length of the back.

The shoulder straps are on the thin side, only 2.25" (5.7 cm) wide at the back attachment, tapering to about 2" (5 cm) at the top of the shoulder, and 1" (2.5 cm) wide where they attach to the nylon adjustment straps at the bottom. They appear to be constructed of closed cell foam covered with a heavy mesh fabric on the back side and a light mesh fabric on the front side, with binding tape on the sides.  Each features a thin, adjustable load lifter strap which attaches to a sturdy piece of reinforcing material on the pack strap.  Each strap also has an elastic 'keeper' strap which can be used to route a drinking tube, or attach something light to the shoulder strap.  A thin sternum strap with quick release buckle attaches to a stiffened ridge of fabric on each shoulder strap via a small plastic clip.

The typical haul loop is present on the top of the back, made of nylon webbing.  The area of the back panel above the shoulder straps is made from a smooth and light fabric.  The bottom portion of the back panel has a small padded lumbar panel, which can be pulled forward to reveal a strap that adjusts the torso length of the pack, by lengthening or shortening the padded portion of the shoulder straps.  Another clever detail on this pack is the small handhold area Lowe Alpine has built into the lumbar pad, which allowed me to easily grasp the panel and pull it forward to find the torso adjustment system.  The adjustment strap is banded with strips of color that correspond to a torso length chart, which should make it easy to adjust the pack for maximum comfort for my torso length.   The frame sheet can be seen underneath when the lumbar pad is opened.  The lumbar pad measures approximately 6.5" x 8.5" (16.5 x 21.5 cm), and slides securely into place under the mesh back panel, fastening with hook and loop at the top. 
 
The Nanon's hip wings and lumbar region

The hip belt has a padded wing section measuring approximately 4" x 10" on each side.  The padding is thicker on the upper portion of the wing and thinner on the lower portion.   The lower 1" (2.5 cm) of the wing is sewn to the pack at the lower edge of the lumbar pad.  The top of the wing is fastened to the pack by a buckle and webbing.  The webbing runs under the hip belt pocket and through an additional buckle at the tip of each wing, then is sewn under the hip belt pocket, in a v-shaped formation.  The configuration of the webbing allows some adjustment to the cant of the hip belt padding.  The remainder of the hip belt consists of two pieces of 1" side x 14" long pieces of nylon webbing that connect to the buckle on the wing tip and fasten together in the center with a quick release buckle.  The hip belt is tightened by pulling the ends of the webbing through the wing tip buckle toward the center buckle.

The hip belt pockets are small, measuring about 3.5" x 4" (9 x 10 cm).  The sides and top portion of the pockets are made from the gridded Dyneema fabric and the lower front of the pockets are made from stretch fabric similar to the side pockets.  They fasten with a zipper about 1" (2.5 cm) from the top of the pocket.  Thin hip stabilizer adjustment straps run from the pack body to the area under the hip belt pockets.

In addition to the daisy chain webbing straps running down the back of the pack, there are two small attachment straps on each side of the back panel, about 3" (7.5 cm) below the strap that connects the top lid.  The top lid also has two fabric daisy chain style loops on each side which should facilitate lashing items to the pack should the need arise.  On the underside of the lid is a screen-printed "SOS panel", which lists distress signals and mobile phone emergency numbers for Europe, the UK, USA, New Zealand, and Australia.

Preliminary Impressions:

When I first pulled the pack from the shipping box, I was amazed at how small it looked, and was worried that it would not be large enough to pack my typical load of gear.  My worries proved to be unfounded when I loosened all the compression straps and shook the pack open.  I was amazed at how much the pack expanded, and it easily held enough gear for a weekend trip, including a light, but bulky 1/4" x 41" x 61" (0.64 x 104 x 155 cm) ThinLight pad that I packed inside the main compartment.

The pack straps seem very thin, with most being 10 mm (a little under 1/2") wide. A few of the straps that generally take more stress, such as the lower shoulder strap adjusters, the hip stabilizer straps, and the sternum strap are about 15 mm (a little over 1/2") wide, and the hip belt strapping is about 1" (2.5 cm) wide.  The buckles are also small, but appear to be sturdy.

The pack body appears to be well constructed of sturdy, yet light fabrics, with binding tape on the seams.  The expansion collar is double stitched to the main pack body, and key stress points are either reinforced or bar tacked for strength.  All zipper heads have light weight, but easily grasped zipper pulls consisting of a loop of cord with a plastic disc at the end.

So far the pack seems like it will work very well for my needs, while being light weight enough to keep my back happy.  The pack seems comfortable enough when worn around the house with a full load.  The shoulder straps, load lifters, hip stabilizer straps, and hip belt strap are all easy to adjust when wearing the pack.  The torso length seemed to fit okay as it came, so I have not yet tried adjusting it, but as the test progresses, I will be monitoring the fit to see if fine-tuning the length would be beneficial.

I am pleasantly surprised at how many features Lowe Alpine was able to add, and the quality of fabric they were able to use, while still keeping the weight of the pack well under 3 lb (1.4 kg).  Discovering the features of the pack has been an ongoing process, as no instructions were provided with the pack, and it is not yet on the company website.  It was interesting to learn from their website that their women's packs are designed not only to better fit women's bodies with a shorter torso and narrower shoulder harness, but also keeping in mind the way women prefer to carry pack weight - with a lower center of gravity.

The very small hip belt pockets are disappointing to me, as my small point and shoot digital camera is too large to fit.  I wasn't even able to fit an energy bar in the pockets, but I did manage to fold a pack of peanuts over and get them to fit.  It seems they will be relegated to holding things like a folded bandanna or lip balm, or very small snacks such as energy gels or small packets of nuts.

Summary:

The Lowe Alpine Nanon pack strikes a nice balance between useful features and light weight.  With the expansion collar and compression options, it seems it will be versatile enough to carry different sized loads with relative ease.  The only true disappointment at this stage is the overly small hip belt pockets.

Things I like:

Light weight for a framed pack of this volume
Good variety of pockets
Compresses and expands easily
Side zipper provides easy access to contents at the bottom of the pack

Things I don't like:

Tiny hip belt pockets

More to come:

This concludes my Initial Report.  Please check back in mid-November for field testing results.

Field Report - November 23, 2009

Field Locations and Conditions:

Carrying the Nanon at the Dragon's ToothIn September I used the Lowe Alpine Nanon pack on a 24 mi (39 km) weekend backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail in the Catawba, Virginia area.  Temperatures ranged from about 60 F (16 C) at night to around 80 F (27 C) during the warmest part of the day.  Elevations ranged  around 1700-3250 ft (500-1000 m).  The trail was single track dirt for the most part, with some steep and rock sections, including a few short rock scrambles.  With early fall gear, I carried about 20 lb (9 kg), including around 3.5 liters of water.

I also used the pack for teaching introductory backpacking skills on a weekend trip to Watoga State Park in eastern West Virginia.  The pack was used for packing and demo purposes, since we did not do an overnight backpacking trip on this weekend.

Use and conclusions:

I found the pack was amply sized to hold all the gear I needed for an early fall trip, with some room to spare.  This included my hammock shelter, a bulky Evazote pad, a lightweight quilt, insulated jacket, 3.5 liters of water, food for a weekend, a light assortment of clothing (light gloves, hat, spare socks, underwear, and base layers for sleeping), and various sundry essentials (knife, photon lights, first aid kit, etc.).  

I always find it a little difficult to fit everything in the first time I switch from an old favorite to a new pack, but it seemed a little easier with the Nanon, with its large packbag and roomy top-loading opening, which was similar to my old pack.  The top lid held my rain jacket and pants, with a little room left for some toilet paper.  With the pack bag filled out, there isn't a lot of spare room in the shove-it pocket, but it did hold my hammock fly, the snow stake I use as a trowel, and I even managed to squeeze my Croc camp shoes in there.  The small zippered pocket on the front held my first aid/survival kit, tent stakes, and SteriPen.

The hydration pocket was amply sized, and I fit both my 2 liter water bladder and a 1 liter water bladder inside it.  The hydration port is generously sized, and it was easy to route my drinking tube and bite valve through it.  A 0.5 liter water bladder went in one of the side pockets, and I used the other for stowing my trekking poles part of the time.  I stuffed a bandanna in one of the small hip belt pockets, and a small snack such as a packet of nuts or an energy gel in the other.

The Nanon was packed similarly for the backpacking class as it was for the backpacking trip.

I was very happy with the way the Nanon carried the load, other than my shoulders did become a bit sore from the shoulder straps.  I think this was more from the straps being narrow than from a lack of padding, since the padding seems thick enough.  A secondary factor may be that the bound edges of the straps seem a little stiff.  I wore a short sleeve shirt while hiking, and found the buckles did chafe the underside of my arms a bit.  The hip belt felt quite comfortable, and the way the adjustment straps pull toward the center made it easy to tighten or loosen the belt even while on the move.  I like the relatively thin belt webbing, as it doesn't seem as constricting as wider belts.

The pack seemed very well balanced, and moved with me well, even over the rock scramble sections.  My back did not seem to overheat - well, at least not more than I expected given the warm weather conditions.  The open mesh back did seem to help wick the sweat away.  I had ample room behind my head for a normal range of motion from side to side and even to tilt my head back a little and look up.  I liked the way the double cinch string system at the top of the pack worked.  Tightening up the lower one seemed to help hold the load in better and make it more stable, and the upper cinch made it easier to gather and roll the excess fabric out of the way, and of course will be useful later when I carry extra bulk for colder weather trips.

I tried the trekking pole holders a few times, but I think having the trekking poles on the front of the pack makes it a little awkward to carry and move around, and I prefer stowing them in the side pocket for transportation.  One thing I would like is if the pack had quick release buckles on all of the side compression straps, rather than just the one over the side zipper.  I think this makes it easier to stow long items like trekking or tent poles or bulky items like a water bladder, as I can work a quick release buckle faster than loosening a strap enough to accommodate the item and then having to snug it back up again.

All packed up on the ATProbably my favorite feature on the pack is the zippered side entry at the bottom of the left side.  It was really neat to have an access point to reach the items I don't really need during the day, but need when I get to camp, like my hammock body and sleeping bag.  I never realized before how nice it would be not to have to unpack my whole pack to get to these items while setting up camp.  I've never owned a pack with a separate sleeping bag compartment, but this seems even better, as it allows the same access without the added weight of a separate compartment.  Kudos to Lowe Alpine for coming up with this feature!

The zipper pulls on the pack are easy to grip, and all of the zippers seem to work smoothly, with the exception of those on the hip belt pockets.  The hip belt pockets are pretty much useless for me.  They are quite small, and won't even hold a normal sized energy bar.  I also found that the way they are attached to the pack, being sewn on only at the top and the bottom, makes the pocket tend to shift forward as I tug on the pull, and then the zipper won't close smoothly as it isn't in the proper position to close.  Although I can open the zipper with one hand, the design makes closing it a two-handed procedure, which, as a trekking pole user, I find aggravating while on the move.

After my trip, I did rinse the sweat and dirt out of the pack by simply dunking it in a bathtub of water, and let it drip dry.  It is virtually indistinguishable from a brand new pack, and I don't even see a scratch from the bits of rock scrambling, so it seems like it will wear well.

Summary:

So far I find the Nanon pack provides a nice set of features for a light weight pack.  Among my favorites are the nifty side access panel which makes retrieving item from the bottom of the pack easier, the securely zippered front pocket which I use to keep essential and safety items handy, the large top loading pack body with double cinch system to secure various size loads, and the roomy water bladder pocket and generously sized hydration port.

The pack seems to fit me well, carries (mostly) comfortably, and allows me to have a good range of motion without causing me to feel unbalanced even on rough terrain.

Likes:

Nifty side access zipper!
Good, adjustable fit
Roomy, yet also compressible
Stable carry

Dislikes:

Small and difficult to use hip belt pockets
Shoulder straps a little uncomfortable after a while
Lack of quick release buckles on most of the side compression straps.

Long Term Report - January 26, 2010

A little snow in the mountains

A little snow in the mountains while hiking with the Nanon

Field Locations and Conditions:

I used the Nanon on a 5-day getaway trip to a cabin in the remote mountains of eastern West Virginia, where I used it both to carry my gear to and from the cabin and for two day hikes in the surrounding area.  Temperatures were chilly, in the 20 F (-7 C) range, and there was about 4-12 in (10-30 cm) of snow. 

Use and conclusions:

A lot of snow in the mountainsI have been pretty amazed at how much the Nanon will hold in the cavernous main pack bag.  I managed to fit my sleeping bag, a bulky Evazote pad, heavy gloves, an extra hat, arm warmers, chest warmer, down jacket, synthetic insulated pants, JetBoil stove, and (with some extra stuffing effort) a full size pillow inside!  (Even with a full 2 L Platypus in the water bladder sleeve.)  The rear zippered pocket was used for those little essentials - first aid/survival items, toilet paper, etc, and the shove-it pocket held a poncho/tarp and a large contractor style trash bag that could be used as emergency shelter.  Trail snacks fit in the top lid, and I used the hip belt pockets for a lip balm and bandanna,  as well as the GoGirl female urinary device that I have been testing lately.  My trekking poles fit neatly in one side pocket.  Although the items were bulky, they weren't really heavy, so the pack weighed only about 20 lb (9 kg).

I have also found the pack excellent for winter day hiking.  It is large enough that I can pack plenty of extra layers, a stove and insulated cup for hot drinks, an emergency shelter, and a light weight, but full length Evazote pad for insulation in the event that someone gets hurt and needs to stay warm until help can arrive.  And even though the pack isn't truly full on a day hike, since I'm not carrying a sleeping bag, hammock, water filter, or as much food as I would use on a weekend trip, the pack will compress neatly down on the sides to help stabilize the load.  Even the top lid can be pulled down over the front of the pack tight enough that it is not flopping around.  I may at some point in the future snip the sewing loose that creates a double thick strap that can't be pulled through the buckle at the back of the pack, in order to be able to totally remove the top lid, as I don't really need it for day hiking or summer time backpacking trips, and I could save a few ounces by leaving it home.  Fortunately it looks like removing the stitches is all that would be needed to make this feasible.

I still find the trekking pole attachments more nuisance that help, as my poles are more likely to catch on something when they are hanging at the back of the pack, and the bottoms of the poles throw the balance of the pack off when I set it down on the ground or the floor.  The system doesn't add much weight though, so I can't really say it's a negative - I just don't find it useful for me, preferring to place my poles in a side pocket and run the compression straps over them.  As I found before, I would like to have additional quick release buckles on the side compression straps for easier access to trekking poles, tent poles, an extra water bladder, or other long items that might be useful to store in the side pockets.

During this portion of the test period, I found I was wearing bulkier clothing due to the cold weather, and did not notice any discomfort in the shoulder area from the pack straps.  The pack rode very comfortably, and was well balanced.  The hip belt appears to be well designed, as it also was very comfortable and did not feel restrictive, even with bulky layers on.

One of my favorite features of this pack is the neat side access zipper.  I found this very handy even when day hiking, as I could easily access a jacket during rest stops without having to unbuckle all the top lid straps and fiddle with the draw string at the top of the pack bag, then dig down into the pack to find what I needed.  With the zipper, I could simply tuck the jacket in and out of the side of the pack as needed, and it was always easy to find.

The two small nitpicks I have about this pack is that the front pocket is a little too small for my liking.  Although I could use the top lid for some of the items, I just prefer to have all my first aid/safety items, toilet paper, and SteriPen in an easy access front pocket, and that of the Nanon is just a little small to fit them all in and still have some maneuverable space to dig out just what I need.  The other nitpick is that the hip belt pockets are a little too small and that they need to be better secured to the hip belt on the ends, so that I can operate them one-handed.  Each time I tried to access my lip balm, I had to stop and use both hands to zip the pocket back up.  The small size is also a nuisance, as I can't fit a normal size energy bar inside without squishing it on the ends.

Summary:

The Lowe Alpine Nanon is a roomy and versatile pack with a number of useful features, with my favorite being the nifty side zipper access to the bottom of the main pack bag.  It could be improved slightly if the hip belt and front pockets were each slightly larger.  Overall I like the pack, find it suits my style well, and expect to be using it on many trips this coming spring and summer.

Likes:

Roomy
Expands and compresses equally well
Comfortable and well balanced

Dislikes:

Overly small front and hip belt pockets
Lack of quick-release buckles on most of the side compression straps
  
Thanks to Lowe Alpine and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test the Nanon ND 50:60 pack.

Read more reviews of Lowe Alpine gear
Read more gear reviews by Pamela Wyant

Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Lowe Alpine Nanon 50 60 Pack > Test Report by Pamela Wyant



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson