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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Lowe Alpine Centro > Test Report by Kevin Hollingsworth

Lowe Alpine AirZone Centro 35
Test Series by Kevin Hollingsworth
May 13, 2008

Centro




 

Initial Report (January 4, 2008)
Field Report (March 11, 2008)
Long Term Report (May 13, 2008)

Tester Information:

Name: Kevin Hollingsworth
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Height: 6’ 1” (1.9 m)
Weight: 205 lb (93 kg)
Email address: kholling55@yahoo.com
City, State, Country: Williamsburg, Virginia. USA

I started backpacking and camping when I was in the Scouts. I spent 20 years in the military, which curtailed my personal outdoors adventures. While day-hiking, I normally carry a light load, a waist pack with mostly food and water and a few other things. On three to four day trips, I will carry a pack weighing about 45 to 50 lb (21 to 23 kg). I prefer to hike in the mountains. I have been hiking in Colorado (USA), Korea, Egypt, and most recently the Eastern part of the United States.


Initial Report - January 4, 2008

Product Information & Specifications:

Manufacturer:

Lowe Alpine

Year of Manufacture:

2007

URL:

http://www.lowealpine.com/

 

 

Listed Specifications:

Note: Due to the fact that this is one of Lowe Alpine's new packs for 2008, complete manufacturer specifications are not currently available at this time.

Volume

2136 cu in (35 lt)

Color:

Terracotta / Slate Gray (Available colors: Terracotta / Slate Gray, Bark/Black and Cobalt/Granite)

MSRP:

Unknown

 

 

Measured Specifications:

 Note:  All measurements are mine (unless otherwise specified)

Weight:

3.15 lb (1.43 kg)

 

 

Warranty:

Lowe Alpine Guarantees all of its products against defects in materials and workmanship for the life of the product (not the owner’s lifetime.) 
The warranty policy does not cover damage caused by accidents or misuse, nor does it cover the natural breakdown of materials which will occur over extended use and time - e.g. zipper failure and fabric/stitching abrasion. 


The Lowe Alpine AirZone Centro 35 is designed as a versatile 4 season pack that can be used either as a daypack or as overnight pack for a simple overnight camping trip. The pack is designed for a load of 22 to 33 lb (10 to 15 kg). 

The Centro uses the Torso Fit Centro System™, which incorporates adjustable back lengths through the use of a simple centrally-adjusted buckle that allows for non-slip adjustment. The system is easily adjustable and allows for a comfortable fit for torso sizes that are between 16 to 21 in (40 to 53 cm).

Torso fit 

The pack also has an AdaptiveFit hip belt, which adjust to a wearer’s unique shape and is designed to compliments the Centro adjustment system. The pack also has adjustable sternum straps attached to the shoulder strap.

Airzone3 Shoulder Strap

The pack is constructed of NHC 330/TXP 600 fabric, a textured 600 denier polyester fabric. It also incorporates Lowe Alphines AirZone™ Technology. The Airzone back system minimizes the contact areas for maximum breathability through the use of network of breathable mesh allowing the pack to ride away from the wearer’s back, while at the same time for maximizing airflow. This allows the heat and sweat to escape while at the same time maintaining an anatomical fit. The pack also has AirZone vents in each of the shoulder straps, to allow airflow and heat to escape.

Rain Sterum

Attached to the bottom of the pack, there is an integrated rain cover. It is attached by a hook and loop strap and is neatly stowed in a pouch on the bottom of the pack. There is access to the main compartment either through the top of the pack or through the side.  The top is opened/closed by using a draw cord and the top flap. The top flap is secured through two plastic clips. Side access is gained through a zipper located on the left side of the pack. In addition to the main compartment, there is an elastic storage cradle with a zipper pocket, a hydration pocket in the main compartment, and two storage pockets are located in the top flap; one on the internal side and one on the external side.  There are two mesh pockets located on each side of the pack. Located at the external mesh pockets,  there are two compression straps. There is also additional space for storage in the rain cover pocket.  Located on the elastic storage cradle, there is an ice axe/walking pole attachment system consisting of a hook and loop strap and an adjustable strap.

Safety3

Printed on the inside of the top flap are mountain distress signals in English, French and German. There are also emergency phone numbers for Europe, United Stated, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia. Located on the sternum strap is a emergency whistle incorporated into the plastic clip.

Care and Cleaning (taken from website):

Avoid using detergents and washing machines. You risk damaging the waterproof coating applied to the pack fabric.  Allow mud and dirt to dry then brush clean. Be gentle. Don't use the same brush you keep for scraping rust from the wheel arches of your truck! Use a shoe brush or something with equally soft bristles. Remove oil and other stains using a natural soap cleaner and a bit of restrained scrubbing. As for solvents and sea salt, they're best removed by rinsing the fabric in cold water. The chemicals in some insect repellents break down plastics. If you've ever inadvertently sprayed your shades or wristwatch then you'll know what can happen. Take extra care when storing cans of repellent spray inside your pack. If not kept upright they can leak, contaminating food and damaging nylon fabrics - including the pack fabric itself. Ideally, wrap cans of repellent in a piece of cotton, such as an old T-shirt.

Initial Impressions:

My initial impression of the pack was good. The Centro looks very well designed and well built. The workmanship is superb. Around the main
compartment, there is a nylon strip sewn into the seams for reinforcement. All the straps and the meshed back are tripled stitched.  I was really impressed by the workmanship.

When I received the pack, it was adjusted to fit someone with a torso measurement of 21 in (53 cm). I tried the pack on and with a few slight adjustments, it fitted me perfectly.  I pack approximately 25 lb (11 kg) of stuff inside the pack to see how it would feel with a load. Even with a load, the packfit great and was extremely comfortable. I am really looking forward to testing this pack.

Summary:

Upon my initial assessment, I like the AirZone Centro 35 and Lowe Alpine’s quality of workmanship. It fits me well and is very comfortable. I am looking forward to testing this pack out.

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Field Report - March 11, 2008


Field Locations and Conditions:

Type of Trip:

Day Hiking

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Location:

Local Hiking Area

Local Hiking Area

Local Hiking Area

Distance (average per day):

7 mi (11.2 km)

6 mi (9.7 km)

8 mi (12.9 km)

Total Pack Load:

15 lbs (6.8 kg)

10 lbs (4.5 kg)

15 lbs (6.8 kg)

Elevation:

Sea Level

Sea Level

Sea Level

Weather Conditions:

Clear

Clear

Clear

Temperature Range (Day):

60 F (15 C)

55 F (13 C)

65 F (18 C)


Type of Trip:

Ski Trip

Location:

West Virginia

Length of Trip:

2 Day

Total Pack Load:

22 lbs (10.0 kg)

Elevation:

4900 ft (1500 m)

Weather Conditions:

Sunny with a slight breeze

Temperature Range (Day):

28 F (-2 C) increasing to 40 F (4 C)


For the day hikes, I mainly carried some food, water and some extra clothes. I also carried a backpacking stove, fuel, and GPS. I hooked a compass/watch on to the shoulder strap. During the ski trip, I basically increased the food and clothing I carried.


In addition to the trips listed above, I also used the Centro on two weekend trips to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Raleigh,  North Carolina. The weather in Pittsburgh was around 32 F (0 C) with snow/rain mixture.  The weather in Raleigh was sunny with a temperature around 50 F (10 C). During the overnight trips, I carried clothes, toiletries and other odds and ends, such as MP3 player, alarm clock, etc.

Performance in the Field:

Comfort

 

I found the pack extremely comfortable to wear. Even thought the pack sat away from my body, it felt like the pack was formed to my body. It gave me the freedom to move without the pack shifting and becoming uncomfortable.  The AdaptiveFit hip belt system and AirZone shoulder strap were easy to adjust and comfortable to use. I did not experience any hot spots, rawness, or soreness from the harness system.

 

I found that the pack allowed for plenty of head space. I could move my head in any direction without any interference from the pack.

 

During the ski trip, I was adding and subtracting clothes throughout the day. I did not have any problems adjusting the pack or any of the straps to fit the different clothes. The harness was easily adjusted either with or without gloves.

 

The AirZone system did seem to keep the moisture away. The Crossvent back was extremely comfortable and did a good job allowing air to move between the pack and my body. I did not experience any excessive moisture forming because of the pack.

 

Load Control

 

The pack stayed stable no matter how I packed it. I did not feel any shifting of the pack contents or of the pack during the ski trip. It was stable on all types of terrain and during various activities.

 

Functionality

 

I found that the Centro system easy to use. I initially had some problems adjusting the pack. But once I realized that I wasn’t going to break the plastic compression piece, put a little more force into adjusting the strap, the adjustments were easy.

 

The pack was very easy to pack and unpack. The side access was very convenient to use. It made finding things inside the main compartment very easy to do.  The hydration pocket is too small for my 1.6 qt (1.5 L) bladder. It seems to be made more for a 1.1 qt (1.0 L) bladder. But I found the bladder pocket is great for storing things like MP3 player, toiletries, or other similar items that I wanted to keep separate from the main compartment. I also found the top lid pocket extremely useful for storing quick access items.

 

I found that the side, mesh pockets slightly large for a 1.1 qt (1.0 L) water bottle to fit into. The bottles fitted inside the mesh pockets, but tended to “squeeze” out of the pocket, unless I made sure the side tension strap was tight around the bottle. I was able to remove the water bottles while wearing the pack, but because I needed to make sure the strap was tight around the bottle, I found that I needed to remove the pack to put the bottle back into the side pocket.


I did not ever have any problems with the quick disconnect or the zippers. The zippers operated smoothly, without snagging any of the surrounding fabric.

Summary:

I am extremely pleased with the performance of the AirZone Centro 35.  So far, the things I like most like about the pack is the how comfortable the pack is to wear, the way the pack sit on my back and allows air to circulate between the pack and my back, and the side access. The only part of the pack that I am not too keen on is the size of the side mesh water bottle pockets.

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Long Term Report - May 13, 2008

Field Locations and Conditions:

 

Type of Trip:

Back Country Camping

 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Location:

Shenandoah National Park

Distance (average per day):

6.0 mi (9.7 km)

8 mi (12.9 km)

4.5 mi (6.4 km)

Total Pack Load:

45 lbs (20.4 kg)

25 lbs (11.3 kg)

45 lbs (20.4 kg)

Elevation:

3000 to 3700 ft (900 to 1128 m)

Weather Conditions:

Cloudy, with drizzle

Partly cloudy

Clear

Temperature Range (Day):

45 F (7 C)

60 F (15 C)

60 F (15 C)

Temperature Range (Night):

30 F (-1 C)

40 F (4 C)

 


Type of Trip:

Day Hiking

 

Day 1

Day 2

Location:

Local Hiking Area

Local Hiking Area

Distance (average per day):

7 mi (11.2 km)

8 mi (12.9 km)

Total Pack Load:

15 lbs (6.8 kg)

13 lbs (5.9 kg)

Elevation:

Sea Level

Sea Level

Weather Conditions:

Clear

Clear

Temperature Range (Day):

55 F (13 C)

60 F (15 C)


Performance in the Field:

During the trip to Shenandoah National Park, my daughter used the Centro to hike into our base camp, while I used larger pack. Upon arrival, I adjusted the Centro for me and then used it for hiking in the surrounding areas. The mileage listed is only the mileage that was put on the Centro by me.

Comfort

I found that the Centro is the most comfortable pack I have ever used. The pack panel rested on my back, preventing any sharp or misshaped items to come in contact with my body. The shoulder straps had enough padding so that I never felt the strap biting into my shoulders.  With a lot of straps, I find after couple of hours, my shoulders are sore and I seem to lose some circulation in my arms. I never had any of this with the Centro.

During the trip to Shenandoah National Park, I needed to adjust the Centro from a medium to a large. I had no problem adjusting the pack to my size. It was as easy as to do in the field as it was at home.

The Airzone system continued to keep the moisture away from my body. The Crossvent back kept air circulation between my back and the pack. This was particularly evident while wearing only a long sleeve base layer shirt. I could actually feel the air movement on my back.

Load Control

One thing that I really like is the way the pack moves with the body. During rock scrambles, I never really felt off balance because of the way the pack sits close to my body. I also never needed to keep shifting the pack into place to compensate for my body movements and pack alignment

Functionality

I really like the side access. I normally have a hard time finding things through a top only loading pack. A lot of times, I end up unpacking the pack until I find the item I am looking for. The side access makes it a whole lot easier to find items, without unpacking. Another cool feature that I like is the elastic storage cradle. During says where the weather is intermittently wet, I normally stored my rain jacket here for quick access.

 I have not had a chance to use the rain cover, not enough real rain. But during the days with drizzle, I found that the exterior fabric alone has kept the items stored inside the pack dry.

 Durability

The pack seems very durable. I have not found any seams coming apart, or fraying of any of the fabric. The zippers still operate smoothly, no snagging or broken teeth.  All of the straps are still in good conditions, with the buckle attachments still working good.

I have only had to spot clean the exterior fabric. Dirt, clay and foreign material have been easily removed with soapy water applied with a rag or soft bristle brush.

Summary:

I really like the AirZone Centro 35 and am extremely pleased with its performance.  I think that the Centro would make a great ultra-light summer pack (one or two days), or a great mountaineering/climbing pack. I plan to continue to use the Centro for my overnight, day packing and any other outdoor activities that would need a pack of this size. The Centro is my new pack of choice for these activities.

Things I like:

  • Fit and Comfort
  • Air circulation
  • Side access

Things I don't like:

  • Size of the side mesh water bottle pockets

 I would like to thank both, BackpackGearTest.org and Lowe Alpine, for the opportunity to test the Airzone Centro 35.

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Read more reviews of Lowe Alpine gear
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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Lowe Alpine Centro > Test Report by Kevin Hollingsworth



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