For the past few years, it has appeared that a large number of alpine pack designers have working in a vacuum. While ice tools have evolved dramatically with increasingly more radical designs, most packs continue to use old-style carrying systems that either don't work or are a real hassle. The Lowe Alpine Ice Fang is a notable exception.
Overall, this is a nicely designed, top-loading alpine pack with all the standard features you'd expect: extendable top pocket, hydration pocket, storm skirt, and well-ventilated suspension system. In addition, it has some niceties such as a water-resistant side zipper for access to gear, a depression for helmet clearance when looking up, and tool holsters on the hip belt. At 3,000 cubic inches (50 l), it's a good size for day-long alpine or ice climbs. And at 3 lbs. 15 oz. (1750 g) it isn't so heavy that weight weenies will balk.
What makes this pack particularly appealing for ice climbers -- aside from the reasonable $169 suggested retail -- is that it readily accepts the most funky of leashed or leashless ice tools. First, the crampons are stowed in the handy front pocket; then, both tools are tucked into a flap and two buckles secure them. Although tool tubes are provided for older-style tools, they aren't really needed.
The Ice Fang is a lot of pack for the money. But in many respects, it out-classes packs that cost significantly more -- something that should make both climbers and dealers happy.
Volume: 50ltr (3,000cu.in.)
Suggested Retail: $169.00
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