Martin in Gatineau Park

Martin in Gatineau Park

Monday, 12 March 2012

Gear Review - Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack

 Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack
I recently wrote about my last backpacking rucksack, the Golite Quest, here.

I’m very lucky in that over the past year or so Webtogs have been sending me useful items of kit to review.  I was therefore delighted when Gareth agreed to send me the closest of the rucksacks stocked by Webtogs to a direct replacement for the Quest.

[Note that on 5 September 2012, Webtogs Limited went into liquidation, but its business has legitimately been continued in the name of Dorset Mountain Sports Limited, t/a Webtogs, with whom I have had no contact whatsoever, nor did the liquidator of Webtogs Ltd respond to my enquiry as to whether any members of the public had lost money as a result of the liquidation.]

So way back in October last year the Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack plopped through my letter box (well, perhaps it’s not quite that small!).  At approximately 1400 gm the Nanon is perhaps slightly lighter than the Quest, and it is more compact, topping out at about 60 litres capacity compared with the Quest’s 72 litres.  However, the lightweight Dyneema fabric of the Nanon feels to me to be rather more robust than the old Quest’s less durable nylon fabric.

I’ve delayed reviewing the rucksack to give me time to make objective comments rather than a ‘first impressions: brilliant’ sort of review, but I also have to admit to not having used it all that much.  Yet!  It’ll get a lot more use in the coming months, after which I’ll append appropriate comments to this review.

Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack

I have used it on an overnight backpacking trip (pictured above – not very well packed, and I lowered it a little after the pictures had been taken), for which it was perfect.  Once I’d spent a few minutes adjusting the straps I found it extremely comfortable, and it had plenty of room for all that I needed.  I’d have been quite happy to fit another couple of days’ food into the sack, but beyond that I may have been struggling.  I don’t however travel particularly ‘light’, and some of my gear is fairly bulky, so I reckon that someone who pays more attention to carrying lightweight gear than I do might get their kit and up to 5-6 day’s provisions into this bag, especially in summer.

Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack - as a day sack

The rucksack has also been used as a day sack (as above – recognise the hill?) for a number of winter walks, on which I tend to load a fair amount of extra gear – gloves, hats, down jacket, emergency shelter, etc - in case of ‘problems’ (some of my companions being less prepared than others for wintry conditions).  I’ve found it brilliant for this as the straps allow it to compress to a small size – you really don’t realise that you are carrying a 60 litre sack, and the ice axe stashes neatly rather than floating about in mid air.

Design 
     The Nanon’s main compartment sits below a removable, floating lid with a large and easily accessible external zipped pocket with a key clip.  On the underside of the lid is a secure internal lid pocket.  Two small hip belt pockets accommodate items such as a mobile ‘phone or a wallet, but these wouldn’t be big enough for GPS units much bigger than a Geko.  The main body of the rucksack can be entered from the bottom via a long zip – this is a large ‘plus’ over the Quest for me as it enables me to load the rucksack before striking camp, and the tent can then be slotted into the bottom of the rucksack without the need to remove the other contents.  There’s a deep pocket on the front that’s suitable for all the provisions and snacks you may wish to have ready access to during your walk, and behind that pocket is a cavernous space in which I have been keeping my waterproofs, but others may wish to stash their tent here.  Other features include extra external lashing points, large stretch side pockets, an SOS panel, ‘unique’ walking pole tip grabbers for secure storage, reflective logos, hydration pocket, and a ventilating harness.
I noticed one review that raised concern about the robustness of the buckles, but whilst these, and the straps, have clearly been cut down to minimise weight (“10mm web reduces weight with no loss of function” – according to the manufacturer), they appear to me to be well made, securely attached, and hopefully they will prove to be durable.

On the hill 
     I soon managed to adjust the rucksack to a comfortable position – it comes with clear fitting/adjustment guidance. The manufacturer has clearly put considerable effort into achieving a comfortable design, and they want customers to take advantage of this by following their guidance on how to achieve a comfortable fit.

I didn’t need to make significant adjustments to switch the rucksack from its role as a backpack for a multi-day wild camping trip to its role as a winter day sack, apart from drastic tightening of the compression straps.

At risk of being repetitive, here’s Lowe Alpine’s blurb on the product:

“The Nanon targets those people who want a lighter packs but also want functional features that help to organise their loads during the trek.
Key Features and Benefits: • Super lightweight pack that still carries well
• Lightweight but durable Dyneema fabric body
• Lightweight Centro adjustable back for maximum comfort from a precise fit
• Lightweight version of AdaptiveFit hip belt ensuring maximum comfort
• 10mm web reduces weight with no loss of function
• Airflow mesh in back panel reduces moisture build up
• Front compression pocket for wet gear or additional quick access items
Additional Features: Extra external lashing points, large stretch side pockets, key clip, lid lash points, SOS panel, secure internal lid pocket, unique walking pole tip grabbers for secure storage, reflective logos, hydration pocket, ventilating harness, hip belt pockets, extendible lid.
Volume: 50lt+10lt extension=60lt 4000+600cu.ins
Load Zone: 10-15kg / 22-33lb”


My comment on that would be that I feel that it would cope with a little more than 15 kilos if necessary.  I also note that there’s an ‘XL’ version for people with long backs, though Lowe Alpine don’t seem to say how long your back needs to be to require this version.

Practical Use:
  • I’ve used this rucksack for backpacking and for winter day walks over the past five months.  It has been a pleasure to wear for both those activities
  • I’ll expand this section of the review in due course for comments of the ‘used and abused’ nature (see below)
Price:
  • Webtogs’ price was £134.99 in March 2012, including a discount of 10%
Alternatives:
  • There are numerous alternatives, so much dependent upon personal requirements and preferences that I will leave readers to take their own counsel 
Used and Abused:
  • It's now early 2015 and this is still my rucksack of choice for backpacking. It accompanied me across the GR10 route in the Pyrenees for two months in 2013, and it will shortly embark on its fourth TGO Challenge - a two week backpack across Scotland. I still think its an excellent piece of kit, though I have heard complaints from people taller than my 5 ft 8 inches - they say the back length of the sac is insufficient lengthwise, so they have sought alternative products. I don't know whether they investigated the XL version referred to below?
Update - it wasn't used for the TGO Challenge, I decided on a Karrimat rather than Neoair Thermarest, so the Karrimor Jaguar 65 was a more suitable container.

August 2015: just back from walking GR11 (Spanish Pyrenees, coast to coast) in seven weeks, during which this rucksack's life ended. The straps started to deteriorate, with the attachment shown below failing. Luckily there was a piece of elastic with which to effect a temporary repair.



Then the long zip on the rucksack that enabled insertion of the tent or other items without having to empty the rucksack - it failed. Whilst this zip was very useful, once it has failed the rucksack is pretty useless as the contents are prone to falling out. Luckily I managed to get the zip to grip, but every time I unzipped it another half hour would be spent trying to get it to grip again.


You can also see that the Dyneema fabric has started to show serious signs of wear, with some holes appearing.


 Time to recycle this item....

Conclusion:
  • The Lowe Alpine Nanon 50:60 Hyperlite Backpack is great for use as a compact backpacking rucksack or a voluminous day sack, and will also be ideal for Alpine hutting trips or similar
  • It’s well constructed from what appear to be quality components, and comes with clear instructions on how to achieve a comfortable fit.  There’s an ‘XL’ version for people with long backs
  • I like the ‘bells and whistles’ whereby this sack has lots of features for very little added weight, including a zip that facilitates the stashing of a wet tent at the bottom of my load without having to first empty the sack
  • Thanks have to go to Webtogs for providing a piece of kit that is a pleasure to use and will accompany me on many trips in the days to come
  • Can you tell?  I’m impressed with this one… initially, anyway
  • It was good while it lasted, but durability was not this rucksack's strong point. The indestructible Karrimor Jaguar 65, 20-30 years old, will resume it's position as my rucksack of choice.
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Note: Whilst the rucksack was provided by Webtogs, this review, over which I have total editorial control, is totally independent of that on-line retailer.
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14 comments:

Alan R said...

Hi Martin,
Thanks for the review. It looks a decent sack. I like the pole clips although i don’t use poles. The back adjustment is neat but will it loosen in use i wonder. Going to the thinner straps also makes me wonder if they would loosen off in use to. The floating lid i like very much and the use of Dyneema fabric. Do the shoulder straps soak up water by any chance?

I wouldn’t say it was hyperlite though. My view of hyperlite is less than 800kg for 50L. I would say it’s just lightweight like my OMM Villain.
I didn’t notice the zip on the bottom to stash a wet tent without going into the main sack? Is it the map pocket with drain as shown in the video or something else?
If your impressed with it though, it must be worth considering and i look forward to your next report.

Phreerunner said...

Alan, thanks for your comments.
The back adjustment hasn't loosened yet, and it feels very firm. I've used it in rain, with a liner as there's no rain cover, and I've not noticed the shoulder straps having gone soggy.
'Hyperlite', as far as I'm aware, is just a generic name used by Lowe Alpine for their range of lightweight Dyneema rucksacks - it never occurred to me that it might be misconstrued as meaning 'ultralight', which these rucksacks clearly are not! If they were they would probably be of little interest to me due to a lack of features.
The zip for stashing a wet tent etc is the long zip you can see on the side of the sack in the top picture. The front pocket that Gareth describes in the excellent video as a map pocket is indeed fine for maps, which could equally well be kept in the lid pocket. But I've found that front pocket ideal for snacks and lunch etc, ie all the food I need ready access to during the day.
Durability? We'll see - if it's half as durable as my old Karrimor Alpiniste sack I'll be delighted, and I do have a good feeling about it.

Phreerunner said...

For those wanting a slightly lighter alternative, the Zepton rucksack, which is very similar to the Nanon but lacks some of the Nanon's 'bells and whistles' comes highly recommended by the staff at Webtogs, so Gareth tells me.

Alan R said...

Ah, so the zip is very position similar to the Creon lite and others. I was looking for something underneath.

Hyperlite, as a lot of outdoor terminology, can be misconstrued. I’m as guilty as anybody. The 8oogr for hyperlite is only my own conception and probably not held worldwide.
Like http://www.hyperlitemountaingear.com/products.html
for example

Phreerunner said...

Alan, my understanding of 'outdoor terminology' doesn't stray much beyond things like 'tent', 'rucksack' and 'fleece', though I do understand that within each such category there is a plethora of good, bad, heavy and light kit designed for a multitude of activities!

Jules said...

Hi Martin

Interesting review! I've not seen or used this sack (to be honest, it's probably not aimed at walkers such as me) but I'm glad to see a good review of a Lowe Alpine product. I've used LA bags for years and, although not perhaps the lightest, they have served me well and I feel a certain amount of brand loyalty towards them (as much loyalty as I have for any one manufacturer).

I find that comfort is usually good (which is always top of my list when considering a rucksack) and the features well thought out - although some real minimalist users might find them overdone on that front, I like a few whistle and bells if they add to the experience, and in LA's case they often do.

So I hope you get years of good use from it, and look forward to your follow-up review.

Jules

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Jules. I have to say that having met one or two of their marketing staff in the past, I have no 'brand loyalty' to LA. But times move on and this product seems to me to be a good one. Webtogs must think likewise, or they wouldn't stock it.

Sir Hugh said...

Well, after seven comments I thought somebody would have identified the hill. Go on then, put us out of our misery. It must surely be in Scotland?

WalksAndWalking said...

Nice piece of kit and a very thorough review

Phreerunner said...

Correct, Conrad. You're a winner - 'Scotland' - namely Stob na Broige from the foothills of Beinn Maol Chaluim, but I'm sure you knew that detail and were just teasing!

Martin Rye said...

Seen the other version of that pack range up close and thought good kit. I doubt it would let you down on TGO Martin. A long walk will soon show a packs short comings up. Look forward to more on this after you give it some hard use.

Desert Mike said...

Nice review. I've been looking for a lighter weight pack and this looks pretty good. Most of my pack weight is water (being a desert rat) and I always worry about the strap strength of a lighter design on extended trips.

arturo said...

Very helpfull review!! thanks
I would like to know you back size and what size of backpack are you using M or XL thanks

Phreerunner said...

Arturo - I didn't realise it came in different sizes. Mine would have been medium, with my back size being 'medium'. The rucksack is adjustable anyway. If in doubt, try one on, but if you aren't exceptionally large or small you should be fine with the Nanon.