Chris Townsend likes this well-priced big pack
Lowe Alpine has launched a new range of packs called Sirac in 35, 50 and 65 litre sizes and women’s and men’s fit. I’ve been trying the biggest model, the Sirac 65. This is a fully featured pack that Lowe Alpine says is for multi-day trekking and heavy loads.
The back system consists of a flexible moulded nylon panel with cut-outs to save weight and enhance breathability. There are thick mesh-covered EVA foam pads down each side of the back and in the lumbar area. In addition, there’s a steel frame in the top three-quarters of the back to provide structural support at the top of the pack. The hipbelt has firm foam on the outside and softer mesh-covered foam on the inside. It’s quite wide but not as thick as many hipbelts in packs this size. It’s also not as shaped as some other hipbelts with just a gentle curve. At first glance the hipbelt looks thicker than it is as the hipbelt pockets are separate, described as ‘floating’ by Lowe Alpine.
The position of the shoulder straps can be adjusted by separating the Velcro that attaches the shoulder harness to the back panel and moving it up or down. A fair amount of force is needed to separate the Velcro and hold the sections apart while you move the harness. There is around 10cms of adjustment.
The pack itself has a fairly conventional design with lid pocket, mesh side pockets, and a lower compartment. The side pockets are open at the side as well as the top for access to water bottles while wearing the pack. Rather than a big pouch there’s elastic cord on the front for attaching items like a foam pad or a wet tent. The lid pocket is roomy. There isn’t a pocket inside the lid. The lower compartment is accessed by a chunky zip. The flap between it and the main compartment can be opened if you prefer a single big compartment.
To test the Sirac 65 I took it on a three-day trip in the Cairngorms with an initial load of 14kg. The walk involved over 1200 metres of ascent and descent and much of the route was on rough pathless terrain with many tussocks. The pack proved stable and comfortable, the back flexing with me. I did find the hipbelt fit a little strange. It felt as though it wasn’t gripping my hips as well as I expected and was trying to slip down. The belt is thinner, firmer and less shaped than many on big packs and I suspect that it didn’t hold quite as well. To compensate I had to fasten it really tightly. That said it did take the weight of the load and I didn’t have sore hips at the end of the walk so I have no real complaints. The hipbelt just didn’t feel quite right. It may too be that the belt and the shape of my hips didn’t quite fit and another person might find it okay.
The Sirac 65 easily held the three-day load. I think Lowe Alpine’s litres are a bit bigger than those of some other pack makers! I liked the roomy top pocket. The side cut-outs on the side pockets were good for accessing a water bottle but anything smaller is likely to fall out. The hipbelt pockets were useful for small items but I can’t see any advantage in the floating design as once you tighten the hipbelt they still wrap round your hips with it. Other features are really a matter of personal choice. I’d rather have a stretch pocket on the front than shockcord and a floating lid rather than a fixed one, but these are just my preferences.
The Sirac 65 is well-made, and the fabric feels tough. It’s not that light but it should last well. The price is low for a pack of this quality so it’s good value for money.
RECOMMENDED: This product has been awarded our ‘Recommended’ endorsement, meaning our reviewer believes it is a strong product which works well for its intended purpose.