The Lowe Alpine Manaslu is an incredibly adjustable pack, both regarding fit and carrying capacity. The plethora of straps, zippered access points, and pockets make this model an excellent option for those who enjoy organization and more complex designs. This contender is very comfortable when carrying both light and heavy loads. On the downside, the complexity of the design shows regarding its overall weight, making this one of the heftier packs in this review.
Lowe Alpine Manaslu Review
Cons: Excessive features, overly complicated design, heavy
Manufacturer: Lowe Alpine
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Lowe Alpine Manaslu is a pack that errs on the side of more rather than less. If you are looking for a model that will carry everything but the kitchen sink and is comfortable as well, then the Manaslu is for you. It took us a few trips to learn the ins and outs of all the different compression straps, zippers, and pockets that the Manaslu provides.
Just by looking at it, one can tell that the Manaslu is a comfortable pack. The waist belt and shoulder straps are very thick — with firm padding that doesn't cause the pack to slosh around when loaded up. The back paneling is mesh and ventilated for breathability, much like the Osprey Aura 65 or the REI Co-op Traverse. This feature makes the pack comfortable, even when hiking in warm conditions; the ventilation helps minimize chaffing that occurs when a sweaty pack rubs on skin. The one downside to the Manaslu is the waist belt, which was a bit stiff feeling on the hips and didn't rest as comfortably as some of the other packs with similar designs, like the Osprey packs whose waist belts hug the hips.
The Manaslu falls on the heavier side of the spectrum, along with the Osprey Ariel 65 AG and the Arc'teryx Bora 61. A hair lighter than the Ariel and slightly heavier than the Bora, the Manaslu has a claimed weight of 4 pounds 13 ounces, though it weighed in at five pounds four ounces on our scale. A lot of this weight feels like extra bulk and the pack has features that seem superfluous. Without a few of the compression straps and even a few of the exterior pockets, the pack would function almost the same and weigh a lot less. This is one metric where the Manaslu falls a bit short.
Total Volume = 57 L
Main Bag = 42 L
Pockets = 7 L
Lid = 8 L
The Axiom 5 suspension system of the Alpine Manaslu provides plenty of comfort in its extra cushioned shoulder straps and waist belt. The hip belt is comfortable but is difficult to adjust. We found that once you get it set up for your body, it's difficult to change. A pack with a more adjustable waist belt for trips where you may be wearing lots of different layers is the Thule Versant 60. This pack was by far one of the easiest to adjust. One downside to the Manaslu's suspension system is the way the lower back bulges out near the hip belt attachments. The REI Co-op Traverse and The North Face Banchee 55 have similar designs and were, like the Manaslu, especially uncomfortable when carrying light loads.
Ease of Use
Overall, the Manaslu received mediocre scores in this category. In general, the pack has many superfluous features — extra compression straps and buckles — that make it overly complicated to use. With fewer features, the pack would be easier to use and also lighter. As mentioned above, the adjustment for the hip belt is difficult to change, and packs like the Thule Versant 60 or the Arc'teryx Bora AR 61 have a much more intuitive adjustment system. With its multiple access points and pockets, the Manaslu provides plenty of room for organization. These features make the pack easy to use, while the adjustment and accessory compression straps make it a bit confusing.
This pack is definitely on the feature-heavy side of the spectrum. With multiple lashing options, compression straps, exterior pockets, and multiple access points, the Manaslu has pretty much everything one desires in a fully outfitted backpacking pack. There are three different ways to access the interior of the pack, which is a nice way to avoid unpacking and repacking the pack after grabbing something from deep within. The hydration sleeve and rain fly are also nice features for those looking for the fully equipped backpacking pack. For some, this can be too much, and a simpler pack, like the Thule Versant 60 may be a better option. On the other end of the spectrum, closer to the Manaslu is the Gregory Deva 60 that competes with the Mansalu for most complicated design.
For those looking to carry more rather than less, the Manaslu is a decent option. With a multitude of ways to pack your gear, whether inside the large main compartment or lashed to the outside using the multiple compression straps, the Manaslu is versatile regarding packing. Since the pack is relatively heavy, this contender performs best as an overnight or short duration backpacking pack. It can carry heavy loads as well, much like the Gregory Deva 60, but is too bulky and heavy for long duration trips where ounces matter.
At $240, the Alpine Manaslu comes at a great value for its size and design. It is well made and durable, with materials that will last and stand up to the elements. Unlike the REI Co-op Traverse 65, which is similar in price but whose buckles felt fragile, the Manaslu seemed to be able to hold up to the abuses of the trail.
Overall, the Lowe Alpine Manaslu is a durable, heavy-duty pack with plenty of features. These positives are also the downsides to the Manaslu in a lot of ways. The pack is quite heavy and has a complicated design that can be perfect for some situations and excessive in others. If space and packing options are important to you, the Manaslu is a great option.
— Jane Jackson