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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Lowe Alpine Manaslu
|Price||$139.99 at Amazon||$269.95 at Backcountry|
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|Pros||Relatively inexpensive for size, large capacity, comfortable||Very comfortable, slimmed-down waist-belt and suspension system, easy-to-remove top lid, wide range of fitting options and adjustments, good number of pockets.||Roomy, inexpensive, ultra comfortable, durable.||Durable, comfortable even with heavier loads, streamlined features, great attachment points at outside of pack, integrated rain cover||Comfortable, lightweight, good set of features, large stow pockets|
|Cons||Excessive features, overly complicated design, heavy||Large, narrow contoured waistband gets in the way when putting the pack on (some users complain it's too narrow), suspension can feel bulky, expensive.||Not many bells and whistles, set adjustment points, wider pack is difficult to fit a bear can comfortably.||Main compartment is a little narrow, water bottle holster is awkward, requires thoughtful packing||Simple suspension, lacks support|
|Bottom Line||The Alpine Manaslu is a good pack for those who plan to carry heavy loads and enjoy lots of organizational options.||This award-winning pack has stood the test year after year with its streamlined, lightweight design and incredibly ventilated and comfortable back panel.||The Osprey Renn combines comfort, volume, and price. This simple pack will take you anywhere and won’t break the bank.||The Kyte 46 is a small, but mighty pack, built for a more advanced user. The comfortable wear allows you to tackle rough terrain with ease.||The Octal 55 is light, simple, and still provides for tons of storage space.|
|Rating Categories||Lowe Alpine Manaslu||Osprey Aura AG 65||Osprey Renn 65||Osprey Kyte 46||Gregory Octal 55|
|Comfort And Suspension (45%)|
|Organizational Systems (20%)|
|Specs||Lowe Alpine Manaslu||Osprey Aura AG 65||Osprey Renn 65||Osprey Kyte 46||Gregory Octal 55|
|Measured Weight (pounds) (medium)||5.25 lbs||4.63 lbs||3.93 lbs||3.42 lbs||2.58 lbs|
|Volumes Available (liters)||55+10||50, 65||50, 65||35, 45||45, 55|
|Organization: Enclosed Compartments||Main compartment, 2 stretch water bottle, 2 hip belt pockets, 1 large front stash, internal lid zipper pocket||Main compartment, lid, front pocket, side access pockets, dual front access pockets||Main compartment, lid, side pockets||main compartment, lid, 2 mesh side pockets, 2 hip belt pockets, lid pocket, front mesh pocket, internal sleeping bag pocket||Main compartment, lid, front shove-it pocket|
|Access||Top, front, bottom||Top, side||Top||Top||Top|
|Hydration||Hydration compatible||Yes||Hyration compatible||Hydration compatible||Yes|
|Women's Specific Features||Women's specific fit||Women's specific fit||Women's Specific fit & sizing||Women's specific fit||Women's specific fit|
|Sleeping bag Compartment||No||Yes||No||Yes||No|
|Bear Can Compatible||Yes||Yes||yes - but awkward||tight fit||Tight fit|
|Main Materials||N6.6 mini ripstop||Nylon||600D polyester||210D x 630D Nylon||Nylon|
|Sizes Available||One size, with adjustable torso||XS,S,M||One size||XS/S, M/L||XS,S,M|
|Warranty||Limited warranty with proof of purchase||Lifetime||Lifetime||Lifetime||Limited lifetime|
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.
Comfort and Suspension
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 the 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 Axiom 5 suspension system of the Alpine Manaslu provides plenty of comfort in its extra cushioned shoulder straps and waist belt. We liked the cushy, cozy hip belt. 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.
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 excessive. 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. Overall weight is one metric where the Manaslu falls a bit short.
Total Volume = 57 L
Main Bag = 42 L
Pockets = 7 L
Lid = 8 L
Overall, the Manaslu received average scores in this category. In general, the pack has many extravagant 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. With its multiple access points and pockets, the Manaslu does provide 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 numerous 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, 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 excellent features for those looking for the fully equipped backpacking pack. For some, this can be too much, and a more straightforward model, like the Thule Versant 60 may be a better option.
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. 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.
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 it 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