Lowe Alpine Aeon ND25 Review
Cons: Extremely small hydration pocket, smaller capacity than expected
Manufacturer: Lowe Alpine
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Aeon ND25 is one of several sizes of women's specific daypacks offered by Lowe Alpine. The ND stands for both Nanda Devi, a Hindu Goddess, as well as "narrower dimensions" and can also be purchased 20L (which we previously tested), 16L, and 33L, as well as numerous unisex options. Though offered in a single size, a velcro adjustable torso length helps extend its usability. It's made of non-ripstop, TriShield coated abrasion-resistant nylon.
Right out of the box, we noticed how thin all the straps and padding are on this daypack, and worried if it would be comfortable for long days on the trail. However, the Flexion harness and hip belt with microstretch properties and large breathable holes are more comfortable than they look and the low profile design is something we came to appreciate over the course of our testing. The AirContour back panel is fairly small overall and thin, with large spaces and wide-net mesh covering the underlying structure. With moderate weight, this pack is pretty comfortable to wear. However, the external hydration pocket isn't the best - it's quite small, and can be easily overfilled by a standard 2L bladder, making the back bulge out, pressing less-than-comfortably against your spine. But if you're more of a water bottle person anyway, this may not matter to you.
Plenty of pockets, loops, clips, and wonderfully useful features litter this pack without making it look like a Christmas tree - though if you use them all simultaneously it might! We especially like that it's one of very few packs to actually have two hip belt pockets. If you're someone who regularly stows trekking poles across your bag, the Aeon has special TipGripper attachments that keep your poles from jabbing anything while they're stowed. It also has a bike light loop and Lowe Alpine claims the bungee cord clip for the trekking poles can also be used as a lid lock feature. While this is technically true, it's not the most secure feature and we don't feel overly confident using it. If you find yourself in light to moderate rain, this pack does a pretty solid job of repelling water for short amounts of time, but don't expect it to keep your laptop safe in a deluge.
At 26.8 ounces, the Aeon ND25 is on the lighter end of daypacks with this kind of structure and build. However, while Lowe Alpine claims this will get you a 25L capacity, in practice we don't think it's anywhere near this large. We can fit significantly more into packs with advertised capacities of 22L and even some 20L. In reality, this bag feels closer to a 20L option.
Ease of Use
We love packs with adjustable torso lengths - they make it so much easier to find the perfect fit for YOUR body, as we're all different. Though it comes in only one "size", the Aeon is impressively adjustable and all of our testers were able to find a good length for them. Long side zippers help make this bag easy to load and unload and it easily fits a full-sized laptop inside. Just about all the pockets are solidly useful, making this pack an easy one to use. The one exception is the hydration bladder compatibility system. Our main tester typically hikes with a 3L bladder. To fit it in the Aeon, she could only fill it 2L full and even that was a pretty big stretch and severely compromised the comfort of the back panel. Even if you slip a small, 1L bladder in that narrow pocket, the elastic loops to hold the hose onto your shoulder straps are intensely small. It took several minutes of finagling to fit a pretty standard hose mouthpiece through each of these loops. They're actually SO tight, we couldn't back the hose out the same way and had to detach it from the bladder and pull it through that way. If you're a hydration bladder junkie, this daypack is likely to be a big source of frustration for you.
The TriShield coated, abrasion-resistant nylon that makes up this daypack isn't ripstop, which we think is a shame. Other than that though, it seems actually pretty sturdy with solid construction. We had no issues concerning the durability of this bag despite our desert hikes, close encounters with rough boulders, and taking it through TSA security. But just in case something does happen, Lowe Alpine has a repair program for their packs.
The Aeon ND25 is about an average price for daypacks of this caliber. We think it's a pretty decent bag, but it doesn't blow our socks off. If you don't need to use a hydration bladder and otherwise like the rest of what you're reading about this bag, it's solid. But if you're not sold on these particular features, there are plenty of other options out there with similar or better value.
The Aeon ND25 is a solid all-around performer. It's reasonably comfortable and fairly lightweight while still having some excellent and useful features. It's not great for use with a hydration bladder and has a smaller capacity than we expected, but for moderate or quick hikes, it's a pretty good choice.
— Maggie Brandenburg