Lowe Alpine Ion 60: For alpinists on expedition, this lightweight backpack from Lowe Alpine is fully featured with waterproof roll-top closure, AirCooled™ padded back panel, die-cut padded harness, stability chest strap, and padded waistbelt with gear/tool loops. Hypalon compression panel features ice axe attachment points and lashes Aluminum V-configured frame Dual daisy chains Single wand pocket for poles Top compression, rope strap Hydration pocket Inside zip pocket Waistbelt: 54” Fits torsos: 17-20” Size: Approx. 29x13x9” Capacity: 3600 cu.in. Weight: 4 lb. Fabric: Nylon
Just replaced my OSPREY Switch 40+5 with this Ion 60 because I needed a bigger pack with attachments for taking ice tools, crampons & rope easily along the approaches. It was either this pack, the Gregory Alpinisto 55, Osprey Exposure 60, or a couple of Black Diamond packs I tried out. The ION was the most fit friendly of the bunch and the most durable when it comes to carrying sharp ice tools & crampons. I was also surprised at how light it was (just under 4lbs) compared to packs in the same class.
I have a short torso, narrow waist and long limbs and usually find universal-sized packs to fit big and sloppy, but the Ion 60 fit perfectly and had the MOST comfortable hip belt of any pack I've worn. This quelled my initial concern over the hip belt being non-removable on the Ion. I usually remove hip belts from mid-size to smaller packs where I'm carrying less than 30 lbs, because belts always get in the way of climbing harnesses and bunch up clothing during approaches. The Ion's belt was very comfortable and low profile-so when not using it you won't be bothered by it. The hip belt also has dual gear loops on it-a big plus. The pack fit securely against my frame when jumping over ice melt-streams and logs and I could definitely see where climbing Class 4+ approaches to vertical with the Ion on won't be a problem.
The pack's detail is awesome. Internal pockets are suspended and colored so there is no digging to get stuff out and the side zips help as well. There is also a pull out 3'x3' foam bivy mat and a hydration pocket inside the pack. All that for less than 4lbs. Plus you get 3600 cubic inches of packing space. I also love the way the top straps hold rope securely even when you need to access the inside of the pack.
The roll top feature takes a while to get used to, but it seems keeps rain and ice melt out better than a zippered pack. Also the side zip makes the roll top easier to work with since you won't have to open the top every time you want to get inside. Extra loops for ski or snowshoe attachments would have been cool, but if you get creative with the daisy loops along the front you can easily attach anything to the outside. Again the hip belt should have the option to be removable but it's a one of a kind low profile/comfortable hip belt that won't get in the way when you are not using it. Other than these minor gripes I have no genuine negatives to say about this pack.
I got the first one as a gift before it was lent out to a friend who decided to not return to the USA after a Euro trip. I just managed to replace it with a rare orange color version of the Ion 60 via ebay. It seems Lowe Alpine retailers don't have these stocked anymore, but they appear on eBay every so often for cheap. I definitely recommend getting one if you can.