Contour Mountain


Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Contour Mountain
Manufacturer Lowe Alpine
Page By GuitarWIzard
Page Type Jun 14, 2002 / Jun 14, 2002
Object ID 382
Hits 7395
With its rugged construction and body-hugging shape, this pack is a fine choice for a full day of mountaineering or ski touring

AirCooled Back System features a combination of air channels and mesh to promote airflow--a real plus during intense activity or hot weather
Padded back, curved shoulder straps, sternum strap and webbing waistbelt with quick-release buckle work together to ensure load-carrying comfort
Side compression straps stabilize the load
Wand pockets, shovel flap with daisy chains, dual ice-axe loops and ski slots offer ample storage options on pack's exterior



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mpbro - Jun 20, 2002 3:34 pm - Voted 3/5

Untitled Review
I've probably used this pack more than any other piece of my outdoor gear, bar none. It's basically just a normal backpack, with some features. For what it is, I like it. I own the Contour Mountain 40. I climb with it, ski with it, trail run with it, hike with it, travel with it. I find it lacks for some of the more adventurous applications.

  • Durable. My wife has an earlier nylon version; I have a more recent thick cordura version. Nylon packs definitely had a durability problem. However, I fear that the heavy grade of cordura that they use was overkill; it seems a bit heavy for the type of pack and size.
  • Useful features. Lots of webbing variations which allow you to carry skis, poles, a shovel, and ice axes quite easily. Climbing/skiing helmet attaches easily to the pack's exterior.
  • Flimsy. For the weight (2lb 3oz), you'd hope for a bit more stability. The foam "frame" is definitely NOT a real frame, and you feel this as soon as you carry loads that are more than 20 lb.

  • Crappy waist belt. It's simple 1" webbing, rather than a real belt. Again, you really start to feel it on your shoulders when the loads surpass 20 lbs. or so.

  • Expensive. For $80, I'd like to get a bit more. Am I a cheapskate?
On our last trip to Tresidder Peak, I carried a 60 m, 10.5mm rope, my harness, helmet, and rack, for a total load of perhaps 25 lbs. This was NOT comfortable after 10 miles of hiking.

ktnbs - Feb 15, 2003 8:37 am - Voted 3/5

Untitled Review
Have the Contour 40 purchased in 2000. Had the earlier version that did not have the "cool" foam back. This is more comfortable.

Used primarily for forestry field work in SE Alaska hauling 15lbs of gear, lunch, and sometimes many quarts of tree marking paint. Obviously not water proof but I used plastic bags.

Little zip pouch on top is handy but I usually over filled it and things plopped out when unzipped.

Agree that waist belt is pretty flimsy but better than nothing.

Use it for alpine day hikes. Even summited Orizaba last month with it on.

dsnell - Aug 4, 2003 8:52 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
I'm a huge fan of Lowe Products. It started back in the eighth grade when I convinced my mom to spring for an early Lowe daypack for me to carry my books in. If she would invest an extra few bucks into a durable bookpack, my argument went, we wouldn't have to shell out another $20 for a new backpack next year when the cheap one we bought this year would invariably wear out (I really didn't care too much about durability at the time; this pack just looked a lot cooler than the Dallas Cowboy backpacks the rest of my friends were lugging around). Mom bought it and I became a Lowe customer for life. That pack put up with the abuse from being slung in the back of cars, stuffed in lockers, and dragged around through middle school, high school, and finally college. Then my brother used it as his book bag through another 4 years of college. The pack is still around, though the cushoning in the shoulder straps has now been packed to nothing.

Having been thoroughly impressed with the durability of Lowe packs, I purchased a Lowe Alpine Contour Mountain in 1995 (my third Lowe--I bought a Contour IV in 1992) and used it as a day pack for numerous day-long trad routes, dayhikes, ice climbing, and skiing. As if that weren't enough, I used it to lug around 25 pounds of books when I subsequently enrolled in lawschool. It now has a bright yellow stain on it from where a highliter leaked into the cloth, but it has held up extremely well.

As the previous reviewer noted, the hip belt is a little weak, being nothing more than a 1" strap of webbing. Nevertheless, it carries any reasonable load you can put in it very well. If you complain about the waste belt, you should probably upgrade to a larger pack--this pack simply isn't designed to carry real heavy loads.

Two water battles fit comfortably in the wand pockets even when the pack is full of other stuff.

ColoradoScott - Feb 17, 2005 2:04 pm - Voted 5/5

Untitled Review
I purchased the Contour Mountain 40 pack after having a great experience with the Contour Runner 30. Both packs share the same lightweight frame/harness characteristics, that really makes the pack balance well. With lighter loads on day hikes and climbs, I know I move faster and more gracefully when scrambling. I use the Ctr Mtn 40 on many of the 13er & 14ers I climb in my home state. The cooling backpad works well, even in the canyon country of Utah.

I will agree that heavier loads are not these packs forte; that is not their intent. Also, with fixed shoulder straps, longer torsos might not find this fit to their liking.

For anything heavier than 25 pounds or so, I'll switch to my Arc Teryx Bora 40, which I've used on an overnight solo backapck to Crestone Peak, as well as a ski mountaineering trip (w/ my alpine gear attached & inside).

If I were to own only one "do-it-all" pack of this size, I'd probably opt for the Bora 40. But for quick and light ascents and 12 hour comfort, the Lowa's are hard to beat, esp. for the price (check out Sierra Trading Post, as they often have Lowa packs at significant discounts).

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