Time Tested Julie Kailus

This Lowe Alpine Backpack From the ’90s Is a GearJunkie Favorite

Filed under: Backpacking  Packs 

My Lowe Alpine backpack was a gift from a college boyfriend. He was an avid outdoorsman and the first person to really introduce me to playing in the woods. He spent a lot of time researching the right backpack for me — and that’s why it meant so much.

GearJunkie editor Julie Kailus talks about her favorite piece of gear in this episode of “Time Tested.”

This Lowe Alpine Sirocco bag came with me everywhere. I took it on adventures in the Midwest where I grew up, Appalachian Trail excursions, multiday backpacking sessions along the coast of Australia where I “studied” abroad, and wild nights in the Wind River Range.

It has been with me through downpours and snowstorms. It has shared breathtaking sunrises and lulling campfires by my side. I have stuffed it to the gills with the stinkiest of things, learning each time how to pack only life’s essentials on my back. It’s no wonder that today I still prefer backpacking to any old car-camping trip.

In Australia, I sewed patches from national parks and odd destinations on to the removable top compartment. Those bring me right back to the late 90s. And laughably, the pack’s teal-and-purple color combo is back in fashion.

For fun, I recently searched for the Sirocco pack online. I couldn’t find it on the Lowe Alpine site, but REI still has some on closeout. The site described it as “a true classic” made for “women and smaller folks.” That made me chuckle but also explains why that pack was intentionally picked for me. And why I still prefer it today.

My Favorite Backpack

While I have several sample backpacks from reputable brands in my garage, I’ve handed those down to my children. I cling to this Lowe Alpine for its utilitarian features — almost every component is still intact — and, of course, the fond memories that remain zipped in every compartment.

Half of a plastic waist buckle is busted. But that, too, means something. I’ve used this pack to its fullest potential, to adventure to the best of my ability. I pushed the limits of what I thought I could do outside. I loved it well — and this pack loved me back.

If there’s one piece of gear that symbolizes my initiation into the outdoors, it’s my Lowe Alpine Sirocco backpack. Just looking it makes me hopeful for the future, too. I dream that one day my boys will appreciate the outdoors enough to give their own girlfriends gear to start life’s grandest adventures.

By
Associate editor Julie Kailus has spent a career covering people, places, and products in the outdoor industry. Julie can be found testing the latest and greatest in her favorite activities — trail running, mountain biking, swimming, snowboarding, and the underrated endurance sport of chasing two sons around the mountains.
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