Continuing our on going Made in Britain series we look at the Aiguille Alpine Chamonix pack – a great all round hiking and commuter pack.
Continuing our Made in Britain season this month we’re looking at the Aiguille Alpine Chamonix Pack. It’s a neat and well designed pack that has a retro feel to it and has plenty of good features that means you can use it for a whole variety of uses. It’s bombproof construction means it should last you a lifetime and it’s backed up with a great warranty and repair service. Which is great if you need it as I’ve needed repair on kit from a very expensive brand only to find I have to pay for it to be sent to Switzerland – I ended up doing the repair myself.
Aiguille Alpine are based in Staveley in the Southern Lake District which is great if you are popping by as the service is very bespoke. The pack comes in a variety of sizes and colour which you can buy online but if you can visit the showroom then it’s well worth being measured up and talking to staff direct. In any event you can call them, discuss your requirements and they will advise and make up a pack to suit your needs and post it to you.
We recently reviewed the brilliant Geant 35 pack which is a much more technical affair, the Chamonix is more suited to hillwalking, general hiking and commuting. It has just enough features to make it suitable for day hikes and nothing more – I mean this in a good way as many packs are over engineered and often have too many features. The Chamonix has a half zip opening to the cavernous 22L compartment, the zip opening is plenty big enough to access everything you’ll need for a day out on the hill. The key clip is also placed just at the top as there is no inner security pocket, which I found wanting as there is nowhere secure for phones, wallet etc. I didn’t want to keep those items in the large front zipped pocket as I have been accessing that often for holding maps and clothing. I did like the vertical zip as that increases the size of the front pocket to the full height of the pack – which is great for keeping a map in.
The main material for the Chamonix is the Aiguille Alpine standard 1000D Nylon with a Cordura base, which all Aiguille packs are made from and do remember that Aiguille Alpine are famed for their pack construction – it’s what you are paying for. That and the service and supporting U.K. manufacturing. I’m expecting the Chamonix to outlast my hiking lifetime – which will be a few more decades yet! The material has proved to be super abrasion resistant for hiking and scrambling, as well as general trips out bouldering and commuting by bike. It’s worked really well and has been very comfortable, the shoulder straps are wide to help distribute weight. If you have narrow shoulders, however, you will have to experiment with how tight to have the pack.
The pack is put together with a triple stitched seams, plenty of bartacking and a burly No 8 YKK zip so again the bombproof credentials are proven. The straps are made using 25mm Polyester webbing ,which is super tough and when worn in has good frictional properties. The main fabric does have a water resistant coating on the inside but the pack isn’t waterproof – to be honest I don’t think I’ve ever used or reviewed a pack that is waterproof and any serious hiker or climber will use a waterproof liner to keep essential kit in. But it will keep out a reasonable shower as it has a storm flap on both the main compartment and the front pocket. Other features include a grab handle, an ice axe loop and elasticated retainer that is held in a daisy chain. One tip for holding your poles securely is to put the handles into the ice axe loop and twist them two or even three times can then pop the elastic ice axe retainer under the baskets and cinch it up tight. That’s worked well for me as I only use poles on the downhill for hiking so they stay hitched for most of the day.
The pack is available with several options so you can order a chest and waist strap if you are going to be using it for mainly for hiking can also have a laptop sleeve fitted if you are using the pack for commuting. I would also like to see the option of an internal security pocket added in as this would make a big difference. You can, of course, buy one of the excellent pouches Aiguille Alpine make to keep your valuables in and pack it at the bottom of the pack but there’s something about having a pocket sewn in that helps keep my mind at ease. There is also no hydration pocket or hose hole, that isn’t an issue for me as I’m a water bottle person, but it might be for some.
So in conclusion, the Aiguille Alpine Chamonix 22 is a great pack for day hikes and summer fellwalking, it has a great retro feel and would be perfect for your daily commute. It would even make a great school bag and more useful than the ubiquitous and posture wrecking Kanken and will probably last the entire school life of your child. The pack comes in a great range of colour options and three back sizes including a women’s specific size. You can order the four size options discussed earlier and you can even have the straps shortened if you want – as I said it’s always best to call in on your way to The Lakes and you can even have a brew at Wilfs. If you can’t make that then do call and the staff will be happy to chat to you. If you are thinking of the more retro looking Midi you have to remember that this pack was designed for outdoor centre use originally so your options will be a little more limited.
The SRP is £84.95 and it is available direct from Aiguille Alpine.