Lowe Alpine Halo 32L Review
The sleek Lowe Alpine Halo 32L's magnetic front pocket provides quick access to the necessities while the organization-filled laptop compartment protects tech.
- Water-resistant zipper on laptop compartment protects tech
- Organization makes it easy to find everything we need
- Magnetic closure convenient to access front stash pocket
- Fabric resists stains but holds onto pet hair
- Stash pocket inconveniently blocked by carry handle
- Short side water bottle pocket
3 lb (1.4 kg)
19.7 in x 12.6 in x 10.2 in (50 x 32 x 25.9 cm)
Duraflex Hardware, YKK Zippers
Laptop Compartment Size
The Lowe Alpine Halo 32 is a bag built to last. There’s nothing flimsy on this solidly constructed laptop backpack—in fact, it almost needs to be broken in like a well-made shoe. Lowe Alpine pays attention to detail with this backpack, providing plenty of organization for the accessories we use with our laptop and a water-resistant zipper that protects it from the elements.
The company has a commitment to repairing its products so you don’t need to buy a new bag every year, and we appreciate that ethic; it’s better for the environment and our wallet! The Lowe Alpine backpack guarantee covers faulty equipment with a local repair, a replacement part or a totally new item, depending on the circumstance. Lowe Alpine also offers repairs for a “reasonable fee” if the damage is due to wear and tear, or improper use.
Let’s dive in.
Materials & Aesthetic
Although the Lowe Alpine Halo 32 has a 32L capacity, it’s slim without the need for compression straps. The heft of the front panel, which contains a slender, but firm, padding that snaps to the backpack, lends body to the bag’s front and causes it to compress neatly when empty, giving it a sleek look.
Unsnapping the panel and undoing a hidden zipper adds capacity to the bag’s main compartment but not much. The 32 liter size seems like it should be large enough for a weekend’s worth of items, but that is tough to fit inside, no matter our packing prowess.
Constructed of a sturdy nylon polyamide that repels water and resists stains, the exterior is not shiny like many other synthetic fabrics. Available at the time of writing in Graphite and Burnt Olive, the exterior fabric can stand up to heavy use, but its coarseness does attract fur, so pet owners beware. A small embossed logo on the bottom of the pack’s front is the only branding on the bag, although a few silver snaps and grommets show the Lowe Alpine logo.
The main and laptop compartments feature a contrasting nylon lining: goldenrod on the Burnt Olive and orange on the Graphite. The brightness and contrast make it easy to spot items in the bag, even in dim light. The front pocket is unlined, however. Since it only opens up six inches, we think a spot of brightness could have come in handy in this section.
Like the rest of the bag’s design, the YKK zippers are built to last. The water-resistant zipper on the laptop compartment is stiff, but that’s likely due to its repellant nature, which is a nice touch for tech protection. The remaining zippers function well and seem like they will last for years of use, something we appreciate when investing in a bag. There’s nothing more frustrating than having a bag turn useless because of a faulty zipper, but we don’t think that will be the case with the Lowe Alpine Halo 32—we’ll keep you updated in the Usage Timeline below.
The zipper pulls on the bag’s exterior all have a textured rubberized design for easy gripping that includes a tiny version of the Lowe Alpine mountain logo. That makes the zippers easy to grab, even while wearing gloves.
The padded rear panel is black spandex with a quilted design. We find it extremely comfortable as the padding is firm enough to prevent us from feeling anything in the bag while not being too stiff. Now, let’s take a further look around the outside of this bag.
The shoulder straps on the Halo 32 are comfortably padded and slightly contoured for a good fit, with the colored nylon on the exterior of the straps and the stretchy black spandex material on the inside to better slide over our shoulders. A thin sternum strap is both moveable and removable. We appreciate the aesthetics of its design: an unobtrusive flap of fabric on each strap conceals loops of webbing that allow us to place the strap where it best fits.
A T-shaped plastic on the strap’s end easily slides into a loop and then snuggly holds on, so we don’t worry about losing one or both sides of the strap or it coming unhooked during use. The shoulder straps are adjustable at the bottom of the bag. While there are no strap keepers to catch the excess, there isn’t such a copious amount of excess strapping that it is in the way or gets caught during use.
The padded back panel is comfortable and includes a hidden security pocket for stashing cash or a passport. The six-inch opening unzips using an unadorned metallic zipper pull, which can be slightly difficult to unzip, but easily tucks behind the back panel to hide the pocket. When the pocket is closed, it is nearly impossible to see when glancing at the back of the bag, so we think this would be a great spot to conceal important items you need to carry but don’t need to access quickly.
The bag can be carried by the shoulder straps or by the top carry handle. The handle’s unobtrusive design causes it to lay flat on the top of the bag. That is aesthetically pleasing, but we found it difficult to grab. Its location and design also obscure the zipper for a small pocket on the top of the bag. While that pocket should be a convenient place to toss a phone and wallet, we preferred to use the zippered pocket inside the front stash pocket instead, as it was much more convenient to access. Because of the magnetic closure on the front pocket, zipping and unzipping that pocket was irrelevant and made it a much more convenient spot for phone, wallet, and keys.
A small loop of nylon ribbon is attached to the top of the back of the bag for easy hanging. It’s so thin as to appear flimsy, but it easily held the bag—even while fully packed—on the hook of a bathroom stall door and stood up to our testing, as well. Bouncing the full backpack while holding onto that loop hurt our fingers, but not the bag. Having such an unobtrusive loop helps maintain the backpack’s sleekness, which seems to be in line with its other design features.
Along the side of the bag is a 7-inch deep water bottle pocket with an elastic gusset. The outer panel of the pocket unsnaps to allow full expansion of the gusset, but only a slender bottle fits in this pocket. Additionally, the padding between the laptop and main compartments stiffly intrudes into this side pocket, which means it takes a little maneuvering to slide the bottle inside. We found it more convenient to slip the bottle into the front stash pocket or the main compartment than this pocket.
Now, let’s look inside.
Inside The Pack
The Halo 32 features three sizeable compartments. The front stash pocket features a unique magnetic closure. Pulling the front of the bag out opens this pouch that spans the bag’s height. The 6-inch opening does not completely seal because of the magnet, but we find it a great place to throw items we want to grab at a moment’s notice. A water bottle fits comfortably here, as do gloves or a hat, a notebook, and more.
There is also an 8-inch square pocket inside the compartment that closes with a zipper. Because of the easy-access nature of this portion of the bag, that’s where we end up throwing our wallet, phone, face masks, and hand sanitizer as they are much easier to access here than in the pocket at the top of the bag. It includes a key clip, as well. The magnetic closure opens easily, but it holds tight and remains closed when we carry the bag and throw it around, so we aren’t worried about things falling out when it’s unzipped.
The main compartment is a simple large opening with no extra organization. The dual-sided zipper runs to within eight inches of the bottom of the bag on each side, making it easy to pack as long as it’s on a surface; it’s a bit unwieldy to repack neatly while being held by the shoulder straps. We mainly stash jackets and extra layers in here, but it’s a good spot for snacks or anything else we want to stay separate from our tech.
Unzipping the bottom of the bag’s exterior extends this compartment out by another few inches, but it still doesn’t have enough room for a ton of gear. It may be because so much space is taken up by the laptop compartment that the other section doesn’t have enough room for larger pieces of clothing. We’d look for a larger bag if we wanted to use just one piece for a weekend getaway. Nevertheless, the Lowe Alpine Halo 32 fit swimsuits, sandals, and towels for two during a day trip to a waterpark, and we like the ability to keep them separate from the phones, books, and tech stored in the laptop compartment.
The laptop compartment on the back opens clamshell to lay nearly (but not entirely) flat. This compartment can fit a laptop up to 17 inches and includes plenty of organization. We find it slightly disconcerting not to see a smaller 13-inch device as it slides down into the large computer sleeve, but this is only a minor annoyance.
The laptop sleeve rests along the back of the bag and features elastic mesh on each side to secure the computer, and the entire sleeve is lined with a soft fabric to prevent scratches. A large tab connects with a hook-and-loop fastener to the top of the sleeve to keep our device in place, and two additional lightly-padded slots each fit a tablet, e-reader, or another device. We found them a great place to stash a larger multi-port USB dongle to prevent it from scratching our computer or getting lost.
The opposite side features another large pocket that spans the width of the bag for notebooks, folders, or even a Bluetooth keyboard. Pouches on this side—some with elastic mesh—hold our mouse, power cord, and charger, and there are three slots for pens or pencils. A six-inch deep zippered pocket at the bottom is a great place to store earbuds and other detritus like hand lotion, aspirin, and other items we don’t want getting lost in the bottom of the main compartment. With so many options for organization, it’s hard to lose anything in the Lowe Alpine Halo 32, and we find it great for daily use or a day trip.
- Looks pretty slick and very structured
- Back panel’s tessellated pattern is good for flexibility
- Tech compartment has quite the comprehensive pocket layout
- The main compartment seems like it should hold more than it can because of the stiffness of the front panel
- We’re big fans of the magnetic closure on the front pocket
- Padded shoulder straps and quilted back keep the backpack comfortable for longer periods of time