Summer OR 2018: New Gear Awards- The Alpine Start

July 30, 2018

From the Alpine Start 

Alpine Luddites Custom Alpine Packs
Alpine Luddites is a small company (it’s really just one man, plus a part-time intern) based in Ouray, Colorado, that has been making custom retro-styled packs for a few years now. John’s claim to fame is that he’ll recreate any old-school pack in the most modern materials, with any custom features you’d like to add. My previous experience with similar home-based (John works out of his basement) makers has been a pronounced difference in the fit-and-finish of their products as compared to the large commercial manufacturers — but not so with John. He’s spent years perfecting his craft and has invested thousands on modern sewing equipments.
His dedication show shows: this is the most obsessively thought-through and completely finished pack I have ever seen. Every cut of fabric, every seam, every reinforcement, even the length of the straps, has been thought about and tested and John will proudly tell you exactly how he cuts each piece, why it’s done that way and how he sews it all together. This is less of a pack and more a functional work of art.
I could probably write thousands of words about this pack (and someday I will) but for now, instead, just check out some of the photos to get an idea of the detail and amount of work that goes into this pack. The model we saw at the show is a 60-litre Alpine Machine in full woven Spectra, including the shoulder straps and back panel, which weighs around 1300-grams and can be stripped down to just under 800-grams (that’s for a 60-litre pack!). John says the most functional weight is 1150-grams, which is the whole pack but without the lid, which remains fully weather-sealed thanks to the roll-top closure.
The top collar can be closed as either a roll-top or with a drawcord, and of course there’s a rope-strap over the top to cinch things down with.
The top collar is flared towards the top for easier loading, and can be rolled down over the outside of the pack for easier loading.
The handles are large and oversized to fit oversized winter gloves, and function as two parts of a three-point haul setup.
The tool / pick loops are double-layered Spectra, and the shaft straps have extra-long tails for ease of use with gloves, or you could strap two tools under one strap.
I don’t think I have ever seen this level of finishing on any pack — even the zipper ends are stitched down to eliminate loose threads and potential failure points. The level of detail on this pack is phenomenal.
Great art doesn’t come cheap (and neither does this fabric — it alone costs more than most packs of similar size!) so for the privilege of hanging one of these on your wall you’ll have to wait a few months and pay around $650 USD (John says it’s not yet available in full woven Spectra, and there’s already a waiting list for custom versions — so get in line!). And, like any timeless art-piece, this pack will most likely outlast you and be handed down to your grandkids.

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