Lowe Alpine Contour IV

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NH2112

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On a recommendation I bought a used Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 for my winter pack, due to none of my others being big enough for my -25F bag and other gear. The pack has aluminum stays, and I’m looking for the procedure to contour the stays to my back. They’re in long pockets on the edges of the pack’s back and slide in & out easily so I’m guessing it’s a matter of pulling them out and having someone press them against your back. Am I right? Or can they be shaped by carrying a loaded pack?
 
I've done the stay shaping on a couple of Serratus packs. I achieved the best results by removing the stays and shaping them to match the shape of my spine. After removing the stays and my shirt, I looked in a mirror to see if the stays matched my spine. Because the stays were bent differently, I placed a 2x4 block of wood on a workbench at the proper locations and pushed down gently on the stays until they matched the curve of my spine.
 
I've done the stay shaping on a couple of Serratus packs. I achieved the best results by removing the stays and shaping them to match the shape of my spine. After removing the stays and my shirt, I looked in a mirror to see if the stays matched my spine. Because the stays were bent differently, I placed a 2x4 block of wood on a workbench at the proper locations and pushed down gently on the stays until they matched the curve of my spine.
My old Mountainsmith has the same set up I have never heard of formal procedure on how to do it. I just curved it until it seems to line up with the curve in my back. The key with bending aluminum is to not kink it. Ideally use a large radius surface rather than a sharp edge like s vise. For more critical bends, I took some scrap plywood and cut the inner radius I wanted, then use that and either body weight of lots of clamps to roll it bend it.
 
Thanks for the replies. So you used the shape of your spine to form it? I didn’t consider that, I guess I just assumed the curves of my ribcage in the general area of my shoulder blades would be different LOL.
 
I wonder if you go to beach with fine sand and then lay down and wriggle around a bit and leave an impression of your back. Then match the stay to the impression.? Anyone with access to large 3 d scanner could do the same thing. I see those ads on TV for the furniture place that uses a scanner to chose mattresses. I wonder if they would hand out a data file?
 
On a recommendation I bought a used Lowe Alpine Contour IV 90+15 for my winter pack, due to none of my others being big enough for my -25F bag and other gear. The pack has aluminum stays, and I’m looking for the procedure to contour the stays to my back. They’re in long pockets on the edges of the pack’s back and slide in & out easily so I’m guessing it’s a matter of pulling them out and having someone press them against your back. Am I right? Or can they be shaped by carrying a loaded pack?
The former is the way to go. Having someone else sight you from the side works best. Most folks contouring of the bars will be in the lower back area. Start slowly and be conservative with the amount of bend initially. Better to bend them a little bit and have to go back and bend them more to get it right than to overbend as the bars have a bit of memory. It may take a few attempts of removing and reinserting the bars to get it just right. After the initial and further attempts of bending the bar be sure to try the pack on with it full and weighted to feel the true fit. You might actually want to hike with it before any initial bending as that may help you actually feel where bending might be needed. The need will usually appear as a gap or space between your back and the bars. The bending is usually done where the gaps appear. Using some sort of support that has a wide radius while bending is prudent as you won't overbend or develop a kink in the bar.
 
That's exactly how you do it. I have an old LA CIV Owners Manual lying around from 30ish years ago, that I find in a stack of old maps on occasion. It has the procedure documented - I won't throw it out, because I still have my pack, as old as it is, there are a lot of fine memories... But yes, I digress,
First, to fit the pack (I wrote this up in an AT forum quite a while ago)
OK, Sounds like you have a pack that is around 10 years old.
When you say white lines, you mean each of the adjustment sleeves or sections where the harness slides into on the back of the back (the part that sits against your back).

So I have a 19" inch torso and just checked my old C-IV. I am 3rd from the top. you can get much more technical though - This is how we used to measure folks.
1. find your iliac crest between your shoulder blades, it is the bump in your back when you lean your head forward (google it further if you are unsure)
2 Measure from here down to a spot on your back level with your hipbones
3. This measurement - within an inch or so, should be what your torso is.
4. Now to get the pack to fit, find a spot on the backpack that is midway between the top and bottom of the hip-belt. From here measure up your torso length (21.5 in your case) and then the white line (or sleeve) closest to it is where the harness slides into and then down to the bottom where it is buckled.
This is the major adjustment you may have to fine tune it one sleeve up or down to get it just right.


For the stays, If someone was standing to your right, the stays would fit to your back like a flattened "S".
With pack on, hipbelt buckled and a little weight in it, Try to find where the top of the stay aligns to the tops of your shoulder (Easier if someone helps you), then take the stays out and have them hold one up to your back again in the same alignment with the top of your shoulder and gently start to bend them to contour to your back/hips. Once the first one is done, it can be used as a guide for the second one. As Skiguy said, it might take several tries. It doesn't have to be perfect; I have found the stays will contour slightly to your back on their own as you rack up the miles.
Best Wishes with your (new) pack!!





Take a sharpie and mark L-In/Top and R-In/Top
 
Thanks, everyone. Once it cools down a little I’m going to pack my winter gear in it and take it on a test hike to determine what needs to be done.
 
Thanks, everyone. Once it cools down a little I’m going to pack my winter gear in it and take it on a test hike to determine what needs to be done.

Something to tuck in the back of your hip pocket.

uuid=BC34FB41-A383-43AD-BE6D-CA77349AB4B0&library=1&type=1&mode=1&loc=true&cap=true.jpeg

I cut my teeth winter camping with internal frame packs. A TNF through the 80s and 90s, a massive JANDD into the early 00s. I still remember the “dad load” I carried into the Franconia Brook site when I drew the line. As my Chiro noted, “the good news is that there’s no more fluid left to herniate out.

I’ll be taking a twin stay pack out this weekend for a light overnight but for loads above 25-30 lbs, I find externals way more comfortable.

Not dumping on your new score. We all need to experiment and I hope it works for you. And definitely run what you’ve brung for a while.

But don’t rule out the Keltys. Often found for cheap on thr used market and Kelty typically carries updates harnesses and belts. Just to keep in mind.
 
Something to tuck in the back of your hip pocket.

View attachment 7751

I cut my teeth winter camping with internal frame packs. A TNF through the 80s and 90s, a massive JANDD into the early 00s. I still remember the “dad load” I carried into the Franconia Brook site when I drew the line. As my Chiro noted, “the good news is that there’s no more fluid left to herniate out.

I’ll be taking a twin stay pack out this weekend for a light overnight but for loads above 25-30 lbs, I find externals way more comfortable.

Not dumping on your new score. We all need to experiment and I hope it works for you. And definitely run what you’ve brung for a while.

But don’t rule out the Keltys. Often found for cheap on thr used market and Kelty typically carries updates harnesses and belts. Just to keep in mind.
Nice photo.That’s actually cheating though. It has a sternum strap, waist belt and even collar bone lifters. 😉
 
Something to tuck in the back of your hip pocket.

I cut my teeth winter camping with internal frame packs. A TNF through the 80s and 90s, a massive JANDD into the early 00s. I still remember the “dad load” I carried into the Franconia Brook site when I drew the line. As my Chiro noted, “the good news is that there’s no more fluid left to herniate out.

I’ll be taking a twin stay pack out this weekend for a light overnight but for loads above 25-30 lbs, I find externals way more comfortable.

Not dumping on your new score. We all need to experiment and I hope it works for you. And definitely run what you’ve brung for a while.

But don’t rule out the Keltys. Often found for cheap on thr used market and Kelty typically carries updates harnesses and belts. Just to keep in mind.

I actually do have a GI MOLLE II pack that I bought quite a few years ago for winter use, it’s fairly comfortable for not having an adjustable torso length but is overkill for what I do. The USMC ILBE pack (basically an Arcteryx Bora from what I’ve been told) was recommended, but reviews were so evenly split between “awesome” and “terrible” that I passed.

My Granite Gear Nimbus Trace Access 70 is comfortable at 48lb but isn’t big enough if I want to bring my -25F bag. My Osprey Aether 70 can’t even hold as much as the NTA70 so that’s out. I’ve been looking for an NTA85, I found one a couple years ago but it turned out to be a short torso (79l capacity) that I can’t use. REI has an NTA85 in their used gear store but are asking $240 for it. GG also has the Chief patrol pack, a 90l military pack very similar to the NTA. I’ve seen them used for decent prices (new they’re around $1700(!), thanks, military procurement system) but often have damage that would need to be repaired, which would add to the cost. (In case you can’t tell, I’m a huge GG fan, I have several models of their packs and find them amazingly comfortable.)

I did buy an Osprey Argon 85 but don’t like the pocket configuration, I’ve come to prefer one main compartment, a lid, and mesh exterior pockets. Like my Aether 70 its capacity is apparently calculated by totaling the capacity of the main compartment and all pockets, which isn’t dishonest or deceptive but does mean you may have to pack your gear in a way that’s not as efficient or comfortable.

So hopefully the Contour IV works for me. The aluminum stays molded to my back should make it extremely comfortable once I figure out the best way to pack it for weight distribution, the 90+15 volume should be more than enough but hopefully it doesn’t feel loose at the 90 end, and I’ve come to like packs without a suspension or trampoline for the close CG they offer. The only trampoline-style packs I find as comfortable are my Osprey Manta 36 AG and Atmos 50 AG, but they still suffer from the same capacity quirks as my other Ospreys. I need to do some hard testing and downsize my stable of about 16 packs LOL
 
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