Lowe Alpine Saracen
So here’s the review of my third and largest backpack. I already reviewed the Deuter Giga Flat for short single-day trips inside the city and the Tasmanian Tiger Mission Pack for out-of-town trips with optional overnight stay. The Lowe Alpine Saracen is a real beast and I use it for multi-day trips and - in winter - also for shorter trips including an overnight stay, as my winter sleeping bag is too big to fit into any the Tasmanian Tiger Mission Pack.
I actually feel a little sorry to advertise this awesome backpack here, because it’s pretty hard to get these days. Production of the Lower Alping Saracen was discontinued some time ago, and it’s next to impossible to buy a new one today. However, they are used by the Dutch army and every now and then a batch of used ones (with Dutch wood camo) pop up in some military surplus store or on eBay. I didn’t want camo though and had a really hard time finding one in less military looking olive drab. I eventually found one on a Dutch ebay-like marketplace and ordered it right away, because these awesome backpacks are desperately wanted by many people these days.
It was heavily used and pretty dirty when I got it, but there was not the slightest flaw in the material. So much for the quality. It’s indestructable, can’t say much more about it.
Now for the features. The Saracen has one huge main compartment, two compartments on the side (which can be taken off and zippered together as a small daypack) plus several smaller compartments worked into the lid. Its total volume is 120 liters (~7300 cubic inches), so you’ll easily fit all of your camping stuff, clothes and all your urbex equipment in there.
There’s only one size for this backpack, but you can adjust everything to your individual body height. Which you definitely should, because a badly adjusted backpack can kill your back and turn your outdoor adventure into a horror trip. With a well adjusted, comfortable backpack however you can carry all kinds of heavy stuff without problems or even noticing the weight. Here are some generic instructions on how to adjust your backpack (not specifically the Lowe Alpine Saracen, but they all work similar in this regard). The Saracen has a very broad and really comfortable hipbelt, which takes most of the weight off the shoulders. As an example, on one trip I carried this thing fully packed with all my gear through the woods for eight hours straight and still could have continued.
As I mentioned before, the two packs on the sides can be taken off and zippered together to a small daypack that’s still large enough for a camera, water and snacks. This is really handy if you’ve set up camp somewhere and from there go explore stuff and don’t want to carry all your camping equipment with you.
So, I can really recommend the Lowe Alpine Saracen as a multi-day/backpacking trip backpack - if you can find one! If you can’t find one, an alternative would be the Berghaus Vulcan II, often available on eBay as they’re used by the German military. You can also buy one new on Amazon, but just like the Lowe Alpine Saracen, they last forever, so I’d recommend buying a used one for half the price. It’s very similar to the Lowe Alpine Saracen in size and features but lacks MOLLE webbing for attaching even more packs, should you need them. If you don’t need MOLLE webbing, this backpack might be even better for your, as it feels a little easier and more “cleaned up” without all those straps everywhere. Be careful to pick the right size though! Other than the Lowe Alpine Saracen, the Berghaus Vulcan is not adjustable to your body height and instead comes in four different sizes. Everything else can be adjusted of course.Check Lowe Alpine Saracen prices on Amazon. Look for cheap Lowe Alpine Saracen on eBay.