Jan 31, 2016
They Were There When it all Began
Lowe Alpine takes its name from the Lowe brothers, the founders of the brand. Greg Lowe, along with Mike and Jeff are a family of climbers and mountaineering enthusiasts from Utah, USA.
Lowe Alpine started with humble beginnings. In 1967 Greg needed a better backpack for his climbing trips. The brothers were travelling throughout the USA developing new routes. In summer on the rock, and in winter, on snow and ice. During this time they pioneered the method of climbing we now call 'alpine style'. This fast, lightweight approach to climbing does not rely on siege tactics and large support teams. This required a new type of backpack, one that moved with the body and didn't feel cumbersome.
Since 1971 to 1994, they made 11 ascents all over the world, conquering what the most notoriously intimidating routes in the world in the mountains of such countries as the USA, Canada, Nepal, Pakistan, Switzerland, and so on. So they knew exactly what a traveller needed in its adventures. This knowledge has resulted into a number of breakthrough inventions in the framework of tourism equipment and accessories.
Back in 1967, the brothers had started making backpacks out of their Utah basement. Greg wanted a mountain pack that could carry the loads needed for alpine-style winter climbing, with good balance and weight distribution.
That first Expedition Pack was pretty revolutionary. Before then, backpacks used external frames and were stiff, painful and carried like a torture device. Greg's design featured the first internal frame, first adjustable back system, first side compressors, first sternum strap and first load stabilizers. All now considered industry standards, but back then truly groundbreaking.
The new rucksacks were popular – so much so that the Lowe brothers started production in various locations across Colorado, ending up in Broomfield near Boulder.
Further innovations followed, including the first plastic buckles used on backpacks. At the same time the brothers were designing and producing climbing equipment including the Hummingbird (first modular ice tool), Footfangs (first step-in crampon), RATS (first ratcheting ice screw) and the Tuber (first tubular belay device).
In 1978 Jeff was planning his climbing expedition to Latok in the Karakoram. In the same spirit, he decided that they'd have to make their own technical clothing for the Himalaya trip and Jeff designed the Latok range of apparel, subsequently to become Lowe Alpine clothing.
In 1988, the brothers made the decision to sell Lowe Alpine to a UK-based company. This company also owned a distributor business called Europa Sport in Kendal, UK and Lowe Alpine control moved to Kendal although the Colorado base continued to operate. The development of backpacks remained in Colorado for the US market, with clothing and European backpack production coming from Lowe Alpine's factory in Tullamore, Ireland.
Rapid growth in both backpack and clothing sales followed, with Lowe Alpine at the forefront of a new outdoor fabric revolution – fleece insulation – developing its Aleutian fleece in partnership with Polartec. Lowe Alpine also forged its own path in creating its own waterproof/breathable shell fabric technology, Triplepoint Ceramic, which gained a big following and legendary status. Further clothing sub-brands were developed including Dryflo base layer, Stormweave soft shell and Desertweave for pants and shirts.
Further changes in ownership including a period with Asolo, the Italian footwear company, until 2011 when Lowe Alpine was acquired by Equip Outdoor Technologies Ltd.
Equip has grown rapidly in recent years following its acquisition of the RAB and Podsacs brands to emerge as one of Europe's fastest growing suppliers of specialist outdoor clothing and equipment. Following the acquisition, Lowe Alpine's base in Kendal once again became the company's international headquarters. The well-established backpack development team already operates from here, designing products that are now distributed into over 40 countries around the world. The office also houses the clothing design team.
Lowe Alpine is now a leading worldwide manufacturer of outdoor gear, yet still creating new solutions to old problems. This is equipment used in the world's wildest places, where gear failure is not an option.
Lowe Alpine's objectives stay true to the Lowe brothers' vision: to create innovative, practical outdoor products using exacting levels of design and materials. Their backpacks and clothing are built to cope with any outdoor situation, to defend and protect you from the worst conditions in the world.
Knowing that their packs can survive years of expedition and travel abuse is testament to the years of research and design that go into all Lowe Alpine products.