In 1973, Lowe Alpine was born in climber Greg Lowe’s garage. Greg and his brother Mike Lowe started the company to make the gear that Greg needed for alpine climbing, ice climbing, and expeditions that simply did not exist at that time. Mike Lowe once said, "our innovations were simply a by-product of necessity.”
It was cutting-edge stuff, some of it the most influential gear of all time. The brothers conceptualized and built the first internal frame backpack, technical climbing clothing, and a host of other alpine gear.
Eventually the business got big, the brothers sold, and then Lowe Alpine went through a series of ups and downs that came with changes in ownership. Through all of it, Lowe Alpine maintained its reputation for excellent performance at a value price. But the brand faded from retail stores, finally disappearing in 2010.
Now Equip, the U.K.-based company that also owns Rab, is bringing Lowe Alpine back. It’s investing heavily, updating the Lowe Alpine pack and apparel design with the goal of keeping it accessible—as Lowe Alpine always was—with top notch tech at affordable prices.
"A lot of outdoor enthusiasts look to Lowe Alpine for innovation as well as inspiration," said Chris Harding, Lowe Alpine’s U.K.-based managing director. "With Lowe Alpine we have the history and heritage of an authentic brand that is rooted in the outdoors and the time is right to bring it up-to-date with the latest material technology whilst still delivering a credible, premium product for the outdoor community rooted in a passion for wild places, exotic locations, and, above all, the mountain environment."
Lowe Alpine will continue to use the proprietary fabrics it made famous, like Triple Point Ceramic, updated to take advantage of advances in fabric technology. TriplePoint, StormWeave, and StormBloc soft shell fabrics, Aluetian fleece and DryFlo baselayer fabrics, all historic Lowe Alpine favorites, are used throughout the line.
Three new pieces not to miss:
MEN'S AND WOMEN'S TIAGA JACKET
A technical three-layer alpine-inspired hardshell at home in technical conditions, the Tiaga uses an air-permeable eVent laminate so it is truly breathable, but also as durable as you need for a long day in the mountains. The Tiaga jacket has fully-taped seams, a helmet-compatible hood with wired brim, YKK Aquaguard zips, Velcro cuffs, and a hem drawcord. 15.5oz, $350.
MEN'S AND WOMEN'S TETON JACKET
A mountain–inspired piece that speaks to the true heritage of Lowe Alpine, the Teton sits comfortably at the top of the mountain class of Lowe Alpine’s hardshells. It is designed with scrambling and hiking in mind. It’s super durable and weather-resistant thanks to the recyclable TriplePoint ECO fabric. The Teton features a fixed hood, waterproof and storm-flap protected zippers, three secure pockets, and a longer length for complete weather protection. 20oz, $300.
MEN'S AND WOMEN'S CEDAR RIDGE JACKET
A comfortable piece that is as at home on the trail as it is out walking the dog, the Cedar Ridge Jacket is a classic heritage Lowe Alpine. It uses TriplePoint Ceramic, Lowe Alpine’s signature coated waterproof fabric, reinforced with ceramic to make it extremely durable and hardwearing. The Cedar Ridge Jacket is waterproof and windproof with fully taped seams with vintage styling and contrast rip-stop areas in the shoulders, arms, and hood. 21oz., $225.
Available September 2013; lowealpine.com.—Berne Broudy