I’ve often spoken with misty eyes gazing to the horizon about the old Alpiniste 45+10. It was my favourite pack for many years. But underneath I do know that it is comparatively heavy, lacking in usable features and probably belongs in my cupboard only to be taken out on photogenic winters days. But when you see one next to an OMM Villain you can see what genes have been passed on.
The family tree starts back in the Whillans and then the Haston days when Karrimor were at the cutting edge of design and the folk using them turned into mountaineering legends. Not like the logoed climbing merchandisers of today. Light weight and functionality was the order of day, just as it’s becoming again I’m glad to say. The only hinderance was the materials available at the time. For geeks, Invisible on Everest is the source for so many stories of the time, the gear, the Karrimor versus Berghaus days, it’s fascinating stuff.
This train of thought all came about when I read Mike Parson’s OMM blog, ex Karrimor main man, and now of course OMM. He was taking back some of the packs he loaned out to the Rheged Mountaineering Exhibition, which has now sadly closed. Historic items indeed, worth a look.
Anyway, here’s a history lesson in glorious purple. Wake up at the back.
The Haston Alpiniste. The metal buckles on the lid got replaced because they were a pain in the arse, but it’s a fine pack. The snow closure is ultra long and if all else fails in a crisis you can empty the pack, get inside and it’ll cover you up to your armpits. Two pockets on the lid accessed from front and back which is a great arrangement. It also zips open from the base under that central blue strip.
This is the first of the “teardrop” shaped Alpiniste 45+10s. It’s the essence of what a mountain pack should be. Give it mesh wand pockets and I’d be using it now, but I’m getting ahead here… The only fault is that the shoulder straps are too wide and interfere with arm lift. The side buckle waist strap is great, but didn’t last. Folk must have whinged about it.
The update below sorted the shoulder straps and added the multicoloured cord seen on all the Elite and Alpiniste kit. This was a highpoint, the sacks and clothing from both ranges were outstanding. Those designs in modern fabrics would still be perfect today.
The end came, Karrimor went to new owners. The designs stayed for a while, albeit with some corner cutting. We got new colours which I loved and production shifted to China. This is still a great sack, the colours were maybe a bit much for UK traditionalists which is a shame and the brand never recovered from this transitional time. Subsequent owners ran Karrimor and the Alpiniste into the ground. The last Alpiniste before the Sports World takeover was a hideous mutant weighing 13kg.
Anyway, this orange marvel below is the last one made in the UK.
So where are we at these days? Mike Parsons and OMM brought us the Villain MSC. The first orange version was okay, but the black MSC version below is a killer. I love this pack, it’s the prefect size, the fit is spot on, it clings to my back and never shifts. Come the apocalypse, I’ll be bringing this. With a chest pouch full of ammo.
It would be better in purple though.
For a look at the harnesses, click on the comments.