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Published on August 2nd, 2011 | by Greg


Deuter: German Engineering Brings Us The ‘Future’

One thing that nev­er ceas­es to amaze: the quan­ti­ty of items you’ll end up want­ing to bring on all but the short­est overnight hikes and treks. Be­yond your wa­ter and snacks, you’ll want a change of clothes, maybe some san­dals, some sur­vival and emer­gen­cy gear, and all of the ac­cou­trement to sleep and eat- a stove and fu­el, pots, pil­low, sleep­ing bag, tooth­brush. And then there are the lights and maps and bat­ter­ies and maybe a GPS and prob­a­bly a good book and toi­let pa­per and… well, you get the idea. It’s easy enough to get a bag that fits ev­ery­thing- but get­ting it to be com­fort­able, ac­ces­si­ble, and still look de­cent is a lot more dif­fi­cult.

Deuter’s Fu­ture Vario 50+10 man­ages all of the above, and man­ages to rise above most com­peti­tors with some smart fea­tures but with­out be­ing too com­pli­cat­ed. It’s a bag meant for a spe­cif­ic set of sce­nar­ios- not all use-cas­es will find it, well, use­ful. But if you are look­ing for a 40-60L pack, this could very well be the one.

There’s a lot to like here, pro­vid­ed you’re not in tru­ly alpine con­di­tions, and you aren’t look­ing for some­thing re­al­ly small or re­al­ly big. For most folks, this will be a nice three-day week­end pack for ev­ery­thing you need. Some could def­i­nite­ly cram a week’s worth of stuff in­side, but it al­so isn’t the best bag for air­line trav­el, where wheels mat­ter and fit­ting in­to an over­head com­part­ment or un­der your seat con­ve­nient­ly is key. Nope, seek oth­er bags for those needs- but the Vario is just the tick­et for su­per-com­fort­able shoul­der straps and ex­cel­lent bal­ance on your oth­er out­ings.

We liked the hip belt more than any bag we’ve tried, with the ex­cep­tion of cus­tom and mold­ed va­ri­eties. We count­ed some­thing like five com­part­ments- a zip­pered front, an in­ter­nal one for valu­ables, two side “bel­lows”, and a wet cloth­ing pock­et. And an­oth­er on the waist belt it­self! All of them were well placed. The zip­pers were on­ly OK- the pulls are nice, but can snag on oc­ca­sion. But ev­ery tester, male and fe­male, liked the col­or and ma­te­ri­als Deuter chose, and al­most re­gard­less of size and age were able to fit the bag. Kids won’t work, and at least one su­per-tall per­son found it a bit con­strain­ing, but ev­ery­one else made use of the Vario sys­tem that al­lows users to ad­just the shoul­der straps in a cou­ple of ways to fit ap­pro­pri­ate­ly. We were a bit skep­ti­cal of the tech­nol­o­gy, but it won us over- the 3×3 grid sys­tem we saw re­cent­ly seemed neat at first but wasn’t quite as cus­tomiz­able as the one de­ployed here. The same was true for the Var­i­Flex hip belt “sys­tem”- it didn’t seem like much at first, but what looked like ba­si­cal­ly an­oth­er strap of­fered a sig­nif­i­cant and im­pres­sive im­prove­ment dur­ing up­hill and down­hill por­tions, where your nat­u­ral bend can re­sult in awk­ward ten­sion on your hips and low­er back.

There are some weak­ness­es here- on­ly two of our four sleep­ing bags fit in­to the pro­vid­ed area. But the en­gi­neer­ing qual­i­ty and tech­ni­cal in­no­va­tion de­ployed are im­pres­sive- the back of the bag looks al­most in­sec­toid, and the straps and lin­ings and stitch­ing all felt sol­id and durable. We didn’t spend too much time in the rain, but a rain­cov­er is in­clud­ed. And though no hy­dra­tion pouch is built-in or in­clud­ed, a nice pock­et fits up to three liters. The +10, by the way, refers to the fact that the lid is ad­justable and can be “over­flowed”- we didn’t need to use it, but it’s an in­ter­est­ing and po­ten­tial­ly quite handy fea­ture. All in all, this is prob­a­bly the best over­all week­end re­treat bag we’ve re­viewed, and a great im­prove­ment since the last Deuter came our way, al­most ex­act­ly a year agoAt near­ly $200, it’s pricey if you aren’t go­ing to use it of­ten- but worth it’s 4 pounds and ten ounces to min­i­mize your back­ach­es and vast­ly sim­pli­fy your pack­ing.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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