Alpine Shop in Columbia, Mo
Recently I went out and took a “tourist day” in Columbia, where I live. During this, I happened to stop by the local Alpine Shop to browse. I had previously picked up a Coleman Elate 65 liter pack from walmart. I wanted to save money by getting a cheap backpack but also wanted to test it out as a comparison. After some time working with it, I deemed it too large, heavy, and bulky. It would take nearly 65 liters of things to even make it feasible to carry. Moreover, it was a saggy mess when empty or even loaded with the amount of things I'm planning on taking.
Left: Deuter Futura Pro 38, Right: Coleman Elate 65
With the revelation about the Coleman pack fresh in my thoughts when I happened to walk in to the Alpine Shop and realized that I had the money needed for a decent pack. I talked to the workers helping out customers as I have in the past, but this time with full intention to walk out with the pack I felt would fit the bill. After trying on the Osprey Atmos 50 liter pack again (it's one that I've repeatedly returned to but still balk at the $200+ price tag), I looked at the Deuter packs in stock. Searching for comparable features while having others I specifically wanted, I eventually chose the Deuter Futura Pro 38 liter backpack.
My Futura Pro 38
With Rain Cover
The following dimensions are from Deuter's site (www.deuteroutdoor.com)
- Weight: 3lbs 10oz (1640g)
- Volume: 2320 cubic inches (38Liters)
- Dimensions [HxWxD]: 28”x14”x10” (70x35x26 cm)
My bag is the Midnight/Ocean color scheme as it was the only one in stock. The other color options are Lava/Orange, Emerald/Titan, and Moss/Silver. After seeing the other color options, I realized I would have chosen the blue or light green bag as they wouldn't be a blazing marker on me while I travel. The features I was looking for in a pack included: a rain cover, well padded belt, sternum strap that wasn't the flimsy clip attached to a piping on the strap, and a bottom pocket that gives access to the main pouch. I also wanted heavy duty gear that could live up to the general activities I'm going to put it through. Additionally the bag needed to be small enough to be easily carried, hold roughly 35 liters or so, and fit as carry-on luggage.
The Futura Pro fulfilled all of the things I was looking for in a backpack thus far for my travels:
- The pockets on the side are large enough to hold large bottles for extra water as well as the fully enclosed pockets behind the pouches.
- The main pocket has the standard sack style top opening, but it also has the (not always standard in backpacks) divider in the bottom and exterior access.
- The belt is the “Variflex” style that Deuter uses, it pivots with your body to allow the pack to stay centered while your hips can move naturally. While it has no pockets like comparable brands, I don't mind that aspect missing.
- The top of the bag has pouch that is accessible while wearing the pack and I think gives a better option than a belt pocket for small items. Though, it's attached solidly to the bag, so it can't be used as a detachable carry bag option. I kept my hat in there when I didn't need it, which kept it in easy reach.
- The shoulder straps themselves are well padded with a heavier pad. On the shoulder straps is a pretty sturdy sternum strap that adjusts easily without feeling flimsy. It keeps in place really well and keeps the main straps from sliding around.
- The back has Deuter's “Aircomfort” back panel that keeps the main pack about 1-2 inches from your back. This makes the back non-adjustable, which for anyone not in the suggested range of 5'2” and 5'10” might make it fit awkwardly. I lucked out and it happens to fit my frame perfectly. In mild testing around town on a hot day with 25lbs of weight in it, my back stayed cool and mostly dry, I ended up sweating a little more than usual without it being too bad. Every time the wind would catch between the pack and my back though, Amazing. Like a tiny wind tunnel that cooled my back pretty well. You can even hang a water pouch in this space if you wanted, there's also a pouch in the main pocket for it if you have the space or want it inside the bag.
- It has a small zipper on the actual “front” of the bag, This seems good for holding small notebooks or specifically a map. I like that there aren't a dozen or so extra pockets on the front, it makes for a cleaner look with only one small zipper and I don't worry about someone trying to get into it while I'm walking. Especially since anything I put in there wouldn't be of major value anyway. The pocket itself it decently large and could probably fit a standard notebook and a map or three if you can get them all through the narrow zipper.Aircomfort panel and straps
The total space of the Futura Pro is actually 42 liters, but is divided up as main storage and spare storage. The bag has expandable pockets on the sides that can give up to an extra 5 liters. In regards to that, I think of this pack as 38 liters with extra room if you need it. All told, I can fit 2 medium sized dry-sacks inside it with a little room to spare. That includes my clothes, flip-flops, bed-roll (compact blanket and full-size sleep sheet), netbook, toiletries, med kit, and other small items. In addition to this pack , I have a Kiva key chain bag that can carry up to 8 more cubic liters of gear (a review of which is coming in the next update) packed in a top pocket. Just in case I need to split a couple items up to make everything “carry-on” since in most cases I'm allowed 2 bags.
The dry-sacks next to the pack (filled with pillows for emphasis)
Overall I'm completely happy with my choice of bag, it isn't too heavy, doesn't feel as cumbersome with weight in it as most other bags I looked into. It fit into my price range and was bought locally, another of my desires. After searching for approximately 3 months for a decent pack, I put quite a bit of thought into my choice. If I had spent more than $200+ on a pack, I feel I wouldn't be nearly as satisfied with it. Since I was able to experience the coleman pack (Coleman Max Elate 65L) and see what getting a cheap pack lands you, I'm much more at peace with spending around $150 on a backpack.
What kind of pack do you use? Given what you know about it now, would you have chosen differently? Feel free to comment below!