Gear review: ‘Aircomfort’ makes Deuter leader of the pack |

Gear review: ‘Aircomfort’ makes Deuter leader of the pack

My ongoing search for the perfect daypack may finally be over. I’ve tried several over the past few years to varying degrees of dissatisfaction – one managed to jettison parts of my fly rod; its replacement held the pack rod without difficulty, but left my shoulders aching during long hikes.

The Deuter Futura 28 (capacity: 28 liters) could be The One.

It can carry a 3-liter water bladder (but doesn’t come with a bladder at all) and boasts loops to secure trekking poles (or an ice ax, should I take leave of my senses some winter), a built-in rain cover, mesh side pockets, three zippered areas for gear plus a fourth, interior one for valuables, and compression straps. Supposedly, it carries up to 20 pounds of stuff comfortably.

None of the aforementioned features, however, are what really sold me on the pack. I’ve never used the rain cover and routinely forget about the loops for my poles (and fly rod), simply stuffing them in a mesh pocket instead and securing them beneath the compression straps.

The Deuter’s single greatest feature is what it calls its “aircomfort” system. Between the back of the pack and the wearer is a taut piece of mesh that maintains a visible bit of airspace between the wearer (a.k.a. me) and the backpack. I’m not saying I no longer sweat on a day hike, but there’s a discernible gain in comfort when the pack isn’t pressed against my back during hours of exertion.

The pack feels like it rides a bit high, but I can’t say it isn’t comfortable, so long as I keep it strapped tightly to my back (or, rather, keep the mesh snug against my back.)

I took a look at my old pack, a Camelbak, to compare, and found it has three separate pieces of padding on the back – one across the bottom and two on either side, to rest against the shoulder blades, with a three-pronged channel to allow air circulation between the pads. I don’t think the channel is deep enough to produce a noticeable effect; at any rate, it doesn’t come close to the airspace provided by the Deuter.

A quick online search produced various outlets offering this pack for prices ranging from about $90 to $115.

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