Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL Hiking Backpack Review
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Up until a few years ago, if you said the name Deuter (doy-ter) to a group of your hiking buddies, you were most likely miss-pronouncing the name and many of your friends had never heard of the brand nor had any idea what products they produced. Deuter has been in the backpack making business for a long time, 112 years to be exact! In 2001, they added a North American subsidiary in our very own Longmont, CO and can now be found in your local REI or similar outdoor store.
This spring/summer I tested out Deuter’s ACT Trail 28 SL; a women’s specific day pack that is packed to the gills with features. At first glance this pack reminds me of a scaled down multi-day backpack, with lots of features that are not always found in a day pack. For starters, the ACT Trail 28 has a rain cover attached to the pack that easily stashes into its’ own pocket at the base of the pack. The rain cover has come in handy in multiple occasions and has a snug fit to the pack and did not get blown off in above tree-line gusts. The hip and sternum straps were able to easily peek out of the pack for use, without sacrificing the elastic fit of the rain cover. The ACT Trail has two separate entry points: your typical top entry with a pull cord and a beefy zipper along the front panel that allows you to access gear at the very bottom of your bag. When the front panel is fully unzipped it can be flapped towards the top allowing you to visualize the contents of your bag. I thought this was a major plus because I am always forgetting to put my go to gear at the top for easy retrieval, this zipper is a life saver.
Additional features that have come in handy include the large front mesh panel that overlays the front panel; it easily accommodates a helmet, wet clothing that you don’t want in your pack, dog leashes, climbing rope, and any additional gear that doesn’t fit in the pack. If it doesn’t fit in the mesh panel there are bungees to further attach your gear. Inside there is a sleeve for a hydration pack; I placed a 3 L bladder inside without problems. My only complaint is that the velcro closure that secures the bladder may wear out sooner than I’d like.
On the left rear there are two loops that could be used to store trekking poles: simply place the tip of the trekking pole through the loop-facing the ground and secure the remaining pole with the side cinch buckle that attaches to the front panel. Another bonus, an ice axe can also be housed on the right side. When I rigged the pack in this fashion, I didn’t have any annoying pokes from the axe nor the trekking pole tip, bonus!
On to pockets I go, the ACT Trail 28 SL has a typical zippered compartment on the lid and a hidden pocket on the underside. I loved the underside zipper because I could put my keys and phone inside and didn’t have to worry about them for the remainder of the hike. On the reverse side of the lid there are instructions for emergency signaling, super cool to help you out when in a bind. On the right side of the hip belt there is a nice square pocket that can handle your munchies and even a super small camera. Having snacks, dog treats included, easily accessible is a must for me. The last pocket is on the left side of the pack (when looking at it from the rear) and serves as a great spot to stash a trail map, headlamp, or other go to items that you like to keep nearby. When I tested this around town on my bike, I used this pocket like it was my purse and placed my wallet, phone, lip balm, etc. inside.
Okay, so I have highlighted all of the extra bells and whistles that go into making this a great all around day pack that I have used for numerous 5 plus hour hikes (including a few 14ers out here in Colorado). Where the ACT Trail 28 SL truly shines is the fit and feel of the pack while in use. The back panel features the Aircontact Back System; a padded ridge runs along each side of the pack creating a channel for air to flow through. The hip belt is nice and beefy and is semi rigid yet covered with mesh padding. The shoulder straps are easy to adjust on the move and are also padded to increase comfort and reduce hot spots. The pack has a sternum strap that can shift up and down to accommodate a variety of heights. Many pack makers include a whistle on the sternum strap and I have to admit I kind of missed this feature when trying to capture the dogs attention above tree line.
The ACT Trail 28 SL has enough space to pack gear for a full day of hitting the trails and could be also used for a fast-packing trip for a few days. Deuter says that it is designed to carry 20 lbs comfortably, and I would tend to agree. The fabric carries a denier rating of 210 and is rugged enough for most pursuits. After 3 months of using the pack as a commuter bag and hiking pack, it still looks like new. Just for fun, Deuter has included a fabric flower to place on the pack (it’s yellow, see the pic below). I get lot’s of comments on this which begins a conversation about the rest of the great features of the ACT Trail 28 SL. For more information on the ACT Trail 28 SL and other Deuter packs, please visit www.rei.com or www.amazon.com/deuter.
- – Aircontact Back System with DelrinTM Frame RodSL – Women’s Specific Fit
- – Front-entry Two-way Zip Panel Allows Access to Deep Gear
- – Integrated, Detachable Rain Cover
- – Side Mesh Pocket and Large Side Zippered Pocket
- – Hip Belt Pocket
- – Ice Axe and Trekking Pole Attachments
- – Hydration Compatible
- – Contoured, Padded Shoulder Straps with 3D AirMesh
- – Carrying Capacity = 20 lbs.
- – Volume: 1700 cubic inches
- – Torso: 16 – 20in inches
- – Weight: 2 lbs. 14 oz.
- – Dimensions (HxWxD): 24 x 11 x 9 inches