|Rating:||8.5 / 10|
|Value for Money||1.7 / 2|
|Comfort||1.7 / 2|
|Weight||1.7 / 2|
|Durability||1.7 / 2|
|Versatility||1.7 / 2|
While I still own, and have used Deuter packs in the past, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to test out one of the newer range of packs. As a brand Deuter is late to the ultralight party but recently they released the Air Contact Ultra range which provide a lighter range pf packs for hikers. This range consists of two packs being the Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack and the Deuter Air Contact Ultra 45 + 5 SL Backpack. With this range Deuter continues to take a different tack to other companies when producing their packs. While the SL model is aimed squarely at women, it’s not branded as a women’s pack and so is also suitable for smaller men. So what did I think of this pack?
First up let’s look at appearance. The Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack comes in two colours; an alpine green colour not currently imported into Australia and a grey colour called ‘Tin Shale’. Grey colouring in packs these days has become synonymous with lightweight packs and has now also spread to the general pack ranges. I love the grey colouring as it’s neutral. In fact if I was given a choice, I would want all my packs in grey if it was an option. What I did find is that the grey colouring picks up the dirt and gets dirty quite quickly. On the plus side, this pack cleans up very well and if you give the pack a good wash at the end of your trip, you won’t even notice that its been out bush.
This pack is sold as a ’50 + 5′ litre pack and comes with a removable pack brain for hikers looking to really lighten up their load. This pack comes in one size only and weighs 1.21kg which sits at the lower end of the lightweight commercial (as opposed to cottage industry) non-framed pack range.
I’m old enough to remember, and have used external framed packs when they existed and the aim was to keep the pack below the top of your head. This meant that if you walked under branches so long as your head cleared the vegetation, so did the pack. The other reason for keeping the top of the pack below head hight is to maintain good balance and once your pack goes above your head, your balance is impacted.
As a brand, I find Deuter tends towards making its packs narrower. They do this well also managing to balance the depth, width and height. Even when fully loaded, this pack sits below the top of your head provided you position the hip belt in the correct position. I found this pack all but disappeared on my back and at no stage did the volume in the impede my arm movement. Volume wise, this pack is true to sizing and while I had space to remove the pack brain, I like having that extra carrying capacity given this is where I keep most of my electronics.
The material used on this pack is 175D rip stop nylon which as mentioned, cleans up really well. It is durable, robust and copes well with abrasion. The top of the internal pocket has a draw string and at its longest length, adds the additional capacity but also seals well.
To get this pack down to its low weight, Deuter has reduced the cushioning on the shoulder straps and the hip belt. While the hip belt feels comfortable, fully loaded the thinness of the shoulder straps limit the carrying weight and capacity of this pack. Deuter rates this pack to a maximum of 15 kg and while you can often go beyond this with many packs on the market, 15kg is really the load limit for this pack.
Dueter’s back frame system called ‘Air Contact’ system provides light padding on the upper back and along the sides with a larger softer cushioning on the lower back. This harness system provides a gap at the middle of the back that allows air to flow and helps minimise back sweating. However, the large pad that sits on the lower back does create a zone that causes sweating in hotter weather but typically this isn’t an issue in colder weather. The benefit of this frame system is that unlike the trampoline style of framing present on other brands that tend to ‘float’ if the pack weight is too light, the Deuter packs are very comfortable even with an almost empty pack.
Still the framing system has an adjustment mechanism that changes the length of the back frame between 42-62 cm it ideally suits a hiker height of 170 – 205 cm. The pack comes set on the middle setting and as someone who is around 185 cm in height, this was spot on for me.
Features wise this pack is pretty typical. Two hip belt pockets. In this case the pocket cover is mesh so while hip pockets are never really considered waterproof, in this case they’re not even water resistant. In my case I store hand sanitiser and snacks in the pockets so this isn’t really an issue with rain and the pockets getting wet. This pack like most others come with two large stretch side pockets for water bottles and other accessories, and a stretch pocket at the year that comfortably accomodated our lightweight two person tent and trowel.
This pack comfortably fits a 3 litre water bladder which is held in place by a robust velcro strap. As the bladder is contained internally just like any pack, it’s best to load the bladder first prior to loading the rest of your gear. The pack brain is a good size but what is lacking is an internal zip pocket for things like keys, wallets etc and instead there is a plastic clip to which you can attach a key. This is a minor bug bear but I like to know that my wallet, credit cars, and keys are secure and easy to find on the odd occasions I need them.
One other feature that isn’t so common on packs this size is the chest clip is adjusted by physically moving each end of the clip across a series of different levels which means it won’t slip like on many other packs. The other plus with this pack is that there is plenty of length on the hip belt that will suit hikers larger than average and while there isn’t a figure quoted, I’d estimate that it will work for hikers with a clothed waist of around 45 inches or 114 cm.
Last but not least is the price. This pack has a RRP of AUD $524.99 but in all honesty at the time of this review (April 2023) you could buy it for AUD $390.00 so keep an eye out for the lower pricing rather than pay full price. This lower pricing means that when comparing this pack to others in the same niche, it’s competitive.
So would I recommend this pack? Definitely! I found this pack comfortable to wear, robust and in my case will suit just about all my hiking needs just so long as I don’t go over 15-15.5 kg. If you plan on carrying a heavier weight, I’d look at a larger pack that is designed for the additional weight.
You can purchase the Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack online from Snowys
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AUD $524.99 RRP but this pack can usually be found at a much cheaper price
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack – back view showing stretch pocket
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack – side view. This view shows the side pockets along with the tensioning straps
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack on hiker. This pack is narrow and allows free arm movement when walking. This pack at its fullest is 55 litres in capacity but looks quite small on Tim
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack – front view
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 showing hip belt pocket
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack with pack brain off
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 – chest clip. This clip stays in place and doesn’t move which is what you want. This clip is also a whistle
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 – hydration bladder pocket with bladder inserted. The orange velcro holds the bladder in place
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 – hydration bladder hose coming through the pack. The hose can be directed to the left or the right depending on your preference
Deuter Air Contact Ultra 50 + 5 Backpack – view of clips locking the brain close to the main pack. These clips are smaller than most packs but hold on well
This review was done with product provided by the Australian supplier of Deuter packs