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Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack Review

Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack Review

The Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack is a ventilated and adjustable length pack that’s well-sized for multi-day trips, hut-to-hut hikes, and pilgrimage style trips. While it’s loaded with convenience features and cushy padding, it’s comparatively lightweight at 4 lbs 9 oz providing a good balance between carrying comfort and ease of use. In fact, it’s somewhat unusual to find a pack of this volume (50 liters main + 10-liter extension collar) that has many of the features typically reserved for much heavier and higher volume expedition backpacks.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 4 lbs 9 oz
  • Frame: Internal, wire spring
  • Ventilated: Yes
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Pockets: 11+ main compartment
  • Rain cover: included
  • Torso sizing: 15-22 inches
  • Hip belt sizing: unavailable
  • Bear canister compatibility: vertical
  • Materials: 210d nylon and 420d polyester
  • Max recommended load: 35-40 lbs

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Futura Vario 50+10 is organized like a conventional alpine-style pack with a top lid, main compartment, front stuff pocket, and a sleeping bag compartment. But the 50+10 volume requires a little explanation. It means that the pack can hold up to 60 liters of gear, 50 liters in the main compartment, and pockets distributed all over the pack, plus an additional 10 liters in what’s called a spindrift or extension collar. In reality, there’s little distinction between the main compartment and the spindrift collar, and you can really just treat the pack as having a capacity of 60 liters.

Most notably, the Futura Vario 50+10 has 11 pockets in addition to the main compartment, 10 of which are closed with zippers. If you love pockets, this is the pack for you.

This includes:

  • Two large pockets in the top lid, one on top w/ a key fob and one underneath
  • Two mesh side water bottle pockets, sized for 1L Nalgene bottles
  • Two torpedo-shaped side pockets above the water bottle pockets
  • Open front stuff pocket
  • Sleeping pad pocket
  • Rain cover pocket
  • Two large solid faced hip belt pockets

The top lid is floating, so you can raise it up if you want to overstuff the main compartment (plus spindrift collar) or trap gear between the top of the pack and the bottom of the top lid. The lid tends to flop to the front of the pack when full, like so many packs with top lids. It’s not a showstopper, but an annoyance.

The side water bottle pockets are sized for 1 Nalgene bottles. They’re both reachable while the pack is worn, but it helps to have a squat rigid bottle, like a Nalgene, to get them back into their pockets. The bottom of the pockets is reinforced nylon, so they won’t tear when you place the pack on the ground. They also have side cutouts so you can run the bottom compression strap through the pocket or over it.

The pack has two long torpedo-shaped side pockets that are good for storing shoes, like crocs, shown here
The pack has two long torpedo-shaped side pockets that are good for storing shoes, like crocs, shown here.

There are two 14″ long, torpedo-shaped side pockets over the water bottle pockets, on both sides of the pack, which open and close with zippers. They’re ideal for rolling up and stowing t-shirts or lightweight sweaters, a bathing suit, hats, gloves, snacks, or electronics. The pockets are also large enough to store a pair of crocs, sandals, slippers, or low shoes.

The pack has a front stuff pocket that’s open on top, with mesh stripes down the sides to drain water and help gear dry. It’s not large enough to store shoes or sandals and really just sized for clothing or rain gear.

The main compartment has a separate sleeping bag zippered hatch and compartment. The top of the compartment unzips and folds down if you prefer not to use it, but still provides access to gear stored at the bottom of the pack.

The main compartment has a U zipper that provides extra access
The main compartment has a U zipper that provides extra access.

There’s also a rain cover pocket and an included rain cover. It’s connected to the pack using a wooden dowel, so you won’t lose it. But it’s also removable if you choose not to use it. It weighs 3.6 oz and wraps around the pack with an elastic opening.

The hip belt pockets are both large and solid-faced, providing better durability and water resistance. They are big enough to fit a smartphone or a Point-and-shoot camera.

The main compartment and spindrift collar cinch closed with a drawstring. There’s an additional rope strap that runs over the top of them that provides additional compression. The main compartment can also be opened using a U-shaped zipper that runs around the bottom of the front stuff pocket. This is ideal for travel or hostel stays where you need to get clothing, but don’t want to completely unpack.

The main compartment has an internal hydration pocket and a central hang loop to keep your reservoir upright. There’s only one hydration port though, routed out the left side of the main compartment, behind the shoulder (not over it). While there are elastic keeper straps on both shoulder straps, you’ll probably want to run your hose on the left if you use one.

The padding on back of the pack hugs your body but is less confining than Osprey's AG "anti-gravity" frame.
The padding on the back of the pack hugs your body but is less confining than Osprey’s AG “anti-gravity” frame.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Futura Vario 50+10 is a ventilated, adjustable-length backpack that has a lightweight trampoline-style frame with mesh located behind your back to help keep your back cool and dry perspiration more quickly. The effect is similar to the “anti-gravity” mesh that Osprey has on their packs, but the Futura Vario’s is considerably lighter weight and less confining, with a shallower cavity behind your back so you can walk upright more naturally. Packs with deep ventilation cavities like the Ospreys have a tendency to pull you backward and off-balance. Deuter is the company that first invented the trampoline or “ventilated” backpack frame as it’s become known in 1984, so they’ve had a head start on perfecting it.

The ventilated trampoline frame helps keep you back cool and dry perspiration faster.
The ventilated trampoline frame helps keep your back cool and dry perspiration faster.

The Futura Vario 50+10 also has an adjustable length torso length so you can get a personalized fit and carry more of the load on your hips or shoulders, depending on your preference. To lengthen the torso and put more weight on your hips, you’d use the simple webbing strap located behind the ventilation mesh to raise the shoulder straps higher. To shorten the torso, you’d lower the shoulder straps. It’s very easy to adjust and use. Not sure what feels good? Try to get it so that the pack’s load lifters angle down to your shoulders on a 30-45 degree angle. That’s usually a good indicator of the right torso length setting.

The hip belt is heavily padded and pre-curved, with softer padding along the top where it comes in contact with your hip bones. A mesh covering helps wick away moisture, while a pull-forward hip belt makes it easy to get a secure fit. The hip belt is sewn to the back of the pack providing a solid connection with the wire frame and excellent lateral control.

The shoulder yoke slides up and down a webbing strap behind the mesh. When raised it lengths the torso. When lowered it shortens the torso length.
The shoulder yoke slides up and down a webbing strap behind the mesh. When raised it lengths the torso. When lowered it shortens the torso length.

The shoulder straps are thickly padded J-straps, but despite its unisex label, I wouldn’t recommend them for use by women. The women’s version of this pack is called the Deuter Futura Vario 45+10 SL which has a shorter adjustable back length (14-19 inches), narrower shoulder harness, and a conical-shaped hip belt.

Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack


Adjustable Length and Ventilated

The Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Pack has an adjustable torso length and is ventilated ensuring excellent comfort. Loaded with pockets, this is a great pack for longer trips where you need to carry more weight but still want a comfortable backpack to do it with.

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Backpack Compression and Attachment Points

The Futura Vario 50+10 has two tiers of compression straps on the sides of the pack, but the top tier is the only one with a buckle that opens, making it useful for securing longer items to the sides of the pack. The pack also has permanently attached sleeping pad straps that run over the sleeping bag pocket hatch, so you can hang a pad or tent body off the front of the pack. There’s a single ice ax loop, with an elastic shaft holder, and a pair of trekking poles loops (top and bottom) for securing your poles to the pack when not needed. While you could use the pack for modest winter trips in a pinch, it’s not really set up for attaching winter equipment to the outside and is best used for three-season use.

Comparable Backpacks

Make and ModelWeightAccess
Gregory Baltoro 654 lbs 14.4. ozTop, front, bottom
Gregory Baltoro 754 lbs 15.7 ozTop, front, bottom
Gregory Katmai 654 lbs 11.8 ozTop, bottom, side
Gregory Paragon 683 lbs 11 ozTop, bottom, side
Mountain Hardwear AMG 754 lbs 15.4 ozTop
Osprey Aether 654 lbs 14.7 ozTop, front, bottom
Osprey Aether Plus 705 lbs 8 ozTop, front, bottom
Osprey Aether Pro 703 lbs 15 ozTop
Osprey Atmos AG 654 lb. 9 ozTop, bottom, 2 sides
REI Trailbreak 603 lbs 13 ozTop, bottom


The Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 is a comfortable multi-day pack that’s ideal for someone who wants a ventilated, well-fitting backpack, that has a lot of pockets to stay organized and can be used in the backcountry as well as for hut-to-hut or pilgrimage style trips. In addition to its 11 exterior pockets, there are a couple of things that I think stand out about this backpack.

Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack on the rocks
Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack on the rocks

First off, the Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 carries really well, with a thick pre-curved hip belt that hugs the hips but won’t bruise them if you have to carry heavier gear. While it is ventilated, it has a very modest curved back which promotes a more upright posture, doesn’t interfere with packing, and doesn’t pull you backward and off-balance. That’s a real plus. Finally, the pack is surprisingly slim in terms of width and depth so it moves more like a sport utility vehicle and less like a moving truck. Comfort, balance, and maneuverability….pretty much what you’d expect from a German company like Deuter Packs.

Deuter provided the author with a backpack for review.

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  1. Hi Philip, thanks for the detailed and thorough review. How do you think the futura vario compares to the Gregory zulu 55 or paragon 58? I am a beginner backpacker looking to get my first pack, and was concerned by some reviews I saw on the futura about poor load transfer to the hips causing an uncomfortable carry. I like the organization and features but was also concerned about deuter’s stated 15 kg or roughly 33 pound maximum load. Do you think this pack can carry 40 to 45 pounds like the Gregory packs? I plan to bring some camera stuff and with beginner cheaper gear was concerned about the lower weight limit, especially compared to the Gregory packs which are also lighter. I tried the deuter aircontact lite 50+10 and paragon in store and did find the deuter hipbelt to be much more comfortable with 15 lb, where the paragon dug into my hip on one side (not sure if I could’ve adjusted the belt better). Thanks!

    • No, its max load is about 35 pounds. I think 45 pounds will probably blow out the Zulu too. The Paragon is a possibility. Take a look at the Baltoro too. 45 pounds is a lot of weight. There is also a much lighter Baltoro coming out in January.

      • Thank you for the quick reply. So in terms of max load, the deuter has the least, followed by the zulu and paragon? I took a look at the Baltoro but it is probably out of my price range. The extra space in the deuter seems less appealing if it can’t carry the same weight as the others. I will definitely not be aiming for the max loads but would prefer to have some insurance in case I need to bring more for a longer trip. Out of the three, what would your recommendation be? Thank you

        • The Paragon is a mini-Baltoro. It also has the advantage of having an adjustable torso length and adjustable hip belt length which is very desirable for a beginner backpacker. But I’d ask yourself if you really plan you carry 45 pounds all the time. Because if you don’t and you discover that you’ll only carry 30 or 35, the paragon will be overkill and way too elaborate. Have you actually weighed all your gear on a scale? If not, I’d encourage doing so. Where did this 45 pound number come from? I’m not trying to piss you off, but to help you make the right decision. What volume were you considering?

      • I have a spreadsheet where I have been keeping track of items and their weights, some of which I have on hand and some which are still on the way. Putting in the weight of gear so far, and doing an estimate for up to 5 days carrying 10-12 lb of food in a bear canister and about 3L of water per day, I’m already up to 35-40 without counting clothes and a few other smaller weight things. This estimate is definitely the upper limit I would do but that’s why I was looking at a 40-45 weight limit. I was originally looking at 55-60 liters so I have enough room for some multi day trips but not too much for shorter ones. Also, not being able to try the zulu on in store I think the adjustability of the paragon might be good. I appreciate your advice, it’s been really helpful!

        • Ok – you seem to be on top of it! The Paragon is a very comfortable pack and I think you’ll like it once you get it the fit dialed in. Maybe buy it at REI, so you have the option of returning it within a year if it doesn’t work out. Best of luck.

  2. Hello
    I am looking at a new hiking pack and thought I would give Deuter a try instead of Osprey. I am thing of something in the 55L + 10 range. However I know nothing of the Deuter Harness weight carrying abilities. I short what harnesses carry what weights?

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