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Deuter Trail 30 Backpack Review

Deuter Trail 30 Backpack Review

The Deuter Trail 30 is a lightweight and durable backpack designed for day hiking, climbing, and skiing. The Trail 30 is a panel loader with a U-shaped front zipper that opens the main compartment for easy access, in addition to drawstring access under a top lid. A combination of open and closed pockets makes it well suited for four-season and off-trail use when you want more closed storage and thermal insulation for hot liquids or extra clothing.

Specs at a Glance

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Trail 30 has two means of storage access, one through the top through a drawstring closure covered by a top lid and the second, through a large U-shaped front zipper that provides panel access. Panel access like this is ideal for climbing and skiing to carry extra equipment, as well as for travel because it makes the backpack easy to pack and unpack.

The deuter Trail 30 is a streamlined daypack with a top lid.
The Deuter Trail 30 is a streamlined daypack with a top lid.

The pack has a low profile lid that’s been designed for use with a climbing or skiing helmet so it won’t hit the back of your head in use. The lid has a roomy, top zippered pocket with a key clip, as well as an underside zippered pocket that is perfect for maps, small first aid, and the like. The underside of the lid also has an SOS label to remind you how to signal in an emergency and is a standard feature on all Deuter backpacks.

There’s a U-shaped zipper on the front of the pack that provides panel access
There’s a U-shaped zipper on the front of the pack that provides panel access

There are two side pockets: one open side-stretchy / elasticized mesh pocket that securely holds a one-liter bottle and a long, zippered sleeve pocket on the other side of the pack that can hold a second water bottle, a thermos, rain, gear, extra layers, gloves, or maps.

If you’re used to having two open side water bottle pockets, it can take a while to get used to this side pocket organization, since one side of the pack may end up heavier than the other side if you carry water in your side pockets. It’s much less of an issue if you use a hydration system, which is my preference for day hikes because I like the convenience of carrying my water in the pack’s internal hydration pocket.

The Trail 30 has one open side pocket and one that zippers closed.
The Trail 30 has one open side pocket and one that zippers closed.

The hip belt has one (not two) very roomy hip belt zippered pocket that’s large enough to fit a compass, snack bar and GPS in the pocket. The pocket was made more functional as it’s sewn on three sides (not all four) so that if you have a long object in the pocket, it won’t be under the stress of the curved hip belt. More and more packs are coming with pockets sewn in this fashion (3 sided attachment)… a very effective design modification.

The left side pocket closes with a zipper
The left side pocket closes with a zipper

The Trail 30 also includes a rain cover, which is stored in a zippered pocket at the base of the pack.

Backpack Frame and Suspension System

The Trail 30 has a Delrin (plastic) peripheral loop for a frame that’s quite stiff but has some flex it in for comfort. The pack is available in one torso length, 16″-20″ and includes an adjustable hip belt, sternum strap, and load lifters.

The central air channel provides ventilation and creates a chimney effect
The central air channel provides ventilation and creates a chimney effect

While the pack is not ventilated, the back panel has a recessed air channel that helps vent warm air and wick away moisture. Called the Aircontact system, it consists of dual padded foam supports that run the length of your spine, helps distribute the load across your back, and keeps it locked closely to the hip girdle.

The hip belt padding is “just right.” It’s not too thick nor bulky, but about a quarter-of-an-inch thick, soft and somewhat pliable. This allows the hip belt to conform to the shape of my hips. This makes the load feel very secure so that it never “slips” below my iliac crest, even under heavy load. As many packs do, the hip belt employs a “pull-forward” adjustment system, which also helps give me a super great fit.

The Trail 30 hip belt has a single large pocket for gear storage.

Compression and External Attachment System

The Deuter Trail 30 has a single tier of side compression straps near the top of the pack that help bring the load closer to your back and can be used to lash gear to the side of the pack.

Loops sewn to the shoulder pads are useful for attaching carabiners.
Loops sewn to the shoulder pads are useful for attaching carabiners.

There are two sturdy fixed loops on the shoulder straps for quick access to carabiners for climbing or via Ferrata; while day hikers can use them as attachment points for GPS units or PLBs.

For climbers, there are fixed loops on the front of the pack for attaching a helmet harness (not included) or a bungee system for securing wet gear, in addition to attachments points for ice tools and trekking poles that are easy to use and secure.

The pliable hip belt really locks the load in place and doesn’t slip when overloaded
The pliable hip belt really locks the load in place and doesn’t slip when overloaded

Recommendation

The Deuter Trail 30 is a light-weight backpack that is simple and effective in its design and is quite versatile across many sports, such as hiking, climbing, and skiing. I’ve found it to be super comfortable on my back, and despite being advertised as a men’s pack, I found I could adjust it quite nicely to fit on my smaller frame. The hip belt provides a great wrap that conforms to the shape of my hips and I liked how the pack was a tiny bit narrow, so my arms never hit the pack when I was hiking. Hikers may miss not having a second stretchy side pocket and a second set of lower compression straps, but multi-sport users and rock climbers will enjoy the many small touches on this pack.

Disclosure: Deuter provided SectionHiker.com with a backpack for this review.

Editor's note: Help support this site by making your next gear purchase through one of the links above. Click a link, buy what you need, and the seller will contribute a portion of the purchase price to support SectionHiker's unsponsored gear reviews, articles, and hiking guides.

About the author

Beth Zimmer is an expert backpacker who's backpacked all over New England and Eastern Canada, with a long list of hiking accomplishments to her name. She's section hiked the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail, climbed the New England Hundred Highest and the New Hampshire 200 highest (mostly bushwhacks), redlined the White Mountain Guide (1440 miles), and climbed the White Mountain 4000 footers several times over. Beth also teaches GPS and off-trail navigation classes as a volunteer for the Appalachian Mountain Club and is co-chair of the New Hampshire Excursions Committee, which oversees all volunteer hiking and leadership training activities. When she's not hiking and backpacking, Beth resides in New Hampshire where she can usually be found sipping coffee and planning her next adventure.

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