New rucksack and new online supplier

When I started SOTA in 2006 I “borrowed” my wife’s rucksack from her student days. It was a Berghaus one and was 20+years old but in excellent condition. After 3 years of use I could see it was starting to wear in the odd place so I though I should really buy my own. I spent a while looking trying to find one that suited my needs better. I settled on a Deuter Futura Pro in May 2009. This is an internal frame bag with mesh panel, and so stands clear of your back and allows good air circulation. Many makers sold bags like this with names like Freeflow, Airflow, Aircontact etc. but they seem less popular now. I found the new back was a significant improvement over the old Bergahus which was an early frameless type that made a chubby FMF’s back very sweaty.

Rolling on to the present, well say Autumn 2019. I noticed that my shoulders were aching a lot when I got back from an activation. The bag didn’t seem to sit right any more and I was constantly tightening or slacking the shoulder straps. I really wasn’t sure it wasn’t me. By the time I came down fro Sgor Mor GM/ES-026 the other week after a 15.5km walk on a hot day my shoulders were not happy. Back home I had a study of my bag and came to the conclusion the foam in the straps/belt had lost its “mojo”. Basically 11 years of lugging 817s, batteries, antennas etc. had taken the springiness out of them.

I had a look online and the model I had was no longer made. I’d looked at some Lowe Alpine and Osprey bags in the past so I thought I’d see about getting one of those. Searching online I found that whilst my Deuter 38L bag was no longer made, they made a 36L and 40L model instead. My 11year old Deuter bag has lasted exceptionally well. There is a small tear and a small hole were a hard plastic box was rubbing against the fabric. Both were fixed with some patches of similar material and some flexible glue and they never got any worse. The elastic in the side mesh pockets finally lost its stretch and return a few years back. No zips or plastic clips failed despite the bag being used for probably 500 activations. I thought the wear resistance and longevity made buying another Deuter bag a good idea.

A bit more searching and I found some good prices online. I like having an outdoor gear store in my town and I know if I buy everything online then eventually my store will close. However, they don’t stock the 36 or 40L bags but can get them for me. 14day lead time and I think there is a hefty non-refundable deposit to pay if I decided I didn’t want it. Hmmm.

Anyway checking a few online stores for customer reviews, the one selling it cheap had terrible reviews, items taking months to arrive, items never arriving etc. People did get their money back but with some effort. Another shop was quoting 5 working day delivery and was £6 more. Their customer service reviews were excellent. Better still, I would have a no-questions-asked 14 refund window with free collection and return. So the price was about 15% below list, 5-day delivery, 14-day refund policy, excellent service reviews… I got out my credit card and ordered.

The first problem was despite having the same email address for 14years, I typed it in wrong twice. OK this was 3.05 pm on a Sunday. I had a snapshot of the confirmation of the order but no emailed receipt and no tracking emails. I mailed my work computer a reminder to contact their customer service and get the email changed on Monday. Checking the customer service link for phone numbers it said “Customer service 8am-8pm Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm Sat/Sun”. No way, customer service on a Sunday. I rang the number and it was answered… “you are second in the queue”, then 3 mins later “you are first in the queue” then I spoke to someone. On a Sunday! Email fixed. Amazing!

I got an email Wednesay PM saying my bag would be delivered between 3.45pm and 4.45pm on Thursday. Thurs 4.15pm it arrived.

And it’s brilliant. It’s a slightly different internal shape/size so it needs packing a little differently to the old one. No doubt I’ll refine that over the months ahead but everything I take fits in. Better still there’s plenty more room for Winter Down jackets etc. without squashing them down so much. But the most amazing thing is how it feels on my back. It feels fabulous and unlike the old one, it sits properly on my hips and the shoulder straps are locating it in position rather than taking lots of weight. I took a close look at the old one and it looks like the most worn part is the foam on the waist belt which has lost most of its give.

I’d like to say it’s great in use but I still nursing a knee injury from the last activation. Rod M0JLA (@m0jla) sent me some knee physio exercises to try and after 2 days they have made a huge improvement, thanks Rod. So a field trial will have to wait for now.

I did give the old bag a damn good wash in the bath in hot water and handwashing soap. I certainly didn’t put any Nikwax treatment in after Paul G4MD’s (@g4md) description of how it made the adjustable straps slip all the time on his bag. Anyway it need 5 wash/rinse cycles till the water didn’t look like Brown Windsor Soup :frowning:

Some calculations:
Old bag cost £108 in May 2009. Since then we can assume 42 weekends walking/year giving 472 outings. One wear hole from my misuse, one tear from an angry Gorse bush, degraded elastic in side pockets, no other failures. I think that says that Deuter know how to make a bag that lasts and why I was happy to buy the Mk2 version.

That gives a cost per outing of approx £0.23. or £9.60 / year. Peanuts really.

The company I used is (part of in The Netherlands), I have no connection other than as a highly satisfied customer. YMMV but I doubt it.


Crikey: that was a long post. Tom’s clearly been giving you lessons. Anyway, after all that I was still not certain which rucksack you actually bought. I’m interested as my “radio expedition” sack is also showing signs of age and needs replacing.

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4th line down, Deuter Futura Pro

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Knowing Richard, he was already bored and “skim reading” by then.

Did you go down to the 36l or up to the 40l bag Andy?

I went up. You can always pull compression straps to reduce the volume/keep stuff from moving about.

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Great choice Andy, my Deuter Futura has been on over 700 activations and is still going strong albeit with a bit of fading to the red due to exposure to sunlight in warmer climes. I looked long and hard at umpteen bags before buying it, but it was well worth spending over £100 on it 8 years ago.

73 Victor GI4ONL

40 litres… beware of “mission creep”. Seriously, this looks like a brilliant piece of kit. I’m still using a 2007 vintage Eurohike Revolution Aqua 35 which I bought from Millets for £35. Is it Christmas yet? :grinning:

I saw Jamie (N6JFD) wandering up Helvellyn with a Black Diamond Distance series pack.

I bought one and it has pretty much been my “go to” pack when its size matches what I want to take on an activation (basically, almost always)

It’s really an amazingly comfortable pack.


Well it’s that time of year again and I’m mitherin’ about what I might need when (seems like if) I can get back on the hills. After a lot of review reading, I returned to this thread to check on which Deuter bag Andy had purchased and the comments made tally with my thoughts amassed from the reviews. The alternative is an Osprey Stratos 36 - maybe someone has one of those and is willing to comment. I guess with a potential total lockdown after Christmas, there is no rush to make a decision.

It might not be your bag, but I have been very pleased with my Montane Trailblazer 30L. It’s on the lighter weight side, but I think they have more robust options too. If you haven’t considered Montane already, it might be worth taking a look at their bags if you need to fill some more time perusing reviews!

I want to try a ventilated back system backpack and didn’t find anything in their ranges to float my boat. Indeed there appears to be nothing that ticks all the boxes, so it will be a compromise in some respect. It’s a case of which compromises I am going to accept.

The Deuter Futura Pro has a proper stand off ventilated back. The frame is quite arched, there is 10cm between the mesh which sits against your back and the bag itself at its widest.

I bought a Lowe Alpine Air zone Pro 35/45.

I chose it over the others because the back length is adjustable, which means it can be extended to fit a tall skinny person like me. I’ve had it a few years now and very pleased with it. The ventilated back certainly makes a difference, works well.

That, with one of the many Osprey models, was on my short list.

Just curious Andy…

  1. What did you do to fit your previously rectagular boxed kit into the main part of the bag?
  2. What do you put in the lower “sleeping bag” compartment?
  3. How do you carry your water bottles with this pack?
  4. ISTR you use a 5m pole, so presumably this fits inside the pack.

It looks like I would need to make a considerable change to my packing methodology with the Deuter or a similar pack…

Well let’s see…

I realised I was carrying quite a few plastic boxes which protects the contents at the expense of flexibility. So I switched from boxes to a selection of stuff bags bought off eBay from a company in N. England. I’d bought some bags from them 11years back and they are still in perfect condition. I still have a few boxes in the bottom section, described below. But I realised that with an odd-shaped curved volume, boxes do result in wasted space, inside them and around them. In fact switching to fewer boxes recovered significant amounts of lost volume.

Bottom section: 2x plastic boxes 205x145x65mm and 1x 145x145x65mm, One box holds the 817 mic, paddle, memory keyer, cables, pencils, 2m 1/4wave SMA telescopic ant, LCD clock. The other holds 2m J pole, cheap leatherman tool, screwdriver, BNC to BNC joiner, tick remover, small reel of insulating tape. The small box holds guying stuff, yoke and cords, some large plastic bulldogs clips and 2x 1.5mx5mm cords for lashing. They get arranged to stuff out the bottom section so that weight in the top section is not supported by the zip out divider section but presses down onto these boxes. There is a fair amount of space left into which goes the LF stuff sack( 60/40/30 dipole, 10m RG174 feeder and dipole centre).

1L Sigg bottle for water. If I know it will be cold (proper cold) I’ll swap that to a 750ml Sigg and a stainless steel flask. They go inside the top section. So you do have to stop, remove bag, open straps and reach in.
There is a bladder section but mine contains flat flexible stuff… survival plastic bag, 2m x 3m sheet of aluminium coated polyester (my XYL’s employer makes it and she got a roll of QC failed material), zip lock bag with several sheets of loo paper.

The pole goes in one of the external stretchy pockets. I wrap the end in an old plastic carrier bag so it doesn’t abrade the material. The bag’s side compression straps are used to hold the pole against the bag. You can still get in the zipping side pocket.

It took a couple of days switching from the old more boxed based packing plan to figure out the best way to use this one. The old bag was a 3:5 aspect ratio over the curved frame and the new one is 3:4. Dropping quite a few boxes did recover lots of lost space. The downside is remember to secure the stuff sacks, they blow away if you forget!

I was pleased I went large not smaller. Most of the few (because of Covid) times I’ve used it I have been able to squash down the unused space. But when I needed more volume it was much better not to have squeeze so hard to get everything in.

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Wow… what a comprehensive reply! Lots of good advice there. Many thanks. I particularly like the use of stuff sacks. At the moment I use a combination of lightweight plastic boxes and tough poly bags. Not that different really - just needs adjusting, refining and reconfiguring.

That bottom compartment is quite large and having the rig in there is certainly worth considering. At the moment my 817 is housed in a plastic box that stands upright within the pack so I can open the pack, flip the lid of the box and operate with the rig inside the pack. All the connections are on the front of the box. It certainly has been useful on some GM summits! To do something similar would require me to fill the bottom section of the pack with the first aid kit, bothy bag, etc - those things I don’t usually need to get out. There will be a solution - I just need to work out what is best.

The main thing that would require a change of tack is the lack of a mesh pocket for water bottles on the Deuter pack. However, thinking about it I don’t often drink while walking, so I could stash my bottles inside the pack… or look for an add-on carrier.

Lots to think about. :grin:

I’ve just made a new video about the rucksacks I’ve been using this year:

In particular, I look at the 3F UL Tutor 26L, which I got in mid June:

It weighs only 400 grams and is quite reasonably priced compared to some rucksacks.

              73 de OE6FEG
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Hi Friends,

For three seasons of activations I use the one like Deuter Futura Pro.
For winter I use Deuter Aircontact Pro 55 + 15 - half of capacity is taken by old natural down jacket which is not beatable by any WX during activation :wink:

73, Jarek