My first chance to test out Deuter (pronounced Doy-ter) products was back in January when I spent three weeks in Hawaii. Since then, I have toted this gorgeous, pea-green pack (a.k.a. ACT Trail 20 SL) along to a weekend excursion to Mont Tremblant in Quebec; two weeks touring the wilderness of Papua New Guinea; two weeks in a remote village in Malawi, Africa, and two weeks roaming through Alaska. It's been a trooper in every situation.
For starters, during a halfday hike along the Napali Coast in Kauai, it was raining for most of the 4-hour excursion. For a photographer, that conjures up a little bit of worry, knowing that a few raindrops could wreak havoc on the delicate insides of my Canon 7D. That thought alone made me consider leaving it behind. Hiking this famous coast, though, without a camera seemed kind of ridiculous. So, I decided to drop it in the backpack and protect it with the rain cover that pulls out from the bottom compartment. Fortunately, not a single drop squeezed its way in. Whew! Needless to say, that is one of my favorite features of this bag; every backpack should have one.
I'm a big fan of pockets, too, and the ACT Trail 20 SL has plenty. I stowed my snacks and gel packs in the side zipper pocket for easy access, dropped my iPhone in the top pocket and some extra socks on the inside. The next day, when it was time to prep for the beach/Waimea Canyon getaway, I easily packed a weekend's worth of stuff inside; it actually can handle up to 25 pounds. For easy access, you just lay the pack down and upzip the U-shaped zipper much like that of a suitcase. It's so much more convenient than having to undo the drawstring at the top and dig down to find what you need.
When it was time for snoozing, I tucked myself into the Dream Lite 500 sleeping bag. It is so lightweight, and it was absolutely perfect for a tropical destination. I do recommend bringing a sleeping pad, though, if you want a little extra comfort. The next morning, I hooked it onto my backpack for easy traveling; it rolls up to the size of a Chipotle burrito (okay, just slightly larger than that, but you get the picture.) Because of its small size, there wasn't a super-convenient way of connecting the sleeping bag to the backpack.
Overall, the backpack still looks brand new after its worldwide wanderings. And that is pretty impressive, since Hawaii and Africa both have lots of red dirt that seems to infiltrate everything. Still, though, I wish there was a way to wash it, but that is not recommended, so I've been wiping it down with Clorox wipes.
Only downside during all of these trips was that, silly me, put my iPhone in the top zipper pocket during the PNG trip, and someone swiped it. Sure won't make that mistake again. On that note: The only thing I would add is a pocket on the straps or belt so you can easily get to your passport and phone.
The German company has been making packs for more than 100 years and is popular in Europe and Canada. They have only been for sale in the U.S. for a few years and are carried in EMS and REI stores, and also sold by Backcountry.com, MooseJaw, and other online retailers.
Thank you to Deuter for providing these products for review.
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When I’m not zigzagging around the planet — scaling the steps of Chichén-Itzá, carving up Costa Rican waves or roaming through the remote jungles of India — I’m writing about my adventures, the environment, fitness, health/wellness, extraordinary people and social injustice issues. My writing appears in USA Today, ISLANDS, Caribbean Travel & Life, Cayman Airways Skies, American Eagle Latitudes, Orlando Sentinel, abcnews.com, Where Orlando, Where Jacksonville, Upscale and Wild Blue Yonder.
Located: Orlando USA
Likes: Adventure, health/wellness, nature, sports, festivals, dance, music, etc.