Deuter Trans Alpine 30 Hydration Pack- by Grannygear

There are hydration packs and there are BIG hydration packs.  This is a big one.  From the Deuter website:

Actually designed and proven for mountain bike trans-alps but do with it what you want. It’s no wonder everyone just loves the Trans Alpine. This all-rounder is perfectly suited to almost any activity. In response to your wishes, this roomy bike backpack now has a map compartment that is in the back section and easy to access via zip closure. The rain cover is in high visibility neon yellow and has an additional safety light loop, providing better safety margins at dawn and at dusk. With it’s Airstripes back system, mesh wings and anatomically shaped shoulder straps, the Trans Alpine is super comfortable and gives a carry that is as steady as a rock.

Details:

  • Airstripes back
  • Soft-Edge comfort straps
  • padded edges on the mesh wings and zipped mesh pockets
  • load adjustor straps
  • dividable main compartment
  • Neoprene helmet holder
  • two front pockets with zipped valuables pocket
  • compressions traps
  • 3M reflectors
  • two stuff compartments
  • light-coloured lining for a better contents overview
  • mesh side pockets
  • safety light loop
  • rain cover.

At 1830 cubic inches/30 liters of capacity, and designed to hold a 100 oz reservoir (not included at purchase, so technically this is a ‘hydration compatible’ pack, if you will), the Trans Alpine 30 is very well thought out and is quite detailed in the amount and segregation of stowage compartments and features.  All those features and capacity come at a cost though, and that is weight.  At 2lbs/12oz with no reservoir, it is a significant piece of gear if you are looking to travel light.  However, it compares in that way to the Osprey Escapist 30 that we short term reviewed earlier on.  In fact, it compares to that pack in many ways…size, features, etc, as it seems that the intent of both packs is the same and as I understand it, the Osprey Escapist came from the Euro line of packs to begin with.

I barely had the Deuter pack in my hands before I loaded it up and headed for the hills and deserts of So Cal for a multi day bike-packing trip.  To begin with, I packed my food and other essentials into the Trans Alpine including a 100oz/3.0L Deuter reservoir.  That pack weighed 25lbs at first.  I wanted to pair that down so I took out the reservoir and placed that into my frame bag, swapping the kitchen supplies from the frame bag into the Deuter pack.  That dropped the weight to around 20lbs. That is still pretty heavy, but it seemed well within the packs range of use.  It was full, but hardly stuffed.

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I also used it as a makeshift pillow at night and I was not kind to it as far as where I sat it when it was off my back.  I used it, albeit briefly, just like you would.  It got dirty.  It makes a fine backrest when you leave it on and lean back under a shady spot on trail!

Looking at the pics you can see that there is a rain cover that is stowed under the very bottom in a zipped compartment.  The rain cover is removable and did cover the entire pack as you see it in the packed-to-go pics, vest and all.  There are webbed and zipped hip pockets in the waist belt as well as bottle storage on each side of the pack with straps to keep the bottle in place.  There is a another section with a secure pocket and key clip, and a large main compartment that also is divided into a basement partition.  So wet or dirty clothes can go in the basement or, if you like, you can unzip the divider and make it into a really big single space.  There is a sleeve for the reservoir and a Velcro hanger as well as a foam pad that comes out of the very back of the pack and can be used as a sit pad if you like.  There is also a slick map pocket that is vertical to the side of the pack and zipped of course.

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Ok, so how was it to live with?  Pretty good.  The Airstripes back was quite good.  Very comfy all day.  Even with all that weight it did not sway around and stayed put.  The organization was very easy to live with.  I had a pocket for everything.  I did have three issues though.  The first was with the basement zipper access.  It was way too hard to get that zipper open and closed under that zipper ‘porch’ of fabric.  Ya’ gotta’ love the little snaps on the zipper pulls though.  Trick item.  As well, the zippers on the wing/hip pockets were too hard to work when wearing the pack.  They would bind and make it into a two handed effort.  That kind of defeats the idea if you cannot ride along and access that one handed.

The other issue was the shoulder strap, only on the left side, rubbed my collarbone area till it was so sore that it became painful.  I have genetically ‘bony’ shoulders so that is part of it.  Twenty pounds should be within that range in a pack this size so it was not overloaded.  Oddly enough, when I saw pics of myself taken along the route, I could plainly see that the pack was listing off to the right side on my back, but I was not aware of that as I rode.  I imagine some fit adjustment was the cause rather than a flaw in the design.  Other than this issue, it was very good to wear on long ride and hike-a-bike days.

I see this pack as being for someone who does not have bike storage bags and needs to go big on a ride, or obviously, for greatly expanding what you can bring beyond what your bike bags will allow.  You sure could overnight in it all by itself if you were frugal with your gear size.  I think most hard core bike packers will find it a bit heavy to begin with.  Those guys are typically counting grams and the tried and true Osprey Talon 22 (a pound lighter but smaller in capacity and less featured) is still the go-to pack for those guys. Another pack on the horizon that is bigger than the Talon but still very light is the Camelbak Octane 24.  Both these packs trade structure for lightness, both in materials and internal support, so big heavy loads do not apply.  However, it is better to carry less on the back and more on the bike, if possible.  But when you need to do the biiiig day that may turn into night, and your bike is just a bike, not a pack mule, or, as in my case, you need to carry for a week on the trail, the Deuter Trans Alpine 30 will certainly fill that need.  It, like all Deuter packs I have seen, is well made and well thought out.  If this type of pack is for you, give them a good looking over before you buy.

Photo of the journey courtesy of Gnat. On trail with the Trans Alpine 30.

NOTE: Deuter sent this pack to Twenty Nine Inches for test/review at no charge. We are not being bribed, nor paid for these posts, and we will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.