Deuter Aircontact Zero 60+10
Wow, I love this pack.
Why I bought this pack instead of others: I love hiking and would really like to go ultralight. Two problems with that: 1) I'm cheap, and 2) I frequently hike with a wife and two kids, so I need extra capacity in order to carry at least part of my kid's gear. So I needed a BIG pack that could handle a family-sized load, but one that was also LIGHT, for when I hike alone with a tarptent. That's a tough order to fill.
I looked at some of Granite Gear's ultralight 2 pound packs, but wasn't confident in either their size or their ability to handle heavier loads. Gossamer Gear packs were simply out of the question, though the ultralight side of me still lusts after them.
My fall/spring hike-alone-without-my-family base load, before food, fuel, and water is only 10-13 pounds--so a five pound, or even four pound, pack is overkill. I needed a lighter pack. I was so glad to find the ACT series! Three pounds, one ounce, with a few things I could remove, shorten, etc.! (Older models, I believe, were 3 pounds, 5 ounces, and still show up for sale).
Let me also say that I am highly impressed with Deuter in general. If you like how the Osprey packs fit, but are scared of their pricetag and weight, take a look at Deuter. Excellent craftsmanship, terrific weight transfer, better-than-average air flow on your back, and a hundred bucks cheaper!
Deuter is the oldest maker of backpacks on the planet, but fairly new to the U.S. I had trouble finding any stores with an actual in-store selection, though many stores, including REI, sell them on-line. It took a quite a bit of hunting to find and try on the ACT Zero 60+10. Found it. Bought it. Love it...so here goes the review...
The 60+10 is a smartly designed pack.
Suspension system. The 60+10 has the suspension system of the other Deuter Aircontact packs, but the air-breathability system is scaled back to save on weight, hence making it somewhat less effective than their normal design, airflow-wise. Still, I love the weight transfer to the hips, as well as the hipbelt design. I'm 6' 2", but with a slightly shorter torso than my height might imply. The easy-to-adjust torso straps led immediately to a fit that worked well for me. The aluminum stays are adjustable, however, for those that find their back won't fit the pack correctly. (Get help from an experienced salesperson or you will be left cursing).
Shoulder straps. Adequately padded: better yet, smartly contoured, which I found greatly superior to many other brands.
Pockets. Two on the side, smallish, one on the back, a bit bigger, all mostly mesh. None of these have a zipper. Rather, the compression straps smartly tuck these closed. No zippers = weight savings. You have to undo the compression straps in order to access the pockets, but this is actually easier than fumbling with a zipper and the mesh allows you to see what you are hunting for.
Top pocket/lid: Good-sized capacity, with a zippered pocket. A second, zippered pocket is inside of the larger pocket, for important items like ID, cash, etc. There is also a little strap and clip for your car key (which I removed because I am morphing towards ultralight).
Spindrift collar: The top pocket/lid adjusts upward, allowing the spindrift collar to expand for larger loads. (If you are new to backpacking and also have a family, an adjustable spindrift collar is an often-overlooked, but really helpful, feature in a pack.)
Tie-on capacity: One bummer is that there are no tie-on points on the bottom of the bag. The bottom of the bag is not the best place to put gear anyway, from a load-transfer perspective, but I always like to put something there because when I sit down on a log, I like for my pack to "sit down" with me. I find I have to take this pack off. The side compression straps are extra long so that elongated, thin items (sleeping pads) can be strapped on vertically on the side of the pack.
The top of the pack has four attachment points, so you can load high. I have used these for a Thermarest pad and found them adequate, though the top lid must be adjusted carefully or the weight will shift. Other tie-on points are easily created across the back of the pack by attaching to the start-point of the side compression straps, though due to the placement of the straps, a bit of parachute cord may be necessary. The straps that run from the back of the top lid to the lower part of the pack are also helpful in securing outside items. There are specialized points for hiking poles on one side of the back and an ice-axe on the other (I don't hike in winter, so I cut the latter off).
General packing: The main compartment is really big and, as I mentioned before, can be expanded via the spindrift collar. There is not a separate compartment for a sleeping bag. I had never owned a pack without such a compartment and wasn't sure how I would like it. I found that I didn't miss it a bit, since the only time I need my sleeping bag is at night--and, since my pack is almost entirely unloaded at night anyway, there were no accessibility issues. I find the single compartment concept to actually be a more efficient use of space. It also cuts weight off the pack.
The main pack is top-loading and somewhat "A-shaped." This is a bit unusual and can lead to some packing problems. If you are in the Sierra Nevada and have a tent that must, absolutely must, be stood up in the pack, then you will have a problem packing both your tent and your required bear canister. A bear canister fits nicely in the top portion of the pack, but there is not a lot of room to stand things up beside it. (I suggest putting your tent body and rainfly in the bottom of your pack and simply standing your tent poles up in the pack or securing them to the outside of your pack via the compression straps).
Size: The sizing seems to be accurate. More important to me is the size/weight ratio. Here is a neat trick: take the capacity of the pack in cubic inches and divide it by the weight of the pack in ounces. You end up with a number that won't at first appear to mean anything at all. But if you perform this calculation on different packs and compare numbers, you begin to see how efficiently a pack is made. (Bigger numbers are better). The 60+10 has the highest space/weight ratio number of any internal frame pack out there (well, ok, so I didn't run the numbers on EVERY pack made; but I ran it on quite a few).
The workmanship in this pack is flawless and the chosen materials are moderately durable. It's not canvass and its not parachute material. It is somewhere in between and must be treated as such. I'd think twice before canyoneering with this pack. I've had no durability issues.
Who should buy this pack? Well, if you bring everything, including the kitchen sink, and like to have a dozen pockets to organize it all, then this pack is certainly big enough for you, but you probably won't like it. Sacrifices have been made in order to shave weight. Much of your packing will be in the single, main compartment, where--if you want organization--stuff sacks will have to suffice. And, if you are in bear county, all of your stuff will be under your bear canister. Choose carefully what you put in the outside pockets--you will only have room for what you truly need regular access to. (For example, I don't put my entire first-aid and emergency kits on the outside--only moleskin, a knife, and a flashlight; the rest goes inside the pack).
However, if you are 1) moving towards ultralight, yet can't tolerate a frameless rucksack, a molded, sweaty framesheet, or a poorly-thought-out and awkwardly-inserted sleeping pad, 2)still need some space, either for your own gear or your family's, or 3) have reason to occasionally carry heavier-than-normal loads, then THIS IS THE PACK FOR YOU!
I love the versatility. It is light enough to carry as a daypack or on an overnight trip, both big enough and light enough for use on a thruhike, and yet well-built enough to handle heavier loads and endure extended use.
My needs are unique and I am obsessively picky--but for me this has been the perfect pack.
Price Paid: $169
Used this pack for about 1000 miles of the AT this past Spring/Summer. Very comfortable even with 30+ pounds and held up pretty well.
Had some small tears in the fabric around the drawstring at the top of the pack. Wish it were divided up into multiple compartments or had multiple ways to access the primary gear space. Found myself spending a lot of time packing and unpacking this bag to get something near the bottom of the pack since there is no other way to access the gear other than from the top.
I ended up hanging my water bladder on the outside of the pack since removing the bladder from its built-in sleeve required unpacking lots of gear.
Design: top loader
Number of Pockets: 2
Max. Load Carried: 35 lbs.
Height of Owner: 6'
Price Paid: $169
Great pack. Very happy with 3 lb. weight and adjustable harness. I've scaled my total carry weight down to 35 lbs, with 3 liters water, tent, and 5 days food. Though rated to 50 lbs, I would personally would choose a thicker padded pack for that much weight.
Thus far, I've used it for section hikes on AT. I would seriously consider this pack for a thru when I find time.
Possible improvements: just a fraction more padding needed on velcro tab of adjustable ladder closure. Sometimes feels a little hard where it contacts the spine. No friction or blisters noted though. A full length waterproof zipper on the side of this pack would make it perfect.
Design: top loading internal frame
Size: 3650-4250 cubic inches
Number of Pockets: 5
Max. Load Carried: 35#
Height of Owner: 5'10"
Price Paid: $149
I love this pack. I find it comfortable for my typical load of loads of 20-30 pounds. I've used it for one full season -- about 20 trails days. My heaviest load was about 35#, which the pack handled fine.
While this pack only weighs a few ounces more than "ultralight" packs, it has better suspension and load-handling ability than the Gregory G-pack that I used for a while.
The design and construction are top-notch. Others have commented on the lightweight buckles, but I like them. Bigger buckles now seem bulky.
Design: Top loading, internal frame
Number of Pockets: 1 lg across the back. 2 small on ea. side
Max. Load Carried: 30 lbs so far
Height of Owner: 6'1"
Price Paid: $169+(?)
Please bear in mind in this review that the pack is still new and I may be working out the bugs. However, I have carried a GoLite Trek for a long time (including an overloaded trip to Glacier) and I never really went through an "adjustment" period like I seem to be going through with this pack.
As I've gotten older, I was looking for a pack with a wee bit more comfort. I have used this pack for 4 trips now, both easy and strenuous.
It's going to sound like I don't like this pack but such is not the case. I do like this pack but there are some cons.
It is reasonably light yet carries a pretty good load.
I think the thing I like most is the way the waist belt adjusts by cinching the straps forward. Much easier than trying to pull backwards.
I think the whole air circulation thing is overrated. But I am a fairly large human and I tend to sweat a lot. I carry a inflatable pillow and a lightweight silnylon tarp in the hydration sleeve (I do this with all my packs so far) and I noticed on my last trip that the pillow was more wet than has been the usual.
The adjustable torso deal, in my case at least, has been adjusted to a point where the velcroed strap you slip through the adjustment slots is now pressing into my spine about shoulder level. Don't know yet if this is just operator error.
It is hydration compatible but, as with all my packs, I do not carry my water in these compartments. I carry it in the top lid compartment. I like being able to access my water without going in the pack and I think my water stays cooler than riding on my sweaty spine all day.
The design of the top compartment on this pack is more lengthwise with the pack, tapering as it straps down the back of the pack. A triangular shape. My 3 liter Platypus cannot be filled beyond perhaps 2 liters.
The obvious cure for this is to carry the Platypus in the intended pocket and I may go this route sooner or later.
The buckles seem cheesy but are holding up OK.
The shoulder strap adjustments may be slipping a bit.
I still like this pack (and the return time has expired) so I am willing to play with it a wee bit more before I pronounce final sentence but so far it only rates an "ehhh" with me....hahahaha.
Design: top loading backback
Max. Load Carried: 40 lbs
Height of Owner: 5' 10 1/2"
Price Paid: $168
This is an excellent pack. I ordered five top rated packs and spent several hours in my house testing them with between 30 and 40 lbs of weight. The others were: Gregory Z55, Osprey Exos 58, The North Face Skareb 65 and the GoLite Odyssey...all in large. The North Face was ahead in the race until I loaded it with 40 lbs, and one of the rubber pads became a pain in the back.
I found out that I'm NOT a fan of the trampoline mesh ventilation which arches the middle of the pack away from ones back, moving the weight away from the body...which forced me to walk more bent over. It also without exception caused the load to wobble when I moved side to side and did a little twisting. That elimimated the Osprey and the Gregory.
I REALLY wished that the GoLite had worked for me. It had a great design and plenty of useful features, but it just didn't sit well on my back with a load.
The Deuter fit like it was designed for my body. It just felt RIGHT with 30 and 40 lbs. I'm an average 5' 10" and 155lbs.
Design: top loading
Size: 3650-4250 ci
Number of Pockets: 5 (bag, 2 in lid, 3 mess side pockets)
Max. Load Carried: 36 lbs
Height of Owner: 5'11''
Price Paid: $127
I recently picked up this pack last minute for a Mt. Whitney hike (2 night stay on the mountain).
Items packed: NF bag, SD ASP3 tent, BV400 food container, SP stove and fuel, Pur purifier, light clothing and small misc items plus food (weighed in about 36-37lbs with 3L bladder).
Initial packing took several tries since the pack is triangular shaped. I had to switch back and for between the bear can and tent to get the best balance. Adjusting the pack was easy and quick. Pack sat well against my back and the weight felt balanced over the shoulders.
The hike up to trail camp was very pleasant. The pack sat well on my hips and there was no pulling on the shoulders. We pretty much hiked the entire distance with short breaks to fill up on water.
2nd day we went to the summit. Carried clothing, stove & fuel, food, extra water (6L). I liked the way the pack compressed down to secure these items. Pack felt light and I carried the pack on the shoulders like a day pack. No problems and we made it to the top! Wo ho!
3rd day the descent, This day I couldn't get the pack to balance as well as I would have liked. It seemed like after an hour or two the pack was slipping back at the shoulders pushing me off balance. I tightened the upper straps which seemed to help out a bit.
Overall, pack was good, especially for not having much time to play with this pack before the hike. I was comfortable and move well. The pack seemed durable and I had to admit I was cooler in the back region. The clasps seemed kind of weak in design but, held up well when I cranked down on them.
Where to Buy
The Deuter Aircontact Zero 60+10 is not available from the stores we monitor.
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