I have to admit, it’s rare that I come across a product that I’m completely satisfied with.
Usually, there are at least a couple of things I’d have done differently or that I think could be improved upon.
So, imagine my delight when I came across a backpack that seemed to have been designed specifically for cyclists. I also have a feeling it was designed, not by the marketing department, but by people who actually USE a backpack when cycling. Gadzooks!
For years, I’d been using a commuter backpack from Mountain Equipment Coop (MEC) with moderate satisfaction. It wasn’t overly comfortable, and was too small for winter cycling, but it did the job until the zipper went on it. While MEC would have no doubt repaired the zipper under their fantastic warrantee program, I thought I’d look around for something bigger.
While reading online reviews and doing various searches for cycling-specific backpacks, I came across the Deuter website. Deuter is a German company founded in the late 1800s (yes, 1800s) and has years of experience designing outdoor gear.
I came across the Deuter TransAlpine 30 backpack and was hooked.
The site states that the TransAlpine 30 is the “Most popular, prize winning and best choice bike pack for challenging alpine bike tours.” Well, nice marketing fluff… However, after looking at some of the features, I decided to order one, and here are my thoughts…
It is by far the most comfortable pack I’ve ever used while on a bike. While my preference is for panniers, a backpack seems to be better for winter riding, and I can’t fit a rack on my winter bike, anyway.
This is what makes the pack so comfy. Two padded ridges lift the pack off your spine and almost massage the muscles on either side. The raised strips also increase airflow between your back and the pack so in hot weather, the pack doesn’t seem as hot. The amount of flow can be controlled with two straps at the top, simply by moving the pack closer to, or farther from, your back.
Adjustable internal compartments
This is a nice touch. An internal zipper lets you create an upper and lower compartment in the packpack, essentially separating the bottom third of the pack. This bottom third can still be accessed from an outside zipper.
Two front pockets
One at the top, and one at the bottom.
A small, zippered compartment in the top outside pocket.
Side mesh pockets
Pretty much standard, but angled down towards the back of the pack so it’s easy to get stuff in and out while on the bike.
Never used this to hold my helmet, but I do stuff all my mucky stuff into it after getting to work.
Top and bottom.
Very minimal. If there was one thing I could say needed improvement, it would be to increase the reflective patches on the pack. There’s probably less than 2 square inches total on the pack. Having said that, I don’t depend on the pack to be my primary method of being visible.
Mesh wings and compression straps
Yet another good focus on comfort. The mesh wings don’t add the bulk of the overly padded waist strap that a lot of packs have. There are also two little clips on the waist strap. These two little clips are clear evidence that the designers of this pack have actually used it. The clips are used to secure the extra strap lengths (assuming your tummy doesn’t need the full length), so the strap ends aren’t flapping around “down there” while you’re riding. Very simple and very cool. Also, the buckles on the straps are slighly curved. This makes it very easy to release the straps while wearing bulky gloves — another functional element that is appreciated.
Hydration system compatible
I prefer water bottles, but the functionality is there.
I found this by accident. I came across a zipper at the very bottom of the pack one day, and thought, “Cool! Another pocket!” Well, yes and no. There was a rain cover in there that quickly and easily pulls out to cover the backpack. Two little pegs secure the top of it. It’s a lovely bright yellow colour, so will make you a bit more visible in the rain.
Alpine rescue info
I’m assuming you won’t need alpine rescue if you’re only using this on the bike paths, but… In case you do get lost out in the boonies, there’s a handy dandy little info guide on the inside of the pack that tells you what signals to use for alpine rescue.
I had to really look for any improvements on this pack. Deuter did an excellent overall job with this, so my thoughts for improvements are pretty minimal.
Increase the size of the existing patches, and implement a couple of stripes on the back of the pack.
Blinkie / lash points
I was a bit surprised at the lack of lashpoints on this pack. However, I didn’t really notice it until I wanted to attach a couple of bike blinkies to the pack. There is one blinkie strap at the very bottom of the pack, but any blinkies I tried to mount would have fallen off at the slightest bump. Likewise, when I wanted to clip something else to the pack, the only real place to attach anything was on the lashpoints on the shoulder straps.
I don’t think you can go wrong with this pack. While it’s at the upper end of the price point for smaller backpacks, it’s an excellent pack for cycling, and also works just as well for hiking, skiing or snowshoeing.