Large Daypack
Deuter Trail Pro 36 and Trail Pro 34 SL
$165, 36L/2,197 c.i., 3 lbs. 7 oz. (men’s)
Sizes: one men’s and one women’s, not adjustable
Moosejaw.com

On the second day of a five-day hut trek through Spain’s Picos de Europa Mountains, the trail immediately grew steep and remained steep for most of the day. We hiked long stretches over snow-covered talus and scree—and concluded the day’s hiking with a descent of almost 3,000 feet through innumerable switchbacks. On top of that, the skies rained and snowed on us virtually all day. Sometimes, you just get lucky with conditions that put a pack through a testing gantlet. Throughout that Picos trek, the Trail Pro 36 demonstrated that it’s a high-quality, versatile, large daypack.

Deuter’s Trail Pro 36, designed for men and women with longer torsos, and the women’s-specific Trail Pro 34 SL are high-volume, feature-rich daypacks that diverge from the current trend toward lighter, minimalist gear—making them uniquely suited to carrying heavier loads and serving a wider range of functions than many of today’s daypacks. Here’s why.

The Deuter Trail Pro 36 suspension.
The Deuter Trail Pro 36 suspension.

The slightly flexible, spring-steel frame and plastic framesheet give the Trail Pro more weight-carrying capacity than most daypacks—actually comparable to many lightweight, 50-liter backpacks. Comfort is enhanced by the shoulder straps connecting directly to fins at the bottom corners of the pack bag, plus the curved shape of the frame, both of which help pull the pack closer to your hips and transfer the pack’s weight onto them.

The wide hipbelt padding wraps smoothly around the waist nearly to the base of the spine, while the belt itself is sewn directly into the bottom corners of the pack bag (inside the fin where the shoulder straps connect). Both design features help distribute weight evenly for all-day comfort even with a fully loaded pack. I hauled 25 or more pounds comfortably in steep, rugged terrain for several hours a day, with ascents and descents of more than 3,000 vertical feet. I’m confident it would handle 30 pounds well, and perhaps more for some users.

The suspension and frame also make the Trail Pro significantly heavier than most daypacks: At nearly 3.5 pounds, it’s even heavier than lightweight backpacks that have about 50 percent more capacity—so there are better backpacks if your intended use is strictly lightweight or ultralight backpacking. (See my “Gear Review: The 10 Best Backpacking Packs.”)


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Two curved, perforated, mesh back pads breathe well and wick moisture, as do the identical and adequately padded hipbelt and shoulder straps, and a channel separating the two vertically aligned back pads promotes air flow (which is also aided by the curved frame). Deuter’s hollow-chamber Aircontact foam feels very soft and creates a “pump effect” when you move.

All of those design elements illustrate how the various features of the pack intersect in performance to improve comfort.

According to Deuter, the Trail Pro’s fixed (non-adjustable) suspension fits torsos ranging from 16 to 21 inches in the two men’s/non-SL models, and 14 to 19 inches in the SL (women’s-specific) models. With my 18-inch torso falling in the middle of the range for the men’s pack, it fit me quite well, as it did my son, who’s skinnier and three inches taller than me. 

But as with any fixed-suspension pack, I would expect the fit to grow less ideal at either end of the claimed fit range; and the Trail Pro comes in just one women’s/SL size and one non-SL size.

The Deuter Trail Pro 36 front panel zipper.
The Deuter Trail Pro 36 front panel zipper.

A top loader with a fixed lid, the Trail Pro has a wide mouth that makes loading and finding contents easy, and a spacious main compartment where I fit all of my clothes, gear, and day food and water for a five-day hut trek, plus some of a family member’s clothes. A U-shaped front zipper opens up the main compartment—a really nice feature on a daypack, commonly only seen in better backpacking packs.

The one stretch side pocket fits a liter bottle, unless the pack is fully loaded—as it was for me in the Picos—in which case the pocket stretches only enough to hold small items like gloves and a hat. It’s a little hard to reach into the pocket when wearing the pack.

Instead of another stretch pocket on the other side, the Trail Pro has a vertical, narrow, zippered pocket for tent poles—which I found of dubious value for its intended purpose, given that a 36-liter pack is likely to be used more for day trips and hut treks than backpacking. Still, having a zippered side pocket is useful for keeping small items both accessible (though you have to remove the pack to get at them) and secure.

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There’s also a capacious front stuff pocket that’s smartly integrated into the pack’s side compression and can hold a climbing helmet; a zippered lid pocket of average size; and two zippered hipbelt pockets each large enough for about four energy bars or a large smartphone and one or two bars.

The pack comes with a rain cover that stores in a zippered pocket on the pack’s bottom; it kept the pack’s contents dry and resisted being torn off by wind gusts over 40 mph when we hiked for several hours through a rain and snowstorm. 

The Trail Pro also sports utilitarian features like ice axe and trekking poles attachments and a carabiner/gear loop on each shoulder strap. Lastly, it’s made with a combination of tear-resistant, 210-denier polyamide fabric and super tough, 600-denier polyester with a thick PU coating for added durability and water resistance. This pack should last years of hard use.

The Verdict

While on the heavy side for a daypack, its large capacity, easy access, and multi-featured design make the Deuter Trail Pro 36 and women’s Trail Pro 34SL versatile enough for gear-intensive dayhikes, mountaineering, peak-bagging, hut treks, via ferrata routes, and winter day trips in the mountains.

The slightly smaller versions are the Trail Pro 32 and women’s Trail Pro 30 SL (both $155).

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking any of these links to purchase a Deuter Trail Pro 36 at Moosejaw.com or rei.com, a women’s Trail Pro 34 SL at Moosejaw.com or rei.com, a Trail Pro 32 at Moosejaw.com or rei.com, or a women’s Trail Pro 30 SL at Moosejaw.com or rei.com.

 

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See my “Gear Review: The 8 Best Hiking Daypacks” and all of my reviews of daypacks I like, plus my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” (which includes daypacks) and all of my reviews of hiking gear.

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See my Gear Reviews page at The Big Outside for categorized menus of all of my reviews and my expert buying tips.

—Michael Lanza

 

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