ProView – Deuter Trail Pro 36
The Deuter Trail Pro 36 is a pack for long day hikes where comfort and additional space for gear are necessary. It also performs exceptionally well for short multi days trips, mostly in the realm of summer mountaineering or backpacking trips. The ideal use are for peak bagging, scrambles, weekend backpacking trips, and extended day hikes especially in the shoulder seasons.
Deuter Trail Pro 36
Product Description: This athletic professional hiking backpack holds everything you need on multi-day tours. The innovative carrying system with slim and high mounted, extremely snug hip fins optimally transfers the weight of the load to the spring-steel frame, relieving the back and shoulders. Alpine athletes keep maximum control of their backpack and are safe even in challenging terrain. Smart details like the carabiner loop on the shoulder strap make the Trail Pro an excellent via ferrata expert.
Price: $165 MSRP
This pack can definitely go head to head with any competitor when it comes to long day trips and summer mountaineering pursuits where it excels at. The Trail Pro 36 also performed much better than expected or advertised for a climbing pack. The front access to the main pocket was my all-time favorite feature! It made for exceptionally easy access to gear without having to remove everything through the top to get to gear at the bottom. I look forward to using it further in peak bagging pursuits and short backpacking trips wherever my travels take me.
- Intelligent design
- Amazing load transfer
- Doesn’t really perform in “mountain climbing” (mountaineering) as advertised
- No way to attach skis/snowshoes
I generally prefer simplistic, top loading, minimalist climbing packs so I was thrilled to test the Deuter Trail Pro 36 to try something new. The pack has an overall intelligent design that provides for greater efficiency than other packs I have used in the past. The Trial Pro 36 is advertised as primarily a hiking and mountaineering pack on Deuter’s site. This pack provides just enough space for use on extended single day pushes or fast and light multi day trips. The first impression I had when I removed this pack out of the box was its clean lines and aesthetic appearance, which was followed immediately with stuffing the pack to the brim to test it out in the field.
Upon shouldering the pack I was instantly taken back by how comfortable the shoulder straps and hip belt were. The pack provides excellent support and comfort with Deuter’s Aircontact System that helps pump fresh air through the packs padding with each step you take. It also lives true to Deuter’s claim that the pack allows “alpine athletes to keep maximum control of their backpack and are safe even in challenging terrain” with plenty of adjustment straps to precisely tune how the pack sits on your body. Once I got into the field, the overall performance of the pack was definitely higher than I expected. The padded hip belts are a perfect balance of cushion and rigidity to support surprisingly heavy loads relative to what would be expected of a pack in this class. It does have a few pit falls if you try and take it out of its intended range of uses. I definitely noticed this while trying to put the Trail Pro 36 through its paces in Colorado’s high snowpack this year.
Following the tried and true model of low drag internal frame packs the Trail Pro 36 maintains a very modern and practical design. The pack currently comes in two versions; a sleek black-graphite coloration or midnight lava as Deuter describes it which is a blue-red pack. I opted for the midnight lava coloration for this review since it’s all about those flashy colors in the backcountry these days!
Let’s start right off the bat with the large central pocket that can be accessed from the top or front, which swallows up plenty of gear for your next adventure. This large single pocket is flanked on the sides by a water bottle pocket on one side and a thin accessories pocket on the other. On the front of the pack is a large stretchy stuff pocket great for your helmet or items that you need quick access to — such as gloves or rain gear. The front also incorporates an ice axe loop and trekking pole straps which is unique. A zippered pocket on each hip belt strap allows for the convenient storage of small items such as snacks or a headlamp. The top of the pack sports two fairly large pockets, one above and one underneath the lid. These pockets expand a great deal to enable you to stuff a ton of small items that could easily be lost in the larger compartments of the pack.
Other features include a water reservoir pocket if you prefer it over the external water bottle pocket, an SOS instruction label under the lid, via ferrata loops along the shoulder straps, and an included rain fly for the pack stuffed within its own separate pocket near the bottom of the pack. The Trail Pro 36 is made of 600D PES and 210D PA fabrics. Deuter explains, “PES fibers are very tear and abrasion resistant and absorb hardly any moisture. PA fibers are extremely durable and abrasion resistant. In addition, they are characterized by high elasticity and low weight.” I have found these fabrics to live up to their name for the most part. They are definitely not the toughest fabrics on the market, however. They are touted as extremely water resistant, but these fabrics are not ideal for mountaineering applications where they will become waterlogged in the face of frequent exposure to snow, ice, or water. The included rain fly is a huge bonus for the pack, but a rain fly can only do so much against adverse weather. I would not rely on this for spring couloir climbing or winter mountaineering for example.
The Trail Pro 36 is not the lightest nor heaviest pack on the trail at just shy of 3.5 lbs. It is an absolute tank though where the added weight converts to pure comfort and back support for carrying heavy loads. I stated previously that I prefer simplistic alpine packs, well the Deuter Trail Pro 36 crushes any pack I currently own in sheer comfort. It is pretty common to have bruised and raw hips after carrying loads with an alpine climbing pack, you will never have this problem with the Trial Pro 36. The pack has an overall slim profile which helps with load distribution as you move across rough terrain. That slim profile expands to eat up everything I tried to stuff into it. I loaded the Trail Pro 36 up with my overnight setup and it performed exceptionally. I managed to load up my sleeping bag, sleeping pad, stove system, water filter, a nights worth of food, snacks, extra layers, water bottle, ice axe, along with some assorted luxuries and accessories in the top pockets. I also packed it full of climbing gear on multiple occasions to give it a whirl in Eldorado Canyon, Colorado. Let me tell you, it can stuff everything you need for a long day of climbing with ease and have room to spare. Compression straps along the side make it easy for you to synch down the pack whenever you add or remove gear from the pack maintaining its profile. It definitely has its limit though. If you plan on being in the backcountry for more than a night or two you are going to find it challenging to stuff it past its 36 liter capacity.
Room for Improvement
I tested the Trail Pro 36 as much as I could in each activity Deuter recommends. They recommend three categories suitable for the Trail Pro 36; mountain climbing, climbing, and hiking. Therefore, I will break this section down into each. I perceived mountain climbing as mountaineering and referred to it as such in this article since the icon on Deuter’s website shows a silhouette of a climber swinging an ice axe above their head. Deuter rates it most suitable for mountain climbing and hiking, however in the realm of mountaineering I have to disagree. It is definitely suitable for summer mountaineering where snow and ice is unlikely to be encountered. To each their own, but I believe a pack dedicated to mountaineering needs to be extremely durable and extremely waterproof which I think the Trail Pro 36 would have a tough time competing against more specialized packs on the market. This pack also has no way to attach skis or snowshoes which is a huge feature for a pack advertised for mountaineering. With no way to attach skis or snowshoes I was hard pressed when testing out the Trail Pro 36 this year with the heavy snowpack in Colorado. Every trail or peak I headed out for had substantial amounts of snow along the journey and I had to frequently leave the pack at home. In regard to climbing, I think the pack excelled beyond what I had expected and couldn’t find anything to improve. With hiking, I would say the only thing that could use some improvement is a detachable top. The top is sewn to the pack along the back edge closest to the wearer. This means when the pack is stuffed with overnight gear it is nearly impossible to squeeze a foam pad underneath the top pocket or really anything else which seems to be a very popular piece of gear and orientation seen in the backcountry to carry additional or oversized gear.
Although I think the Trail Pro 36 is outclassed in the realm of mountaineering packs, I think the it is an extremely comfortable work horse of a pack for long days in the alpine or extended periods on the rock. I rated the pack in relation to all categories it is advertised for, which slightly brought my rating for its features down due to the lack of mountaineering specific features. This pack can definitely go head to head with any competitor when it comes to long day trips and summer mountaineering pursuits where it excels at. The Trail Pro 36 also performed much better than expected or advertised for a climbing pack. The front access to the main pocket was my all time favorite feature! It made for exceptionally easy access to gear without having to remove everything through the top to get to gear at the bottom. I look forward to using it further in peak bagging pursuits and short backpacking trips wherever my travels take me.
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Zach is an aspiring alpinist, ski mountaineer, climber, and photographer. He is a Wilderness First Responder and frequently volunteers with the Colorado Mountain Club to help train future mountaineers. Zach works part-time as a marine biologist in Alaska and a wildlife biologist here in Colorado. You can catch him climbing around Golden where he lives today.