I’m a sucker for bags. Every time a new design comes out, I am bright-eyed at the idea of some new way to get my life together, finally organize all my hopes, dreams and snacks into a compartmentalized, ergonomic and travel-ready sack. Often, those wishes are overshot, or what is marketed in a pack is overshadowed by something sinister. Maybe it’s uncomfortable, or the pockets are the wrong size, or the design is really cool in theory, if only I could crack the code on what that theory is (what are these straps supposed to tie down? What is this pocket for? Why would I want a metal clip on a pressure point?). Everyone wants to be innovative, I get it, but sometimes a backpack is best left as a backpack.
Deuter Trans Alpine Pro 26L backpack did just that. But, like, a really nice backpack. I have a Deuter 60+10L trekking pack and was interested in how this mini cycling pack would compare. There is a lot to love about this backpack. It’s a women-specific design with a shorter frame (the longer mens version is a 28L pack), making sit comfortably on the back, rather than feeling pushed up from my butt or riding up to my skull due to being too long for a shorter torso. It has the same Deuter Airstripes as my trekking pack, with padding that feels almost overbuilt until you do the same all-day off-road ride with another backpack and feel how differently the weight is dispersed. Also similar to a trekking pack, there is a smaller compartment at the bottom of the bag, that can be opened on top to become one big open backpack, rather than a main compartment and bottom compartment. This is a good place to store a bulky jacket, pair of shoes, or a muddy something-or-other you don’t want comingling with the rest of your crap.
The main compartment opens up nicely for easy access to anything small that may have sunk to the bottom of the bag, not that the bag is that big to begin with, or that it’s likely you will lose a small nugget if you use one of the many convenient smaller pouches. Behind the big compartment and close to the padding is another large pocket that can be used to store a water reservoir (there are all the requisite pouches, securements and hose holes) or a laptop if you are taking the adventurous route to work. Perhaps more interesting is the cellphone pocket that sits low in the pack, behind the reservoir pocket, and stretches just about all the way across, meaning it will withstand all phone updates for the next three years as cell phones grow like Mogwais eating after midnight, ultimately turning not into Gremlins but into equally terrifying and burdensome phonebooth-sized computers we lug everywhere, horrified at the prospect of missing a realtime “like” on an Instagram post….Where was I? Oh yeah, I love pockets that make sense, and this bag has plenty.
Up front, there’s a helmet pouch that can be sinched up pretty close to the bag. I never felt like my helmet was very secure in this pouch, but if you’re riding anything bumpy (or, at all), then you’re likely wearing the helmet anyway. So this is moreso a decent place to keep your helmet if you don’t want it filling with bugs on a lunch stop.
The last nice details are a little place on the shoulder strap to clip your sunglasses, and a hi-viz rain shell that tucks neatly into its own compartment when not in use. These are really solid features for springtime riding when the weather changes so much it’s hard to stay convinced to get on out there. What about the blinding sun that inevitably disappears? What about snacks that will get soggy from the rain? With so much to worry about in life, those aren’t issues Deuter wants you to fret over.
Finally, this backpack is a bit heavy for a typical ride. It has a spring steel frame which, paired with the aforementioned Airstripes and padding, makes it super comfortable and sturdy for long rides or heavy loads (I rode the trails to and from the grocery store for some cookie ingredients and barely felt the substantial weight I was carrying back, even when I slipped onto the more technical section with a few logs and a lip at the end). But for a typical lunch hour ride or quick jaunt, this may be a bit overkill, depending on your carrying preferences.