Since buying my Deuter Act Zero 50 backpacking pack I have been converted to the Deuter clan. When a upcoming bikepacking trip was coming up I knew the last thing I needed was another specialty setup that may only get used a few times a year. I was looking for something versatile enough to become my day hiking pack but still be featured enough for bikepacking. I was aware Deuter made a pack called the Trans Alpine 30 for backcountry mountain biking. What I discovered was that Europe got a different version called, Trans Alpine Pro 28. After tracking it down I put in an order for one from across the pond. The only question that remained, was would it work for everything I wanted to throw at it?
Initial Thoughts- The Deuter Trans Alpine Pro 28 was designed for backcountry riders who need a larger carrying capacity without sacrificing agility on the bike. The pack has 28 liters of internal and external storage that is divided up for ultimate organization. Starting from the front there are two straps that can securely hold a helmet for transport When not in use the straps tuck away maintaining a clean finish. Just below the helmet holder is a 'U' shaped zippered pocket that reveals eight organization pockets specific to the bike world. Think hand pump, tools, tubes, etc. Following the pack further back you have the main compartment which is sealed with another 'U' shaped zipper. These long 'U' shapes allow the pack to be opened nearly like a duffel. In side the main pocket there is a internal zippered pocket for smaller items, as well as two elastic pockets for storing wet gear, or dividing the contents of the main compartment. At the bottom of the main compartment there is a zippered shelf (like what are often found in backpacking packs). This zippered houses a separate/or combined (you choose) area for storage. This area can be accessed from the main compartment or from the external zipper below the first compartment described. Just behind the main compartment there is a final zippered area that houses the hydration sleeve. The compartment is separate from the other areas allowing you to remove a hydration reservoir (which is not supplied) without having to empty the pack. On the bottom of the pack there is a small zippered compartment that houses the included rain cover, just in case the weather turns to shit. The back panel using Deuters Airflow design helping to keep your back cool. There are two more zippered mesh hip belt pockets for storing quick to access items, as well as two similar mesh water bottle pockets on the side of the pack. As this pack appears to be modeled after traditional backpacking packs there are load lifter straps, four compression straps and a padded hipbelt designed with mountain biking in mind. One last notable feature is that all the zippers snap together allowing each compartment to be "locked", avoiding accidentally losing something while bombing down a hill. All of these features come in at 3.4 pounds, which may turn some of you weight weenies away. All these features are nice in theory, but the real test is spending time on the bike and on my feet
Use- After this pack made it's journey across the ocean it arrived just in time for our first bike packing adventure. With the pack busting at the gills with all the overnight gear, emergency repair kits and food it was loaded heavy. The stout steel frame and backpacking inspired support system carried the load surprisingly well. Over the course of the two days, I did notice some lower back pain, but it was most likely a combination of the pack weight and the lack of riding prior to the trip. The multiple organization pockets made it very easy to assist in the trailside repairs, as well as keep all my items easy to find. Similar to the design of the Out There ! AS-2, the pack is highly organizable. When using the pack for day hikes on other trips it made an ideal place to store First Aid, water treatment and photography equipment. On the bike the pack rides high on my short torso. Deuter does make a SL (short length) version that I probably would have went with had I been able to locate it in time. The only time the pack is noticable is when I am in the drops on my gravel bike and trying to get low for the wind; it then will occasionally bump my helmet. The most useful feature of the pack is the separate hydration pocket. I still don't understand why all packs are not designed this way. The zipper locks on the pack work great to keep everything contained, and are an excellent piece of mind. Similar to my Act Zero pack the back panel doesn't breath as well as it could in the Arizona heat. For cooler climates I would not see it being a big issue. I also would have liked to see the zippered pockets on the waist belt slightly larger to accommodate larger items.
Final Thoughts- The Deuter Trans Alpine Pro 28 is a great alternative for the casual bikepacker who is not looking to drop $300 on a bike specific bag system. The design and features of the pack allow you to use it across multiple sports. Hiking, biking, air travel and 'gear light' overnighters can be easily done with this pack; saving you money on gear (or rather saving you money for different gear). Although the weight of the pack is high, the 'backpacking style' suspension system allows heavier loads to be carried easily. Whether you are traveling by feet or tires the Deuter Trans Alpine Pro 28 may be the perfect solution you have been looking for. Checkout the pack and other international Deuter packs.
The pack was purchased and flown across the atlantic for you testing pleasure.