Deuter Descentor EXP 22 ($169)

Meet the Mercedes of backpacks. Courtesy of Deuter

Deuter, pronounced Doy-ter, is a German company that's been in the backpack business since 1898. Europeans have been using Deuter packs for over a century now, but the brand is less known in the U.S. (even though they've been distributing in North America since 2001). But that all might be changing soon: Deuter recently started making freeride-specific packs like this one, the Descentor EXP 22, which hits the market this fall.


This pack is like the Mercedes of backpacks. German engineering means nothing has been overlooked and every detail is purposeful. The Descentor is equipped to accommodate skis or a snowboard. You can carry skis diagonally or unbuckle the pack's compression straps for a quick transition to an A-frame carry. A large easy-access fleece-lined pocket fits goggles, cameras, and any other items you need to get to quickly. And a neoprene hydration sleeve in the right shoulder strap keeps your water from freezing. "Deuter has made ski packs for many years," says Todd Walton, Deuter's PR guy. "And with the Freeride series, we've incorporated the durability, functionality and versatility for getting into the sidecountry, backcountry, or inbounds."

This low-profile 22-liter pack is the right size for sidecountry day trips, plus a hidden panel opens like an accordion to expand the pack to 26 liters. It comes with an integrated back protector that shields from blunt impacts and serves as a semi-rigid structure for the pack. "The main purpose of the Shield System is to minimize or even prevent injury during higher risk sports," says Walton. "The multi-layer construction delivers shock absorption." The only drawback to the spine protector, in my opinion, is the added weight. But to prevent you from getting Sweaty Back Syndrome (yes, that's the technical name for it), they've placed thick pads on the back that create large channels for air to pass through to wick moisture. Oh, and did I mention the black pinstripes?

To find a dealer near you or to see the entire line of Deuter products go to Deuter.com.