Gear Review: Deuter Freerider Pro 28SL Backpack

This ultra-comfortable pack tests best with diehard snowshoers.

Best for Snowshoers
Despite its Winter X-Games appearance, this tricked-out pack became a favorite of our diehard snowshoers. Its intuitive snowshoe lashing system (two simple, yet very secure, buckled straps) let us quickly stash our snowshoes until we needed them again. "The system is perfect for trails that start out hard-packed, but get fluffier as traffic decreases," says a tester who used the 1,700-cubic-inch pack on multiple treks through Colorado's Park Range. The super-tough Hypalon front panel withstood impact with snowshoe and crampon spikes, and a fleece-lined top pocket protected goggles.

Specially designed interior pockets and sleeves offer fast access to an avalanche probe and shovel. The adjustable shoulder straps move up or down on the backpanel to accommodate different torso lengths (16 to 21 inches). (Taller hikers should opt for Deuter's Freerider Pro 30, which fits 17.5- to 22-inch torsos.) It's not ultralight, but it is ultra-comfortable with up to 20 pounds: The pivoting hipbelt made the pack feel nimble–not blocky–while we were hiking, and the mesh-covered shoulder straps were noticeably cooler than most. "It's a small detail," said our tester. "But I never had sweat buildup between my windshirt and the shoulder straps, whereas normal straps leave sweaty marks." $149; 3 lbs. 13 oz.; 1 unisex size;