Early 2011. My inner gear junkie had just awakened, and at that time I still did all my trips (both short and long) with an enormous 75l backpack. So I was in the market for a smaller backpack. A year before I had fallen in love with the Deuter Guide backpack I had seen on a mountaineer in the Austrian alps, so without much thinking I went straight for the Deuter Guide 45+. At the time, that was the perfect volume for me, and with those hardcore looks I felt like I could conquer the world. Yay!
Ever since, I’ve had acces to a Deuter Guide backpack. Through the years I exchanged my 45l model for a 35l, and a little later I exchanged that (heavily battered but still impeccable) black backpack for the exact same model in an awesomesauce red-blue colour scheme. But I never considered to take the Deuter Guide out of my collection. Its combination of comfort and indestructibility, plus the fact it fits extremely easily when I borrow the backpack to a friend, make the Deuter Guide a total keeper.
It’s my first choice when I’m playing outside and guiding in Iceland. After 7 years hiking (read: grating) over basaltic lava; ploughing through storm, wind, rain, hail, snow and ice; forcing it in over-loaded highland buses, overpacking and putting in too much weight; using it as a sleigh on a snow slope and much more abuse; the backpack convinced me that it is and will most likely continue to be the longest stayer in my collection.
Horrible weather, overpacking, heavy weights, dang I´ve aubsed these packs.
Don’t get me wrong. The Deuter Guide series is engineered as a hardcore mountaineering backpack. Being mainly a weekend-warrior hiker myself, you may find this is an atypical review about an alpinism-pack used as a hiking backpack. Further on, I’ll focus on the main reasons why I believe this backpack is an excellent addition to any outdoor enthusiasts’ outdoor gear collection.
Winner: formidable back system!
Even though the “Alpine Fit” back system can’t really be called high tech (there is no height-adjustment, for a matter of fact), the backpack fits surprisingly well on the back. The padding is relatively thin, but the backpack manages great to carry heavy loads and maintaining a good micro-climate in the contact areas. The -typically Deuter- straight fit gives a lot of support, and I notice that the padding is a step stiffer than other Deuter models. Personally I think this is the greatest asset of the Alpine Fit back system: soft enough to be comfortable, but stiff enough to provide good support for heavy loads. It might not carry 25kg, but up to 18 kg goes without any difficulties (and especially les difficulties when compared to competitors!)
Really great back system
By the way, that back system is very well designed! I’m rather tall myself (1m87) and most backpacks with a non-adjustable frame are too short for my back. No complaints with the Deuter Guide though! Even better is that in my entire backpack collection, this backpack adjusts the most easily to any of my friends’ backs too: It’s the number one backpack to lend. Even female outdoor-compagnions enjoy carrying this pack!
Each time I borrow a backpack to a friend, we end up with the Guide after fitting what’s in my gear shed. Especially for female friends the Guide works surprisingly well, despite the typical issues for women carrying a mens pack.
Construction & Design
For alpine usage, the Guide backpacks are stacked with smart features, like a detachable hip belt or a small strap for attaching rope (you’ll find the full list on the Deuter website). Hikers don really need those specific features, but luckily they don’t make the weight and they’re not in the way. On the other hand, since I have a Deuter Guide backpack available I’ve learned to pack my backpack much more compact, as the typical hiker-features (like sidepockets) are absent. The minimalistic design contributes to an improved weight distribution and the sleek shape allows for more freedom of movement. I believe the X-shaped frame helps there too. It is amazing to be on trail with a backpack that brings your needs back to the essence!
The backpacks are made from an indistructable Nylon micro ripstop tissue (600D & 330D). This is a lot stronger than standard on hiking backpacks. If one really need this strength, is open for discussion, but we should not forget these backpacks are made to toss around as a wearable iron store high up in the mountains. By all means, I’ll never manage to break it. Even with this heavy material, the weight of the backpack is still rather acceptable: 1.55kg for the latest version of the Guide 35+, and 1.70kg for the Guide 45+. We should honestly add that the full line-up of hiking and alpine backpacks at Osprey stays well below 1.50kg, but I rest assured the Deuter Guide will outlive them all.
A little DIY
The top lid of the Guide backpack is non-detachable in standard configuration. In my idea of perfect gear, this was not OK, so it didn’t take long before I’ve cut the top lid loose (this goes very easily). A lot better. With my little “Deuter-hack” I could immediately put the top lid a lot higher (and overpack even more, yay!), or leave more unnecessary clutter when lightening up for that 4000m peak. Yip, win win!
The back system has a piece of EVA foam that is meant to use as sit pad, but it’s way to difficult to take it out and put it back in, so I’ve thrown that out. (and It’s now the backbone of my Golite Jam 😉 )
For the sake of it, I have also checked how much weight I could strip off the backpack (without any more scissor work). After taking off the hip belt, all loose straps, the top lid and the frame, I could ged rid of some 500g. You’d be cutting down on comfort, but if desired, the heavy duty Deuter Guide can even serve as a lightweight pack!