Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Super comfortable suspension, lots of pockets and other features.
Cons: Heaviest pack in the reivew, bulky hip belt.
Best Uses: Backpacking, mountaineering, extended trips.
The Deuter Air Contact 65+10 is the Cadillac of backpacking packs. It was one of the plushest packs we tested but also one of the heaviest. It scored right in the middle of our review for both quality and price. If you love the features and the fit, it is a good value. If you have the cash, we recommend the Arcteryx Altra 65, our Editors' Choice pack. If you want a lighter and more versatile pack, go with our Best Buy winner, the Osprey Aether 60.
The Deuter Aircontact 65+10 pack is among the most comfortable packs in our review. We had a hard time choosing a "top pick" for most comfortable and the Aircontact was a contender. However, after extensive side-by-side testing the Altra and Baltoro barely edged out the Aircontact in comfort and suspension. We did think the Aircontact had a burlier suspension and similar comfortable shoulder straps as the Osprey Aether 60 and 70. Even hiking all day with 50 pounds, the Aircontact straps and waist belt spread the pressure evenly and the pack felt exceptionally good.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
This pack has a super plush suspension with some of the beefiest padding in our review. Testers with bony hips loved it while others thought the waist belt was a little hot and bulky. The Aircontact is great for folks who are looking for a pack with a lot of features such as a bunch of pockets, good lashing points and a built-in pack cover, without having to shell out a bunch of money. We disliked the added weight of the pack cover at first, but then proceeded to use it on every testing trip in the North Cascades and the rain forest of the Olympic coast. It worked as a real pack cover and kept our pack dry even in driving rain. We liked the built-in straps on the lower part of the back; they easily fit a full length Z-Rest or most other large pads. The lid of the Aircontact is tall and while not quite as nice as the dual zippered Altra, the Air Contact is easy to get into and poke around. It has the second nicest lid in our review. We also liked the dual zippered cargo pockets on either side of this pack that easily fit larger items like Nalgene bottles. It is also one of the most adjustable packs in our review, enabling the user to dial this pack into their body.
The Air Contact has no shortage of pockets and plenty of built-in straps and lash points plus a built-in pack cover. All these features make it the heaviest pack in our review. If you use the features, the weight is worth it. But we generally prefer a lighter pack.
While some of our testers loved its super plush padding, making even 65-pound loads bearable, everyone had to admit the shoulder straps and especially the waist belt were bulky and on the warmer side. We mainly tested this pack in cool temps and still found the waist belt the most sweaty. If you are using this in warmer conditions we expect the sweat buildup would be a major drawback.
The flat zippered pocket on the back of this pack was hard to get into, especially if you are trying to get an item bigger than a container of sunblock out and the pack is full.
This pack is ideal for backpackers and trekkers on longer trips or people taking short trips who want to carry a lot of stuff. It's a little bulky for ski touring and technical climbing. It's a descent pack for glacier mountaineering as long as you own a low profile harness to fit under the waistbelt.
— Ian Nicholson
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OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: February 7, 2013
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