The Deuter Aircontact is a comfortable pack that sports some of the beefiest padding in our review. Testers with bony hips particularly loved this pack's plush padding, making even 50+ pound loads bearable. We mainly tested this pack in cool temps and still found the waist belt to be the most sweaty of all competitors. If you are using this in warmer conditions, we expect the sweat buildup would be a major drawback. The inner fabric was decent, but we didn't find it as comfortable as the Osprey Aether AG 60 or the Arc'teryx Bora. Our testing determined that the Osprey Atmos AG 65 kept us noticeable cooler.
The robust suspension was capable of carrying 50-pound loads. We liked it more than a handful of models, like the Osprey Volt 60, The North Face Banchee 65, or Atmos AG 65 but our testers felt the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Osprey Xenith 75 performed slightly better (though by much).
This is the primary factor that kept this pack from scoring significantly scoring better in our review; at 6 lbs 6 oz, it is by far the heaviest pack in our review. While it does offer a decently robust suspension and comfortable (albeit bulky padding), we'd still lean towards the Gregory Baltoro 65 or Osprey Xenith for larger loads. Regardless, the Aircontact does serve up above average suspension and comfort for the user, along with a host of features.
Features and Ease of Use
The Aircontact is a fully featured pack that is solid and well-designed, but overall, our testers thought the pockets featured on this pack were only so-so. For example, the pocket on the back of this pack (which Deuter refers to as a "wet" pocket or a place to store your dirty clothes) was difficult to access as easily and as a result, couldn't pull double duty to help us with organization quite as much as other contenders. The flat zippered pocket on the side of this pack was also hard to get into, especially if you are trying to get an item bigger than a container of sunblock out (assuming your pack is full).
The top lid pocket was also so-so, and its side zipper wraps a short distance around the corners (similar to Osprey's design). The lid pocket makes it easy to search for items, but it was hardly our favorite design. We appreciated the internal valuables pocket as a place to put our keys or other items we didn't want to lose. We'd often just put our keys and credit card in this pocket and then not open it again until the end of our trip. The long built-in straps were perfect for a sleeping pad or other strangely shaped oblong item. The abundant lash points were also a plus, as was the sweet detachable pack cover.
The Aircontact also features a zippered pocket on the hip belt for snacks or other small items that you'd want to be easily accessible. On extended trips or for use while traveling, this pack features a large "U" shaped opening to access the contents of the pack. All of 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 when backpacking.
Offering a high level of vertical adjustment, the Vario adjustment system is super easy to use and is easily displayed on loops that are hidden behind the back panel. The Aircontact features double the amount of adjustment of most packs in our review, with the only other pack offering close to as much adjustment being the Osprey Volt 60.
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 but is a decent pack for glacier mountaineering (as long as you own a low-profile harness to fit under the waist belt). We do think this is a top-notch pack for travel where its comfort, killer access, and high level of durability will be appreciated. This pack is good for a backpacker who is slightly heavier than average, where weight won't be as much of an issue.
Price-wise, the Aircontact is average among backpacking packs. It is certainly made from bomber materials and is more durable than many packs we tested. We'd expect it to last longer and hold up better over time than many contenders in our review.
The Deuter Aircontact is a solid pack that is built to last. It has a solid number of features and is designed with a stout suspension and plenty of padding. Its padding is a little bulky and warmer than most, but it performs well overall. The Aircontact's main downsides are its so-so pockets and the review's heaviest 6 lbs 6 oz weight. The upsides are that you get a durable pack with lots of lash points and pleasantly placed straps and a pack that is built to carry relatively heavy loads on extended trips distinctively.