Deuter knows how to make a backpack. The German company has been making packs for specialized applications for over 100 years, so a touring pack designed for ease of use is a simple task for them.
The Deuter Freerider 30L is a dedicated ski touring backpack designed for full, single day tours. It is large enough to fit all the essentials, plus extra features to make your day a little easier.
The Freerider’s main access is through the fully opening back flap, which opens to the main compartment, revealing all your gear from the top of the pack to the bottom. Inside, there is an elastic slot which can fit up to a 3L water reservoir. There is also a half zipper that opens to the top of the bag, although if you store your goggles in the dedicated zippered goggle pocket, it seems to block access to the top zipper unless you fully unzip the bag, which can be hard to do if you have poles or skis strapped to the side.
Lastly, the avalanche pocket can store a full basic safety kit, with room to spare. It also has a thin zippered slot, which I used to store my repair kit, skistraps, and multitool.
This pack is definitely a lightweight pack. Coming in at exactly 1 kilogram, it is lighter than most other packs I have used. However, this does come with some tradeoffs. I am a big proponent of frame packs, which is the style that my other packs use. The Freerider does not have a full frame that runs up the spine like a typical frame pack, but it does have a slightly ridged pole in a U shape made of Derlin, which is a lightweight plastic. A protective piece that sits in the padding ensures that even with optimal packing, you won’t feel the hard edge of a water bottle or camera case.
The face fabric, while thin and light, feels extremely durable. I have no fears about ripping on the edge of my board or tearing on a stray tree branch. It is also treated with DWR, or durable water repellent, which keeps the inside of your bag dry, even when it’s dumping snow.
Deuter recommends the recommended load not exceed 8 kilograms.
Amazon.com Price: $160.00 (as of 02/21/2024 11:20 MST) Details
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You may notice a lack of lashing and straps. This is intentional! Deuter includes 2 straps that attach to 4 of the 9 different points along the bag. This ensures that no matter if you ski or snowboard, you will always have a way to attach your gear to your bag for those steep bootpacks. Solid and splitboards in ride mode can be attached to the back when the straps are used in a parallel setup.
Skis and splits can be attached in A-frame, and skis can be attached across the bag diagonally. And when you are done, you can take the straps off again, restoring the bag back to the clean, minimalist look that I love.
I do have doubts about the strength of the straps. While they barely add weight, they are very thin. The clasps are metal, so I have no doubt that they will hold up to wear and tear, but I would fear that a heavy board would cause the straps to loosen.
Ice axes can be easily secured to the back with a metal hook and an elastic loop. I find a lot of companies are doing this now over the nylon loop, and I really can appreciate the system Deuter decided to use with this bag. The metal T that attaches the blade of the axe does feel a little tight and slightly too large, but as I use it more, I believe that it will loosen over time.
Things to Note
There are a few things that this bag doesn’t have that may be a deal breaker for some. The look is very minimalistic and clean , but that also means that there is no place to strap a radio to. I ended up having to use the suspension straps, which works, until you have to open that back pocket. My radio would slide off every time I had to unclip the buckles..
The bag also does not include a helmet net in the price. Deuter does sell one for $20, but I find that nets come with a majority of the bags I have used. The helmet net also can’t be used when securing a board or skis to the backpack. I had to attach some carabiniers to carry my helmet, which worked fine, but a helmet net would be a much more simple solution.
I think the Deueter Freerider 30L Backpack ($165.00) fulfills the needs of everyone, from the weekend warrior, to the local that skins the resorts in the mornings before work. I definitely think that this will join my rotation of bags. It might not be the one that does it all, but it fulfills its description of the bag that will be perfect for those sun up to sun down days with little frills. Deuter also promises free repairs for the entire life of the bag, and if you somehow destroy this bag beyond repair, Deuter will try to replace it with a similar bag.
Overall, if you are looking for a minimalist, low-profile, ski touring bag, the Deuter Freerider is the bag that might be for you.
The Freerider also comes in a small version for short days, and an extended, large version for overnight touring.