I was lucky enough to get my hands on the Deuter Aircontact Pro 70+15 last year for a thru-hike of the John Muir Trail. This is definitely the number one pack out of the Deuter line for heavy loads! I chose to go with a large, burly bag since we planned our trip as a three week hike with very few food stops.
We also went for the performance of a heavier, liquid-fuel Whisperlite stove and I was planning on carrying a fairly large DSLR camera and two lenses.
The Aircontact Pro has quite a few features which will appeal to those looking to carry everything. The first thing that I noticed was that the exterior side pockets are HUGE. On one side I was able to cram a 30 oz fuel bottle, Therm-a-Rest Compack chair, AND an SLR Zoom Gorillapod (the really big one). On the other side I stashed my Chaco Z2’s with room to spare!
These pockets will also hold a 3liter reservoir, and have tube slits so that you can use them for water. This is a fantastic Idea, not requiring the hiker to unpack the top half of a pack just to access the reservoir to refill, and then attempt to re-install a full reservoir with all the stuff in the way.
The sleeping bag compartment is also gigantic. My Sleeping bag had company; a Fillo Pillow, Nano Puff Hoody, and Mammut rain shell all fit in along with the sleeping bag. This made my extra layers easy to access in a weather emergency (which turned out to be a good idea).
The front U-shaped flap allows access to the inside while your pack is lying on the ground. Unfortunately, this didn’t get used much (there was a huge bear canister taking up the middle of the pack), except for attempting to cram something into an un-utilized space after I had already packed up for the morning. I’m really looking forward to traveling with the Aircontact Pro, where I know the U-flap will get used a lot.
The last feature of note is the lid. Deuter is not known for making removable lids on toploader packs, but that seems to be changing. Converting the lid of this pack into a summit pack is simple with the included shoulder straps.
However, I found that the design makes wearing it pretty awkward, and it doesn’t hold much stuff. That being said, it did just fine on our scrambly ascent to the summit of Split Mountain and it also performed well on fishing duty while running up and down creeks.
My only gripe was that the pack seemed to put pressure on my lumbar area. After 5-6 miles I ended up with lower lumbar pain from the pressure. I tried many things to remedy this, to no avail. I am attempting do a bit of bending to the stays in the frame, as I think this is the issue. The Aircontact Pro is otherwise a very comfortable pack.
The shoulder harness adjustment is a cinch, making it easy to switch users, and the hipbelt is very large and well padded to transfer the weight to your hips, and keep you comfortable while logging an 18-mile day.
This is definitely the go to pack for guides, scoutmasters, and those who just end up carrying everything!
Deuter Aircontact Pro 70+15 Backpack