The Deuter ACT Trail 28 SL backpack is lauded as one of the best travel and hiking daypacks. Given the rave reviews, I knew it was only a matter of time before I got my hands on this wonderful backpack. It has wonderful suspension, loads from the top AND the front, and has a minimal amount of functional features that keep it streamlined. Below is my review and an overview of its many features.
This bag has the best. Suspension. Ever. I tried on about 5 comparable backpacks in REI and loaded them up with 15, 20 and 30 lbs (more than I would carry in this type of pack). The only one that shrugged it off and distributed the weight amazingly well was this one. For that, it’s a huge winner in my book!
2. Top AND front-loading
I love the look of top-loaders and hate the look of front loaders (they often look too dorky for me). But, when you have to access just that one thing and don’t want to dig through the whole bag just to find it – front loaders win. This bag has both so you can neatly pack it from the top, then zip open the front to grab stuff from the bottom. And it still looks like a top-loader!
3. Women-specific design
I can tell you that I am the first to poo-poo these. Often times women-specific design only means something as far as color choices go. But with this backpack (in addition to fun color choices!), the length is shorter (women generally have shorter torsos) and, most importantly, the straps are designed so they go around your boobs instead of squashing them. Which I think is important to most ladies. So hooray for that!
4. Comfortable, Stow Away Hipbelt
Not only is this hipbelt super light, it works really well at stabilizing the load and distributing the weight (read: is very comfortable!) AND it stashes away when not in use. Yusss.
This is definitely a technical-looking pack. With it’s loud colors (loud blue, loud red, and loud turquoise, which is the one I have), it definitely won’t fit in in a fancy business meeting. But it always makes me smile! It seems to shout, “Take me on an adventure!” Overall it’s a pretty simple-looking pack with a streamlined exterior, which means less straps getting caught everywhere and makes for a prettier pack. And yes, it comes with the flower!
This is a very comfortable backpack, regardless of how much weight you put in it. The straps are very thick and nicely padded. It’s also very comforting to know that regardless of the situation I’m in, it will handle it like a champ!
7. Brain – Exterior Pocket
This is a great place for your 3-1-1 bag or trail snacks! I’m not a huge fan of backpacks with brains since they can get in the way, but this one is very functional. It also has a keychain clip.
8. Brain – Interior Pocket
This larger and flatter pocket is good for things you don’t need to access as readily and you want to keep safe. Fits Kindle.
9. Buckle Closure – Helps to Secure Jackets to the Outside
The buckle closure to secure the brain is easily adjustable if you want to throw a jacket on top of the pack and cinch it down with the brain on top.
10. Strap Holders
There are four little loops along the front of the pack where you can loop lash straps through if you want to carry things on the outside of your pack.
11. Ice Axe Loops
If you’re looking at the pack, this is on the right side.
12. Hiking Pole Attachments
If you’re looking at the pack, this is on the left side.
13. Flat Front Pocket
Front flat pocket: Good for little goodies that you want easily accessible, like trail maps and sunscreen. Fits Kindle.
14. Water Bottle Pocket
Looking at the pack, this is on the right side and keeps water bottles secure. You’ll have to take the pack off the access them though!
15. Zippered Water Bottle/Tube-Shaped Things Pocket
Looking at the pack, this is on the left side. I’ve found this still holds my 16 oz insulated Klean Kanteen, but is not stretchy like the actual water bottle pocket. What this means is that if you have a water bottle in there, you’ll need to kind of shove it in the pack and it will take up some of the interior space of the pack.
16. Front-Loading Pocket
Zippered access to the interior of the pack: Hallelujah! Travel packing gods rejoice! You can access all the stuff in the backpack from the front, meaning that you don’t have to dig in from the top! Super duper handy!
17. Clip Straps
Other than securing the zippered portion, I honestly don’t know what these are for, since they are very short. You can’t attach something like a small tent to the backpack using these. However, what you can attach to the pack using these is tent poles!
18. Rain Cover
There is a hidden pocket at the base of the pack where a rain cover is stored! Not only is the rain cover handy in the rain (and you don’t have to purchase one!), you can use the pocket for other light gear like those lash straps!
19. Grab Strap & Load Lifter Straps
- Grab strap. Not particularly comfortable, but serves its purpose.
- Load-lifter straps! These make a big difference when carrying heavier loads. And if you’re carrying a lot of water, it will be heavy!
20. Reflective Loops & Adjustable Sternum Strap
Reflective loop: For hanging sunglasses and threading your bladder tube through. Not as large as I’d like.
21. Inside the bag: only one pocket
The top closure secures with a drawstring. The inside is basically a giant hole, so if you’re looking for things like pen holders, you won’t find it here. There is a non-padded pocket along the back which serves as the hydration sleeve. It has a velcro strap to clip to the bladder so it doesn’t slide down and a hole at the top to weave the hose through. You can of course use this pocket for a laptop. A 13″ Macbook Pro fits in there in its case just fine, and my 15″ Surface Book 2 just squeezes in the pocket.
What this backpack lacks:
- Hipbelt pockets: Yes, these would make them less easy to stash, but they are sooo handy. Oh well.
- Actual reflective details: There is reflective piping on the ice axe bungees, but it’s pretty minimal. For safety reasons, I wish there was something larger.
- A whistle in the sternum strap: So many backpacks have these now that I thought they were pretty much standard issue. So if you want a whistle, you’ll have to bring one.
- Actual lower straps: As mentioned above (#17), there are tiny straps where you can secure thin poles, but there is no way to attach something like a sleeping bag/tent/what have you.
What to use this backpack for
- If you’re into ultralight travel, look no further than this backpack. The fabric is really light and tough. It won’t let you down!
- Hiking and minimal backpacking
- As your go-to daypack
- For treking adventures like the Inca Trail, Camino De Santiago, etc.
Where to buy:
I would recommend trying this bag on at your local outdoor store and having them help you load it up and adjust the straps. But if you’re ready to order this awesome bag right now, here is an Amazon link.