Judy Armstrong reviews a stable pack with zip access that carries loads well.

This review is part of our women’s day packs gear guide, and was first published in the July 2018 issue of The Great Outdoors.

  • Weights: from my digital scales, brands’ weights in brackets
  • Test load: 3.5kg up to 30 litres, 6kg 30+ litres

TransAlpine is part of Deuter’s Bike range but my experience with this kind of pack is that it works well for hiking, too. It’s a neat, comfortable pack with a zip opening and tidy pocketing, and carried the test load with ease.

First point: like Osprey’s Tempest, the shoulder straps are set 10cm down from the top of the pack. But unlike Tempest the panel is stiffened so even if the top tension straps are relaxed to lower the straps for a shorter back length, the pack retains its integrity and doesn’t fold outward. Plus, there is no external top pocket to add to the leverage: it’s all contained inside the pack.

The back system (Airstripes) comprises chunky, mesh-covered, curved padding which creates a small gap between back and pack but doesn’t lever it out like the air gap systems. It’s just soft enough for comfort, with a wide, flexible mesh hipbelt with two zipped mesh pockets, big enough for small phone, energy bars, compass etc. Shoulder straps are well shaped and padded with loops on both to route a hydration tube.

A long zip runs around the top and down each side, for access to the main body compartment. There’s a wide pouch for a hydration bladder, another pouch on the facing wall and an internal divider (which I took out; I’m unlikely to use one in a pack this size). A small front pocket has more mesh slots and a zipped security pocket for wallet etc. On the front of the pack is another zip, releasing a mesh helmet retainer – handy for cycling, scrambling, via ferrata. Two low mesh side pockets have compression straps and are a good size for drink bottles. A detachable rain cover in the base has elasticated edges and is neon yellow, which is essential for cycling, or walking on roads in poor light. Being squashed by traffic can ruin a good day out.

Because of the semi-rigid back panel I found this comfortable and stable to carry, even though the back length was slightly too long for me. It didn’t fit me for mountain biking because my helmet hit the top of the pack during descents, although it works well for a taller person. It’s also available in a fair range of volumes, for men and women, so if you are interested in it for biking as well as hiking, it should be simple to find the right size for both sports.