As mentioned previously, I was torn by two amazing deals on REI’s website. I couldn’t decide, so I bought both to test out. Having looked at the Gregory Maya first, I felt at times this pack was the polar opposite, in both good and bad ways. Pretty much every pro–and con–of one pack was mirrored in the other. Here’s my thoughts on the Deuter Futura SL 30L.
The Maya definitely won on features. The Deuter was fairly bare bones–it came with a rain cover, but other than that didn’t have too many bells or whistles. Like my Deuter overnight pack, the bottom of the main compartment had a zipper for you to cordon off if chosen. I liked keeping items I’d be likely to need, like gaiters and my microspikes or extra gloves in here for easier access. If the raincover was on you would need to pop it off the bottom of the pack for access, far easier than removing the cover altogether to access the opening at the top of the pack. Speaking off, the top of the pack is a lot less complicated than the Maya, with two buckles that easily clip in and out.
One of my key demands for this winter pack was water bottle pockets on the sides. Winter temps can easily freeze hydration tubes, so pockets for Nalgenes was a must. While the Deuter did provide these pockets, they weren’t nearly as big as the ones in the Maya, so even a wide-mouth 32 oz Nalgene was a snug fit. There was also a strap over the water bottle pocket that could be tightened, making it even more of a struggle to get bottles in and out. There is still a flap inside to slip a hydration bladder if needed. Like my other Deuter pack, there are two slim pockets on the interior and exterior of the lid.
The biggest difference between the two packs to me, however, was the frame. The Deuter pack does have a frame system, designed to keep the pack off your back so air can circulate though. Without it being properly fitted though, I STILL was constantly tugging and adjusting the straps to try to get a proper fit. A massive pet peeve of mine when trying on packs is if they come up too high, and with this pack being a one-size-fits-all pack, I was concerned. My fears ended up coming true, as the pack came up so high I couldn’t really look up while wearing it, and had to hike with my head tilted down, Cro-Magnum style. The sore neck the next day was a deal breaker for me–this is a great pack for some, but not for me.
Looks like the pack is no longer available on REI or Amazon, so it must have been a closeout for the model anyway. I still really like Deuter as a brand, and liked some parts of the pack, even if the fit wasn’t right. Also, despite ruling out this pack for me, I’m not sure if that makes the Maya 32 my default winner just yet. Call me Goldilocks, ‘cuz I need to find a pack that is just right! What pack do you use for your winter adventures?