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Deuter began making packs more than a century ago, and even The Futura 24 SL exudes the spirit of German engineering around every seam. Want to go climbing in hurricane season? No worries, the clever stowable, built-in rain cover will keep your animal crackers dry. Find a stash of silver bars in an old mine you need to discretely haul back to your car? You're in luck. The pack's steel frame will provide support for whatever you can stuff into its 1,460 cubic inches.
The Futura 24 SL's comfort features rival those of backpacks designed for much longer excursions. The back-facing panel features Deuter's Aircomfort system of suspended mesh for ventilation, which also keeps any lumps and sharp ends away from your back. The shoulder straps have ample, feminine-contoured padding, plus smaller buckles and narrow tapered strap ends to "prevent chaffing and reduce pressure points in the chest area." Deuter also says they shortened the back slightly and made the waist belt conical to take women's anatomies into account, though the true benefit of that probably depends on your particular dimensions.
The planning and design of the Futura 24 SL are impressive, but they are also the pack's biggest flaws. Weighing in at 3.8 pounds, it feels like it's already got gear in it when you pick it off the shelf. (Note: the brochure claims 3.5 pounds, but the bathroom scale said otherwise). It suffers from a case of over-engineering, with features excessive for the intended use combined with the amount of gear it can hold.
Using this pack for a light day hike is kind of like wearing Uggs with a miniskirt - two nice ideas, just in the wrong combination. But if you believe in being prepared on a rough adventure with minimal gear, this pack could easily last longer than your courage.
What's a little extra weight in exchange for the security of carrying a survival-class piece of equipment? Really, it's just a way to get into a little better shape. And speaking of survival, there are instructions on the inside flap of how to signal for help.
And speaking of miniskirts, the fashionable Deuter Futura 24 SL does have one girly attribute. It comes with a pretty, yellow silk flower attached to the synch strap. In Deuter style, it's not just for show. It's a hummingbird magnet. Which is really cool to watch. Now if only Deuter could find a way to get nectar in it, the hummingbirds might like the pack as much as the humans. (MSRP $125)
Depending on the week, Karuna can be found producing feature films on fast-paced Hollywood movie sets, directing documentaries on the high seas or wandering the Colorado backcountry, exploring the serene mountains of her home state with her dogs, Sid and Loki.
Over the last decade she has written for dozens of publications including the High Country News, Denver Post and Rocky Mountain Sports Magazine. She has produced and managed a dozen features, with cast including Val Kilmer, Ray Liotta, Cybill Shepherd and Steven Weber.
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