GEAR SHOP: Review
Founded in 1898, German backpack company Deuter started by producing mailbags for the post office. They expanded their business in 1910 to include backpacks, tents and luggage, and through the mid-twentieth century, outfitted many major European climbing and trekking expeditions. In 1968, they were one of the first companies to begin producing backpacks in lightweight nylon material, and a few years later pioneered the first breathable, mesh back panels. Today, Deuter continues leading the way with innovative outdoor gear designs, in addition to being a founding member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association. With more than 100 years of backpack design history behind it, we took Deuter’s sub-2-pound Gravity Expedition 45+ for spin.
Wanna see what’s going in our pack? Scroll down for our full kit.
Sporting a sleek, asymmetrical design, the minimalist Gravity Expedition 45+ is designed primarily as a climbing pack. But for a moderate-capacity pack weighing under 2 pounds, we found it works just as well as an ultralight trekking pack. Storage in the Gravity consists of a main compartment, a right-side pocket, a left-side compression/attachment system and a floating lid. We were easily able to load our entire kit (approx. 30 lbs.) into the roomy main compartment without employing the extension collar. This expandable section grants an additional 10 liters of storage space, transforming it from a 45L pack into a 55L pack. The lack of exterior pockets meant everything went inside. This wasn’t an issue, as we just did a little reorg of items we like having easy access to. In the right-side pocket went our water bottle, which is sizeable enough to accommodate a 1-liter container; we even fit a few snacks in there, too. We utilized the left side attachment straps for our UL camp chair for fast access. (Most hikers will likely use this for a sleeping pad.) The single lid compartment was roomy enough for holding our tent essentials, rain gear, toiletry bag and a few other small items; it’s also removable. There’s one small, mesh zipper pocket on the left-side hipbelt. This was good for holding our hand sanitizer and a couple bug wipes, but that’s about it. Alternatively, it could hold a couple small bars or energy gels. The right-side hipbelt has a heavy-duty gear loop for climbing pro, but we found this useful for clipping an extra water bottle to—a good improvisation since the Gravity does not have anything to accommodate a hydration system. There are also two tool attachments for holding trekking poles and/or an ice axe.
Keeping with its lightweight, minimalist design, the harness and support system on the Gravity is a bit spare. On the inside, the pack is supported by a flexible Delrin U-frame. This is a lightweight thermoplastic material that provides stiffness and strength comparable to aluminum. This maintains the pack’s structure, while allowing it some flexibility for movement. The back panel features Deuter’s Lite Back system, consisting of a thin, U-shaped 3D AirMesh pad. The pack is supported by a pair of mesh hipbelt fins that hold the pack in place around the waist and lower back; it does not have any lumbar support. The shoulder straps are only lightly padded with 3D AirMesh material on the underside. These felt ok, even with our full load pushing the max limit (33 lbs.). There are two load-lifter straps for fine-tuning the upper fit. Despite the minimal harness structure, the Gravity went on feeling surprisingly comfortable. Now to get moving.
Among a selection of local trails where we could get a feel for the Gravity Expedition, we took a stroll along the PCT in Washington out toward Table Mountain. This gave us an opportunity to let our load settle and truck thru some ups and downs, hop a few creeks and push thru some brush—just watch out for all the poison oak thru here! The pack rode nicely through most of this with little play, staying firm and sturdy on our back. We found the back panel to provide adequate padding for supporting our full load fairly comfortably, but when the days start heating up, it provides scant ventilation for keeping things cool back there. The Gravity’s main exterior is constructed of 100D abrasion- and tear-resistant Pocket Rip nylon which stands up easily to moderate poking and prodding by tent poles and stray branches; the bottom of the pack is protected by a heavy-duty material (weight not indicated) that can stand being dropped on rocks and rough terrain without incident. The standard DWR application can handle drizzle and light rain for a short time before it starts seeping through; a rain cover is not included. As we hiked, we never felt the Gravity exerting any unwanted gravity on us, and we were able to stay light and agile down the trail.
For a minimalist backpack geared toward climbers, we found the Gravity Expedition 45+ to be a moderately comfortable option for staying nimble on the trail—even when pushing the weight limit. There are few bells and whistles to brag about here, and the support/harness system is just enough to maintain its structural integrity. The advantage is in its extremely nominal weight. For hikers who indulge in lots of creature comforts, large tents and gourmet cooking equipment, this pack is simply not for you. For those who like to move light and quick, cover lots of miles, and are comfortable with fewer conveniences than most, the Gravity is a fine choice with some respectable versatility. Plus, it’s got a killer price point which makes it even more attractive for lightening up on the trail, without breaking the bank. $140
PROS: Under 2-pound pack; extendable collar for larger loads; removable lid; low price.
CONS: Not water-repellent; only one external pocket; minimal padding and ventilation.
Share this review.
What we’re packing. (Approx. 30 lbs.)
Deuter Gravity Expedition 45+ Specs
|One size||15–20 IN||45+10 L||1.9 LBS|