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Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack Review

The Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack is a ventilated and adjustable length pack that’s well sized for multi-day trips, hut-to-hut hikes, and pilgrimage style trips. While it’s loaded with convenience features and cushy padding, it’s comparatively lightweight at 4 lbs 9 oz providing a good balance between carry comfort and ease of use. In fact, it’s somewhat unusual to find a pack of this volume (50 liters main + 10 liter extension collar) that has many of the features typically reserved for much heavier and higher volume expedition backpacks.

Specs at a Glance

  • Gender: Unisex
  • Weight: 4 lbs 9 oz
  • Frame: Internal, wire spring
  • Ventilated: Yes
  • Adjustable: Yes
  • Pockets: 11+ main compartment
  • Rain cover: included
  • Torso sizing: 15-22 inches
  • Hip belt sizing: unavailable
  • Bear canister compatibility: vertical
  • Materials: 210d nylon and 420d polyester
  • Max recommended load: 35-40 lbs

Backpack Storage and Organization

The Futura Vario 50+10 is organized like a conventional alpine-style pack with a top lid, main compartment, front stuff pocket and a sleeping bag compartment. But the 50+10 volume requires a little explanation. It means that the pack can hold up to 60 liters of gear, 50 liters in the main compartment and pockets distributed all over the pack, plus an additional 10 liters in what’s called a spindrift or extension collar. In reality, there’s little distinction between the main compartment and the spindrift collar, and you can really just treat the pack as having a capacity of 60 liters.

Most notably, the Futura Vario 50+10 has 11 pockets in addition to the main compartment, 10 of which are closed with zippers. If you love pockets, this is the pack for you.

This includes:

  • Two large pockets in the top lid, one on top w/ a key fob and one underneath
  • Two mesh side water bottle pockets, sized for 1L Nalgene bottles
  • Two torpedo shaped side pockets above the water bottle pockets
  • Open front stuff pocket
  • Sleeping pad pocket
  • Rain cover pocket
  • Two large solid faced hip belt pockets

The top lid is floating, so you can raise it up if you want to overstuff the main compartment (plus spindrift collar) or trap gear between the top of the pack and the bottom of the top lid. The lid has a tendency to flop to the front of the pack when full, like so many packs with top lids. It’s not a showstopper, but an annoyance.

The side water bottle pockets are sized for 1 Nalgene bottles. They’re both reachable while the pack is worn, but it helps to have a squat rigid bottle, like a Nalgene, to get them back into their pockets. The bottom of the pockets is reinforced nylon, so they won’t tear when you place the pack on the ground. They also have side cutouts so you can run the bottom compression strap through the pocket or over it.

The pack has two long torpedo-shaped side pockets that are good for storing shoes, like crocs, shown here
The pack has two long torpedo-shaped side pockets that are good for storing shoes, like crocs, shown here.

There are two 14″ long, torpedo-shaped side pockets over the water bottle pockets, on both sides of the pack, which open and close with zippers. They’re ideal for rolling up and stowing t-shirts or lightweight sweaters, a bathing suit, hats, gloves, snacks, or electronics. The pockets are also large enough to store a pair of crocs, sandals, slippers, or low shoes.

The pack has a front stuff pocket that’s open on top, with mesh stripes down the sides to drain water and help gear dry. It’s not large enough to store shoes or sandals and really just sized for clothing or rain gear.

The main compartment has a separate sleeping bag zippered hatch and compartment. The top of the compartment unzips and folds down, if you prefer not to use it, but still provides access to gear stored at the bottom of the pack.

The main compartment has a U zipper that provides extra access
The main compartment has a U zipper that provides extra access.

There’s also a rain cover pocket and an included rain cover. It’s connected to the pack using a wooden dowel, so you won’t lose it. But it’s also removable if you choose not to use it. It weighs 3.6 oz and wraps around the pack with an elastic opening.

The hip belt pockets are both large and solid faced, providing better durability and water resistance. They are big enough to fit a smartphone or a POS camera.

The main compartment and spindrift collar cinch closed with a drawstring. There’s an additional rope strap that runs over the top of them that provides additional compression. The main compartment can also be opened using a U-shaped zipper that runs around the bottom of the front stuff pocket. This is ideal for travel or hostel stays where you need to get clothing, but don’t want to completely unpack.

The main compartment has an internal hydration pocket and a central hang loop to keep your reservoir upright. There’s only one hydration port though, routed out the left side of the main compartment, behind the shoulder (not over it). While there are elastic keeper straps on both shoulder straps, you’ll probably want to run your hose on the left if you use one.

The padding on back of the pack hugs your body but is less confining than Osprey's AG "anti-gravity" frame.
The padding on back of the pack hugs your body but is less confining than Osprey’s AG “anti-gravity” frame.

Backpack Frame and Suspension

The Futura Vario 50+10 is a ventilated, adjustable-length backpack that has a lightweight trampoline-style frame with mesh located behind your back to help keep your back cool and dry perspiration more quickly. The effect is similar to the “anti-gravity” mesh that Osprey has on their packs, but the Futura Vario’s is considerably lighter weight and less confining, with a shallower cavity behind your back so you can walk upright more naturally. Packs with deep ventilation cavities like the Ospreys have a tendency to pull you backwards and off-balance. Deuter is the company that first invented the trampoline or “ventilated” backpack frame as it’s become known in 1984, so they’ve had a head start on perfecting it.

The ventilated trampoline frame helps keep you back cool and dry perspiration faster.
The ventilated trampoline frame helps keep you back cool and dry perspiration faster.

The Futura Vario 50+10 also has an adjustable length torso length so you can get a personalized fit and carry more of the load on your hips or shoulders, depending on your preference. To lengthen the torso and put more weight on your hips, you’d use the simple webbing strap located behind the ventilation mesh to raise the shoulder straps higher. To shorten the torso, you’d lower the shoulder straps. It’s very easy to adjust and use. Not sure what feels good? Try to get it so that the pack’s load lifters angle down to your shoulders on a 30-45 degree angle. That’s usually a good indicator of the right torso length setting.

The hip belt is heavily padded and pre-curved, with softer padding along the top where it comes in contact with your hip bones. A mesh covering helps wick away moisture, while a pull-forward hip belt makes it easy to get a secure fit. The hip belt is sewn to the back of the pack providing a solid connection with the wire frame and excellent lateral control.

The shoulder yoke slides up and down a webbing strap behind the mesh. When raised it lengths the torso. When lowered it shortens the torso length.
The shoulder yoke slides up and down a webbing strap behind the mesh. When raised it lengths the torso. When lowered it shortens the torso length.

The shoulder straps are thickly padded J-straps, but despite its unisex label, I wouldn’t recommend them for use by women. The women’s version of this pack is called the Deuter Futura Vario 45+10 SL which has a shorter adjustable back length (14-19 inches), narrower shoulder harness and a conical-shaped hip belt.

Backpack Compression and Attachment Points

The Futura Vario 50+10 has two tiers of compression straps on the sides of the pack, but the top tier is the only one with a buckle that opens, making it useful for securing longer items to the sides of the pack. The pack also has permanently attached sleeping pad straps that run over the sleeping bag pocket hatch, so you can hang a pad or tent body off the front of the pack. There’s a single ice axe loop, with an elastic shaft holder, and a pair of trekking poles loops (top and bottom) for securing your poles to the pack when not needed. While you could use the pack for modest winter trips in a pinch, it’s not really set up for attaching winter equipment to the outside and best used for three season use.

Comparable Backpacks

Make and Model Price Weight Volume Access Pockets
REI Traverse 70 249 4 lb. 14 oz. 35, 70L, 85L Top, front 11 exterior
Gregory Baltoro 75 330 4 lb. 15.4 oz. 65, 75, 85L Top, front 10 exterior
Osprey Aether AG 70 310 5 lb. 3.4 oz. 60, 70, 85L Top, front 7 exterior
Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 230 4 lb. 9oz. 60L Top, front 11 exterior
Osprey Atmos AG 65 270 4 lb. 9 oz. 50, 65L Top 8 exterior
REI Flash 65 Backpack 199 3 lb. 10 oz. 45, 65L Top 6 exterior

Recommendation

The Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 is a comfortable multi-day pack that’s ideal for someone who wants a ventilated, well-fitting backpack, that has a lot of pockets to stay organized and can be used in the backcountry as well as for hut-to-hut or pilgrimage style trips. In addition to its 11 exterior pockets, there are a couple if things that I think stand out about this backpack.

Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack on the rocks
Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 Backpack on the rocks

First off, the Deuter Futura Vario 50+10 carries really well, with a thick pre-curved hip belt that hugs the hips but won’t bruise them if you have to carry heavier gear. While it is ventilated, it has a very modest curved back which promotes a more upright posture, doesn’t interfere with packing, and doesn’t pull you backwards and off-balance. That’s a real plus. Finally, the pack is surprisingly slim in terms of width and depth so it moves more like a sport utility vehicle and less like a moving truck. Comfort, balance, and maneuverability….pretty much what you’d expect from a German company like Deuter Packs.

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Last updated: 2018-09-04 19:27:27

Deuter provided the author with a backpack for review.

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