Gear Review: Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL Backpack

Winter-specific day pack

The Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL is a feature-rich back- and side-country skiing and snowshoeing-specific pack, reviewed here specifically for use by snowshoers.

Freerider Pro 28 SL, waist belt detached.


Shoulder straps. The “SL” element in the name designates the pack as female friendly, but I some of that friendliness extends to males such as myself. My 17-inch torso is rarely accommodated by the length of most daypacks, but this pack fits my stubby trunk quite well. The secret lies not only in the pack’s relatively short length. In addition, the shoulder straps are sewn a few inches down from the top of the pack and load lifters are incorporated for some play.

backpack design features

Upper shoulder straps and load-lifters.

The upper shoulder straps are also slim and curved for female bustlines. They also might just work well for males with tweaky shoulders. They certainly did for the reviewer, who had his right labrum reconstructed after going over the handlebars on his mountain bike several years ago and who has finessed his way around chronic biceps tendinitis in his left shoulder since he was a teen. (Due to the dislocation and reconstruction I have asymmetrical shoulders. The location of the top of the shoulder straps and the inclusion of load lifters provide for a degree of shoulder fit I almost never find in daypacks.)

Waist belt. Less successful for my male figure was the removable waist belt. Sex-specific waist belts are designed around significant differences in male and female pelvic anatomy. Female-specific belts to tend to either climb up or pull the trousers off of male wearers; the former tended to be the case with the Freerider Pro 28 SL for this reviewer. I was hoping the Vari-Flex system would obviate the problem. It did help, but relatively frequent stops for readjustment were still necessary.

snowmaker gear

On the job making snow, with the waist belt deployed. Note the gear loop accommodating the hammer and the carabinered shell mitts. The left side of the belt incorporates a zippered pocket.

Snowshoe carry

Snowshoes are typically stowed on backpacks via side compression straps. The paired straps across the front of the Freerider Pro 28 SL provide another option, one which leaves the two side bottle pockets available for use. In addition, a large patch of Hypalon protects against abrasion and tearing. Two thumbs way up from this snowshoer on this combination of design features.

snowshoe bear paw Taconics

The front straps allow me to stow even my bearpaws!

Sit pad

A segment of closed cell foam imparts structure to the pack and can also be removed as a handy sit pad.

snowshoe Berkshires

You can’t see the sit pad, but it’s there!

The rest

The Freerider Pro 28 SL incorporates a 100-ounce hydration pocket, a sternum strap whistle, a padded goggles pocket, and a key fob. There are a number of features which would appeal to a backcountry skier in avalanche country, but since I am neither a backcountry skier nor in avalanche country I will leave commentary to those better qualified.

The verdict

You will be hard-pressed to find a comparably featured daypack. $160 or so seems to be the current going price for the pack. As always, hunt around for lower, but $160 is a reasonable asking price for what the Freerider Pro 28 SL has to offer.

Matthew Timothy Bradley

To purchase the men’s Deuter Freerider pack, click here, and for the women’s version, click here. For more information about Deuter, visit

About the author

Matthew Timothy Bradley

Born and bred in Southern Appalachia; currently residing in lovely Southern New England. Follow @MateoTimateo and my blog The Human Family; circle +MatthewTimothyBradley.

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