Gear Review: Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL Backpack

Deuter has been making bags and sacks for almost 125 years. Now, their focus is on mountain sports; as Deuter mentions, it’s their “very soul.”  They produce a wide variety of outdoor adventure packs, but one of the most noteworthy is their Freerider Pro series. The Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL is a feature-rich back- and side-country skiing and snowshoeing-specific pack. In this review, we focus on its features specifically for use by snowshoers.

Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL: backpack with while snowshoes perched on tree

The Freerider Pro 28 SL is a comprehensive pack for backcountry snowshoeing. Photo: Matthew Timothy Bradley

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Fit

First, let’s look at the features that comprise the fit of Deuter’s Freerider Pro 28 SL.

 Shoulder Straps

The “SL” element designates the pack as female-friendly, which means it includes a shorter back length. However, some of that friendliness extends to males such as myself. The length of most daypacks rarely accommodates my 17-inch torso, but this pack fits my stubby trunk quite well. The secret lies not only in the pack’s relatively short length. The shoulder straps are sewn a few inches down from the top of the pack. Moreover, load lifters are incorporated for some play.

The upper shoulder straps are also slim and curved for female bustlines. They might just work well for males with thin shoulders. They certainly did for me, who had his right labrum reconstructed after going over the handlebars on his mountain bike several years ago. I’ve also finessed my way around chronic biceps tendinitis in the left shoulder since I 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 seldom find in daypacks.)

As another feature, the Freerider Pro 28 SL also comes with their Alpine System, which provides ventilation between the two back pads as you carry the pack.

Waist Belt

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

Read More: Choosing a Backpack: Features To Consider for Snowshoeing

man carrying poles with snowshoes strapped to pack under blue sky

The Freerider Pro 28 SL front straps allow me to stow even my Bearpaw snowshoes! Photo: Matthew Timothy Bradley

Snowshoe carry

Next, let’s look at one of the crucial features of backpacks for snowshoeing – how snowshoes carry in the Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL. 

One way to attach snowshoes to a pack is via side compression straps. The paired straps across the front of the Freerider Pro 28 SL provide another option. If you use the front storage option, this method leaves the two side bottle pockets available. 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.

Read More: How To Attach Snowshoes to a Pack (3 Methods)

Other features

The Freerider Pro 28 SL incorporates a 100-ounce hydration pocket, which is compatible with most of Deuter’s drinking systems up to 3L. There is also an adjustable sternum strap, a Goggles holder, an ice ax attachment, and a safety pocket to quickly access avalanche gear.  Moreover, a segment of closed cell foam imparts structure to the pack and can also be removed as a handy sit pad.

Read More: Why You Should Use Snowshoes on Your Next Mountaineering Adventure

man wearing Freerider Pro 28 with gear

On the job making snow, with the waist belt deployed. Note the gear loop accommodates the hammer and the shell mitts in the carabiner. The left side of the belt incorporates a zippered pocket. Photo: Matthew Timothy Bradley

The verdict

You will be hard-pressed to find a comparably featured daypack. $160 or so seems to be the current 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.

Learn more at Deuter or purchase the Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL on Amazon.

Would you use the Deuter Freerider Pro 28 SL for backcountry snowshoeing? What has your experience been? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.

This article was first published on July 16, 2013, and was most recently updated on July 14, 2022.

Read Next: Batman’s Backpack: The Deuter Freerider Pro 30

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