German company Deuter has a rich history in the outdoor world, which includes such notable contributions as the world’s first mesh back panel for backpacks. Deuter proudly celebrated its 118-year history this spring with the release of their Gravity line of backpacks and accessories that are squarely aimed at the serious climber. Deuter recognized a weakness in their offerings, particularly with guides and climbers seemingly avoiding the brand, and in a bold move actively sought out these exact critics to become part of the Gravity design team. Professional guides, climbers and specialty shop owners ensured that the needs of the vertical were addressed in this new line of products.
The Gravity Expedition 45 is an alpine pack that is obviously focused on the particular needs of the fast and light set. Numbers don’t lie, the verified weight of 1.92 pounds is an impressive achievement of a primary design goal. Minimalism rules everywhere, starting with the “Deuter Lite System” suspension; a simple tensioned Delrin U frame to support and stabilize loads. This is mated to a padded back panel lined with “3D AirMesh,” thinly padded shoulder straps and a mesh only hip belt with one zipped pocket. The pack body is comprised of 100d “Pocket Rip Mini,” a tightly woven 90% nylon/10% polyester blend. The top loading design sports an extendable collar and single pocket lid – complete with key clip – that is closed by a single buckled strap. Four side and one top compression strap reign in the pack’s contents and provide exterior gear lashing. Two ice axe attachment points grace the front panel and there is one side stretch pocket as well. Overall the pack is sleek and simple, with no extraneous features or whiz bang accoutrements.
The Deuter Gravity Expedition 45’s climbing focus is immediately apparent. The direction of design driven by the climbing professionals becomes obvious when the approach steepens. But how does that translate out on the hill? Here’s what I discovered:
Comfort/Fit: The pack proved very mobile in use, easily following twists, turns and bending of the body, allowing unhindered concentration and execution during balanced or aggressive maneuvers. Lightly padded components worked best with outerwear necessary in alpine locales.
Stability: The spartan suspension system lacks the ability to harness heavy loads as the Delrin U frame is lacking rigidity. The claimed weight limit is 30 pounds but I found the effective range to be in the mid 20-pound range instead. That’s still usable for plenty of alpine missions, as organized packing and compression aided all aspects of carrying.
Storage: The Dueter Gravity Expedition 45 is a simple expandable top loading tube, making planned packing a necessity. The total capacity suits the alpine well.
Durability: The pack shed abusive treatment during rock guiding, including dragging across rock faces full of metal climbing hardware. The lack of features aids durability as there are fewer things to possibly break.
Extras: I found the “less is more” design fit the intended use perfectly but would look elsewhere if the pack was to be used for several types of outdoor endeavors.
The input of the professional guides and climbers tasked with developing the Deuter Gravity Expedition 45 really shines through. This flyweight, simple pack functions well in the alpine without superfluous features of dubious benefit. Think of this pack as a rucksack with a minimalist suspension system, making it an efficient and unobtrusive part of the summit team. It’s even got a lightweight price at just $139.