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I like Deuter bags. Their dedicated cycling bags - especially the small ones - do everything I want of them, and are reasonably good-looking too. So I was expecting good things when this parcel arrived. I pulled the pack out and, well, was a bit disappointed. It's understated and unassuming, sure, but looks are not the Deuter Giga's strong point. It looks, to be frank, like the sort of backpack my dad would wear.
Still. Backpacks go on the back, they're not to be looked at. And for everything else, the Deuter is a very useful and accomplished pack.
Firstly, Deuter's straps are really good. The perforated foam is thick and stiff enough to hold its shape, cushioning the chest and shoulders even under load. They're also well shaped, sitting just right around the neck and armpits. And, on the back, the Deuter Airstripes system works as well as it does on their smaller packs. Airstripes are two bands of this same foam, this time cut into sort-of Lego block chunks, which sit either side of the spine, lifting the bulk of the bag off the back and allowing air to circulate. Of all the bags I've commuted with lately - and that's quite a few - this was definitely the least sweat-inducing.
Inside, the bag is divided into three main compartments. The front one is smaller, but still decent in size, and has an array of pen loops, a phone pocket, a zipped pocket for valuables and a key loop. The other two are pretty similar in size - large - and are well padded. Deuter calls one of them a 15.4" laptop pocket, though it's difficult to say which. When I used the bag, I put a mini-D lock, computer leads and valuables in the front, a change of clothes and work shoes in the middle, and a couple of books, an A4 folder and a (small) laptop in the rear. All this fitted with ease, never bulging, and the padding kept it comfy. When riding, it sat well and was super stable. The pack never moved and felt smaller and lighter than it was. Best of all, it achieved this without me having to resort to pulling it too tight - which in my experience draws bags up the bag and too close to the neck for comfortable cycling.
So, what are the downsides? I think it's fair to say that Deuter don't see this as a dedicated bike backpack: it sits in their 'Business and Lifestyle' rather than their 'Biking' range. This means that, while it is a great fair-weather pack, and has bike-friendly features such as a loop for your rear light, it is not for all seasons. It does not have the packable waterproof cover that some Deuter bags have and, while the materials are your average showerproof material, and seem sturdy, it doesn't look as downpour-friendly as Deuter's dedicated bike range - the zips, for example, aren't very heavy duty and are exposed to the elements. Our warm, dry spring meant I didn't take it out once in the rain, but had it turned wet I wouldn't have been confident it would keep my computer dry for long. To be fair Deuter make no great claims for its waterproofness. Given that commuting in the rain can be trying enough, you don't want that worry on your mind, too. A great pack then, but one, I suspect, for the dry.
Very capable, large, practical backpack - though thanks to the freaky weather we've had, I have no experience of it in the rain, where it would perform less well. Think of it as a brilliant fair-weather commuter's backpack, only marred in my eyes by its slightly dorky looks.
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Make and model: Deuter Giga backpack
Size tested: One
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Deuter Giga backpack is aimed squarely at the urban office-based commuter.
Says the website:
"The Giga is the king of everyday backpacks. Since its introduction a decade ago, it has developed into a mainstay in the Deuter daypack collection. In great colours - now also in bright green - this year is no exception.
Generous, cleverly organised portable offices from Deuter. Travelling by bus or tube is now possible in style, safe in the knowledge that your laptop is securely stowed in its padded compartment. Office workers wanting a flatter version now also have the Giga Flat for their laptop and IT kit. For those needing a larger portable office, the Giga Office has ample room and extra padding for your laptop and excellent organisation, or its pro partner the Giga Office Pro which has a detachable laptop bag."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Dimensions are: 47 x 31 x 22 cm (H x W x D). The pack would hold 28 litres of water, should you be foolish enough to try to carry water in a backpack.
This is a very practical pack, without being overly 'technical'. Features listed are:
Airstripes Back System
detachable hip belt and chest strap
large folder-sized main compartment
large front pocket with organiser
reflective loop for safety light
second compartment to fit a 15.4' laptop
mesh side pockets
Seems well made. No problems or weaknesses during testing.
Fitted in all the stuff I ever wanted it too. Faultless in the dry - but because of the weather we've I didn't have a chance to use it in proper rain, and it doesn't have any of the features of a heavy-duty waterproof pack.
These are not like more 'urban' or courier style products that are really rugged. It seems to strike a balance between weight and toughness.
I have an old Deuter Race pack, the smallest model, whose front zip gave out after a year, but I suspect that's because I was always over-stuffing it.
Manufacturer claims a weight of 950g, and it feels light for its size.
Great straps. Sat well. Always comfy.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Very well indeed. No complaints at all.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The on-bike commuting comfort.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Age: 31 Height: 1.78m Weight: 65kg
I usually ride: Cinelli Strato road or fixed commuter hack. My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, club rides, sportives, fixed/singlespeed,