Upon first inspection of the Gröden 32, the thing just screams German engineering. It doesn’t have the streamlined cut or traffic-stopping color scheme of many American-designed day packs. With a muted, earthy color scheme and a fascinatingly bulbous design, the Gröden behaves more like a Volkswagen than a Mustang.
As far as day packs go, I’m more accustomed to something akin to a stuff sack-like design, maybe with a couple of smaller pockets for mobiles, hiking snacks, or a map. The Gröden, on the other hand, acts like a condensed backpacking pack. Much of the volume is split between several isolated pockets, adding up to 32 litres of packing space total. I chose to test the packing limits of the pack, fitting in a couple of changes of clothes, a book, water bottle, a pair of sandals, and a couple of smaller items such as a headlamp and a phone charger. There’s lots of room for the Deuter to expand, so packing it to maximum capacity wasn’t an issue.
Like a German automobile, the Gröden has an incontrovertible exertion of Eurocool. With the Vintage-inspired design and a classic European minimalist flair, I never stopped feeling like I wasn’t hip enough to wear such a collector’s item. Deuter does well in drawing on inspiration from backpackers in the 1980s and 1990s.
The Gröden boasts the Deuter Aircomfort System, which features a steel frame, a mesh back for ventilation, and padded shoulder straps. The suspension design is practically a benchmark in most packs nowadays, intended to keep most of the weight directly off the back and weigh it more effectively to be dispersed, preventing that notorious back sweat from making a rather unpleasant and chaffing packing experience. My 50 litre Osprey pack has similar technology. I didn’t find the shoulders as luscious and comfortable as Deuter advertises, but they weren’t particularly uncomfortable either.
Regardless, this is a reliable pack. Hip strap problems aside, it fits pretty comfortable on the back, and the air ventilation system is a godsend. At $129, it’s not the cheapest small pack I’ve tried, but the engineering and design certainly justify the price tag. This pack is best for hikers who require slightly more than the fundamentals of a day pack and are looking to upgrade to something that can pack more without adding significant weight.
Weight: 2 lbs 9 oz
Volume: 32 litres
Waterproof: Yes, includes rain cover