I'm picky about ski packs. My requirements: It has to carry well. It has to have enough pockets but not too many, enough straps but not too many, and a good weight-to-capacity ratio.
I have to admit that I wasn't overly keen on the Deuter Freerider PRO 30 when I first saw it. The one Deuter lent me for testing is boring black and looks bulky. But over the course of a couple of months' worth of backcountry outings around my stomping grounds (the San Juan Mountains of Colorado) I changed my mind about this ski-and-snowboard day pack.
There are a number of reasons why. First, the two ridges on the back panel help air circulate in the middle of your back, which for me is usually the sweatiest. A less sweaty back = a warmer back. The hip belt is arguably beefier than is needed for the pack's capacity, but that means you can load it up with a bunch of heavy stuff, including skis or a snowboard—it has straps for both set-ups—and it's still carries comfortably.
A few choice features are the selling points. One is the big shammy-lined goggle pocket on the top. I'm a total sucker for those. There are both front and back zippers, which allow complete access to all your junk inside. Plus there are two mesh-lined pockets on the interior, which make it easy to see where you put that dang lip balm. One compartment is the perfect size for a shovel.
I had my boyfriend and partner in crime, Andrew, try the pack out for good measure. His one gripe: He'd prefer a snack pocket on each side of the hip belt, not just one side. I have a slightly bigger gripe: This pack isn't particularly light. In fact, it IS kind of bulky. The upshot is that means it's really burly, too. The exterior is reinforced with this rubbery material that, so far, has been completely indestructible. I think it's a pretty fair trade-off for a solid ski and snowboard day pack.
*Like I said in my last review, I try out loads of products but only write about the stuff I think is worth buying. That's why you see mostly positive reviews.