Versatile, robust and wonderfully comfortable on long runs, the Deuter Ascender 7 is a very well-designed trail running pack that comes at a reasonable price. And being made from 100% recycled materials, it boasts some great eco credentials, too!
Ample options for cinching things down
Environmentally friendly manufacturing
Small stash pockets
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Deuter Ascender 7: first impressions
The Deuter Ascender 7 marks an impressive debut into the trail running kit market from a German brand that has a reputation for making some of the most robust and comfortable backpacks around. So will we be adding it our next best running backpacks update? Read on…
• List price: $100 (US) / £80 (UK)
• Hydration bladder compatibility: Yes
• Colors: Saffron / Indigo / Grape / Black
• Compatibility: Trail running, short hikes
• Recommended load: 1kg-3 kg
The Ascender comes in both a 13L and 7L model, the one we are reviewing here, so you can pick your pack size depending on how much stuff you plan on taking. Both deliver on everything you’d expect from Deuter. For most trail runners, however, the 7L model offers all the space you need for snacks, extra layers, power banks and water, featuring thoughtfully designed storage pockets and a huge zipped compartment at the back (see also: What to take trail running: seven things to pack for a long-distance run).
Deuter Ascender 7: on the trails
The first thing that struck me when I used the Ascender 7 on a 20km trail run in April was how incredibly comfortable the pack is to carry. As it only comes in one size, I was sceptical that the fit would be right for me (as I tend to run large in all trail running apparel). But thanks to the ample customization options and the ability to easily cinch everything down the pack fitted me like a glove straight out of the box. In fact, it’s by far the most comfortable pack I’ve ever worn, beating packs I’d previously worn from the likes of Salomon and OMM.
One thing I love about it is the ability to tighten up the back compartment to fit whatever size load you’re carrying. Thanks to a cleverly designed drawcord system, the pack can be pulled tight when you’re not carrying much, which makes it just as comfortable to carry on short training runs as it is on long mountain days.
Interestingly, the Ascender 7 also comes with a stash pocket for trekking poles. Featuring a large recess to dump your poles into and two cleverly designed pole straps, you can clip them on without having to slow down, and you can unclip them just as easily. During one particularly hilly run, I tried this out with one pole (I never run with two), and I was incredibly impressed with how comfortable this feels. Somehow, you don’t even notice the 300g (10.6oz) aluminum rod swinging from your chest, making it a great option for runners who like to take one (or even two) poles with them.
Inside the pack, the Ascender 7 features a sliding pocket ideal for a hydration bladder, a zipped pocket for storing valuables and a large central pocket for storing any extra layers you want to take with you on trail. Additionally, as has become a common feature on trail running packs of late, the back foam is fully removable, helping you to save a few crucial grams if that’s important to you. For me, I found the Ascender 7 to be much more comfortable with the foam insert, and it makes a handy sit pad!
On the outside of the pack, you’ve got three stash pockets. In my experience, this is enough for carrying snacks, keys and mobile phones, though you may need to resort to storing things in the main compartment if you’re out on really long runs. On the shoulder straps, you can comfortably carry two 500ml (16 fl oz) soft flasks.
As it weighs only 315 grams (11.1oz), you might think that the Ascender 7 isn’t going to be particularly robust. The pack is manufactured from 700 denier polyamide fibers, however, which makes for a tough yet ultra lightweight pack. I’ve tossed, dropped and scuffed this thing, and it still looks good as new. Naturally, you’re not going to want to put it through as much punishment as Deuter’s more robust range of backpacking rucksacks, but I’m confident that the Ascender can cope with everything trail runners will be throwing at it and more. What’s more, the pack is fully bluesign certified being made from 100% recycled materials.
Growing up just south of the glorious Brecon Beacons National Park, Craig spent his childhood walking uphill. As he got older, the hills got bigger, and his passion for spending quality time in the great outdoors only grew - falling in love with wild camping, long-distance hiking, bikepacking and fastpacking. Having recently returned to the UK after almost a decade in Germany, he now focuses on regular micro-adventures in nearby Snowdonia and the Brecon Beacons, as well as frequent trips to the Alps and beyond. You can follow his adventures over on komoot, or visit www.craigtaylor.co for more info.