When it comes to consumer trends, the Americans are occasionally lagging a few years behind our modern global counterparts. Think CDs (yes, compact discs), mesh tops, The Beatles and Bubble Tea. But when it comes to backpacks, the U.S. has been seriously lagging behind the rest of the world since the early 1900s. Deuter is the largest backpack brand in the world, yet a lot of Americans don't know much about them and what they’ve done to change the game in outdoor recreation worldwide.
World Class Since 1898
Founded in 1898 by Hans Deuter, the company originally supplied the Bavarian Royal Mail with mailbags and post sacks. There are few places on Earth so "alpine" as Bavaria, Germany, and the DNA of the Bavarian Alps has always been a passionate inspiration for the company for 118 years. Deuter has even supplied tents for the Munich Oktoberfest since 1920 and still does to this day. From delivering mail at the turn of the century to standing today as the world's #1 selling backpack brand, the spirit of the Alps has never left the company.
Naturally then, Deuter’s designers have always looked to the hard-won experience of alpinists and mountaineers to develop thier products. Up until the 1970s, the company equipped almost all German expeditions, including the famous Nanga Parbat Expedition of 1934, and numerous subsequent trips. This expedition was the first real test for the TAUERN backpack, which even then set high standards and became a household name in Germany for the next 30 years.
Nylon Backpacks: Thank Deuter
In 1968, Deuter changed the backpacking industry by introducing the Nylon backpack. It was truly a step into the future and soon became the new fabric norm worldwide. By 1971, Deuter was recognized as the leading manufacturer of backpacks, suitcases and bags in Germany, causing production and warehousing space to double.
However, 1984 was when Deuter really upped the ante--they invented and patented the Aircomfort™ back system. This mesh carrying system provided ventilation and comfort in a revolutionary way and redefined the backpack market forever.
To this day, the concept of airflow is used in all Deuter back panel designs to add comfort and breathability. No matter what model you are sporting, there will always be an air channel that’s created by pulling the foam away from the back panel, allowing more airflow along your spine for when you’re working hard.
How does Deuter keep continuing to come up with these amazing ideas? By having mountaineers, mountain guides and bikers join the development team in 1988 so they can have a direct influence on the collection. These fruitful partnerships bring about all kinds of new products, including the first bike backpack. Created with mountain bikers in mind, this new design features air strips down the back of the pack.
Maintaining Excellence Amidst Global Changes
As did most backpacking manufacturers worldwide in the mid-1990s, Deuter moved its production to Vietnam. What was unique about Deuter’s move was that they partnered with a single company, Duke, for all Deuter production, in order to ensure the quality, functionality and longevity of its sewn products. What started out as 35 sewing machines has turned into a highly specialized backpack production line that spans three locations and employs 3,500 people. Today Duke continues to exclusively manufactures all Deuter backpacks and accessories.
Thanks to the move in production, Deuter was able to introduce a new outdoor essentials line in 1995 that included a sleeping bag. The sleeping bag project prompted a new partnership with the German Association of Ski and Mountain Guides in 1997, where they travelled with the bags and backpacks and gave advice on improvements to both.
New Century, New Innovations
In 2000 Deuter was once again confirmed as the market leader in Germany after 102 years of continuous operation. The company has always credited a concentration on the important issues, a long history of tradition and the collective experience of an expert team as their key success factors.
2002 saw the launch of the TRENDSETTER backpack, a lightweight multifunctional carry system that impressed fans with its easy versatility. 2005 launched the development of the SHIELD System, a new backpack concept with a back protector that offered bikers and winter sports fans more safety. The ATTACK bike model even won the prestigious Eurobike Gold Award for Innovation.
Deuter: A Proven Leader in Women's Pack Design
The hits kept on coming – Deuter launched its SL–Women’s Fit backpack line in 2006 to much acclaim. Still in use today, the design is perfectly trimmed and optimized for a women’s body, created with input from a team of top female professional athletes. You can easily recognize an SL backpack from the others as they have a pretty yellow, removable flower attached to the backpack itself.
Extra Long EL models were introduced in 2009 to help tall individuals have a better fit, and therefore better experience when using the backpack. New sleeping bags, Exosphere and Neosphere, were launched in 2010 to much acclaim from outdoor enthusiasts. The stretchable sleeping bags made a huge impact with their new construction and high comfort.
Innovation has always put Deuter at the top of their game, and outdoor enthusiasts worldwide have come to know and respect the Deuter brand. They may be the oldest continuous pack maker, but they are constantly looking for input to improve products. They aren’t satisfied sitting still, and neither are their customers!