Search Cool of the Wild Start typing...

Review: Deuter Ascender 13 Trail Running Backpack

Man Carrying Deuter Ascender Backpack

An ultra lightweight, super comfortable trail running backpack with lots of hydration options

The Deuter Ascender 13 is a trail running specific backpack that offers an ultra lightweight pack without skimping on any of the essential features needed to make a great trail running companion.

This backpack is a lightweight option for anyone that enjoys long mountain days either trail running or hiking. Its 13 litres of storage means it can help guide you through the trails from sunup ’til sundown, no problem. Some excellent features, like the front holster pocket for poles and safety whistle, make this pack a great choice for any endurance racers out there too.

Deuter Ascender 13 Backpack: The stats

Best for:Long distance trail running
Eco-conscious:Body fabric is made from 100% recycled materials and is bluesign® certified
Overall rating:

Features of the Deuter Ascender 13 Backpack

Back panel

Backpack back panelThe Deuter light back system, paired with its moisture resistant fabric and removable back foam, make the fit feel cool and comfy at all times. I was really surprised, when I first put it on, just how snug it felt to my back when I was running, especially considering the 13 litre storage I was carrying around with me. Even when popping on my waterproof layer, which I tend to do a lot living in Wales, I never feel my back become overheated while pounding the trails. For those of you interested in gaining any small advantages possible during racing, the 15g back foam can be easily removed, saving you precious weight on the long uphill drags.

Shoulder straps

Backpack shoulder strapsGood shoulder straps are a key part to any running backpack. If the fit and adjustments don’t live up to the hype here then forget about it. Luckily, I love everything about them. The wide vest style straps, made from lightweight mesh material, moulds to your shoulders while spreading any load pressure so as to not feel any pinch points. The first long run I did with the back I found it was sitting very high on my shoulders/back and started to dig into my neck, causing some discomfort and frustration as I didn’t want to turn back. After removing the bag and examining the straps properly (probably something I should have done before using it!), I found the two shoulder adjustment straps that are neatly tucked away. Once I had fiddled with these for a minute, the neck problem sorted itself out. I can now easily make small adjustments while running to get the perfect fit.

Shoulder strap pocket

Backpack pocketA must-have and simple feature but so often found in the wrong place on other packs. In a time where GPS tracking is essential for training and monitoring, a slimline phone pocket is an essential, not to mention the safety aspect of having a method of contact when out on long hill days. I have had running vests in the past that are awkward to get your phone in and out of and also just simply uncomfortable on the ribs. This pocket ticks all boxes: easy access in and out while moving and once my phone is inside I can’t feel a thing. Great job Deuter!

Pole pocket

Bottle holders on backpackI hadn’t used a running pack that has the pole holder system at the front of the bag before. Previous bags I’ve used featureed the pole holder on the back enabling you to place it in and out as if you are drawing an arrow from a holster. I thought the front holster system would be awkward and feel like the poles were getting in my way as I run. In fact this system works really well. Super easy to use while moving and once held in with the bungees the poles are solid and don’t get in the way at all. I also find that it is an excellent holder for my dog lead while running with my trusty companion, Griff.

Hydration options

Backpack bottle holdersHydration is key on long trail runs and the ascender has plenty of options to quench your thirst. The soft flask pouches, located on the shoulder straps, are positioned well enough for you to get a good slurp without breaking your stride, although it is definitely a skill to master. The adjustable bungees keep the flasks fastened to the pack really well and are super easy to adjust as you slowly empty the flasks’ contents. There is also a good mesh pocket inside the main back storage that neatly fits a 3 litre hydration reservoir for the really big runs. This will obviously add weight to your pack and reduces storage space for other essentials and supplies.

Internal pockets

Inside pockets of backpackThe internal space is separated in three compartments. This is great for storing wet gear away from dry clothing or food supplies. There is plenty of room for extra food and even flasks for a nice cuppa if you were on a long hike. You have to take the pack off to access this but you can use the phone pocket located at the front to store enough snacks and gels to keep you going until your next stop.

Sternum straps

Backpack sternum strapsMy previous running backpack fell down for me here. It has a hook system with a very lightweight cord and I feel that it does not displace the pressure well when done up tightly. You obviously want these straps to be as tight and as comfortably as possible so as to not to allow the bag to move around while running and create chafing. The Ascender achieves this with ease by having two thicker chest straps with clip-in buckles to attach either side. Once clipped in they are easy to adjust and spread the pressure really evenly across the main shoulder straps.


Deuter backpack

Deuter Ascender 13 Backpack review

I have been using this backpack for a few months now. It has been put to a good test as I have been training for my first ironman. I do 90% of my running on trails and as my training has been increasing, so has my time using the Ascender. Previously I had been running with a pack that was significantly smaller, and I must admit, I was dubious about running with such a big pack and just how stable it would be when running.

I have found it to be a really great bit of kit that has delivered in all areas. Once I had done the initial fiddling and adjusting to get the correct fit for me, the pack was solid, comfy and vital for carrying my fuel and layers for all conditions.

The materials feel durable and like they will last a long time, however, as mentioned, I’ve only been using it for a few months. All of the adjustable straps are very easy to use while running, meaning you don’t lose time fiddling about. After finding my fit I didn’t feel like there was any rubbing from the straps or back at all.

I feel that this could probably get used in more ways than just long trail runs, the longer I have it. As well as summer day hikes and short dog walks, it would be handy to use for a quick visit to the veg store on my bike and also for my swimming gear when heading to the pool.


For those of us who care about the materials used and their impact on our planet, the Ascender is made from recycled materials and from 2020 all Deuter products are now PFC free. Instead Deuter has developed DWR (Durable Water Repellency) that will keep away water allowing the garment to stay dry while not using environmentally harmful substances.

Man trail running with dog

What I love the most about the Deuter Ascender 13 Backpack

I love the attention to detail shown to the basics with this pack. Everything has been well thought out and crucially, tested to use while running. That sounds obvious but there were definitely areas in my previous pack that failed in this area.

What I don’t love so much about the Deuter Ascender 13 Backpack

For me maybe one area Deuter could improve on is another front side pocket to allow for some extra fuel storage that is easy to reach while on the trails.

Man carrying backpack



The Ascender 13 backpack is another winner for me from Deuter (I love my Freescape Pro too!). Well thought out and well executed. I have only had it for a few months but I feel it is going to continue to be used for many days out on the trails and it makes me feel confident that I have all I need with me to run further distances.
Additionally, it isn’t the most expensive pack on the market which makes me feel like I am getting good value for money here too.

Find the latest price at:

Disclaimer: Cool of the Wild received this product free in return for an honest review. We only recommend gear that we love from companies we trust and we are under no obligation to give a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are that of the reviewer and we are in no way influenced by the brand or company.

About the author


Hello I am Owain. In the winter months I instruct snowboarding in Tignes, France with Motion Snowboarding and I spend my summer months trail running, hiking, climbing, sea swimming, trying hard to get better at surfing and generally enjoying all things outdoors back at home in Wales. I am also an active member of the Western Beacons Mountain Rescue team.

Open Menu