I travel a lot for my job and I am hard on my luggage. I’m either throwing the luggage in the trunk of my car, dragging it over curbs or stuffing it in an overhead bin on an airplane. I need luggage that I can put a week’s worth of clothes in and it not be so big and bulky that I can handle it easily. I’m also always looking for a good backpack for my outdoor adventures. Deuter has come up with a system that combines both a suitcase and a backpack in one piece and still have made it look nice. It is called the Deuter Helion. The Helion is available in two sizes. A 60 liter and an 80 liter. I chose the 60 liter (3660 cubic inches) to test because I have larger backpacks already and was looking for a smaller one for my weekend trips and a piece of luggage that isn’t too bulky. The weight is 7lbs 8 Oz (3400 grams). The color is black with some grey and blue highlights.
My first impression of the Helion is it is a very sturdy system. Out the box you can see and feel the quality and craftsmanship of it. The material is a MacroLite 420 Duratex. It feels very strong and it seems it would take something like a knife to do any kind of damage to it. I poured water on the Helions front and let it sit for 10 minutes to see if any would penetrate to the inside and it no moisture came through.
Starting at the top the first thing I notice is the top carrying handle. The handle is wider than my other luggage and it has a soft, comfortable feel that my hand fits nicely in to.
The telescoping handle for pulling the Helion hides nicely in the luggage and is locks firmly in three place. One when the handle is completely down and in two places when it is pulled up so whatever your size the handle will have a position for you to comfortably pull it. The telescoping handle unlocks with a push of a button and feels very strong and secure. There are two other handles on the Helion that are the same quality and size as the one that I described earlier in the paragraph. The other two handles allow you to carry the Helion more like a duffle bag. One is on the front and the other is on the left side if you are facing it. The Helion has a small pocket on the front for storage of a few small items. Inside the pocket there is a clip for keys.
The Helion has 4 compression straps made of strong webbing and buckles to allow you to compress smaller loads and keep them from moving around. At the base of the Helion is another handle but this one is made of a durable hard plastic that not only allows you to hold the bag from the bottom but will keep the 1.25 inches (3.175cm) off the ground in case there is water where you need to place your bag. The wheels are very quiet when they turn and are larger (3.25 inches/8.255cm) than my other luggage that allows it to roll easier in rough terrain. The Helion has 2 small eyelets on the bottom that are there to attach the hip belt on the carrying system (more on that later).
The most unique thing about the Deuter Helion is the hideaway carrying system. This allows this cool piece of luggage to turn into a backpack that has all the adjustments and straps that a true backpack would have. All you have to do to get to the carrying system is unzip the cover and all your straps are right there. Pull them out, hook the hip belt to the eyelets on the outside bottom of the bag, stuff the cover into the pocket of the carrying system and throw it on.
The shoulder straps are padded and wide for comfort. There are adjustments at the top and bottom to find your comfort zone. The chest strap adjusts up and down as well as the width to fit any body type. The hip belt is padded and wide with a large webbed strap to, again, adjust to any body size. There is also padding where the pack would hit your lower back and upper back where the shoulder straps start. There is another pocket on the inside that would hit about the middle of your back. Not sure what purpose it serves other than another area to store something. It is about the size of a small hand but there is no way to zip it or close it.
The inside of the Helion is one large compartment with a mesh zipper pocket on the flap. It would have been nice to have the mesh pocket as a waterproof pocket to keep important items dry if for some reason it got wet inside. There is plenty of room for a week of traveling. I was able to put all my clothes for a week, two pairs of shoes and a large shaving kit inside without any difficulties. There are adjustable straps inside to separate or secure items. There is a zipper in the bottom that separates the luggage from the pack frame that you can store some smaller items.
I am very excited to test the Deuter Helion 60 as both a piece of luggage and a backpack. One other thing I wish this Helion had would be water bottle holders on the outside. My current packs have mesh pockets on the outside to easily slide bottles in and out while hiking. I would like to see this on the Helion especially if one would use it as a backpack more than you would a piece of luggage. I plan to use it as a backpack over the Christmas Holidays. More to come in about a month.
Update – Deuter Helion 60
I have to say I am really impressed with the quality and the durability of the Deuter Helion 60. I have tried to do some damage to it and cannot. I have found this is a better piece of luggage than it is a backpack. I used it as a backpack on an overnight trip and it does fine and holds everything I wanted it to but I like more pockets, compartments and places to attach things on the outside. The Helion 60 is very comfortable to carry. The padded shoulder straps adjusted for a proper fit and the hip belt rested nicely right where it was supposed to with no discomfort. The pack weighed about 30 pounds (13.6 kg) and was easy to carry. Personally, I will stick to using this as a piece of luggage and use my backpack for backpacking trips.
As a piece of luggage the Deuter Helion 60 is the best piece of luggage I have ever owned. I can travel for a week plus and have plenty of room for all my shoes, clothes and toiletries. I have used the Helion 60 on every trip I have taken (I travel every other week for my job) and it has not let me down once. I have been thru rain and snow, hot and cold. The large wheels allow me to go over any terrain and deep snow with little effort. The Macrolite 420 Duratex material keeps my cloths inside the luggage dry in even the heaviest rain. I may be soaking wet but I have dry clothes to change into. No matter how I twist and turn the Helion 60, it never feels like something is going to break.
I have found that I really like the handle that allows you to carry the Helion 60 more like a duffle bag especially when loading and unloading it out of the trunk of my car. I can grab the handle on the front of the bag and the handle on the bottom and easily load and unload the bag and maneuver the bag easily in the trunk of my car. I have found the shoulder straps to be a fantastic feature when I have multiple pieces of luggage to carry. I take the straps out of their hideaway and throw the Helion 60 on my back like a backpack and it gives me two free hands. I have found I have used it in this situation on several occasions. It has saved me from having to take multiple trips back to my car for other luggage.
Like I said earlier, I am really impressed with the Deuter Helion 60. It is a quality piece of luggage that I know is going to last me a long, long time. I will continue to use it on all my trips even if they are only for a night or two. More to come in about a month.