Deuter Speed Lite 20
Current Retail: $75.00
Historic Range: $58.27-$99.00
46 x 26 x 18 cm
This is a simple and lightweight pack. It is great for a day hikes when a tremendous amount of extra gear isn't needed. The straps and outer pockets are great when you need to bring just a little more along than you thought you would. The ability to lash stuff on makes this a nice pack for winter use as well as summer.
- Comfortable padding
- Can carry skis/snowshoes
- Lots of outside storage
- Straps a little short for attaching snowshoes
- Limited access to outside stretch pocket
- Can get a little sweaty
- Not cool looking
This is a one size fits most pack. It doesn't come in different sizes. I'm 5'9"-ish with a medium build and medium torso length, and this pack fits perfectly. I was able to try the pack on before buying it, since the local REI in Grand Junction tends to keep these in stock.
My wife is shorter and skinnier than me, and the pack seems to fit well on her also. Someone much bigger than me should definitely try this pack on before buying, or else buy from a website or catalog that offers free returns.
The shoulder straps and padding that go up against the back are plushy and comfortable. They are not too thick or stiff, but they have maintained their structure pretty much perfectly over the past year. The thin, flexible wire frame is almost unnoticeable. Along with the padding, it helps keep structure for the pack and prevents it from feeling like a grocery bag hanging on your back.
There is not much ventilation with this pack, however. According to Deuter, the padding is covered in "breathable air-mesh." I don't know how much of a difference that makes, but it certainly doesn't vent like packs with a trampoline-style back panel. If you're already a sweaty person, this pack won't make you not-sweaty.
The pack is advertised as having 19.5 liters of capacity. The ease of accessibility and structure of the pack make it seem a lot bigger on the inside than the tube-like REI Flash 18 that I also own. The outside pockets also make it seem bigger than it is. For a pack with minimal suspension and tiny little webbing hipbelt, I think this pack holds plenty.
Organization & Accessibility:
There are two pockets inside the pack. There is a small pocket for things like your keys or a cell phone. You can see it pictured here with the yellow key clip thing sticking out. It's not a huge pocket — you can see how far it sticks down into the main compartment.
The main compartment opens up like a typical panel-loading daypack. There is a hydration bladder sleeve. The pack is small enough that I never spend too much time rooting around in it to find stuff even without more organization. Still, you'll need to look elsewhere if you want something with little holders for pens, pencils, and calculators.
I like the outside storage pockets, but I can see why some people wouldn't. There are two openings for the main stretch pocket that limit the size of what you can fit into it. Even if access was better, though, I can't imagine putting much in other than a light shell jacket or some gloves or snacks. The advantage to the small openings is that stuff is less likely to fall out of the pocket.
The side pockets are perfectly sized for water bottles, and even a full sized Nalgene fits just fine. I think loading this pack up with water bottles and a bladder would be the easiest way to overload it beyond what would be comfortable, however.
This pack rides close and stable, which makes it perfect for activities like climbing, cross-country skiing, or hiking at a quick pace. The sternum strap is a pretty normal sternum strap, and it works just fine. There is a hipbelt that could be useful for something like downhill skiing or jumping jacks, but it is removable and I never use it. The pack carries just fine without it.
The compression straps can be joined across the middle for carrying things like snowshoes. This is such a simple feature that I don't understand why it isn't used on basically all packs. The straps could be longer, though. With a full pack, the straps were nearly maxed out when I attached my MSR snowshoes.
There is a single ice axe loop that can be kept hidden when not in use. It is long enough that skinny to medium width skis could fit through, making this pack great vertical ski carry with the straps used as above with the snowshoes. The straps can also work just fine for A-frame ski carry in normal mode.
Deuter has updated the colors on this pack, but it doesn't look like they've changed much else. It kind of looks like an egg dressed in a windbreaker, so it's not really fashionable. Still, people in the know will see that you like well-made, modest, reasonable daypacks.
Some companies seem to go out of their way to make packs so specific that you have to buy several for very similar activities. Think of how many packs are unsuitable for carrying snowshoes or skis that would otherwise be perfect for four-season use.
Thankfully Deuter makes packs that can do more than one thing. Compression straps that hold winter gear shouldn't be all that remarkable as a special feature, but unfortunately they aren't as common as they ought to be on packs that are also suited to summer use.
Conditions, Construction & Durability:
I have had this pack for about a year and a half. I'm a grad student in forestry, so I have the opportunity to use my gear in the outdoors on an almost daily basis. I've been using the Speed Lite 20 for hiking and skiing, as well as traveling, work, and school. This pack isn't really big enough for a ton of books and forestry gear, but I still use it for that kind of thing.
The pack has held up perfectly so far. Still, it doesn't have the really tough feel of a 500 or 1000 denier Cordura pack. It definitely doesn't feel bombproof like my Mountainsmith Tour bag or my seven pound Kelty bags. I will take the tradeoff, though—plenty durable for recreational use and also weighing in at not much more than a pound.
Source: received it as a personal gift