Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 Backpack Review

Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 Backpack Review

The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 is an adjustable-length backpack that’s good for multi-day or extended backpacking trips when you need to carry more gear and supplies. Weighing just 4 lbs 6 oz, it’s surprisingly lightweight for a pack that can comfortably haul 50-pound loads.  Despite its lightweight, the  Aircontact Lite features a floating top lid, sleeping bag hatch, dual ice axe loops w/shaft holders, and external sleeping pad straps, enabling the transport of multi-sport gear for 4 season adventures.

Specs at a Glance

  • Volume: 75 liters
  • Gender: Men’s
  • Weight: 4 lbs 6 oz
  • Frame: Internal
  • Adjustable Torso: Yes
  • Torso Length: 15-21″
  • Hip Belt Length: 30-53″
  • Number of pockets, including main compartment: 7
  • Hip Belt Pockets: 2
  • Maximum recommended load: 50 lbs

Backpack Frame and Suspension

High-capacity backpacks like the Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 often come with adjustable-length frame systems so you can shorten or lengthen the torso to fit your exact dimensions. Getting a good fit is vital when you carry heavy loads so the backpack doesn’t ride on your shoulders and tire them. The design of the Aircontact’s adjustable frame also provides excellent ventilation while keeping the load close to your back and aligned with your torso so your largest muscles (your legs) and do the heavy lifting.

Called the Vari-quick Frame System, it has a simple velcro shoulder yoke that you move up to lengthen the torso and down to shorten it. It is super easy to use because it’s easy to access. The torso lengths aren’t labeled in inches or centimeters, however, so you have to adjust the pack by feel, which isn’t the most obvious thing for beginners. When in doubt, fit the pack with a knowledgeable friend.

The Deuter Aircontact 65+10 has an adjustable length torso and a wide hip belt
The Deuter Aircontact 65+10 has an adjustable length torso and a wide hip belt

On the plus side, the Vari-quick Frame system has a central air channel to help ventilate your back. The padding runs along the sides of your spine rather than on top of it while keeping the frame locked closely on your hips. The padding is flared slightly at the bottom to create a lumbar pad, but still hardly noticeable.

Internally, the frame has two aluminum stays arranged in an X pattern so that they flex with your body, rather than resist it. A horizontal cross-bar provides a secure anchor point for the pack’s load lifters while helping to stiffen the pack. The shoulder straps are covered with moisture-wicking mesh and the sliding sternum strap that is easy to adjust.

Wide hip belt wings are used to ensure that the weight rides on your hips and is distributed over a large surface area to avoid pressure points. Two types of foam to provide a better hip wrap. The top soft foam rests on top of your hip’s iliac crest, while the stiffer bottom foam provides support and prevents any downward slide, keeping the belt where you want it. The hip belt closes with a single buckle and has push-forward straps that make it easier to cinch tight. The belt also has rear control straps so you can pull the bottom of the pack closer to your hips for an even more efficient carry.

The floating top lid has two large pockets
The floating top lid has two large pockets

Backpack Pockets and Organization

The Aircontact Lite 65 +10 is a top-loader with a floating top lid pocket. The main compartment has two access points: through the top and through a hatch positioned over an optional sleeping bag pocket. Side mesh pockets let you stash water bottles, while a front stuff-it pocket expands to accommodate clothing. The top lid is attached with four webbing straps, so it can float upwards if you want to overstuff the main compartment. The top lid has two pockets, a large top pocket, and a hidden pocket under the lid, which is good for storing a toilet or first aid kit for easy access.

The stuff-it pocket on the front of the pack has mesh along its sides so you can stuff damp or wet gear into it. The pocket isn’t very deep so you can’t pack bulky objects like camp shoes, but it is suitable for stuffing clothing layers. However, unless you’re in a desert, I wouldn’t count on damp gear drying in this pocket. It’s really designed for temporary storage and to segregate wet clothing from the dry contents of your backpack.

The sleeping bag pocket provides access to the base of the pack, which is useful on such a big pack, even if you don't store a sleeping bag there.
The sleeping bag pocket provides access to the base of the pack, which is useful on such a big pack, even if you don’t store a sleeping bag there.

The sleeping bag compartment is formed with a fabric shelf, that can be unzipped and folded away if you to prefer to use the main compartment as one continuous space. While the pack is water-resistant, it does not come with a pack cover like many of Deuter’s other packs. I suggest using stuff sacks or lining it with a plastic bag if you expect rain.

The side water bottle pockets are sized to fit 1L Nalgene bottles, but the fit is very tight, especially when the pack is full. The side pockets are made of mesh, but it is quite tough and tear-resistant. I can not reach back and pull out a water bottle while wearing the pack, so you’ll probably want to use a hydration system instead. The hose comes out through a center port, so you can route the hose to your right or left shoulder strap easily.

The side mesh pockets are quite narrow and best used for thin objects like tent poles or a folding saw, shown here.
The side mesh pockets are quite narrow and best used for thin objects like tent poles or a folding saw, shown here.

The hip belt also has two tough mesh pockets, but I much prefer pockets that are solid-faced because they’re more durable and water-resistant.

Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10

Comfort
Weight
Suspension
Features
Adjustability
Sizing
Durability

Multi-day workhorse

The Deuter Aircontact 65+10 is a lightweight, but high volume backpack good for multi-day or extended backpacking trips. Its adjustable-length torso ensures a personalized fit with multiple access points so you can access your gear when you need it.

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External Attachments and Compression System

Backpacks are designed to carry gear strapped to the outside of the pack, as well as inside, and the Aircontact Lite does not disappoint on this dimension.

For instance, the pack has two tiers of compression straps on the side of the backpack that can be used to lash snowshoes to the side of the pack. The lower of these straps can also be routed over or through the side water bottle pocket so you can have side compression and still use the side water bottle pockets at the same time.

Front straps make it easy to strap a pad or tent to the base of the pack
Front straps make it easy to strap a pad or tent to the base of the pack. (The white strip of tape on the front pocket is just that – repair tape when I accidentally sliced the pocket open with a knife.)

The Aircontact Lite also comes with two ice ax loops at the bottom of the pack that can serve double duty as trekking pole holders. There are two elastic shaft holders provided, an important detail that many backpack makers omit.

Deuter has also placed numerous gear loops along the pack’s seams so you can rig up custom attachment points with some elastic cord and cord locks. While they could have added extra webbing straps to the pack for this purpose, their goal was to keep the pack as light and streamlined as possible. For example, there are four additional webbing loops on the top lid, two short daisy chains along the sides of the front stuff-it pocket, and four additional gear loops around the perimeter of the sleeping pad pocket for this purpose.

Comparable backpacks

Make and ModelWeightAccess
Gregory Baltoro 654 lbs 14.4. ozTop, front, bottom
Gregory Baltoro 754 lbs 15.7 ozTop, front, bottom
Gregory Katmai 654 lbs 11.8 ozTop, bottom, side
Gregory Paragon 683 lbs 11 ozTop, bottom, side
Mountain Hardwear AMG 754 lbs 15.4 ozTop
Osprey Aether 654 lbs 14.7 ozTop, front, bottom
Osprey Aether Plus 705 lbs 8 ozTop, front, bottom
Osprey Aether Pro 703 lbs 15 ozTop
Osprey Atmos AG 654 lb. 9 ozTop, bottom, 2 sides
REI Trailbreak 603 lbs 13 ozTop, bottom

Recommendation

The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 is a workhorse of a pack that’s ideal for trekking and expedition class trips. It has an adjustable torso length for hikers who want a comfortable frame, with good storage options to keep you organized. The well-padded shoulder straps and hip belt provide a very comfortable fit with a frame that is highly responsive and feels great when worn. But the most impressive thing about the Deuter Aircontact Lite 65 + 10 is that it only weighs 4 lbs 6 oz, which is quite lightweight for a pack that can carry 50 pounds with ease.

Disclosure: The author received a backpack for this review.

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6 comments

  1. I use a small Deuter ACT Lite 35+10 since 2010 for travelling/backpacking as well as two to four day hiking trips, and that pack really can take a beating. I also found the side mesh to become slightly more flexible with time. For a trip to Kyrgyzstan last September (which combined backpacking and hiking) I went for the 65+10 version you reviewed here, and so far the pack did not disappoint! As with the smaller version, I would prefer the hip belt pockets to be a bit larger, though.

  2. So glad to see this Deuter pack reviewed. Have had a 65+10 since 2013. It’s a real user-friendly, lightweight but tough workhorse. I have back issues and it was (luckily) the most comfortable pack I could find while doing weighted tests of packs at Campmor that year. Also, as a big guy who perspires, I was concerned about ventilation. My 65+10 keeps me bone dry. Have always been grateful to Deuter for it.

  3. Needing a new and much lighter winter backpack I bought this pack B/C my old and trusted Dana Terraplane weighs 7 1/2 pounds – EMPTY!

    The Aircontact 65+10 is 4 lbs. 6 oz., considerably lighter but still able to accomodate my LL Bean -20 F. down sleeping bag in the lower compartment (when in a compression stuff sack).

    I like the AirContact’s harness size adjustability and the overall quality of design and construction plus its 10 liter extension sleeve.
    Got it on a 20% sale at REI.

  4. BTW, My 3 season pack is an Osprey EXOS 58. Great pack for loads less than 30 lbs.

  5. Enjoy my Dueter. Love the hip belt fit and pull to tighten system. Can’t figure out why they designed it not allowing access to water bottles. Great pack otherwise.

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