I’ve been using a Deuter Speed Lite 30 backpack for most of my dayhikes and bushwhacks since last June. I like it so much that I find myself using it regularly on my weekday training hikes near home and up in the mountains when I don’t need to carry an overnight pack.
What makes it so good? I think the size has a lot to do with it, since 30L lets me carry everything I need without a struggle, especially when the weather turns cooler and I need to bring more insulation on hikes. The Speedlite is also laid out with a lot of external storage which I like because I can store frequently used items on the external pockets like my shell, microspikes and snacks, without having to stop and unpack my pack each time I need something.
But for bushwhacking, the most important thing about this pack is that it’s tough! I have totally abused it, bashing through thick stands of spruce and it doesn’t show any signs of abrasion or rips. That’s good value for money.
I like the Deuter Speed Lite 30 because it has a lot of capacity for a daypack. It’s a top loader with a large main compartment and lid pocket. The top lid has an inner and outer zippered pocket and there’s a hydration reservoir pocket inside the pack, as well: the hose comes out between the shoulder blades, rather than out the sides of the top lid.
I use the main pocket to pack stuff I access infrequently like my insulated clothes, rain gear, a Jetboil that I carry on autumn hikes, extra food, first aid kit, and so forth. I do a lot challenging hikes where there’s a real chance that we’ll be hiking after dark so I bring a few extras along that have come in handy after sunset.
I use the pockets in the top lid to store my compass, map, sunglasses, wallet, keys, hats, gloves, and smaller stuff that I often need but don’t want to dig around for in the main compartment. I’ve been hiking long enough that I have a well-defined system and know where everything is in my pack so I can find it in the dark if I have to.
The external storage on the Deuter Speed Lite 30 is quite versatile, enough so that it make it possible to use this pack for multiple sports from climbing and ski mountaineering to mountain biking. The pack has a front shovel pocket which is large enough to hold a climbing or a bicycle helmet, reflective tape for bike commuting, ice axe loops for climbing and winter sports, and compression straps for attaching snowshoes or skis to the outside of the pack.
In the picture above, there are three tiers of compression straps, which is quite a lot for a pack of this volume. The top set of straps are designed to hold the top of the shovel pocket closed. This is an open pocket – more like a flap with mesh sides – where I store my shell after I de-layer so I can get to it quickly without having to re-open the main compartment. It’s also useful for storing wet items so they don’t make soak the contents of the pack .
The middle and bottom compression straps are designed so that the male and female buckles on each side are offset, enabling the straps to be connected in front of the shovel pocket for carrying snowshoes. There are also extra cord loops running along the border of the shovel pocket, so you can rig up your own webbing or elastic cord to lash gear to the outside of the pack. It’s a detail that makes the pack even more flexible if you need to carry especially bulky gear.
In addition, the pack has two side mesh pockets, large enough to store 1 liter water bottles and it’s easy to reach back and pull the bottles out of the pockets without taking the pack off. Surprisingly, the mesh on this pack has not ripped, which frequently occurs when I bushwhack with a pack. I’m not complaining, but I’ve been on a lot of hard hikes with this pack and I’m surprised that it doesn’t show any wear. Pleasantly surprised, mind you. :-)
The Deuter Speedlite 30 has a padded back covered with breathable mesh to help wick away sweat. It also has a Delrin U-shaped frame that runs along the perimeter of the back to provide stiffness and improve hip belt load transfer. Delrin rods are made with very thin fiberglass and are often used to stiffen the frame of smaller volume internal frame backpacks.
The Speedlite 30 has load lifters that attach to the Delrin frame above the shoulder straps and below the top pocket. These are useful for realigning the pack angle (you pull on them) when carrying heavy gear so the weight is transferred onto your hips better. They work well on this pack.
The shoulder straps are padded with the same breathable mesh found on the back of the pack and come with an adjustable sternum strap, anchored on rails that run vertically on the shoulder straps for easy adjustment. There’s no whistle on the sternum strap buckle though, which is sort of surprising, since most packs now include one.
The hip belts are interesting because they’re completely unpadded. You wouldn’t expect it, but this actually improves load to hip transfer because the hip belt wings completely mold to the shape of your hips. There are two zippered pockets on the hip belt which are also made of widely spaced mesh, so anything inside them is visible and not protected against weather. Still, the pockets are conveniently placed for storing food bars and large enough for that purpose.
I really like the Deuter Speed Lite 30 backpack and think it’s a great backpack for more challenging day hikes. The unpadded mesh hip belt really transfers weight from my shoulders to my hips very well and is perfectly comfortable without a ton of extra padding. But what’s really impressed me about this pack is it’s toughness and versatility. The Speed Lite 30 is an excellent choice if you engage in multiple outdoor sports and want a single backpack that can satisfy all of your multisport needs.
- Bomber tough
- Great size for technical day hikes
- Excellent external attachment points and compression
- Comfortable form-fitting hip belt
- Ice axe loop
- Bottom compression straps can’t be tightened if there is a bottle in the side pocket
- Air mesh collects spruce needles when bushwhacking (that don’t come out)
- Weight: 2.0 pounds : 907 g
- Volume: 1830 cubic inches : 30 liters
- Size: 24 x 11 x 9.1 (H x W x D) Inch : 61 x 29 x 23 (H x W x D) cm
- Material: Deuter-Ripstop 210, HexLite 210
- Frame: Tensioned Delrin U-Frame and padded back covered with mesh
- Torso range: 17.5″ to 20″
Disclaimer: Deuter provided Philip Werner (SectionHiker.com) with a sample Speed Lite 30 backpack for this review.