DEUTER SPEED LITE 22L BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY NANCY GRIFFITH
January 01, 2020
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Northern California, USA
5' 6" (1.68 m)
126 lb (57.20 kg)
My outdoor experience began in high school with a co-ed scout group which made a 10-day canoe voyage through the Quebec wilds. I've been backpacking since college in Pennsylvania. I have hiked 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail and 2/3 of the Pacific Crest Trail. My typical trip is in the Sierra Nevada from a few days to a few weeks long. My base weight is lightweight at 15 lb (6.8 kg) while still using a tent, stove and quilt. Longer mileage summer trips are now stoveless.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Deuter Sport GmbH
Year of Manufacture: 2019
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.deuter.com
MSRP: $105 US
Listed Weight: 1 lb 8 oz (680 g)
Measured Weight: 1 lb 6 oz (620 g)
Color Tested: Alpine Green Forest
Other Colors Available: Black and Cardinal Maroon
Gear Capacity: 22 L (1,343 cu in)
Fits Torso Lengths of 14 - 18 in (36 - 46 cm)
My Torso Length: 17 in (43 cm)
Dimension: 20 x 11 x 6.7 in (51 x 28 x 17 cm)
Made in Vietnam
First off, the SL series of Deuter packs are created by women for women. They offer a shorter torso length, narrower shoulders and a tapered hip fit. The Speed Lite SL in an internal frame backpack designed for hiking and is made of 85% nylon, 15% polyester closed-cell foam/mesh. The pack is V-shaped for an athletic fit. The Speed Lite model is designed for hiking, specifically day hiking.
There is a large main pocket which is basically the size of the entire pack. Inside of it there is one elastic-topped pocket at the back to be used for a hydration reservoir (not included). There is a hook-and-loop strap at the top to hold the reservoir upright and a hole in the side of the pack for routing the hydration hose to the left strap for holding the mouthpiece. Up to a 3 L reservoir can fit.
The back panel is very light and ventilated while also being padded. It is covered with mesh. There is a tensioned Delrin U-frame for support and load distribution. The shoulder straps are S-shaped and narrow to fit a woman. The straps are mesh covered and have ventilation slots along the entire length. There are load-lifter straps attached to the shoulder straps. An adjustable sternum strap connects the shoulder straps for extra stability.
The pack has side compression straps to tighten down volume as needed. The top straps that hold the outer pocket and the side compression straps both have alternating closures. By this, I mean that it allows for varying ways to wrap the straps around and close them. So, there are multiple ways of connecting various sizes of gear or strapping something down.
The outer pockets include stretchy side water bottle pockets, a large front pocket with room for a light jacket and a zippered top pocket with room for a phone, wallet and other small items. The zippered top pocket also has a hook for securing keys. There are also small zippered pockets on either side of the hip belt which could fit a snack, sunscreen or lip balm. The hip belt adjustment straps are tightened by pulling forward for ease of use even with a heavy load.
Other outside features include daisy chains down either side with loops at the lowest point and adjustable straps at the uppermost point providing attachment points for trekking poles. It would also be easy to use them for an ice axe, or other gear. At the lower middle of the front is an integral loop designed for attaching a light for visibility. The left shoulder strap has a stretchy loop of fabric for securing sunglasses while keeping them in reach.
All of the zippers have large finger-pull loops. There are reflective accents in various places on the pack for visibility at night.
INITIAL IMPRESSIONS & TRYING IT OUT
My initial impression was that the Speed Lite SL actually comes with the cute yellow flower that Deuter uses on their website to indicate a women's-specific pack. I had to laugh when I saw it. I love it and it's staying on my pack! Next I noticed the combination of a spartan design from a weight perspective while packing a ton of pockets, straps and features. I look at some portions of the pack and think it's a utilitarian basic daypack and look at other areas and think it's a feature-loaded workhorse of a backpack. What a neat combination.
There are a lot of excellent features on this pack including the trekking pole stowage. I usually day hike without trekking poles, but I don't mind bringing them along if there is an easy way to do so. The outer front pocket looks really convenient for stowing a jacket or other clothing that goes on and off throughout the day. I like having the option of carrying water either with a hydration reservoir or water bottles and this pack easily accommodates both.
The sunglasses holder looks so simple and yet so useful. I'm used to carrying mine on my head if I'm not wearing them but sometimes, I forget they are there and fling them off with my hat. I'll be interested to see if the holder allows them to stay secure and still be protected when I take off my pack.
I love the versatility of the compression straps to be configured in various ways to attach different gear. This is an ingenious idea since all it really took was lengthening a few straps and alternating the buckle type. I've seen it on other packs, but someone gets kudos for using their brain on the design!
The pull-forward-to-tighten hip straps along with the load lifters are more often seen on backpacks, so it's really nice to see such high-end features on a day pack. I noticed that the hip belt pockets are pretty small and was disappointed to find that my phone wouldn't fit inside. I don't have a particularly large phone, so that was a bummer.
Next I looked at the convenient top pocket. It provides a place to store smaller items that would be easy to access without allowing them to drop down to the bottom of the pack. I love the location and think that I would store my phone, camera, wallet and keys in it. However, the fabric is a nylon which wouldn't provide any protection to my camera and phone. I'll plan to add a soft cloth to the pocket for that purpose.
Overall, the Speed Lite looks like a well-designed pack and the women's-specific fit is a major bonus! I can't wait to get out and try it on the trail.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
Inside the main compartment of the pack at the top is a label printed on the back of the upper pocket. It offers information for handling emergency situations such as SOS signals and signaling aircraft.
Deuter offers a limited lifetime warranty. It basically allows for repair or replacement of any defective material or workmanship for the life of the product. Pretty nice! Deuter is also a Blue Sign partner and a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.
FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
During the test period I used the pack extensively for day hikes, walks and as a laptop bag.
Colorado National Monument, Western Colorado: 4 mi (6 km); 5,771 ft (1,759 m) elevation; 59 to 85 F (15 to 29 C); clear conditions
Daniel's Park, Douglas County, Colorado: 5 mi (8 km); 6,300 to 6,600 ft (1,900 to 2,000 m) elevation; 75 to 85 F (24 to 29 C); clear conditions
TNT Farm, Brooksville, Kentucky: 3 mi (5 km); 900 to 1,000 ft (270 to 300 m) elevation; 85 to 90 F (29 to 32 C); clear conditions
Assateague Island National Seashore, Maryland: 5.5 mi (9 km); sea level; 75 F (24 C); sandy trail and boardwalks
Shepherd Creek Trail, North Carolina: 1.5 mi (2.4 km); 600 to 688 ft (183 to 210 m) elevation; 78 F (26 C); dirt with some short creek crossings
Two hikes on Appalachian Trail from Indian Grave Gap, Tennessee: 2 and 6.2 mi (3 and 10 km); 3,300 to 4,437 ft (1,006 to 1,352 m) elevation; 70 to 80 F (21 to 27 C); cloudy conditions
Black Hills, South Dakota: 5 mi (8 km); 5,132 to 5,300 ft (1,564 to 1,615 m) elevation; 55 to 65 F (13 to 18 C); cloudy conditions
Devil's Tower, Wyoming: 3 mi (5 km);1,267 to 1,417 ft (386 to 432 m) elevation; 55 F (13 C); light rain
Missouri Headwaters State Park, Montana: 4 mi (6.4 km); 4,045 to 4,100 ft (1,233 to 1,250 m) elevation; 80 F (27 C); sandy trail condition with some rock scrambles
Lost Creek State Park, Montana: 3 mi (5 km); 6,164 to 6,350 ft (1,879 to 1,935 m) elevation; 38 to 46 F (3 to 8 C); cool damp conditions
Two hikes in Auburn Recreation Area, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 2.5 to 3.5 mi (4 to 5.6 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 65 to 72 F (18 to 22 C); mostly dirt with some rocky patches
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
We took a six-week road trip during the test period which was the perfect opportunity to use the pack every day. We hiked and walked daily as breaks from the driving, so I used the pack then. Also, my laptop fit perfectly in the hydration sleeve, so I kept it there while we were on the road. During any stop where I was concerned that our obviously-packed vehicle could get broken into, I took the pack (with laptop and camera) with me. Even with the bulky rectangular laptop right behind my back, the pack was quite comfortable.
There is plenty of adjustment so I always found the pack to be comfortable no matter how much gear or weight I was carrying. Many times, my husband also carried the pack and had no problem with the fit. In fact, he liked my pack so much that he immediately bought the men's version for himself.
The pack is a great size for being able to carry quite a lot of gear when needed or to cinch it down to a more compact size when I didn't have much to haul around. I usually carried a couple of rain jackets, hats, sunscreen, water, camera, snacks, my phone/keys/wallet and possibly lunch.
During our visit to the Capital Mall in Washington, DC, it rained very hard the first day. I had the pack full with rain jackets, an umbrella and also a change of shoes and clothes for going to dinner later that night. The outside of the pack got quite wet and soaked through during extended periods of rain while walking between venues but the contents didn't seem to get wet. The second day was nice and sunny and again the pack worked perfectly for getting through security easily at the museums.
While camping in established campgrounds, the pack was useful as a shower bag. I was able to fit a change of clothes, toiletries, towel, washcloth and flip flops inside. As the weather cooled, I added a fleece or two (one for my husband) to the pack on some hikes. This is one of those packs that just seems to have endless room for more stuff. I can always find a way to strap something extra on the outside if I just can't jam in another thing.
I really love the upper small pocket for being able to find smaller items like my phone, keys and wallet. I added a bandana to keep the keys from scratching my phone screen. During the times when I have a ton of gear jammed into the pack, it would otherwise be quite a chore to find these small things inside the main compartment. I used the hip pockets for the smallest items like lip balm.
I used the side pockets for water bottles and never had any problems with them slipping out. I haven't used the hydration reservoir sleeve yet, for a bladder anyway. The simple elastic loop for holding sunglasses seemed to work just fine. I used it multiple times and never had any issue with my sunglasses staying secured, and it kept them in a convenient location for easy access. I even loved having the yellow flower which I used as a hair band when I forgot to pack one.
Overall, the pack has been super!
LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS
Over the test period, I used the Deuter pack for six day hikes, two snowshoe hikes, one mountain bike ride and three fishing trips. I also used it nearly weekly as a computer bag for overnight travel.
McKerricher State Park, Mendocino Coast, Northern California: 4 mi (6.4 km); 54 to 60 F (12 to 16 C); nearly sea level; cloudy conditions
Noyo Harbor Bluff Trail, Fort Bragg, California: 3 mi (5 km); 55 F (13 C); nearly sea level; partly cloudy
Three hikes in Auburn Recreation Area, Sierra Nevada Foothills, California: 2.5 to 3.5 mi (4 to 5.6 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 45 to 60 F (7 to 16 C); mostly dirt with some rocky patches
Cronan Ranch East Rim in Auburn Recreation Area, California: 4 mi (6 km); 500 to 1,500 ft (150 to 450 m) elevation; 62 F (17 C); dirt to rocky trail
Donner Lake, California: 3 mi (5 km); 5,935 to 6,000 ft (1,809 to 1,829 m) elevation; 32 F (0 C); light wet snow
Donner Lake, California: 3 mi (5 km); 5,935 to 6,000 ft (1,809 to 1,829 m) elevation; 36 F (2 C); fog
Johnny Cash Trail, Folsom, California: 7.1 mi (11.4 km); 80 F (27 C); 220 to 480 ft (67 to 146 m) elevation
Walker River, California: 67 F (19 C); 5,403 ft (1,647 m) elevation
Walker River, California: 37 F (3 C); 5,403 ft (1,647 m) elevation
Pacific Ocean, Fort Bragg, California: 40 to 50 F (4 to 10 C); sea level
PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD
During this period, I used a water reservoir in the back pocket of the pack and found it to work well. In the pack I typically carried a light jacket, lunch and snacks, hats, sunscreen and smaller items like lip balm, wallets, keys and phones. I continued to use the pack as a computer bag on overnight trips which I found to be really convenient for holding my laptop, charger, a book and miscellaneous other smaller items.
In my last report, I noted that we did a long road trip to Ocean City, Maryland. Upon return home I realized that I had forgotten a piece of salt water taffy in the hip belt pocket. With the high temperatures in the car, the candy had melted into a serious mess making the pocket unusable. I was hesitant to clean the pack but finally got around to it. I held the pocket under hot water in my kitchen sink, and voila, the candy melted away and the pocket was good as new.
I really liked the sunglass holder for snowshoeing. With the variable light conditions, I often take my sunglasses off and put them on top of my head. Then since I'm wearing a hat or headband, I sometimes forget the glasses and flick them off by mistake. This isn't a big deal in the summer, but in the snow it has caused extended searches in the past. The holder right in front makes for a really convenient and secure method.
Overall the size of the pack has been great. It is flexible with the straps to cinch it down when needed but can hold quite a lot of gear when fully extended. Even at its maximum capacity, the pack is still comfortable as a day pack.
I used the trekking pole straps to hold two different brands of folding trekking poles. The strap system is simple to use and self-explanatory. The poles are easy to quickly attach and cinch tight. The straps worked well to keep the poles securely in place while also keeping them handy.
The durability of the pack has been outstanding. Honestly, the pack looks almost new despite lots of use. There are no snags, loose threads or wear of any kind. The bottom fabric isn't even scuffed.
My only 'complaint' is that the hip pockets are a little undersized for me. I can fit my lip balm and maybe a small nutrition bar but that's about it. I wish that my phone could fit so that it would be more accessible rather than having to take the pack off.
The Deuter Speed Lite SL 22 Backpack is a women's-specific design. It is very lightweight but packs a ton of features.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
Lots of useful pockets and straps
Great size holds a lot but also cinches down
Love the yellow flower!
My phone doesn't fit in hip belt pockets
This concludes my Long-Term Report and this test series. Thanks to Deuter and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this fine pack.
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Read more gear reviews by Nancy Griffith