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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Deuter ACT Lite 60 10 SL or 65 10 > Test Report by Bob Dorenfeld
I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier, backpacker, amateur geographer and naturalist. Home base is the Southern Colorado Rockies, where I usually journey from 7000 ft (2100 m) to above treeline, with occasional desert trips to lower altitudes. Six to 12 miles (10 to 20 km) hiking in a day is my norm, including elevation change of as much as 4000 ft (1200 m) in a day. Most of my backpack trips are two or three nights, sometimes longer. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.
Product Information & Specifications
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: www.deuter.com
Listed Weight: 3 lb 15 oz (1760 g)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 2 oz (1870 g)
Volume: 4550 cu in (75 L)
Material: Ripstop 210 & Duratex Lite
Torso: 15-21 in (38-53 cm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 31.5 in x 14 in x 12.5 in (80 cm x 36 cm x 31.75 cm)
Carrying Capacity: 45 lb (20 kg)
Number of interior compartments: 2
Number of interior pockets: 1
Number of exterior pockets: 5
Adjustable Shoulder Harness
Bottom Compartment Access with Internal Zip Divider
Ice Ax Loops
Hydration Sleeve and Tube Exit
My ACT LITE 65+10
backpack arrived packaged flat in a plastic sleeve, with all straps
buckled and pulled tight for shipment. After removing the information
hang tag and loosening all of the straps I can find no obvious defects:
the new backpack looks good and ready for use. It is remarkably light -
at a fraction less than 4 lb (1.8 kg) listed weight it's almost half
the weight of my previous backpack. The seams appear to be sewn
securely, all of the zippers operate smoothly, and the strap buckles
and cord tighteners work as designed. The main features of the pack as
described by Deuter's literature (web site and hang tag information)
match well to the pack as I find it - exterior and interior storage,
loops, interior compartments, straps. See Trying It Out, below, for
more on how I was able to set the backpack's initial fit and adjustment
to my back and shoulders.
Starting at the bottom front of the pack there is a sleeping bag compartment with front double-zippered semicircle opening. At the interior top of this compartment is another double-zippered flap that lets down to open the entire interior of the pack into one large compartment, if desired. The bottom compartment exterior zipper is covered by 1 in (2.5 cm) of elasticized ripstop against rain or snow. Moving up the pack, there is the large interior top-loading compartment with a hydration sleeve against the back of the pack. This generously-sized sleeve is more than big enough for a 3 L water bladder: in fact, the sleeve's bottom extends all the way to the bottom of the pack itself, with the top 6 in (15 cm) below the stiff top of the backpack. A bi-directional hydration tube opening at the top stiff rim of the pack directs the tube to either left or right. There is no side or front access into the top main compartment. Two X-pattern aluminum stays form the backpack's interior frame, with a hook-and-loop closure to protect their tops from contacting the pack's contents. Above the stiff top of the pack is an additional 7 in (18 cm) extendible ripstop sleeve which can accommodate more gear. Two drawstring cords with cord-locks can close off the top compartment at two levels: the top of the stays, and the top of the extendible sleeve.
On the outside front of the pack, above the bottom compartment is a large slip pocket about 11 in (28 cm) wide by 8 in (20 cm) tall; there is no closure at the top of this pocket aside from a short strap and buckle to secure the pocket top to the pack top. The slip pocket is constructed of mesh fabric except for two angled bands of solid gray material that serves as a visual design element, but may also provide some strength for the pocket's front. Along both exterior sides at the same level as the bottom compartment are two mesh wand pockets with elasticized tops, each about 6 in (15 cm) square. Gear attachment points on the outside front of the pack include two strap loops hanging from the bottom of the pack where the bottom compartment zippers end, two short 1.5 in (4 cm) cord loops at either side of the wand pockets, and two longer 4 in (10 cm) cord loops (with cord-locks) located midway up the large slip pocket. Four of the 1.5 in (4 cm) cord loops are also found along the outside edges of the top exterior pocket. Along each side of the backpack are two horizontal compression straps, located across the wand pockets and at the top level of the interior stays. Two additional pockets complete the top of the pack: an exterior one forms the top closure, with a horizontal single-zippered closure facing the back, and inside this top pocket is a smaller zippered enclosure against the top. To secure the pack's top exterior pocket to the main body is a large flap permanently attached along the pockets rear edge to the rear edge of the pack a small distance above the stays. An additional two straps with buckles complete the attachment and allow the top pocket to be raised or lowered, depending on how full the main compartment is packed. There is a compression strap under the hinged top pocket, from front to back, to help secure the load on the main area but under the hinged top.
Moving now the to rear or back of the backpack, their is a carrying handle securely attached at the top of the internal frame. The shoulder straps are attached to the back using Deuter's Vari-Quick System, with stabilizer straps attached to the top of the internal frame to either side of the carrying loop. (See below in Trying It Out for more about the Vari-Quick System). Running in a Y shape along each side of the pack's rear are the thick back pads, extending down to the bottom of the pack. The hip belt extends out from either side of the bottom of the back pads. There is an air space between the back pads, centered from the pack's bottom along the Y and exiting at the top on both sides between the back pads and the shoulder pads: this forms the Aircontact feature that Deuter says will reduce sweating while wearing the pack. About half-way down each shoulder strap are the attachment points for the adjustable sternum strap; these attachment sliders allow generous vertical adjustment to fit the wearer. Stabilizer straps run from each shoulder strap and attach to one of two points at back of the pack, depending on the height of the user and how the Vari-Quick System is adjusted. The right shoulder strap has a short 3.5 in (9 cm) hook-and-loop wrap positioned midway along the strap length, presumably as a hydration-tube holder. The wide padded part of the hip belt wraps towards the front of the waist, completed by 1.5 in (4 cm) wide fabric ending in the front buckle, which can be tightened or loosened from both sides while attached. Also, each waist belt features a short strap and buckle forming an additional point of attachment to the back of the pack to fine-tune the fit while hiking; Deuter calls this feature Variflex. A small 5 in (13 cm) wide by 4 in (10 cm) high zippered sundries pocket completes the right side of the padded waist belt, while the left side has a ripstop band with openings front-to-back (perhaps for inserting or hanging items).
All of the main-body fabric of the ACT LITE 65+10 is waterproofed inside, but not the three exterior mesh pockets (two side, one front).
Finally, a couple of words about color and styling: I like the two-tone dark blue and light gray color scheme. It's understated and goes with my preference for subdued clothing while hiking. Deuter placed their brand logos at several places on the front and back of the pack, but not ostentatiously. The light gray bands along the front echo the interior X stays, while the usually not-visible bottom of the pack is a darker gray. The inside hip belt and shoulder straps (front and back) are a neutral dark gray, as are all of the straps and buckles.
This completes my initial impression and description of the Deuter ACT LITE 65+10. In the next section I'll check out the instructions, then try on the loaded backpack for first fit.
Reading The Instructions
information and instructions for the ACT LITE 65+10 in a 12-page
card-stock hang tag attached to the pack. In addition to English, many
other languages are provided for each section of the cards. Most of the
text is printed in a small but nonetheless readable font. Contact
details for the Deuter company are included. One card has a cut-away
sample of a shoulder strap showing the foam layer inside and
demonstrating one aspect of the "Advantage Aircontact" system, and
summarizing a study conducted for Deuter concluding that their
suspension system was significantly cooler and more sweat-free than
other backpacks. I will comment more on this feature in the Field Use
Trying It Out
To begin, let me
that I have never had any special fitting requirements for backpacks.
Except when I once tried a non-adjustable pack that wasn't sized
correctly to my height, I have always been able to make a pack work for
me. Thus I was confident that by following Deuter's fitting
instructions I could get the ACT LITE 65+10 comfortably adjusted.
Loading the pack to about 30 lbs (14 kg) with demo gear and distributing it as Deuter suggests in the their pack fitting diagram (pictured here), I strapped the waist belt reasonably tight, clipped in the shoulder straps and the sternum strap, and standing in front of a mirror observed the suggested angles and clearances on my body compared to the diagram (A, B, C, D, F). I saw right away that the factory-set Vari-Quick adjustable shoulder-strap height (C and E) was too high - it was set to begin insertion at the 3rd loop counting from the top. (The Vari-Quick system uses four of the horizontal loops at one time, see "Back" photo above.) I experimented by setting it to begin one loop lower (that is, shortening the distance between hip belt and top of shoulder strap), retrying the fit, and repeating: eventually I arrived at loops 6-9. At this point the stabilizer straps felt good and their angle closely matched the diagram (A), as did the angle from my armpit to the shoulder strap attachment to the pack back (C). The hip belt rested comfortably on my hips, and as Deuter suggested, lifting my leg did not lift the pack.
Walking around my back yard with pack in position felt good - I didn't notice any obvious sore points or places where the pack was rubbing. The backpack felt solid when I lifted it by the top handle to my raised knee for swinging onto my shoulders, and I had no trouble slipping my arms under the shoulder straps. I slid the sternum strap attachments down a bit to fit nicely across my chest. Removing the pack was not hard since I could easily find and grab the handle directly behind my neck and swing the pack around. At this point I've finished trying out the backpack's fit to my body - further observations and adjustments will come during field testing while hiking all day.
So far I'm pleased with the operation of the zippers and all of the straps and buckles: there were no problems encountered during a demo loading of gear. I can see various ways that I might use the exterior attachment points, and I'm sure that I'll try all of them during Field Use to see what works best for me. My filled 3 L water bladder fit very easily into the over-large sleeve.
I expect to be using the
Deuter ACT LITE 65+10 at high forested altitudes in the Southern
Rocky Mountains. I'll be backpacking trails ranging from easy with good
tread and little elevation change, to moderate and difficult trails
involving rough tread and significant elevation changes over a day's
walk. I'm looking forward to testing the Advantage Aircontact suspension system and
the pivoting hip belt feature, and of course monitoring how comfortable
the pack is overall while hiking.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report -- please check back then for further information.
I have now used the Deuter ACT LITE 65+10 backpack for a total of 8 full hiking days, and 3 partial days, including 5 overnights. Pack weight varied from a low of 30 lbs (14 kg) to a high of 45 lbs (20 kg). My gear was distributed on and within the pack mostly in the same pattern throughout all of these trips, mainly because that's the best way for me organize my stuff and balance the pack. During all of these hikes, and especially on my first 3-day trip with the backpack I spent a lot of time adjusting and readjusting the various straps and buckles so I get the pack as comfortable as possible. In my report below I'll go into more detail on what needed adjusting and how easy or hard I found the process.
First Trip (Breaking in the Pack):
Getting the Pack AdjustedSecond Trip:
I scheduled my first trip in one of my longtime favorite places - Lost Creek Wilderness in Colorado. I was planning to complete an approximately 28-mile (45 km) loop on moderate to difficult trails at elevations between 8000-11000 ft (2400 - 3400 m), but because I couldn't get the pack completely comfortable on my hips I decided to make it an out-and-back journey, using the fully-loaded Deuter on the first and third days, and as a daypack for the middle day.
Starting out on Day 1 I stopped twice during the first mile (2.5 km) to adjust the torso length using Deuter's Vari-Quick system (see above in Trying It Out). It was very easy to rethread the strap. I ended up at the shortest possible torso length, which somewhat surprised me considering that my back measurement is 17 in (43 cm), 2 in (5 cm) greater than the pack's specified minimum of 15 in (38 cm). But onward! Over the next two miles (3 km) I spent time adjusting the stabilizer straps at the top of shoulders, finding that the initial setting I used when fitting the pack at home had raised the shoulder straps too much. A slider buckle allows the stabilizer's attachment point to move forward or backward along the top of the shoulder: forward will bring the back of the pack closer the shoulders, but at the same time tends to raise the shoulder strap above the shoulder, changing how the pack sits and distributes its weight. After much experimentation I put the slider in about the middle of its range, and left it there for the remainder of my 3-day trip. These straps are easily reached and adjusted by either hand while the pack is on and while walking. The purpose of the stabilizer straps is to bring the pack closer to the top of the back, keeping it from swaying side-to-side on steep or otherwise challenging trails. Alternatively, when the these straps are loosened the pack sites away from the back, allowing air to circulate and cool the body. An added benefit of this adjustment is just the way the backpack feels - tighter or looser, and the subtle ways it increases or decreases pack pressure on other parts of the body.
I usually pull my waist belt moderately tight. But one adjustment I overlooked for most of Day 1 is the rear hip belt strap that lets me pull the lower part of the pack closer to my body - turns out that it was too loose for me, so once I made that adjustment the backpack sat better on my hips.
The shoulder straps are probably the easiest for me to play with, their effect is immediately obvious: tighter means more weight on my shoulders, looser means more weight on my hips. I find that I'll change the shoulder straps about once every hour or two, and only a half inch (1 cm) or so at a time.
There is one other adjustment to the pack that, like the torso length, is not a dynamic adjustment while hiking, but requires the pack to be off the back. This is the attachment point for the shoulder straps at the top of the pack: there are upper and lower options (see photo) what will change the angle of the shoulder straps as they wrap up and around the shoulders. On Day 1 I left the straps attached to the upper point, and never really felt like the pack sat right for me. On Day 3 I moved them to the lower point, and the pack sat better for me with less fussing with all the other dynamic strap adjustments. However, for me, this changed the angle of the stabilizer strap (see point A on the Pack Fitting Diagram above) so that instead of sloping up from my shoulder to the pack, it remained either level or had a slight downward slope. This is fine for me, as long as the pack is still comfortable. However, I think the Pack Fitting Diagram and Deuter's accompanying instructions should probably have mentioned that it's OK for the stabilizer strap angle to change direction.
Deuter positions the hydration tube holder (hook-and-loop strap) rather high up on the shoulder strap - too high for me. But it's easily moved down to a more convenient position, although without the benefit of the hook-and-loop attachment point that keeps the small strap from coming off. More than once I accidentally dropped it onto the ground while removing the tube; I could add my own hook attachment point to keep that from happening.
The right-side waist-belt pocket was useful - I use it for tissues and lip balm, but it could store more than that if needed. I never did have a use for the horizontal sleeve on the left-side waist belt.
Using as a day pack
The Deuter made an excellent day pack for my 10 mi (16 km) day trip along moderate to steep trails, creek crossings, and a bit of cross-country willow brake hiking. I only carried about 10 lb (5 kg) of gear - at that weight shoulder and hip straps are very forgiving and the pack was never uncomfortable.
Packing and Organizing Gear in the Backpack
For me this was the easiest part of using the Deuter ACT LITE backpack. Most of the dimensions and functions of the various compartments match my previous pack, so I was able to use the packing system I'm used to. I'll summarize here what I did differently in the ACT LITE, and whether it was an improvement for me. I'll also describe any flaws or negative aspects of the pack that I saw affecting how my gear got packed and distributed.
For my second trip I chose a 14 mile (23 km) round trip in the South San Juan Wilderness along easy to moderately difficult trails and elevations from 10,100 to 12,100 ft (3100 to 3700 m). I completed the hike in two days, packing and organizing the backpack just about the same as my previous trip. The only change I made to the pack's configuration was to make sure that the hip belt stabilizers were pulled so that the bottom of the pack fit snugly to my hips. Unfortunately I had some trouble getting the pack comfortable for almost the entire trail distance, whether I was hiking uphill or down, along level track or rocky grades.Third Trip:
A problem with the Deuter back suspension
On this second trip I discovered two parts of my pelvis I didn't know existed: At the top rear of my pelvis, on each side of my spine, there is a small bone bump that feels about 0.25 in (.64 cm) high. The photo here shows my best guess as to which part of the pack's suspension is pressing on the bump on my left side (the right side was unaffected). The pack construction appears to be symmetrical. However, none of the normal pack suspension adjustments would alleviate the pressure, which remained quite irritating almost all the time walking or standing with the loaded pack. The only remedy was the loosen the hip belt and the hip stabilizers, dropping the pack bottom uncomfortably below the tops of my hips and shifting most of the pack's weight to my shoulders. Of course, this is the opposite of how a backpack should be worn, so I couldn't last more than 5-10 minutes hiking with the pack in this position. Thinking that perhaps some other pack adjustment was causing the hip belt suspension system to press on that small bone protrusion, I examined and made some adjustments as described in the above section "Getting the Pack Adjusted". I wish I could say this worked, but nothing helped for the rest of my hike back to the trailhead.
Three days after returning home from this second trip I could still feel some soreness on the spot at my left pelvis; fortunately after a week the pain went away.
I really liked the way the pack likes to stand up on level ground without support - very useful when I can't find a convenient tree or rock to lean it against. I found that the pack dried quickly after getting wet in a series of severe thunderstorms that blew rain in under my tent's rainfly alcove.
Because I'd been having a problem getting the hip suspension to feel comfortable, I planned a day hike this time, on a moderately steep trail with 1300 ft (400 m) total ascent and descent, and about 9 mi (15 km) round-trip distance. With a starting weight of only 22 lb (10 kg) I wanted to test if my normal backpacking weight of 38 lb (17 kg) was the cause of the hip soreness described above in "Second Trip". I'm happy to say that I experienced no problems on my hip on this entire day trip of about five hours of hiking time. Even after reloading the pack with an additional 10 lb (5 kg) of trash found at a campsite it was very comfortable. As in my previous trips, I played with all of the adjustment straps on the hip belt (stabilizer and front tightener), shoulder (stabilizer and front tightener) - all provided comfortable positions depending on how I wished to fine-tune the pack's weight distribution. Note that this time I didn't have a stuffed 4 lb (2 kg) sleeping bag in the bottom compartment; I am almost sure that this is the source of the rear hip discomfort experienced previously due to the padding pressing too hard on my hip. However, the miscellaneous small gear and trash stored here on this day trip was soft enough to not press against that sore spot.
For my next test I'll hike with the pack weighing at least 35 lb (16 kg) but with the sleeping bag in the upper compartment, and other smaller items in the lower compartment so that it's not packed as tightly.
Loaded for Trash!
As planned, for this day trip I packed some of my other small gear into the bottom compartment, moving the sleeping bag upstairs into the main area. The rest of my gear was arranged more or less like a normal backpack trip. Good news: little or no soreness on the top of my left hip. I hiked 6 mi (10 km) on moderate tread with a few steep ups and downs. This seems to confirm that the cause of my previous hip discomfort was the combination of tight packing in the bottom compartment and fully weighting the pack with gear. Knowing this, if I want to continue using the Deuter backpack I can make adjustments to my gear distribution.
Summary of Field Test
Overall I like how well the Deuter ActLite65+10 worked for me on all of my trips. Like shoes, fitting a pack can be a trial-and-error process, but I feel that the extra attention I paid to learning how the various straps and buckles worked was well worth the effort. Although I am disappointed that the foam padding design for the hip belt created a problem with my pelvic bone, I was able to find a somewhat satisfactory workaround for this issue. I also liked that the backpack stands up on its own when loaded - it's well balanced, at least for the way I pack it. I found all of the zippers to be easy to operate, and the cord and cord locks also were trouble-free. Dirt and grime wiped off easily, and the pack dried quickly after getting wet in the rain. The top extension (the "+10" in 65+10) was easy to use and accommodated some really tight stuffing when I packed out the campsite trash. The side compressor straps combined with the front top straps held the pack's contents quite securely. The Advantage Aircontact suspension system performed as described by Deuter with respect to more air flow and less sweat - my back was cooler and drier compared to my previous backpack without this design.
On the downside, I couldn't find a way to attach my hiking pole really securely to the attachment points provided on the front of the pack. It seems they're not spaced optimally for my particular pole (28 in (71 cm) retracted) so that I couldn't get it to stay tight without flopping against the pack and slipping down. But it looks like a couple of minor modifications to cords and straps, or perhaps an additional strap, will fix this for future trips. I was also disappointed with the slip pocket on the front of the main compartment, since I would have preferred a sturdier non-stretch pocket with a zipper closure in order to secure my small loose items. However, adding a couple of small zipper bags clipped just inside the slip pocket worked almost as well. One small quibble: the hydration-tube holding strap on the right shoulder pad was not in the best position for me - too high on the shoulder. So I moved it down 4 in (10 cm), but at that position there is no longer the matching hook for the loop to hold it in place, and several times the holding strap fell on the ground after removing the hydration tube at a camp or resting site. But it could be an easy sewing job to add some loop material onto the shoulder pad webbing.
There were a couple of features that I didn't need during this test: combining the main top and bottom compartments into one via the zipper flap, and securing my water bladder via the orange hook-and-loop strap at the top of the pack. Perhaps one day I'll find another trashy campsite that needs one large compartment! And my water bladder sat in the sleeve just where I needed it without having to be secured by the strap.
Long Term Report
Since the completion of my Field Report, winter temperatures and deep snow have descended onto the Colorado High Country, and while I haven't taken the Deuter out on any overnights, I have added three hikes using it as a fully-loaded daypack. I did this twice on dry trails and once while snowshoeing, for a total of 11 mi (18 km) travel. By "fully loaded" I mean my normal collection of gear for a day trip weighing 16-20 lbs (7-9 kg), including food and cold-weather clothing. Because there was a several-week to one-month break between these uses and my overnight trips, this turned out to be a good test of how well the pack continued to fit considering the hip belt problems I'd been having. Come next overnight-camping season I will reevaluate how I use the pack when loaded to 40 lb (18 kg) and see if there are any further adjustments I can make to avoid the hip issue I'd been having.
The good news: for these final three uses I had few problems with fit on my hip, everything felt pretty good and I can second all of my positive comments above in the Field Report. In addition I can add that the Deuter fit well overall while snowshoeing, which generally requires more arm, leg, and hip movement than walking on dry ground. And, as a bonus, I was able to easily attach my snowshoes to the sides of the pack via the compression straps: they are more than long enough to extend through the snowshoes, allowing me to buckle them and pull them tight to keep the snowshoes from flopping about.
Finally, I consider the Deuter ActLite65+10 to be a very well-constructed backpack, with an excellently-designed set of features. Except for the hip belt problem (the source of which may indeed lie in my hip bone, and not the backpack) all of my dislikes are relatively minor. Here's my succinct list of the backpack's pros and cons:
Read more reviews of Deuter gear
Read more gear reviews by Bob Dorenfeld
Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Deuter ACT Lite 60 10 SL or 65 10 > Test Report by Bob Dorenfeld