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Reviews > Packs > Internal and External Framed Backpacks > Deuter ACT Lite 60 10 SL or 65 10 > Test Report by Kathleen Waters

DEUTER ACT LITE 60 +10 SL BACKPACK
TEST SERIES BY KATHLEEN WATERS
LONG-TERM REPORT

INITIAL REPORT - September 11, 2013
FIELD REPORT - November 27, 2013
LONG TERM REPORT - January 28, 2014

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 62
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.


INITIAL REPORT

PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer: Deuter Sport GmbH Company
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: http://www.deuter.com
MSRP: US $199.00
Listed Weight: 3 lb 11 oz (1680 g)
Measured Weight: 3 lb 7 oz (1560 g)
Listed Volume: 3660 + 610 cubic inches (60 + 10 litre)
Listed Size: 31 / 14 / 12 (H x W x D) inch (78 / 36 / 30 (H x W x D) cm)
Colors Available: Emerald-Silver/Midnight-Coolblue
Color Tested: Midnight-Coolblue

Other details:

Materials Used: Deuter-Microrip-Nylon, Deuter-Duratex-Lite & Deuter-Ripstop 210
ACT Lite 60 +10 SL Backpack
Picture Courtesy of Deuter

INITIAL IMPRESSIONS

Opening the box from Deuter was like Christmas in August! What a neat-looking backpack! Better even than the website photo which though accurate, doesn't do the size to weight ratio any justice at all. I immediately started to explore all the nooks and crannies of my new pack.

Deuter's ACT Lite SL series of backpacks are featured as backpacks for women and/or any gender backpacker with a slim frame. According to the Deuter website, what makes the SL different from the rest of the ACT Lite line is the more narrow SL shoulder straps and conically shaped hip fins which are wedged-shaped padded insert to conform to the curve of a woman's hips.

When I received my pack, I was immediately able to see what that means. These are the most non-bulky shoulder straps I have ever seen. However, that doesn't mean the straps are "skimpy". They are nicely contoured straps which curve to the sides of my "curves" (not squishing down over the top of them) and have padded, what Deuter calls "3D Air", mesh covers with soft edges. There is a hydration hose hook-and-loop fastener on the right side which is removal so as to be able to put it on the left shoulder strap if I so desired. An adjustable sliding chest strap will allow me to snap it shut wherever I find it most comfortable. I tend to try to have the chest strap rather higher on my chest than a lot of other women, so having the strap movable is a big plus for me.

The hip belt is well padded and has the same mesh covering over it as the shoulder straps. The padded portion of the hipbelt pretty much "ends" at my sides with the webbed-strap closure stretching across my abdomen. This is quite different from all of my other backpacks where the hipbelts are so large as to practically have the ends of the padding meet in the middle of my stomach with the adjustable straps pulled to the max. There is a zippered pouch on the right side of the hipbelt padding large enough to hold my cellphone or Canon A520 point-and-shoot camera but not both. I might also be able to squeeze in a tube of lip balm or a gel pack as well.

But if the hipbelt pouch is not all that big, the ACT Lite really delivers elsewhere in storage options! First off, there is a stretch front compartment about 12 x 12 inches (30 x 30 cm) on the top half of the pack. This has a compression strap in the middle to prevent (I assume) gear from falling out when the compartment is stretched and also to compress the main body of the pack when needed.

The top lid pocket is actually connected to the pack body and covers the pack's top opening via twin lid buckles. It does not come off the pack but rather only covers the top of the pack. There is a zippered main compartment accessible from outside the lid pocket as well as a zippered valuables pocket accessible only from the inside of the top lid pocket. There is also printed emergency instruction on the underside of the lid should I need them.

Continuing on with all the ACT Lite SL's storage options; a feature I am very excited to try out is a very large separate bottom compartment which is accessible from both outside and inside the pack body. It appears to be quite large and I'm hoping will be a great organizing tool for the compulsive neat-freak-type person that I am, even on the trail.

The main body of the pack is top-accessible via a pack-wide opening which can be closed by a drawstring cord secured with a barrel-type closure. This is where the "+10" of the ACT Lite 60+10 SL comes in. The "neck" of the pack can be extended upward for an additional 10 liters of volume and still can be concealed by the lid.

Inside the pack is a roomy compartment that has a separate hydration pouch. The elastic top hydration pouch will keep my hydration bladder from touching my gear and at the top of the back of the pack is a centrally located port for my hydration tube.

Lots of loops! Further carrying options are provided on the ACT Lite SL with top gear loops on lid compartment, front gear loops said to be for attaching a sleeping pad or bag on the outside and ice axe loops as well.

Two stretchy mesh side pockets on each side are provided for water bottles and of course, there are lots of compression straps to keep everything stable and well, compressed.

The ACT Lite SL series has Deuter's Aircontact Lite System which is designed for comfort and stability according to the website. This system consists of several features such as stabilizer and compression straps for positioning, regulating the pack load and increasing stability. Also, the pack is loaded with breathable padding with ventilating hollow chamber foam on the back frame and in the hipbelt as well as in the contoured shoulder straps. There is an aluminum adjustable anatomic profiled X-frame with Deuter's Vari-Quick system for a perfect back fit to round out the pack's construction.
AirContact Back Frame Padding
AirContact Lite Back Frame Padding
Vari-Quick Adjustment
Vari-Quick Adjustment

READING THE INSTRUCTIONS

Deuter provides a plethora of instructions for sizing the ACT Lite SL for proper fit, how to properly balance gear in the pack for proper balance, how to properly lift the pack, how to care for the pack and more. There are pages of valuable information on the Deuter website, including an informational video.

Attached to the ACT Lite SL was a retail hangtag, chock full of most of that same information in abbreviated form in five different languages. For the vision-impaired folks like me, a magnifying glass was a great help - er, make that a necessity! I won't even try to summarize all the information here - Deuter does a much better job than I ever could.

However, very briefly, to fit the pack, Deuter instructed me to:
1.) Fill the backpack with a realistic weight. Loosen all straps. Shoulder the pack.
2.) Position the middle of the hip belt over the hip bones and tighten.
3.) Now tighten the shoulder straps, but not too tight. The main weight should be on the hip belt.
4.) Once I have found the perfect back length, fix and close the height adjustable sternum strap.

One thing I did find of interest was that while the pack is water-resistant, using pack or stuff sacks is recommended (or a rain cover) and " impregnation (spray and bath impregnation) in the strap's material can lead to skin irritation."

I found it rather funny that Deuter needed to specify no machine washing for the pack! But rather they recommend placing the backpack in a tub or shower filled with water and using a ph-neutral soap when necessary. Everyday dirt and stains should be cleaned with a soft brush. Salt stains (sweat stains) can be removed by washing with soap and plenty of water. Lastly, the pack should be always stored in a dry place. I think I can handle that!

SUMMARY

I haven't yet gotten the ACT Lite out on the trail or even yet packed it up, but that will change this coming weekend when my hiking buddies and I get together for our first (hopefully) fall outing. The weather has cooled down nicely this week and I'm hoping for a great couple of days in crisp - well, at least not broiling - cool air. I'm excited about the possibilities of the ACT Lite and am hoping it will solve a lot of my packing nitpicks.


FIELD REPORT

FIELD LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

Due to a ridiculously busy work, travel and house construction schedule, I was only able to escape into the outdoors twice over the last two months. Trying to find some free time and to drag my husband away from his computer and our almost-completed house was way more difficult than any peak I've ever climbed! However, I did convince him a couple of breaks would do us a world of good and 2 days away wouldn't cause a total collapse of the economy or the roof.

Both treks were local in the Wet Mountains south of Canon City and both were quick overnights - no lingering in the beautiful fall colors for me this year. Dang! The first overnight was near Bigelow Divide, elevation 9403 ft (2866 m) and the second at Hardscrabble Pass, elevation 9085 ft (2769 m). The Wet Mountains are noticeably different from other sections of the Rocky Mountains range area in that they are less "harsh", more rounded with broad valleys. They are named "Wet" for a reason and get more snow and rain than the Arkansas River Valley which lies at their base. I usually plan to go there when it's NOT wet though.

On both backpacks, the weather was stellar - bluebird skies, mild temperatures, and low humidity. Nighttime temperatures were in the mid 40s F (7 C) in the early evening hours and became progressively colder into the wee hours just before dawn, down to 35 F (1.7 C) on the first outing and a chilly 31 F ( 0.6 C) on the second. Thanks to our high desert climate, the humidity never went above 30% or so at night (during the daytime, humidity is generally in the teens!).

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

For the most part, the terrain has been relatively rugged with lots of scree, packed dirt and hard granite. I have been packing a weight of just under 20 lb (9.07 kg) that is 16 lb 2 oz (7.31 kg) of gear plus the ACT Lite weight of 3 lb 7 oz (1.56 kg). Plus, of course, water (4 liters, or about 1 gallon, weighs just about 8 pounds (3.6 kg) and I generally chug about that over a couple of days.

Surprisingly, I have experienced no shoulder or upper back fatigue with the ACT Lite. The framesheet with its soft foam padding and padded harness offers plenty of support so that the pack weight sits squarely on my hips and derriere and feels more like a very heavy fanny pack than a backpack. The compression straps hold the contents in the pack securely, so I haven't experienced any shifting of weight while hiking. I have used the outside compression straps to easily lash tent poles, tent, and more to the sides of the pack. I used the two outside stretchy pouches to hold extra bottles of water.

The only negative I have had to deal with so far were friction marks from the shoulder straps rubbing on my upper body. This was remedied by wearing shirts or tops with sleeves rather than my favorite tank tops. This is not a problem unique to this pack; I have the same problem with almost all of my other packs as well.
The Deuter ACT Lite pack is a roomy pack with outstanding flexibility regarding fit, plenty of options for secure storage of gear items and solid construction for proper pack weight support.

Once all available adjustments had been made to the pack, the pack became a custom pack that works with my body resulting in minimal stress on my body. The multiple compression strap systems allow me to stow gear in various configurations depending on what I need to pack; both externally and internally on/in the backpack. The outside compartments allow me easy access to oft-used items. The well-padded framesheet and hip belt puts all the pack weight on my hips where it belongs and allows for no drag on my shoulders at all.

The quality of the materials used is evident throughout the ACT Lite, such as the tight, smooth and straight seams, the securely woven strap webbing and the (so-far) snagless stretch panels of the sides and front of the pack.

SUMMARY

So far, I'm very pleased with the space, utility and comfort of the Deuter ACT Lite backpack! It is spacious without being bulky and overweight. The adjustments are intuitive and stay secure. The waistbelt is nicely-padded and well-positioned to rest on my hips. It's a keeper, I think.

I'm determined to get out more in the next two months - the house is almost complete, so one obstacle will shortly be removed. We already have a Thanksgiving weekend snowshoe outing planned with our son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter. One of the things about winter hiking is the need for more gear, so even if it's just an all-day hike or a quick overnight, the extra space the Deuter ACT Lite provides will be very welcome. Never know when more layers will be needed!


LONG-TERM REPORT

LONG-TERM TEST LOCATIONS AND CONDITIONS

As in my Field Report phase, during this period of long-term testing, all of my hiking/snowshoeing experiences were day hikes plus one overnight which took place in south central Colorado. All day trips were 4 to 8 hour jaunts into the approximately 100,000 acres (40,468 hectares) of BLM land encompassing the Cooper Mountain range/Royal Gorge area near Canon City or the Wet Mountains south of the Arkansas River Valley.

The Cooper Mountain range is mostly piņon pine and juniper-covered high desert with rough primitive game and mining trails (for the most part) and is easily accessed just outside of my property fence line. So this was (and will be) most often chosen for my day hikes and quick overnights. My husband and I generally pack up, grab the GPS, pick a trail and go without any planned destination in mind.

The Wet Mountains rise up from the Arkansas River Valley and are dense ponderosa pine and sage forests. One of my new favorite trails there is the Rainbow Trail in the Wet Mountains.

Elevations I tested in ranged from 5000' up to 14000' ( 1524 m to 4268 m) and temperatures while hiking/snowshoeing over the past two months varied from 17 F to 68 F (-9 C to 38 C).
Mineral Fork Trail
Mineral Fork Trailhead
Loaded up and ready to go
Loaded up and ready to Go!


I also had a great hike on the Mineral Fork Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah during the recent Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. This was a moderate 4.5 mile (7.3 km) hike with an elevation gain of 3500 ft (1070 m) from 6700 ft - 10200 ft (2040 - 3100 m). It was a very chilly 27 F (15 C) though when in the sun, it felt much warmer.

PERFORMANCE IN THE FIELD

In my Field Report I addressed the comfort of the ACT Lite and during the last trials, I've found that I have continued to be extremely pleased with how well this pack "rides". Especially now that I'm wearing more clothing (shoulders and arms are covered), I barely notice the pack's proximity to my body. While, during the colder days, my pack is heavier (on one trip I actually weighed in at lb/), I haven't been bothered by undue pressure on my back. The hip belt takes the brunt of the needed support which is great!

Even more so than during summer and mild weather, the amount of useable pack space becomes more important as I need to carry bulkier items to account for the changing/colder weather. The ACT Lite is no lightweight when it comes to giving me that space. For example, on a recent trip, I inventoried the contents of my pack and here is what I stuffed into the ACT:

* 40 Degree Sleeping bag in its stuff sack
* Fleece Sleeping bag liner in its stuff sack
* Sleeping pad rolled up in its stuff sack
* Camp stove
* 2 fuel canisters
* Aluminum pot kit
* 2 Sporks/1 folding cook knife
* 2 Pairs of spare socks, wind jacket, fleece, 2 sets of base layers change of underwear
* 1 Pair of camp shoes
* Headlamp and 4 spare batteries
* 8 Food bars/4 gel packs/4 chewies packets/2 packets of oatmeal & 1 freeze-dried MRE
* 32 oz (0.95 l) water bottle in one outer pocket
* 3 l (101 oz) water bladder
* Tube of Sunscreen
* Bear spray, small canister clicked to shoulder strap
* 2 Sandwiches
* Tea bags & sugar packets
* 2 Tuna package lunches (the Bumble Bee brand in the plastic kits)
* Assorted other small stuff, like a whistle, small flashlight, small first aid kit
* Compact binoculars and a small digital camera.

I let Hubby John carry the tent! (Hey! I believe in chivalry - just trying to help!)

The initial weight of the pack with all my stuff came in at 34 pounds (15.4 kg) since I was carrying so much water. BUT that weight went down as I drank the water.

SUMMARY

STARRING ATTRACTIONS

1.) Lots of room for all my weeklong warm-weather and 3-4 day cold weather gear.
2.) Easy to pack up and to access the contents.
3.) Rides nicely on my hips rather than dragging on my shoulders.
4.) Allows for decent ventilation.

MINOR DISTRACTIONS

1.) Sometimes, I have a bit of difficulty accessing my water bottles from the holsters

I have really enjoyed using the Deuter ACT Lite backpack over these past months. It is easy to use and is one of the best-riding backpacks I've ever used. My previous backpack has now been retired to the "guest gear" shelf. I'm so pleased with this pack that I got one for my almost-13-year-old Boy Scout grandson. He likes it, too!

Thank you to BackpackGearTest.org and Deuter for the opportunity to try out this very versatile pack.

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters
Boy Scout
Boy Scout with New ACT Lite!

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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