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Hands-on Gear Review
Deuter Speed Lite 20 Review
Cons: Thin waist belt, front pocket is difficult to get into
Bottom line: A great all around 20 liter daypack that is designed for maximum versatility.
The Deuter Speed Lite 20 earns our Top Pick award for presenting the perfect balance between low weight and simplicity, with just the right features and comfort. Both compression straps reverse around the pack, allowing it to hold far more than its volume suggests. This attachment option is ideal for attaching an ice axe, rope, extra clothing, skis, and even some camera equipment, like a tripod. We especially liked using it as an airline carry-on bag and for long day hikes. The water bottle pockets were bigger than the similar Osprey Daylite. Overall, the Speedlite is an excellent day pack with the features you need for your next adventure.
RELATED REVIEW: The Best Daypacks for Hiking and Travel
Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
This little pack sure packs a big punch. With its well thought out features, the Deuter Speed Lite brings home our Top Pick Award for its ability transition through a vast amount of activities.
Check out the chart below to see where our Top Pick winning Speed Lite 20, shown in blue, ranked amongst its competition in the daypack category.
Sometimes it's the little things that make all the difference, and Deuter left no rock unturned when it came to the features and detail. The ice axe loop tucks up into the outside stash pocket so you don't have to deal with it when not in use, and trekking poles are easily stowed in the side mesh pockets (and can be secured with the compression straps). The same seemingly-hidden outside pocket allows you to be creative with storing easily accessible items. For example, when you're ready to shed a layer, you can cram it into this pocket. The only drawback to this pocket is that the opening is rather small, and with the pack fully loaded, the pocket becomes relatively difficult to access.
It also has loops to attach a helmet holder, which is a separate accessory, that can also be used to attach other items to the outside of your pack. We fastened some shock cord to these attachments for an extra carry option.
As with all Deuter packs, SOS emergency instructions are printed on the inside pocket. This pack is also hydration compatible; however, do be aware that a three liter bladder can take up a considerable amount of room in this 20-liter pack. That being said, the Speed Lite is a great alternative to a hydration specific pack, offering a little extra storage on light and fast days. A velcro loop is fastened to the shoulder straps to hold your hydration system hose in place.
The most uniquely useful features on this pack are the side compression straps, which add an enormous amount of versatility. They can be extended all the way across the pack to lash skis, an ice axe, or a tripod, while still maintaining the compression feature. Only three packs that we tested came with compression straps, and the Speed Lite's were by far the most useful and versatile.
One of the drawbacks of this pack is the thin hip belt, which really only aids in some stability. However, it can also be removed.
The size of this pack is both a blessing and a curse, and you should be fully aware of your needs, coupled with the capabilities of the Speed Lite. If you're looking for a pack that is capable of holding a multitude of layers and gear, this is probably not the pack for you. Yet, if you're looking for something on light and fast days for trail running, multi-pitch climbing, peak bagging, and even some light ski mountaineering ascents, then it says it all in its name; the Speed Lite is the pack for you.
This pack is obviously a little heavier than the our Best Buy winning minimalist pack, the REI Co-op Flash 18; however, there are quite a few more amenities, including a minimal frame structure with padded back paneling and shoulder straps, which add a little bit of weight to this pack. The Stratos weighs 16 ounces, while the Osprey Daylite is a less featured pack that is very comparable and weighs two ounces less. All three of these backpacks are great for traveling and work well as personal items, or can compress and fit in your luggage or backpacking pack.
If you're looking for a spacious and lightweight pack, be sure to read our review of the Granite Gear Virga 26 that works for day hikes and ultralight overnights and is mega light weight.
For such a small pack, the Speed Lite has a well cushioned back panel and shoulder straps. Though it may not provide as much ventilation as the Osprey Stratos 24 or even our Editors' Choice, the Osprey Talon 22, its flexible fit remains comfortable and stable across the board for several torso sizes.
When filled with a heavy rain jacket, group med kit, water, snacks, headlamp, and a few other necessities, the Speed Lite proved to be quite comfortable.
With the amount of features this pack offers its user, the opportunities are endless. Deuter paid close attention to offering useful amenities while simultaneously combating weight.
That being said, it is an essentials only pack, which is perfect for running the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim or summiting a multi-pitch climb.
It's small enough to take the place of a hydration specific pack, as well as being compressible and packable enough to accompany you on your next backpacking venture. There are numerous outside lashing options to accommodate carry extras, such as your ice axe, trekking poles, and helmet. These lashing options made it much more versatile compared with the Osprey Daylite and far more versatile than the Arc'teryx Cierzo 18, which is really only compatible with climbing.
Within the duration that we used and abused this pack, it proved to be quite durable. Not only did it keep its contents mostly dry in our 24-hour water test, but it also protected camera equipment while dirt biking around the Utah desert. The zippers seal incredibly well; however, one thing to be aware of is that the buckles are Deuter proprietary buckles. This means that in the event of one breaking, it may be difficult and complicated to replace.
Ease of Use
This is a pretty simple pack with just the right amount of handy bells and whistles. The more we used this pack, the more we realized it was a rock star with the ability to accommodate almost any task, which is why it is our Top Pick winner. Though slightly less featured that the Osprey Talon, it still performs just as well.
It not only held all the essentials for our pack test, but it held a 13-inch laptop (without any room to spare). The outside carry options allow you to carry much more than the 20-liter capacity would normally suggest.
The Speed Lite can accompany you in just about any situation where a lightweight daypack is needed. Not only can it be used in place of a standard hydration pack for actives such as climbing, running, skiing, hiking, or cycling, but this pack allows you to bring even more gear along than a hydration pack. It's a minimalist's pack with a little extra punch.
For $89, this pack is a great deal. This pack has more features than some of our heavier packs and with extra lashing and stow options, it can carry just as much.
— Jeremy Bauman and Gentrye Houghton
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