Hiking with Deuter bag

Review: Deuter Speed Lite 20 Daypack

Simple, streamlined, solid and innovatively versatile. An excellent daypack that won’t disappoint, no matter what sort of adventures you are dragging it along on.

The Deuter Speed Lite 20 is one big little bag! Small enough to cinch down and use as a hydration pack for running and cycling, but with enough storage features to be big enough for most day-long adventures. With a unique compression strap system that can be adapted to carry anything from climbing ropes and helmets to skis and camera gear, the Speed Lite 20 is mega versatile without being complicated. And for such a lightweight bag, it is also super durable and robust.

Deuter Speed Lite 20: The stats

Capacity:20 litres
Weight:530g
Pockets:5 – 2 side, 1 front, 1 top, 1 internal water bladder pocket
Size:48 x 26 x 18 cm (H x W x D)
Material:210-denier Ripstop Polyamide and Ripstop Nylon

Design features of the Deuter Speed Lite 20

Side pockets

Side pocket of Speed Lite 20 daypackThe mesh side pockets are plenty deep enough to securely hold a water bottle or flask, and I like the positioning of the compression straps to add a bit of extra security to whatever the pockets are holding. I find reaching for my water bottle fairly easy when wearing the backpack, and the top edge of the pocket holds its form well enough to return the bottle with ease.

Front stretch pocket

Front pocket of Deuter day packThis pocket is super useful for stashing things you need to access lots on the trail. Perfect for stuffing in a layer that I’ve taken off, or storing snacks in. It’s also nice to store any wet gear to keep it away from the rest of your stuff. I’d love to be able put my map in it, but the two access points at the sides aren’t quite big enough.

Top pocket

Top pocket of Speed Lite backpackThis is the only zippered pocket on the bag and I love it. It’s big enough to hold all my valuables, but not so big that I end up piling in a load of other stuff that should live elsewhere in the bag. There’s also a key clip inside the pocket which is mega useful – especially when the pocket is constantly being accessed.

Water bladder pocket

Wet pocket for water bladderThe only other pocket on this bag is the wet pocket located in the main compartment of the bag. It provides plenty of space to throw in a 3 litre water bladder and the H20 port allows the hose to be used easily on the move. There is also a velcro tab at the top of the pocket to secure the hose stays in place, or to secure the top of your water bladder if applicable.

Sternum strap

Sternum strap of Deuter backpackThe sternum strap moves up and down the shoulder straps to be secured at the right height. The strap is then easily adjustable to your preferred tightness across the chest to ensure the bag is as tightly fixed to you as you need. This is great for running, and provides just enough stability to keep movement of the bag to a minimum.

Compression straps

Compression straps of Speed Lite 20 backpackThese are a very clever feature of the bag that makes it highly versatile in many outdoor scenarios without adding extra weight. The straps cinch down at the sides as normal, and in this position an extra buckle creates a loop to store hiking poles. But the straps also lengthen to be secured with the opposite buckles across the front of the pack. This enables you to really cinch down the whole pack when running, or you can strap skis onto the back of the pack too. I’ve also used these straps to carry my climbing rope on the outside of the pack. They deal with it very nicely.

Removable waist strap

Waist belt of Deuter Speed Lite 20The super lightweight waist strap is so minimalistic that you barely notice it when you’re wearing it. It isn’t designed to aid with weight distribution, but its presence is just enough to provide that extra bit of stability when you need it. It’s also removable which is a really nice feature for the times when you know it’s just going to get in the way, or for when you are using your bag in everyday scenarios.

Tapered shape

Deuter day packTo keep things as streamlined as possible, Deuter have chosen a tapered design for the Speed Lite 20. This means that it is wider at the top than at the bottom – the opposite to most other day packs. The idea is to minimise contact with the bag when running or ski touring – the slimmer bottom just doesn’t get in the way of your swinging arms. With a smaller capacity at the bottom than the top, it also discourages throwing a bunch of stuff in your bag because you can! 20 litres is more than enough space for most single day adventures, providing you’re smart with your packing.

Attachment loops

Gear loop on day packThere are four small loops at each corner of the bag that combined are compatible with a helmet holder that can be bought separately. However I have strapped my helmet directly to these loops as well as using them to clip on extra gear with a carabiner. Alternatively, add even more strapping options for your gear, by lacing paracord or bungee cord through the loops.

Deuter Speed Lite 20 daypack review

In recent years I have become very used to using a 32 litre daypack for almost every scenario you can think of when you might need a bag! So shaving off 12 litres has been a bit of an adjustment, but one that has been both eye-opening and liberating. Using a 20 litre bag makes you actually consider every single thing that you are carrying and stops you throwing things in just because you can. That said, there are still times when I could use a little more internal storage, but on the whole, the storage options that the Speed Lite provide are surprisingly varied, and make you realised what you don’t need to take with you.

The lack of pockets on the Speed Lite 20 made me nervous to start with. I love to keep all my gear organised instead of just throwing it all into the main compartment. But so far I’ve not missed multiple pocket options at all. In fact it keeps things much more simple, and if I’m unable to resist a bit of organisation, I just use a few dry bags to keep things in order!

When it comes to durability, the 210 denier ripstop nylon does exactly what it’s supposed to despite the constant abuse, and makes this one tough little cookie of a bag! Together with the PU coating is does an exceptionally good job at keeping its contents dry, even in persistent rain. This is a huge bonus for me as I was initially reluctant to buy into the lack of rain cover. And considering how light the bag is, I love how confident I feel that it won’t fall apart after a year of use. The zips are bomber and although they don’t have a flaps over them, they seal together very well.

What I really love about the Deuter Speed Lite 20

I’m a huge fan of gear that can be used for multiple purposes. And so in this department the Speed Lite 20 has totally excelled itself and is absolutely my favourite thing about it. For day to day use, it is lightweight and non-intrusive. And yet it still manages to carry everything I need for adventures out in the wild. This does involve more careful planning, depending on what I’m doing, but it is still very doable. For day hikes it is ideal. There is even enough room for everything on winter hikes when bigger and bulkier layers need packing – the external straps and lashing options make this possible and increase the carrying capacity a great deal.

Deuter Speed Lite 20 day pack

Things I don’t love so much about the Deuter Speed Lite 20

Back panel

The main thing that doesn’t get full marks is the lack of airflow through the ‘breathable 3D Air Mesh’ back panel. This is no problem in winter conditions, and I quite like the extra warmth that the closeness of the bag provides. But during even moderately warm conditions, the back sweat levels starts to build up much more quickly than I would prefer. And I’m not a big sweater either. What the back panel does provide though is very high levels of comfort, no matter how heavily your bag is packed. And the design minimizes any kind of rubbing when moving faster than walking pace.

Front pocket access

The other thing that I would prefer to be a little different, is the design of the the front pocket. I love that it’s there, and it does an excellent job holding a stuffed in pair of gloves, extra layer or snacks. But the openings to the pocket can be frustratingly small considering the size of the pocket itself. Either make the two side openings bigger, or add in top access that is closeable.

Sternum straps

As a lady bag wearer, I find that most sternum straps sit too low on my chest to be comfortable when running. If the whole bag is fitted a little more loosely, this is no problem at all. But to ensure maximal stability when running, I really need to lock everything down as tightly as possible, and that’s when the discomfort arises. If the sternum straps could go just another centimeter higher then it would be no problem at all! But as I said, this is a common problem for me when using unisex bags.

Verdict

If you’re after a daypack that is as versatile as it is durable, then you can’t go wrong with the Deuter Speed Lite 20. You’ll certainly find packs that are lighter and more specialised that the Speed Lite. But where this little package falls short on weight and specialism, it more than makes up for in almost every other department, and at a price that’s very reasonable for its high quality and comfort.

Despite its few short-falls, the Speed Lite is a pack that I will be using and enjoying for (hopefully) many years to come. But if you like to carry lots of stuff with you, then you might struggle to have this as your only daypack and something like the Osprey Escapist 32 may be a better, if not heavier, option.

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Deuter | REI | Backcountry

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