Deuter Speedlite 30 850 Rucksack — Review

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Why is it I keep going for rucksacks that are not ski specific? Could it be they tend to be light, come in neutral colors without jumbo sized brand names shouting your shopping preferences to the world, and have almost all the features I want? Well, yes. More, while I do run a quiver of backpacks I’m always trying to simplify and use rucks that work for both summer hiking and winter ski touring. With all that in mind, consider the Deuter Speedlite 30 toploader, but be sure to look at other Deuter options as well.

Deuter includes a back panel pouch and two mesh side pouches, but no diagonal ski carrry.

Deuter includes a back panel pouch and two mesh side pouches, but no diagonal ski carrry.

Deuter does make packs that are more ski specific. Their Freerider Pro 30 for example is a skier’s panel loader (and really quite nice). Or consider the Cruise 30 if you want something beefy and full featured, with an offset lower tool loop that’ll work for diagonal carry.

Side straps will work fine for A-frame ski carry.

Side straps on the Speedlite 30 will work fine for A-frame ski carry.

Eternal question; toploader or panel? Two things about top loaders: They’re generally lighter and simpler. More importantly, top loaders are favored by alpinists because you can hang your pack from a belay stance and access the top drawstring opening without pulling a zipper and dumping a rain of gear on the valley below. Ski alpinists might like them for the same reason. Panel loader or not, back panel access can be nice if you frequently pack skis that block top access, but back panel construction adds weight, complexity and cost. I like top loaders, probably because of my background as an alpinist and climber, and I rarely feel the need for back panel access. That’s my bias.

We love open top mesh side pockets. Open mesh catches on tree branches and ski pole tips, but we can live with it. Tighter mesh works better but weighs a few more grams and you can't see what's in there.

We love open top mesh side pockets.

Back pouch is perfect for wet snowy skins, or a spare jacket.

Back pouch is perfect for wet snowy skins, or a spare jacket. Shovel storage for most people is probably Euro style, inside the pack.

Chest strap position adjusts with the sliding rail type of anchor. We like.

Chest strap position adjusts with the sliding rail type of anchor. We like.

Single tool anchor is centered; not so hot for diagonal ski carry but it'll work if you anchor the skis over one shoulder.

Single tool anchor is centered; not so hot for diagonal ski carry but it'll work if you anchor the skis over one shoulder.

More details:
- Hydration pouch inside pack, nice large access hole and a tube anchor on the pack strap.
- Frame is a simple plastic hoop that’s not super stiff.
- Capacity is a true 30, with zip pockets in both top and bottom of cover flap.
- Weight is a svelt 33 ounces, 936 grams
- All buckles are nicely anchored on composite tabs.
- Bottom is two layer, laminated, which is nice for an all-season pack that might see duty on rocky terrain.

Shop for Deuter Speed Lite 30 and other Deuter packs.

Comments

15 Responses to “Deuter Speedlite 30 850 Rucksack — Review”

  1. Howard December 4th, 2012 11:53 am

    I have the previous version of this pack with solid stretch fabric rather than mesh on the bottle pockets and the sides of the kangaroo pocket and a climbing style loop on the left hip instead of two pockets, but it’s essentially the same. This is my favorite year-round pack too – I end up using it for skiing more than an old, heavy REI ski-specific pack now. I can fit my BCA shovel blade and skins in the kangaroo pocket, but the shovel handle goes inside the pack. I also found the Camelbak bladder that has a welded baffle to stay flatter works better since this pack has no frame sheet – doesn’t barrel out as much when the pack is stuffed. The backpanel material does seem to hold snow more than ski-specific packs, but all-in-all, this is my favorite pack for day hiking, climbing and skiing.

  2. Tom Gos December 4th, 2012 1:50 pm

    I have a ski pack with back panel access – I’ve never used it and often think about how much weight it adds. Does anybody really think back panel access is essential?

  3. Dave December 4th, 2012 3:39 pm

    As a chronic overpacker, I prefer panel to top-load. I am almost never in an alpinist situation, but, I frequently want just one thing out of my pack, and, with a top loader there seems to be a natural law that whatever I want will find its way to the bottom of the pack at the same rate that the urgency that I find it rises….
    I have now followed up on something I learned from my ski patrol packs, with a panel loader it is possible to use plastic bags or other container systems to really localize the different things in my pack – doesn’t seem to work as well with a top loader…

  4. See December 4th, 2012 7:03 pm

    Zippered back panel also allows easy access to inside of pack even with a helmet, skis, ice axe, etc, strapped on the outside.

  5. George December 4th, 2012 7:44 pm

    I like the Deuter Pace 20 pack for faster and lighter jaunts at 650 grams. The zippered back panel works well for finding your essentials due to the larger opening and ability to dive to the bottom for heavier items.

  6. Lou Dawson December 4th, 2012 8:12 pm

    George and all, thanks for the confirmation on how useful and varied the Deuter rucksack line really is. Something for everyone.

    Some nice packs out there in all sorts of different brands. Tough choices.

  7. Steve Howe December 4th, 2012 9:01 pm

    Got this for a test 4 years ago. Big fave. It remains a go-to year-rounder, and is currently locked and loaded in the pickup camper as my ski touring pack. Only minor beef (for winter) is the mesh hipbelt and bottle pockets; which fill with blower-pow during falls or set-downs, and from the vacuum of my supersonic vortex.

  8. Erik Skontorp Hognes December 5th, 2012 1:41 am

    Hi,
    I also use “ordinary” backpacks for skiing, but in the search for that perfect one I’m looking for something a backpack that keeps as much as possible of the weight close to the body. That is not the case, I think, with many of the very narrow and tall alpine packs. I guess I’m not the only one looking for this since the backpacks from dynafit, and the new ones from Arcteryx has a much more “drop” (or pear?) shaped form than the classic alpine day packs. Dynafit actually wraps the weight around you in some of their models. Now I’m just waiting for them to make them lightweight, but still above 35 liters. So Lou: Could you say something about the “point of gravity when loaded” when you comment on you backpacks?

  9. Lou Dawson December 5th, 2012 7:27 am

    Erik, my view on that is when you’re carrying smaller amounts of weight the location of the weight is not critical — and with larger loads it needs to be taller so it can be carried on the hips. However, I have indeed grown fond of the teardrop style packs such as Dynafit and Camp that concentrate the weight lower down, as you say. It’s definitely something you can feel, though again, not critical. If someone made a pack in the teardrop configuration that I liked and was durable enough, I’d probably use it more. As it is, I’ve been testing a few and either had durability problems with poor construction or else they just were not to my liking and I didn’t feel like reviewing.

    Also, how the pack is loaded can do a good job of distributing weight lower. For example, water is the heaviest thing I carry. If my water bottles and thermos are down low, either in the mesh side pockets or down inside, it makes a big difference. Indeed, by loading a conventional shaped rucksack with care, you can easily mimic the weight distribution of a teardrop shaped pack.

    Lou

  10. Lou Dawson December 5th, 2012 7:40 am

    Steve, I’ve got mixed emotions about the mesh. Most of the time it doesn’t bother me, but when it’s really storming the gear in the pockets does get wet and snowy. Not a big deal with water bottles and such, but things like sunscreen tubes and radios sometimes are better stored in a place where they’re not coated with snow/ice/moisture. My solution is I (as nearly always) use a dedicated after-market camera case attached to shoulder strap, and keep things like radios and GPS in jacket pockets or the pack’s top flap compartments. Lou

  11. Matt December 5th, 2012 8:16 am

    Panel loaders with a better ski carry system for me. I have to carry skis enough to really value a good frame and really good diagonal carry setup, which also makes a back panel access a great feature for me.

    Unfortunately, there seem to be few packs out there that have these features I want that don’t also add unnecessary junk like lots of straps and buckles and padded layers outside layers (?!!!), and long zipper pulls with plastic tabs on the ends. I am in the process of stripping down a BD pack that has the stuff I want but also throws in stuff I don’t. Wish they would figure it out (BD seems to be going in the other direction, adding even more ‘features’ like their rotating hip belt which adds more weight). Grrrr

  12. Toby December 5th, 2012 8:56 am

    Lou, I think we have similar preference what comes to the backpacks.
    I like my Deuter Pace 30 backpack. I think Speedlite 30 has been discontinued and replaced by Pace 30 ?..check. It looks very, very similar to the speedlite shown here. It is nice 30liter – 900g lightweight day pack. I found it so robust, that I started to use it more for summertime general alpinism. I also have Camp X3 that is my dedicated ski touring day pack. I learned to use the backdoor for skins, cloves and thermos bottle, when I typically keep Primaloft jacket etc. soft goods on the top. I found Deuter Pace 30 carries skis better than Camp X3 (classic A-frame, that it is not possible with the Camp). There are advertising pictures where the front expandable pocket was used for carrying helmet, but I found it too small for that. It works only when pack is half full. Deuter sells an optional helmet holder web for that purpose.

  13. Howard December 5th, 2012 3:59 pm

    The wide-open rubberized mesh on the hipbelt doesn’t seem to hold snow – at least not here in the Sierra, but the wicking material on the backpanel doesn’t shed snow and can hold moisture.
    I’m definitely in the toploader camp vs. panel loader – more simplicity = less things to fail and lighter weight as a bonus.
    My dream pack would be 40-45 liters, simple toploader with floating lid, a zippered front pocket for avi gear/skins, and good compression/ a-frame ski straps on the side.

  14. ty December 7th, 2012 5:16 pm

    this year i went with the opposite of neutral colors (tropical bird look), and so far my ski photography has noticed. blah blah faded grays and blacks and blues are so 90′s, and the mark of a curmudgeon (or an old school ripper). My blackjack pack is fitting the bill nicely in bright red

  15. ty December 7th, 2012 6:33 pm

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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