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 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.
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.
– 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.