Deuter Speed Lite 24
$115, 24L/1,465 c.i., 1 lb. 11 oz.
With the Speed Lite 24, Deuter set out to make a pack that does it all. Weighing well under two pounds—low for a pack with this much capacity—it’s marketed as an ultralight, all-around daypack for long trail days, technical rock climbing, and even snow climbing. I wanted to see if such a light pack could fill all those roles, so I tested it extensively, including a 4500-foot, eight-mile hike up Ferguson Canyon and a 3,000-foot scramble up the South Ridge of Mount Superior in Utah’s Wasatch Range.
The Speed Lite 24 immediately impressed me with its comfort carrying weight on strenuous hikes. Despite its low weight, it features a padded hipbelt, flexible U-shaped Delrin frame, and adjustable load-lifter straps. This combo gives the pack an outsize carrying capacity—I had no issue carrying 15-20 pounds while soloing fourth- and easy fifth-class rock, as the harness controlled the weight well and prevented the pack from moving around on my torso. I’ve also carried up to 25 pounds comfortably in it while hiking, and yet the frame is still flexible enough to bend in half, making it very packable.
The pack also features zippered mesh hipbelt pockets, each large enough to hold a couple bars. Deuter uses a novel system to angle the hipbelt buckles slightly upwards, which made the buckles easier to clip and helped prevent my shirt getting caught in them. Finally, I found that the mesh and perforated-foam back panel does a pretty good job of wicking sweat and allowing airflow, similar to other packs with those materials and a body-hugging design.
The main compartment, readily accessed via a large, clamshell-style, U-shaped top zipper with large pull loops for use with gloves, easily carries everything necessary for a full day in the mountains with space for cold-weather layers, plenty of food and water and even some specialized gear. An elastic mesh inner compartment holds a three-liter bladder.
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A top pocket, also accessed via a zipper with large pull loops, provides ample room for valuables, and contains an internal key clip. The front stuff pocket, tightened with two buckled compression straps that wrap around from the sides of the pack, has just enough space for a compressible layer (such as a wind shell) or two. However, the relative lack of elasticity on the mesh sides of the front pocket limits its capacity, especially when the pack’s main compartment is full. I mostly used the front pocket for trash.
The mesh side pockets each hold a liter bottle. Those represent the only relatively vulnerable parts of the pack’s exterior. The 100-denier high-tenacity pack fabric used throughout withstands significant abuse, yet is lighter than other fabrics, keeping the Speed Lite’s overall weight low.
Twin side compression straps allow carrying skis, although the pack’s somewhat small volume and flexible frame (compared to backcountry touring packs) means that the weight of skis can overwhelm the pack: They will shift around a lot, especially when the pack is not fully loaded.
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Daisy-chain loops with a larger bottom loop sit on both sides of the front pocket, conceivably allowing the wearer to clip a substantial amount of climbing gear to the outside of the pack. More importantly, each daisy chain is topped with an elastic, tightenable, and unclippable loop which can be used to carry poles or an ice axe.
I found that the pack carries two collapsible trekking poles very well, not allowing either to move around on my back even while climbing fifth-class terrain. This setup even allows two poles to be carried on one side with an ice axe on the other—useful for mixing hiking, snow, and rock climbing. While the pack lacks any specific method to carry crampons, they could easily be attached to the exterior gear loops (but you’d want something covering the sharp points). Finally, there are loops at the four corners of the front side for attaching an optional helmet carrier.
While one could ski tour or snowshoe with this daypack in avalanche-free terrain, it lacks many of the features I consider essential in a touring pack, such as a separate avalanche gear pocket and durable side straps for attaching skis.
The Speed Lite series comes in several capacity options, all available in one unisex size, and the Speed Lite SL packs, designed specifically to fit women.
The Deuter Speed Lite 24 looks like a dayhiking pack, but can do a lot more—with the versatility to carry everything necessary for a big day of hiking, climbing, and even light mountaineering.
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You can support this blog, at no cost to you, by clicking any of these affiliate links to purchase the Deuter Speed Lite 24 or Speed Lite 22 SL or other versions of the Speed Lite daypacks at backcountry.com, Moosejaw.com, or rei.com.
NOTE from Michael Lanza: Nate Lanza has many years of experience as a backpacker, dayhiker, rock climber, whitewater kayaker, and skier, and as my son, he has experience beyond his years on wilderness adventures.
You may also be interested in my “8 Pro Tips for Preventing Blisters When Hiking,” my picks for “The Best Trekking Poles,” and my story “How to Know How Hard a Hike Will Be,” which you can read in its entirety with a paid subscription to The Big Outside or click here to purchase separately.
See The Big Outside’s Gear Reviews page for categorized menus of all my reviews and expert buying tips.