Camping Gear

Gear Review: Deuter Speed Lite 20 Daypack

Posted On September 21, 2016 at 4:07 am by / Comments Off on Gear Review: Deuter Speed Lite 20 Daypack

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Deuter Speed Lite 20
$89, 20L/1,220 c.i. 1 lb. 3 oz.
One size

At first glance, Deuter’s Speed Lite 20 struck me as a daypack with the right capacity and features for virtually any adventure—and super lightweight, which I like. So I decided to put it to a serious test, on an 8.5-hour, 20-mile, 4,500-foot, mid-September trail run-hike of the Alice Lake-Toxaway Lake Loop in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, including a 1,400-foot, third-class scramble up 10,651-foot Snowyside Peak. And there’s much to like about the Speed Lite 20.

I also carried it with about 12 pounds inside (including two liters of water, a DSLR camera and two lenses, and a couple of jackets) hiking the 10-mile Around the Mountain Trail in Idaho’s Boise National Forest.

Deuter Speed Lite 20 harness.

Deuter Speed Lite 20 harness.

With a minimalist, highly flexible, U-shaped, Delrin frame, a half-inch of perforated mesh padding in the shoulder straps, and an unpadded, removable, webbing waist belt, it carries 10 to 12 pounds comfortably. Given that simple harness, I found it fairly stable when running at a slow, long-distance pace, but it started bouncing a bit when I had 2.5 liters of water or my camera gear inside. The thin back pad of perforated mesh breathes well, but being right up against your back, it still traps perspiration. Still, the hugging-the-torso fit and the tapered shape, which stays out of the way of arm movement, made the pack hardly noticeable on my back while running with poles or scrambling third-class rock. Another benefit of such a lightweight and flexible harness: You can fold the Speed Lite 20 in half, making it very packable.

The main compartment—accessed quickly via a deep, U-shaped, top zipper with big pull loops for grabbing with gloves on—has adequate space for food, water, and clothing for an all-day hike in the mountains (and it’s a good size for an airplane carry-on, fitting a large laptop). There’s a zippered top pocket that fits a sunglasses case plus small items, and the mesh side pockets can hold a liter bottle or snacks, gloves, map, etc. Most prominently, the front pocket—sewn into the pack at the top and bottom, with stretch mesh and partial openings on both sides, but no zippers—swallows a rain jacket and then some. Given the zipper-less, open sides on the front pocket, the sewn top makes it more secure than an open stuff-it pocket (and no zippers means one less part that can break); but the openings are a bit small for pulling out a jacket with gloves and a hat in there, too.

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Deuter Speed Lite 20

Two compression straps on each side hold trekking poles or skis, and they smartly can be extended around the front to clip on the opposite side, for maximum compression. The PU-coated, 210-denier ripstop pack fabric is pretty tough; the external mesh represents the only durability concern. Other nice features include a tuckaway ice-axe loop, a light attachment on the front, and loops at the four corners of the front side for attaching an optional helmet carrier.

I give this pack one demerit for lacking hipbelt pockets—a detail I value especially in an ultralight daypack because I’m choosing it for long outings where I want the convenience of having much within reach without having to take the pack off. But the mesh side pockets are within reach while wearing the pack, which partly makes up for the omission of hipbelt pockets.

Verdict: Deuter’s Speed Lite 20 is an efficiently designed, lightweight daypack for any outing when you’re traveling light, whether on dayhikes of any length, adventure racing, multi-pitch rock climbs, peak bagging, ski touring, or bike commuting.

BUY IT NOW You can support my work on this blog by clicking this link to purchase a Deuter Speed Lite 20 at

See all of my reviews of daypacks I like, including the comparable Osprey men’s Talon 18 and women’s Tempest 16.

See also my “5 Tips For Buying the Right Backpack” (which includes daypacks), all of my reviews of hiking gear, and my “10 Tricks For Making Hiking and Backpacking Easier.”

NOTE: I tested gear for Backpacker Magazine for 20 years. At The Big Outside, I review only what I consider the best outdoor gear and apparel. See categorized menus of all of my gear reviews at The Big Outside.

—Michael Lanza

The Big Outside is proud to partner with these sponsors. Please help support my blog by liking and following my sponsors on Facebook and other social media and telling them you appreciate their support for The Big Outside.




Do you like The Big Outside? I’m Michael Lanza, the creator of The Big Outside, recognized as a top outdoors blog by a USA Today Readers Choice poll and others. Subscribe for updates about new stories and free gear giveaways by entering your email address in the box at the bottom of this story or in the left sidebar, and follow my adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

This blog and website is my full-time job and I rely on the support of readers. If you like what you see here, please help me continue producing The Big Outside by making a donation using the Support button at the top of the left sidebar or below. Thank you for your support.


from The Big Outside

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On Google PlusVisit Us On Youtube