IR Deuter ACT LITE 65+10 - Bob Dorenfeld
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DEUTER ACT LITE 65+10
TEST SERIES By Bob Dorenfeld
August 22, 2013
NAME: Bob Dorenfeld
LOCATION: Salida, Colorado, USA
HEIGHT: 5' 6" (1.68 m)
WEIGHT: 142 lb (64.40 kg)
I'm an active hiker, snowshoer, skier, backpacker, amateur geographer and naturalist. Home base is the Southern Colorado Rockies, where I usually journey from 7000 ft (2100 m) to above treeline, with occasional desert trips to lower altitudes. Six to 12 miles (10 to 20 km) hiking in a day is my norm, including elevation change of as much as 4000 ft (1200 m) in a day. Most of my backpack trips are two or three nights, sometimes longer. Often I hike off-trail on challenging talus, snowfields, or willow brakes, with occasional bouldering.
Product Information & Specifications
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Photo: Deuter" IMAGE CAPTION = "Photo: Deuter">>Manufacturer: Deuter
Year of Manufacture: 2013
Manufacturer's Website: <<HYPERLINK GOES HERE - "http://www.deuter.com" LINK TEXT = "www.deuter.com">>
Listed Weight: 3 lb 15 oz (1760 g)
Measured Weight: 4 lb 2 oz (1870 g)
Volume: 4550 cu in (75 L)
Material: Ripstop 210 & Duratex Lite
Torso: 15-21 in (38-53 cm)
Dimensions (HxWxD): 31.5 in x 14 in x 12.5 in (80 cm x 36 cm x 31.75 cm)
Carrying Capacity: 45 lb (20 kg)
Number of interior compartments: 2
Number of interior pockets: 1
Number of exterior pockets: 5
Adjustable Shoulder Harness
Bottom Compartment Access with Internal Zip Divider
Ice Ax Loops
Hydration Sleeve and Tube Exit
My ACT LITE 65+10 backpack arrived packaged flat in a plastic sleeve, with all straps buckled and pulled tight for shipment. After removing the information hang tag and loosening all of the straps I can find no obvious defects: the new backpack looks good and ready for use. It is remarkably light - at a fraction less than 4 lb (1.8 kg) listed weight it's almost half the weight of my previous backpack. The seams appear to be sewn securely, all of the zippers operate smoothly, and the strap buckles and cord tighteners work as designed. The main features of the pack as described by Deuter's literature (web site and hang tag information) match well to the pack as I find it - exterior and interior storage, loops, interior compartments, straps. See Trying It Out, below, for more on how I was able to set the backpack's initial fit and adjustment to my back and shoulders.
Description of Features:
Deuter calls their ACT LITE 65+10 a "Trekking Backpack", which to me means a pack somewhere between day and expedition size; its feature set is to my knowledge representative of packs of this size. I will here describe most of the parts of the pack, but not every detail, nor how each feature works. There will be additional photos and description later in this Test Series as they becomes relevant for my Field Use report.
Throughout this report I'll call the front of the pack the area I load from: that is, the bottom and top large compartments, and the slip pocket plus the side wand pockets. The rear, or back, side rests against my back and is where the shoulder straps are attached.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Front of the pack" IMAGE CAPTION = "Front of the pack">><<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Back of the pack" IMAGE CAPTION = "Back of the pack">><<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Side of the pack" IMAGE CAPTION = "Side of the pack">>
Starting at the bottom front of the pack there is a sleeping bag compartment with front double-zippered semicircle opening. At the interior top of this compartment is another double-zippered flap that lets down to open the entire interior of the pack into one large compartment, if desired. The bottom compartment exterior zipper is covered by 1 in (2.5 cm) of elasticized ripstop against rain or snow. Moving up the pack, there is the large interior top-loading compartment with a hydration sleeve against the back of the pack. This generously-sized sleeve is more than big enough for a 3 L water bladder: in fact, the sleeve's bottom extends all the way to the bottom of the pack itself, with the top 6 in (15 cm) below the stiff top of the backpack. A bi-directional hydration tube opening at the top stiff rim of the pack directs the tube to either left or right. There is no side or front access into the top main compartment. Two X-pattern aluminum stays form the backpack's interior frame, with a hook-and-loop closure to protect their tops from contacting the pack's contents. Above the stiff top of the pack is an additional 7 in (18 cm) extendible ripstop sleeve which can accommodate more gear. Two drawstring cords with cord-locks can close off the top compartment at two levels: the top of the stays, and the top of the extendible sleeve.
On the outside front of the pack, above the bottom compartment is a large slip pocket about 11 in (28 cm) wide by 8 in (20 cm) tall; there is no closure at the top of this pocket aside from a short strap and buckle to secure the pocket top to the pack top. The slip pocket is constructed of mesh fabric except for two angled bands of solid gray material that serves as a visual design element, but may also provide some strength for the pocket's front. Along both exterior sides at the same level as the bottom compartment are two mesh wand pockets with elasticized tops, each about 6 in (15 cm) square. Gear attachment points on the outside front of the pack include two strap loops hanging from the bottom of the pack where the bottom compartment zippers end, two short 1.5 in (4 cm) cord loops at either side of the wand pockets, and two longer 4 in (10 cm) cord loops (with cord-locks) located midway up the large slip pocket. Four of the 1.5 in (4 cm) cord loops are also found along the outside edges of the top exterior pocket. Along each side of the backpack are two horizontal compression straps, located across the wand pockets and at the top level of the interior stays. Two additional pockets complete the top of the pack: an exterior one forms the top closure, with a horizontal single-zippered closure facing the back, and inside this top pocket is a smaller zippered enclosure against the top. To secure the pack's top exterior pocket to the main body is a large flap permanently attached along the pockets rear edge to the rear edge of the pack a small distance above the stays. An additional two straps with buckles complete the attachment and allow the top pocket to be raised or lowered, depending on how full the main compartment is packed. There is a compression strap under the hinged top pocket, from front to back, to help secure the load on the main area but under the hinged top.
Moving now the to rear or back of the backpack, their is a carrying handle securely attached at the top of the internal frame. The shoulder straps are attached to the back using Deuter's Vari-Quick System, with stabilizer straps attached to the top of the internal frame to either side of the carrying loop. (See below in Trying It Out for more about the Vari-Quick System). Running in a Y shape along each side of the pack's rear are the thick back pads, extending down to the bottom of the pack. The hip belt extends out from either side of the bottom of the back pads. There is an air space between the back pads, centered from the pack's bottom along the Y and exiting at the top on both sides between the the back pads and the shoulder pads: this forms the Aircontact feature that Deuter says will reduce sweating while wearing the pack. About half-way down each shoulder strap are the attachment points for the adjustable sternum strap; these attachment sliders allow generous vertical adjustment to fit the wearer. Stabilizer straps run from each shoulder strap and attach to one of two points at back of the pack, depending on the height of the user and how the Vari-Quick System is adjusted. The right shoulder strap has a short 3.5 in (9 cm) hook-and-loop wrap positioned midway along the strap length, presumably as a hydration-tube holder. The wide padded part of the hip belt wraps towards the front of the waist, completed by 1.5 in (4 cm) wide fabric ending in the front buckle, which can be tightened or loosened from both sides while attached. Also, each waist belt features a short strap and buckle forming an additional point of attachment to the back of the pack to fine-tune the fit while hiking; Deuter calls this feature Variflex. A small 5 in (13 cm) wide by 4 in (10 cm) high zippered sundries pocket completes the right side of the padded waist belt, while the left side has a ripstop band with openings front-to-back (perhaps for inserting or hanging items).
All of the main-body fabric of the ACT LITE 65+10 is waterproofed inside, but not the three exterior mesh pockets (two side, one front).
Finally, a couple of words about color and styling: I like the two-tone dark blue and light gray color scheme. It's understated and goes with my preference for subdued clothing while hiking. Deuter placed their brand logos at several places on the front and back of the pack, but not ostentatiously. The light gray bands along the front echo the interior X stays, while the usually not-visible bottom of the pack is a darker gray. The inside hip belt and shoulder straps (front and back) are a neutral dark gray, as are all of the straps and buckles.
This completes my initial impression and description of the Deuter ACT LITE 65+10. In the next section I'll check out the instructions, then try on the loaded backpack for first fit.
Reading The Instructions
Deuter provides information and instructions for the ACT LITE 65+10 in a 12-page card-stock hang tag attached to the pack. In addition to English, many other languages are provided for each section of the cards. Most of the text is printed in a small but nonetheless readable font. Contact details for the Deuter company are included. One card has a cut-away sample of a shoulder strap showing the foam layer inside and demonstrating one aspect of the "Advantage Aircontact" system, and summarizing a study conducted for Deuter concluding that their suspension system was significantly cooler and more sweat-free than other backpacks. I will comment more on this feature in the Field Use section below.
The rest of the instruction cards contain feature descriptions and fitting instructions. Since the card may be the same one included with another pack model, some feature description diagrams and text do not apply to the ACT LITE 65+10; this is sometimes noted where applicable, but in other places not. Deuter could have done better proofreading of the feature text and diagrams, but overall I found the descriptions useful and mostly relevant to the ACT LITE 65+10.
I tested the fitting instructions and diagram by pretending that I hadn't worn this type of pack before, and followed every guideline as presented. The labeled profile diagram was easy to understand and correlate with the explanations.
Trying It Out
To begin, let me say that I have never had any special fitting requirements for backpacks. Except when I once tried a non-adjustable pack that wasn't sized correctly to my height, I have always been able to make a pack work for me. Thus I was confident that by following Deuter's fitting instructions I could get the ACT LITE 65+10 comfortably adjusted.
Loading the pack to about 30 lbs (14 kg) with demo gear and distributing it as Deuter suggests in the their pack fitting diagram (pictured here), I strapped the waist belt reasonably tight, clipped in the shoulder straps and the sternum strap, and standing in front of a mirror observed the suggested angles and clearances on my body compared to the diagram (A, B, C, D, F). I saw right away that the factory-set Vari-Quick adjustable shoulder-strap height (C and E) was too high - it was set to the 3rd-6th loops counting from the top. I experimented by setting it one loop lower, retrying the fit, and repeating: eventually I arrived at loops 6-9. At this point the stabilizer straps felt good and their angle closely matched the diagram (A), as did the angle from my armpit to the shoulder strap attachment to the pack back (C). The hip belt rested comfortably on my hips, and as Deuter suggested, lifting my leg did not lift the pack.
<<IMAGE GOES HERE. ALT TEXT = "Pack Fitting Diagram" IMAGE CAPTION = "Pack Fitting Diagram">>
Walking around my back yard with pack in position felt good - I didn't notice any obvious sore points or places where the pack was rubbing. The backpack felt solid when I lifted it by the top handle to my raised knee for swinging onto my shoulders, and I had no trouble slipping my arms under the shoulder straps. I slid the sternum strap attachments down a bit to fit nicely across my chest. Removing the pack was not hard since I could easily find and grab the handle directly behind my neck and swing the pack around. At this point I've finished trying out the backpack's fit to my body - further observations and adjustments will come during field testing while hiking all day.
So far I'm pleased with the operation of the zippers and all of the straps and buckles: there were no problems encountered during a demo loading of gear. I can see various ways that I might use the exterior attachment points, and I'm sure that I'll try all of them during Field Use to see what works best for me. My filled 3 L water bladder fit very easily into the over-large sleeve, but because the sleeve extends to the bottom of the pack (instead of the bottom of the top compartment) I may need to either replace my tube with a longer one so that it'll reach far enough down the shoulder strap for me, or install a stop inside the sleeve to keep the bladder higher in the pack.
My camping agenda in the coming months will take me from high forested altitudes in the Southern Rocky Mountains to the desert country of the Southwest, from end of Summer through the Fall months. I'll be backpacking trails ranging from easy with good tread and little elevation change, to moderate and difficult trails involving rough tread and significant elevation changes over a day's walk. My pack load will vary from about 35 lb (16 kg) to at least the pack's spec of 45 lb (20 kg) maximum. I've been using my former backpack for over eight years: can I adapt my current gear-packing system to the ACT LITE 65+10? I'll monitor durability of zippers, fabrics, straps & buckles, and cords. Besides tracking how well I can load and access my gear, I am most interested in how the pack balances on my hips and shoulders over the varied terrain I'll be hiking, and for the many hours I'll be wearing the pack. On challenging ascents and descents, will the pack remain steady and not throw me off-balance? Deuter suggests that their Advantage Aircontact suspension system decreases sweating on the back by a significant amount - I'll also be paying close attention to this feature. And, I'll want to see how well the pivoting hip belt (that Deuter calls Variflex) contributes to trail comfort.
This concludes my Initial Report. The Field Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report -- please check back then for further information.
Long Term Report & Summary
This report was created with the BGT Report Generator.
Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.