Did you know that a backpack is actually one of the most important hiking essentials? For years, I have been using an old backpack that used to be my mom’s, but over time I realized that it did not fit all my hiking items and it did not give my back the support I needed, with uncomfortable hikes as a result.
You might recognize this yourself as well. The solution? A decent backpack!
Thus, this made me realize I needed a proper backpack that was actually made for hiking, and after some research, I settled on the deuter AC Lite 21 SL. Why? In short, because I loved the design, it’s a small day pack that still gives me the necessary support and the SL model means it is a special women’s design that fits better than a generic backpack. But more on that below ;).
In this review, I’m going to go over all the pros and cons I experienced when using the deuter AC Lite 21 SL. I can already share that I’m super happy with my choice and that it’s such a huge upgrade from my basic backpack before!
Before writing this blog post I received a deuter backpack to test out. All the opinions in this post are mine, and I hope to give you an as honest review as possible!
My first impressions are overall very positive. I tested the deuter AC Lite on several day hikes already and I find it very comfortable to wear. Since I have quite a small backpack, 21 l, the first thing I did was fill it up with all the items I need on a day hike from a rain jacket and lunch to my camera and tripod. And… it all fitted perfectly! This made me very confident that I choose the right size ;).
In general, I’m super happy with my backpack and I’m going to explain to you in greater detail why in a few seconds.
Pros & cons of the deuter AC Lite
Advantages of the deuter AC Lite
My current deuter backpack is so much better than what I previously hiked with, so here are some of the advantages that I love about it!
Easy pocket for your phone
It’s super easy to grab your phone and put it away in the side net of the backpack while you’re walking. I don’t need to take my backpack off anymore. Because of the zipper, your phone also has no chance of falling out. It’s a small feature, but one that is super useful!
No sweaty back
Because there is some space between the back of the backpack and the net that covers your back, air can flow in between them and your back doesn’t get all sweaty. This is also called deuter’s Aircomfort system, which means no more weird stains when you take your hiking backpack off on a warm day!
Because of the frame and hip bands, there’s less pressure on your shoulders than with a regular backpack. For me, this really makes a difference! I can divide the weight between my shoulders and hips, plus, there’s nothing stabbing in my back because of the strong frame.
With a large zipper running over the entire length of the backpack, this is not your regular design. However, I find it first of all, very aesthetically pleasing and second, very convenient since I don’t have to get all my stuff out if I want to take something from the bottom of my backpack. Needless to say, I’m a big fan!
Walking pole holder
If you regularly take walking poles with you on a hike, it’s super easy to attach them to the straps on the side of the backpack. So no need to struggle to get the poles into your backpack! Depending on the weight, of course, you do want to see there is a good weight distribution since the poles are located on the same side as the water bottle holder.
Special women’s fit
One of the reasons why I chose the AC Lite 21 instead of another volume is because this one has a special women’s fit, indicated by the SL. This means that the shoulder straps are narrower and a bit more S-shaped, the back system is a little shorter and hip fins are adapted to women’s hips with slightly other shapes. This gives women even better support! If you happen to be a very tall person, deuter also has extra long backpacks adapted to a larger back.
Commitment to sustainability
When buying new items I try to be as mindful as possible about sustainability and what my purchase means for the environment and our society. Because deuter is part of the Fair Wear Foundation it commits to ethical labor conditions and by applying the bluesign standard it also makes an effort to manufacture more sustainably. Although backpacks are still made of polyester and polyamide, deuter has a great quality which makes its backpacks last for a very long time! Moreover, they are also PFC free (PFC is a harmful chemical often used for rain protection).
Lifelong repair service
Plus, besides deuter’s great quality, they also offer repair services. So instead of buying a new backpack when something is wrong, you can send yours to the repair service and get it back repaired. Plus, its repair service is lifelong!
Disadvantages of the deuter AC Lite
Disadvantages are part of the game. Choosing one backpack will have its advantages but of course also its disadvantages. What works best for you is something entirely different from everyone else. Therefore, I list some of the disadvantages I experienced below so that you can make a thorough choice.
Rounded ventilation system
While I absolutely love deuter’s Aircomfort ventilation system, it also has one disadvantage namely that on the inside, the back of the backpack is a bit rounded. This has probably a very good reason and makes the backpack very comfortable to wear but it also makes it a little inconvenient when putting your stuff in it.
Because the pocket for your water bottle and the walking pole holders are on the same side of the backpack, this might cause a bit of an unequal weight distribution if you have heavy materials. Of course, you can always compensate for this by a good division of your stuff.
deuter review overall opinion
All things considered, I’m a big fan of deuter’s AC Lite hiking daypacks! Because it’s so lightweight, the support for my back is so amazing and the design is so convenient, I carry it everywhere with me. I do believe this backpack is a great investment and I hope you do so too!
Because you might want to consider other alternatives, I’m going to list some options for you here below. These are all good replacements for the AC Lite 21 SL that I have used.
AC Lite 22 SL
Although it has the same name, this backpack has a completely different design and looks more like a regular trekking backpack. With a similar volume and a special women’s fit, it is however comparable to the AC Lite 21 SL. Did you know that deuter’s even numbers have a different design than the odd numbers?
Futura 21 SL
The Futura backpacks are a great alternative to the AC Lite backpacks. The odd numbers have a substantially different design since the zipper does not open over the length of the backpack but just the top. There’s also no side pocket for your phone but a pocket for important materials on top of the backpack. This one is a great alternative if you don’t like the design of the AC Lite!
Speed Light 21
The Speed Light backpacks are deuter’s most compact hiking backpacks designed for fast-paced hiking and a little bit of climbing. Thus, a great choice for the more adventurous trails!
Gröden 30 SL
This larger hiking backpack is a retro model that deuter decided to reintroduce. It’s definitely not the most lightweight or compact model but its distinctive design gives it a special touch! This one is for longer hikes and anyone who wants to give their hike an 80s flare.
What is deuter?
deuter is a German backpack brand founded in 1898. It has been the leading brand for functional backpacks in Germany and beyond as it now sells its backpacks all over the world. The company is a leading innovator in the backpack space and makes quality products that have been worn on spectacular expeditions in the past. Right now, the brand is focusing more and more on sustainability and fairness, leading by example.
What kind of backpack do I need for hiking?
For hiking, it is important to have a backpack that provides enough support, both on your hips, back and shoulders. The size of the backpack depends on the length of your hikes. For a short hike (less than a day), the smallest models of 15 liter and up will be sufficient. For a full-day hike, you’ll have enough with a maximum of 30 liter. I personally chose a 21 liter since this still fits everything for an entire day and I prefer a smaller backpack. Be aware that you probably need more space in winter than in summer. For multi-day hikes, you’ll want to go with 30+ liter.
Conclusion on my deuter review
I hope that with this deuter AC Lite 21 SL review I have given you enough information to decide whether this backpack is the right one for you. Overall, I believe the AC Lite is an excellent lightweight backpack for hiking and you can’t go wrong with it!
If you have any other questions, feel free to put them in the comments so I can add them to the FAQ section ;).