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Deuter Guide Lite Pack Review

© Dan Bailey

A recent addition to Deuter's Guide range of technical mountain packs, the Guide Lite - as you'd expect from the name - strips out some of the weight to give you a light-and-fast option. It's less supportive than a standard Guide, but then it's smaller and designed for lesser loads. But this is no ultra minimalist, still offering a full complement of features.

It's a good size for hillwalking and mountaineering in spring/summer, when less gear is needed  © Dan Bailey
It's a good size for hillwalking and mountaineering in spring/summer, when less gear is needed
© Dan Bailey

The Guide series now includes several models: Guide 44+; Guide 42+ SL (for women); Guide 34+; Guide 32+ SL; Guide Lite 30+; Guide Lite 28 SL; Guide Lite 24; Guide Lite 22 SL. For this review I've looked at the Guide Lite 30+, the midrange option in terms of capacity.

Having already reviewed the new Guide 44+ I had a good idea what to expect in terms of functionality and general Deuter quality:

Weight and build quality

At 920g all-in (Deuter say 900g) the pack is far lighter than the larger and more structured Guide 44+ (1478g). By removing the hip belt (155g) and the lid (100g) you can take the weight down to just 665g. That's pretty damn light for a pack of this size, and puts the Guide Lite in similar territory to stripped-down climbing packs such as the Arc'teryx Alpha FL and Mountain Equipment Tupilak. Latterly I've removed the hip belt (see below), but I have retained the lid since I find those so useful for fiddly little bits like sunscreen, hats etc.

In terms of knockabout toughness, the Guide Lite does not seem quite in the territory of the Alpha FL or Tupilak, and it's less of a winter/alpine specialist. But it's cheaper. Though this has been a short term and largely undemanding test (thanks to lockdown), I do think the build quality feels good - something I've come to expect of Deuter.

The 'standard' Guide uses 330D ripstop nylon, with a base in 600D polyester, a burly combination that I've yet to scuff in any way after a winter season of use. On the Guide Lite you get a thinner 100D nylon/polyamide ripstop fabric for the main body, with a base in much tougher-feeling 630D fabric. To help save weight the webbing is narrower than on the Guide, and some of the components, such as the plastic clips and buckles, are a bit smaller. Overall, while the Guide Lite does not quite match the very tough feel of the Guide, I think it does seem robust for a pack of much lesser weight.

Fit and comfort

The Guide 44+ has a lot of structure, with a chunky internal frame, but the Guide Lite is a much softer and more flexible pack, with only a springy plastic rod to give it shape - the 'Delrin U-Frame' (Delrin has a high trensile strength). Consequently, while the Guide feels almost like a trekking pack in terms of load carrying support, its lightweight cousin carries much more like the medium-sized daypack that it is. If you were lugging heavy loads all day - a full winter rack and ropes, say, or overnight bivvy gear - then the Guide Lite's back system would probably feel under-powered. However you'd be hard pressed to fit that much gear in it in the first place. This is a lighter-weight pack for lighter-weight endeavours - hillwalking, scrambling, easier alpininsm, and mountain rock if you can keep the weight down.

I suspect taller folk than myself are likely to find this rucksack too small all round. The fixed back length best suits shorter users: at 183cm tall and with a fairly long back, the waist belt sits too high on me and does very little work in terms of taking any of the load. I can see that the fins pivot a little, to help the pack move with you as you walk, but I can't really vouch for their effectiveness! As with the other Guide packs, the hip padding is removable, so after a few outings with the waist belt mostly kept folded around the back of the pack, I took it off. You could re-thread the pack with just the webbing part of the waist belt, as I have with the Guide 44, but on a pack of only 30 litres I think belts are often of borderline use anyway, so I've been doing without.

It's compact and well-balanced for scrambling and climbing   © Dan Bailey
It's compact and well-balanced for scrambling and climbing
© Dan Bailey

As with the Guide, the shoulder straps are nicely sculpted for a form-hugging and unrestrictive fit, and overall the Guide Lite sits close to the back and feels well balanced for scrambling and climbing. A firm foam sheet provides a bit of structure, and protects your back from pointy pack contents. Other than this the padding is fairly minimal, with some cushioning for the shoulder blades and a small lumbar pad. Having tested it on some hot sweaty days, the padding seems adequately breathable, although it's not as light and airy as on some rival brands. You can tell this straight way by trying to breathe through it!

Features

The floating lid can be raised to add a bit of excess capacity, or (as I've mentioned) removed to save weight. The lid-top pocket is big enough for hat, gloves etc, though an OS map is a bit of a squeeze. Two welcome features here are the water resistant zip, and a key clip. Under the lid is an additional large zipped valuables pocket.

Instead of the standard plastic clips, the lid fastening features metal hooks of the type that has now become quite in vogue. These secure to daisychains sewn on the pack, which cuts down on some of the clutter of straps you'd normally find. But while it's nice to see something new being tried, I don't like it much. Because the adjustable part of the system is the top section you end up with a dangling webbing tail that's not as easily retained as a standard closure strap. The webbing is very narrow and the hooks are tiny, and while this saves weight it also makes them a bit fiddly to operate, especially when wearing gloves.

There's a sunglasses loop on one of the straps  © Dan Bailey
There's a sunglasses loop on one of the straps
© Dan Bailey

Hook and daisychain closure system  © Dan Bailey
Hook and daisychain closure system
© Dan Bailey

Under the lid is a removable rope retaining strap. The aforementioned daisychains provide plenty of external clipping options, while the side compression straps have plenty of length for attaching bits and bobs, including skis; the top strap has a clip for easier use, and both feature a velcro loop for securing spare tails, which I really like. The twin axe attachments, featuring the through-the-head-toggle style, are neat, robust, and easy to use wearing gloves.

Down on the hip belt, you get a small zipped pocket on one side (you won't get much in it bigger than a couple of cereal bars), while the other side features a single small racking loop and a retaining slot for an ice screw clipper. I personally wouldn't climb with a hip belt fitted (it's better run around the back of the pack) but I can envisage wanting to clip some gear to my pack rather than my harness if I were crossing a glacier on an easy snow plod, or some such.

For a quickly customised fit the sternum strap slides up and down on the shoulder straps, and the buckle features a whistle (never a bad idea, as I may well forget to carry one in summer otherwise). A little elastic loop on one chest strap gives you somewhere to stick your sunglasses.

A decent carry loop, and a sleeve for a hydration bladder, complete the feature set. I think that for the modest weight there's quite a bit going on with the Guide 30+, but one thing missing are the additional trekking pack-style zipped entries found on the Guide 44+. I wasn't even sure these made sense on that much larger pack, so I count their lack here as a good thing.

Summary

An excellent addition to Deuter's mountain-oriented pack range, the Guide Lite may lack the beefy load carrying support of its bigger Guide cousins, but as a result it's much lighter. The feature set is fairly extensive, but crucially the Guide Lite is also strippable, giving you a lighter and simpler pack for days when weight is a particular concern. If you're after a mid-sized lightweight technical day pack for hillwalking, scrambling, summer alpine trips or mountain rock, this one hits the spot at a very reasonable price.

Deuter say:

If you're looking for a lightweight, comfortable pack, with an uncluttered exterior, then look no further. The Guide Lite 30+ features our new Lite alpine back system for a snug, solid fit on the back.

The new style shoulder straps flex and bend with your every move, so you won't be thrown off balance even through the trickiest sections of a climb or scramble. A new integrated helmet holder keeps your helmet securely fixed onto the outside of the pack.

The hip fins can be detached to save even more weight or for more leisurely days on the hill.

  • Weight: 920g
  • Deuter Lite back system
  • Delrin® U-frame
  • detachable hip fins
  • detachable hip belt
  • hip fins with zipped pocket and gear loop
  • ice clipper slot on hip fins
  • ergonomic shoulder straps
  • glasses stow system
  • adjustable sternum strap with safety whistle
  • 3-point ice axe attachment
  • side compression straps, also for ski or gear attachment
  • stowable, detachable rope strap
  • extendable pack volume
  • detachable lid pocket
  • helmet holder included
  • SOS label
  • hydration compatible
  • gear loops
  • Material: 100D PA High Tenacity / 630D PA

For more info see deutergb.co.uk



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