Even though as hikers we love the simplicity and peace of nature, and the lack of electronic intrusions, it’s fair to say that technology is our friend when it comes to load carrying.
Lighter and stronger materials, an increased focus in multi-purpose designs, and an all-round downsizing philosophy mean that many of us are carrying much less than we used to 20 or even 10 years ago.
Consequently, unless one is doing America's famed Pacific Crest Trail or an unassisted traverse of Tasmania, the 80 to 100 litre behemoths of yore can stay in the cupboard, replaced by slimmer, smaller and altogether easier-to-carry packs in the 40 to 50 litre range.
Fitting bang into the target volume is the ACT Lite from German pack specialists Deuter. The +10 is achieved by lifting the lid and extending the throat of the pack, a very handy feature although it does serve to make the ACT Lite even taller than its thin shape defines.
ACT stands for AirContact, the style of back system that incorporates a deep vertical channel for ventilation. It works, although I must have a sensitive back because I could feel the resultant ridges. The harness is adjustable throughout a large range of back sizes, although if you are on the lower end of the scale the top of the pack will tower above your head like an unwelcome piggy-backer.
Deuter packs generally have more features than you can shake a trekking pole at and this is no exception: pockets and attachment points galore, a separatable bottom compartment, hydration sleeve etc. The lid impressively detaches as a standalone summit pack for a few small essentials, although doing so leaves the main pack opening unprotected. One thing missing is an integrated rain cover, presumably in an attempt to keep things ‘lite’. At 1.68kg it’s not bad but they do come lighter.
Best for: tall torsos