Thursday, April 7, 2016

Review - Deuter Airlite 16 Hiking Backpack

Over the last year or so we've bought and tried out several back packs trying to find one the would work for our day walks. I think we finally found it!

I'm going to let John tell you about this new backpack and what he thinks.

Deuter Airlite 16 Hiking Backpack – 1st impression Review
By John B

My wife and I enjoy walking in the city, suburbs and backwoods.  We have successfully met our annual goal of walking 500 miles together and have managed to boast it up to 600 miles annually these past few years.  Most of our daily treks are 5 miles or less.  This year we are challenging ourselves to walk the New York City “Great Saunter”.  A 32 mile walk around the Manhattan Rim inMay. 
For this we needed a new day pack.  We have tried several varieties and they all have had the same two issues.  Little structural support leaves the contents collecting to the bottom of the pack and no ventilation makes for a wet and uncomfortable back. 
We researched the day packs and finally settled on the Deuter Airlite. Our purchase was through Ebags and the transaction was quick and easy.  Shipping emails were timely and accurate.  We received the day pack on Friday after much anticipation. 
Sunday morning, we set out for a 10 mile walk from downtown through the suburbs, parks, and bridges.  It was a beautiful spring day with clear skies and a high of 76o

Material – The material and workmanship on the stitching is excellent.  I found no stray stitching or loose threads.  The stitching was well supported and has the look and feel to last us a long time.

Packing – The bag has one main compartment for storage.  This provides able space for our lunch, snacks, first aid and windbreaker.  The narrow design prevented the typical clumping at the bottom of the pack.  There are two compression straps on the back to hold the items in place.  After lunch, these proved useful to keep the contents in place while walking.
There is a second pocket at the top of the pack for small items that need to be retrieved quickly.  The pocket is deep enough to prevent items from falling out while the pack is lying flat.  This pocket is good for cash, band aides or a quick snack.

Handle – Most day packs have a strap at the top for carrying to your car or other transfer spot.  These usually have enough room for one or two fingers.  The handle on the Deuter was large enough for my entire hand.  This was a much more comfortable design.

Large carrying handle

Hydration - Each side of the outer skin has a water bottle elastic mesh.  The open designed allowed for any condensation from the bottles to drip off the bags keeping the pack nice and dry.  The location just behind each hip made it easy to retrieve my bottle while continuing to walk at stride with little issue.  Returning it to the pocket was just as easily handled. 
The pack is made to contain a hydration system, but we have not used one to date.  Maybe this fall on our Europe adventure.

Water bottle holders on each side plus a place inside
the pack for a water hydration system.
Walking sticks fit nicely on the pack.

Balanced – The first mile proved the pack to be well balanced with its 3 point system.  There is a cushioned pad at the waist as well as one for each shoulder.  I found by adjusting the tension of the shoulder and belt straps made for easy and quick adjustments.  The pack held firmly to these areas with no rubbing or irritations to my shoulder or back.  There was also an elastic chest strap that worked in harmony with the shoulder straps.  This is a very impressive simplistic design that works very well.

This elastic band around the chest expands as you move.

Airflow – This was a pleasant surprise.  I chose the Airlite because the images on the website showed a webbing between the pack and the users back.  I did not pick up on the concave design nor the cross fitted spring wire frame keeping the pack off of your back.  This design worked excellent for ventilation.  Although the mesh does stay against your back, it is vented and keeps perspiration from building up on your shirt and back. 

The best feature! The pack doesn't sit against the back
allowing for cooling air flow.

Hip Side Pockets – There was another model that had small side pockets on the hip strap.  I did not select this option, but after our trek appreciated the idea.  Our snacks were packed on my back.  If I was walking solo, I would have had to remove my pack to retrieve them.  Since I walk with my wife, this was not an issue, but might be something for others to consider.

Rain cover – We did try on the rain cover and it fits over the full pack will.  The elastic fit snugly over the pack and looks to be of good design.  It did not rain on our first outing, so its design still remains to be tested. (It did rain on our next outing and the rain cover fit nicely and kept the pack dry.)


            No Hip Pockets


  1. Hi,

    Great review. I have a couple of questions:

    1. Since the pack seems to have some kind of inner structure, how easy would it be to pack it inside another pack? I'm looking for a pack that doesn't need too much room in my travel luggage...

    2. How well the side pockets can hold a standard 21oz water bottle? For instance, would the bottle stay in place when you are trying to tie your shoes?

    Thanks in advance!


    1. Hi Luis,

      To answer your questions:

      1. This backpack will not fold up or smash down so it would take up too much room in a larger pack or piece of luggage. We've tried those small packs that are made to fold up tiny so you can put them in your luggage but they didn't provide the structure we were looking for. When traveling by plane my husband uses this as his personal carry on.

      2. The side pockets are nice and tight and we didn't notice any problem with the bottles falling out. We're used several different sizes and shapes of bottles without any problems. Since writing this review we have purchased the bladder that fits inside the pack. It's worked out well for long distance walks.

      After carrying this pack on several long distance walks we're still happy with it.

      Hope that helps!

    2. Hi, I must say great review. I would love to see an update from you after 2 years of use.
      I have had same concern as Luis regarding question 1 so I went to shop and I tested flexibility of this construction. I can say string wire is flexible and you can force it flat so you could place it at the bottom of your suitcase but the question is how does it affect structure of the pack after several trips. Please let us know if you tried that Louis since I am thinking of buying this pack with same thing in mind.


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