Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: inexpensive, supportive, comfortable
Cons: lacks sleeping pad straps, not spacious
Best Uses: 2-6 day backpacking trips, light to mid-weight pack loads
As one of our two Best Buy awarded backpacks, the Deuter ACT Lite 60+10 is a great women's specific backpack for the value. At $199, the ACT Lite has many features typically found on more expensive backpacks: the shoulder straps width, padding, and comfort are comparable to the Gregory Deva 60; the simple design is comparable to the simplicity and ease of use of the Osprey Aura 65 and the Osprey Ariel 65. Although the ACT Lite is measured at 60+10 liters of carrying capacity, we noticed that it doesn't pack as compact as the Osprey Aura 65 and we didn't find the ACT Lite to be as spacious as some of the other backpacks in our review. All in all, the Deuter ACT Lite has a very comfortable, simple design, and wins Best Buy for a simple backpack for carrying lighter loads. It rated consistently well across all of our metrics and offers a great value.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Deuter ACT Lite is an inexpensive women's specific backpacking backpack with a simple design. Offered in only a single size, the adjustability options are easy to configure, yet extensive enough to suit many body types. The ACT Lite is the prime backpack for a woman looking for comfort and simplicity in a lightweight form, without breaking the bank.
The Deuter ACT Lite is a simple, single-size, adjustable backpack that we found to be quite comfortable. Like similar one-size adjustable backpacks, such as the Osprey Viva 50, the padding across the back and shoulder straps is plenty cushy. The shoulder straps are on the wide side- we think they best suit an athletic body type. This backpack is most comfortable under light to mid-weight loads, but becomes less comfortable with a heavier pack load. The Deuter ACT Lite is more comfortable than the also simple in design packs, the Granite Gear Blaze A.C. 60 - Women's and REI Flash 52 - Women's but it is less comfortable than any of the Osprey backpacks or the Kelty Coyote 75 - Women's, which is our other Best Buy women's backpacking backpack. Designed with women's specific sizing, the ACT Lite offers a shorter torso and conically shaped hip fins that add to the comfort of wearing this backpack during long days.
At about the same weight as our Editor's Choice backpack, the ACT Lite weighs in at 3 lbs, 11 oz- in the middle range of weight for all our backpacks in the women's review. While it doesn't weigh in heavy, it felt heavy when we reviewed it. Surprisingly, it feels a significant amount heavier than it is, but this may be attributed to a heavy pack load, which it doesn't sufficiently support. On our backs, this backpack feels as heavy as the Kelty Coyote- the only difference is that the Kelty Coyote is a 5 lb backpack and the Deuter ACT Lite is 3lbs, 11oz.
With an adjustable torso length, the suspension's function depends on a proper fit. We found that when we fit it properly, the suspension distributes the weight of the pack well under lower weight loads, though it does not distribute weight well when packed heavy. For a one size, adjustable backpack that distributes heavier weight loads well, we recommend the Osprey Viva, which is comparable in size, weight, and simple design features.
Ease of Use
The ACT Lite is designed with simplicity in mind, and we find it easy to use. Few adjustment points make figuring out a proper fit easy. Few pockets allow for ease of organization and ease of access to all of our belongings. Some awkward design features take away from the ease of use: the sleeping bag compartment has an arched zipper on the front of the pack that is awkward to open and close, yet durable. Also, the lack of sleeping pad straps limit the ease of use as the next best way to attach a sleeping pad is to secure it beneath the lid, which is not ideal. Every time we want to access the main compartment, this requires fussing with the sleeping pad. The Granite Gear Blaze A.C. also lacks sleeping pad straps, but it is much easier to secure the sleeping pad with side bungee straps, which the Deuter also lacks.
Similar to the Osprey Viva and the Kelty Coyote, a one-size adjustable backpack allows for simple adjustments of the shoulder straps, torso length, and waist belt. The Deuter ACT Lite has simple design features that are easily comprehensible and we figured out an ideal fit with few alterations. One design feature we wish the Deuter ACT Lite had is the option to narrow the shoulder width, but although wider than desired, the comfort was not sacrificed, and the adjustments elsewhere kept the backpack stable.
One of the simpler backpacks in regards to organization options, the Deuter ACT Lite has only three enclosed compartments, including the main compartment, which we think is great! The organization of this backpack has pockets where they were necessary, with three separate access points into the main compartment. Sadly, there is only a single waist belt pocket, and we have come to expect two waist belt pockets as standard, considering that most of the women's backpacking backpacks in this review did have two.
The ACT Lite is best used for 2-6+ day backpacking trips where pack load is considered light to mid-weight. This backpack is not well suited for heavier pack loads. For the woman new to backpacking and also for the experienced backpacker looking to carry less (not necessarily less weight, but less gear), the ACT Lite is just right.
The ACT Lite is available as the ACT Lite 45+10 and ACT Lite 70+10 for women/SL and a wide range of men's sizes as well: ACT Lite 40+10, ACT Lite 50+10, ACT Lite 65+10 and ACT Lite 75+10.
At a suggested retail price of $199, the ACT Lite is an incredible value. We awarded this backpack as one of our two Best Buy backpacks in the women's specific backpacking backpack review because of its simple design offering few pockets, yet plenty of adjustment options on a one-size-fits-most backpack. For both the beginner and the advanced backpacking woman, the Deuter ACT Lite is quite a value and definitely put up a strong fight for the award!
From the company that has been making backpacks for over one hundred years, the women's specific Deuter ACT Lite is sure not to disappoint. With a Best Buy award under its women's specific designed hip belt, the ACT Lite is a simple backpack in a single size while still offering more than sufficient padding on the shoulder straps, waist belt, and back frame, and enough adjustment options to comfortable configure to most body sizes and preferences. Whether new to backpacking or experienced and looking to simplify, the Deuter ACT Lite is a unparalleled value for a simple yet comfortable backpack.
— Briana Valorosi
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Most recent review: June 22, 2014
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