The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 is a solid, durable pack. While it doesn't boast some of the bells and whistles that other models feature, it is incredibly versatile and great for activities wide range of activities from traditional backpacking or trekking, summertime mountaineering, and even as a general travel pack. It's also lighter than average and still hosts the majority of features that most backpackers look for. This pack is an exceptional value and was a solid contender for our Best Buy award. In the end, the Osprey Volt ended up claiming that victory due to a similar performance coupled with a $30 less expensive price tag.
Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 Review
Compare prices at 3 resellers Pros: Well padded, great for folks with bonier hips, slightly lighter than average, very durable, more torso height adjustment than most, stout suspension
Cons: Not quite as many pockets as other models, soft padding was less comfortable with super heavy loads, warmest pack in the review
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Deuter Aircontact Lite 65+10 is a robust and versatile backpacking pack that will work well for a relatively wide range of applications. It is more durable than most of the models out there and is one of the most wallet-friendly on the market. When directly compared to other models in its price range, it handled heavy loads the best. While it isn't packed chock full of features, our experts found it had the most important ones, and it's lightweight to boot.
The Aircontact is a very comfortable pack that works well for an extensive range of users. Its padding is slightly softer than average giving it a cushier feeling ride. Besides just feeling cushier, this slightly softer form conforms to the shape of its users; helping to more evenly distribute the weight across the wearer's hips and shoulders.
The softer foam is something that our testers with bonier hips particularly loved about this pack's plush padding. The soft foam didn't always provide enough support when carrying heavier loads (more than 45-50+). While the suspension is plenty robust for these heavy loads, the padding performed just okay, and its cushy foam would start to bottom out and feel less comfortable than models with stiffer foam, like the Aether Pro 70 or Xenith 105. It is worth noting that this was not the case for more moderate pack weights that most users experience on your average 2-6 day trip.
All of our testers commented that its shoulder straps and waist belt were slightly on the warmer end of the spectrum. The internal fabric was fine against our bare skin, but we didn't find it as comfortable as the Osprey Aether AG 60, Osprey Xenith, or the Arc'teryx Bora AR. However, it felt nicer than a majority of models in this review and on the market.
The Aircontact Lite provides average or slightly above average comfort while carrying equipment and supplies on 2-6 day adventures. The comfort is comparable to the Osprey Aether 60, but we found the Aether's shoulder straps were marginally more comfortable because of the face fabric they use.
The Aircontact featured a pretty robust suspension that was certainly capable of handling loads up to and slightly over 50lbs.
The Aircontact Lite uses a "Y" shaped aluminum frame, and a plastic frame sheet to both add stiffness and protect the wearers back from the shape or hard objects.
The Aircontact Lite was more capable and comfortable with heavy loads than the Osprey Volt 60, The North Face Banchee 65, Osprey Exos 58, or Atmos AG 65. The Lite was similar to the Gregory Paragon 68 and the Thule Versant 70 but our testers felt the Gregory Baltoro 65 and Osprey Xenith 75 performed a little better. It is worth noting that while the other packs handled ultra heavy loads slightly better, they are all $100-$300 more expensive.
At four pounds six ounces, this model is a respectable weight.
While it is a little heavier than some packs like the Osprey Volt 60 (3 lbs 14 oz), REI Flash 65 (3bs 10 oz), Gregory Paragon 68 (3 lbs 14 oz), or The North Face Banchee 65 (3 lbs 10 oz), a large part of that is because this model uses slightly beefier fabric that is more tear resistant and longer lasting. It is lighter than some of its closest competition like the Osprey Aether 60 (5 lbs 1 oz).
Features and Ease of Use
The Aircontact isn't packed full of tons of bells and whistles but still has a majority of the features that most backpackers are looking for.
Unlike many Deuter packs, this model features a slightly smaller-than-average sleeping bag compartment. While small, it was still a great size and was perfect for separating items that you don't need to immediately deal with until you get to camp. This allows you to keep things in the main compartment that you might want access to, which helps with organizational efforts.
All of our testers liked the stretchy beavertail pocket and found it was the ideal place for odd-shaped items like flip-flops, or a fuel bottle. We also found ourselves using it as a quick place to stash a rain jacket, whether we just took it off because the sun came out, or packed it in this pocket with the anticipation of darkening skies. Its stretchy mesh fabric means it can also be used as a place to dry socks or other small articles of clothing while you're still on the trail. This was effective after jumping into a lake and while hiking on a sunny day on the northern end of the PCT near Hearts Pass.
The Aircontact also features a two mesh zippered hip-belt pocket that is big enough for snacks, a few bars, or a small point-and-shoot camera. It was just barely big enough for most smartphones, even with a beefy case. There are stretchy mesh water bottle pockets on either side, but they aren't anything to write home about; fortunately, they are plenty functional and secure. If you use an ice axe with this model, take note that while the ice axe attachment system is well-designed; its location means the pick of your axe will likely be pointing almost straight back, creating a minor hazard to whoever is behind you.
The new 2018 model's lid is now removable. It still maintains the significant amount of vertical adjustment that the previous version had, creating a nice place to store light, but oddly shaped items. This model features one large zippered pocket on top, which can be accessed from the outside, and a smaller, flat zippered pocket accessed from underneath the lid. The main lid pocket can hold a lot of stuff; however, since it only opened on one side, it wasn't as easy to search for items in as other models, like the Thule Versant 70, Gregory Baltoro, or Arc'teryx Bora AR 63.
The Aircontact features Deuter's Vario adjustment system which offers the most vertical adjustment of any model in our review. The system provided more the twice the vertical adjustment of a majority of packs in our review.
The ACT Lite 65+10 has 10 inches of vertical adjustment. While the waist belt doesn't offer any specific adjustment, it does have long straps, which make it ideal for a wide range of users. The only model that came close to sporting a similar range of adjustment is the Osprey Volt 60. This allows it to fit a wide range of users or grow with a child throughout their backpacking career.
The adjustment is super easy to use; it's just a Velcro tab that is passed through the two loops, which are associated with the desired torso height, and back over the top. We have never seen or heard of anyone having an issue with this system and found it to be bomber.
The Aircontact Lite 65+10 is a solid general purpose backpacking pack that will perform well for most backpackers for 2-6 days. It is light enough for summertime mountaineering, and while plenty tough to travel with, it doesn't have as many pockets or as much access as other models, which might be better for these purposes. It's also great for kids or young adults who need a solid pack but are still growing because this model's huge range of adjustment can accommodate them.
This is also one of the better packs for the price in our review, ringing in at $220. It features highly durable materials, especially for its price point, and will last most people through years of abuse.
This Deuter model was a strong contender for our Best Buy Award, as it's a solid and versatile pack at an excellent price. It offers above average durability and tons of vertical adjustability in an otherwise simple and light design. While the Osprey Volt won our Best Buy Award over this model, it is mostly because these two very similarly designed packs performed comparably and the Volt was $30 less. In fact, if we knew we had loads of more than 45-50+ pounds we would have to carry on a regular basis, we'd opt for this model over the Volt. While the Aircontact didn't win the Best Buy Award, it did earn a Top Pick award for its solid all-around performance, exceptional durability, and lighter-than-average weight.
— Ian Nicholson