Gear Review: Deuter Airlite 28

posted in: Gear Reviews, Hiking Gear | 2

Why Buy?

I bought my first hiking backpack on a whim. I had been using my wife’s old Camelback and had intended to carry it on Mt. Whitney hike I was preparing for. Through an online sale, I was able to buy a backpack with a suspended back panel for $60 (REI Venturi 30). After three years of abuse, it was time for a new pack and really wished that I had bought at least one more of these backpacks when they were available. In my search for a new pack, I got stuck in a cycle – buying a new pack to replace the Venturi, using it a while, selling the new pack then going back to the Venturi after some repairs. I went through this cycle a few times, using packs from Gregory, Osprey, Mountain Hardware and others. I wasn’t happy until I found the Deuter Airlite 28.

I tend to run hot and in turn, sweat excessively. I found that the suspended back panel of the Venturi helped me stay cooler. Unfortunately, there aren’t many packs out there have a similar system. Most companies have their own solution to create airflow, but none of them seemed to work as well as my old pack. The Venturi also had large hipbelt pockets, which I found useful for carrying snacks, my phone and/or my GPS. The Deuter Airlite 28, was the first pack that I found that had both the suspended back panel design I liked, as well as large hipbelt pockets. Before hitting the trail with the pack, I took some pics:


  • Weight: 2 lbs 4 oz
  • Volume: 1710 cubic inches 28 litre
  • Size: 21 / 11 / 10 (H x W x D) Inches
  • Material: Deuter-Microrip-Nylon & Deuter-Ripstop 210
  • Price: ~$119

For more information, please see: Deuter Airlite 28

My Observations

I’ve used the Airlite 28 on and off since April, using it on several dayhikes, covering nearly 100 miles.

  • The Good
    • The suspended back panel is what initially attracted me to this pack and it has not disappointed; the suspension system allows for good airflow and is very comfortable.
    • With the suspended back panel and the unique design of the hip pads, there is no contact with the middle of my lower back, which is one of the areas where I typically sweat excessively.
    • The hipbelt pockets are large and very useful. I can carry my IPhone 5 and GPS in one pocket, and my snacks in another.
    • The shoulder straps, hipbelt, and hipbelt pockets have held up well. When I received the pack, I was quite surprised to see that they are mesh. I’ve carried the Airlite 28 on 10+ hikes and nearly 100 miles; it’s showing no signs of wear or breaking down. I’m certain it will last for years to come.
    • Lighter than most of the framed daypacks I’ve used, especially those with a truly suspended back panel. There are lighter options out there, but from what I’ve seen, they don’t have a rigid frame.
    • Although the pack is only rated for 20 lbs, it has sufficient space and capacity for all of the summer dayhiking I do, as well as shoulder season hiking that doesn’t require special equipment (microspikes, large amount of warm clothing, etc).
    • One unexpected use: with the mesh straps & hipbelt, as well as the built in rain cover, the pack gets used as my work bag when it rains.
  • The Bad 
    • Has fewer pockets overall than most of the daypacks that I’ve used. After venturing into lighweight backpacking though, I’ve realized that most manufacturers do this to save weight.
    • I have yet to find this in any pack that I’ve owned, but I wish that the hipbelt pockets were “stiff” enough to be opened and closed with one hand.
    • My wife, who also tested the pack, prefers more padding on the shoulder straps than the Airlite provides. I’ve personally carried up to 25 lbs in the pack (the pack is rated for 20 lbs) and I was comfortable.
  • The Bottom Line 
    • When I consider everything – weight of the pack, suspended back panel, design of the hipbelt (pockets and padding), etc – I’d say it’s the best pack I’ve ever owned. It’s my go-to pack for summer dayhikes and is even large enough for some of the cold-weather hiking I do. As mentioned above, I even carry it to work when it’s raining.
    • While I need to continue to test the pack for durability, based on my prior experience with Deuter products, I’m sure this pack will last for years to come.

Here is a list of the hikes I’ve used this pack on, as of 9/20/15. I had several backpacking trips over the summer, otherwise it would’ve gotten used more. I am hoping Deuter eventually produces a 65L pack with the Aircomfort FlexLite System.

Disclaimer: The product reviewed in this entry was provided to by Deuter.

2 Responses

  1. Donna Wilton

    This sounds like an awesome back pack! Your review covered a lot of different aspects of the product and how it has held up so far. The price seems reasonable as I have bought and used cheaper models that didn’t hold up with everyday wear and tear and had to replace them. Plus this product has a lot more going for it being waterproof etc. I will need to check this out on my next back pack purchase! Thanks for the great review and all the details you included in order to make a purchasing decision.

  2. Dylon I Wilder

    I’ve been researching and kvetching over the Deuter AirLite 22 vs the Osprey Talon 22. What really matters to me is the air ventilation system where the pack and my back meet. From everything I can gather the Deuter is superior. Since you mentioned you tried the Osprey I wonder if you’d care to weigh in with your experience?