Size: One size
Volume: 6 L / 370 cu. in.
Weight: 1 lb. 10 oz. / 880 g
Dimensions (H x W x D):
18 x 7.9 x 3.9 in.
46 x 20 x 10 cm
- Air Comfort Backsystem
- Front Zippered Pocket
- Elastic Stuff-it Pocket
- D-rings for attachment of Full Face Helmet Holder
- Includes 3 Liter Streamer Hydration Reservoir
Test Duration: 5 months, 10-15 hours of riding a week
As an XC race geek more than a decade ago, I never rode with a hydration pack. In fact, I didn’t even own one. It wasn’t until shortly after moving to the Lake Tahoe area in 2001 that I realized the simple pleasure of carrying my water, snacks, tubes, etc., on my back instead of my jersey pocket and water bottle cages.
My first hydration pack was little more than a bladder in a bag with a couple of shoulder straps, and the few other packs I’ve had since then haven’t been much different, other than being bigger for my growing kit of tubes, tools, food, phone, and layers. Still, my riding pack has become one of the most important pieces of gear I have on any ride.
On the suggestion of a couple of my riding buddies, I got myself a Deuter Race Air Lite hydration pack around the middle of last summer. I was a little reluctant to buy it at first, wondering how much different it could be from any of the other packs I’d used.
I quickly learned that not all hydration packs are created equal, and a better one can significantly improve your riding experience. In short, the Deuter Race Air Lite is the finest hydration pack I’ve ever used, and for a number of reasons.
Unlike the other hydration packs that I’ve tried, the Race Air Lite was designed by German engineers, and all the stereotypes about purposeful, efficient engineering hold true in this case.
Plus, it probably also helps that Deuter has been producing backpacks for more than a century. Along with their backpacking, hiking, ski, travel, and kid-carrying packs, they produce a full line of seven different hydration packs, five of which are specifically made for biking.
That the Race Air Lite was designed for biking became apparent the moment I got on my bike. The entire pack is contoured to fit your back while in a riding position, which means the pack sits quietly and stays movement free at all times during my rides, even when fully loaded. The pack is so comfortable while riding that I hardly even notice it’s there.
All of Deuter’s packs also feature a back ventilation system, the “Air Comfort” system, that basically suspends the entire pack about an inch off your back, thanks to a lightweight steel frame in the body of the pack. The only part of the Race Air Lite in contact with your back is a contoured mesh panel, which allows for incredible air circulation that helps keep you less sweaty and more comfortable.
The shoulder straps of the pack are made of a similar mesh as the back panel, which allows air to flow where other straps block it. Interestingly, I have found that the vented back system of the Deuter pack has not only kept me cooler in warm weather, but also warmer in cool weather. (When temps dip in the fall and early winter, sweating less keeps me warmer.)