First impressions: this is an aesthetic looking sack with plenty of useful technical features for climbers, skiers and mountaineers.
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Guide Lite 32
The Guide Lite 32 has a narrow profile, 2 lid pockets, haul loop and daisy chain for clipping spare kit onto. It also has four loops on the lid for lashing crampons as well as a hydration bladder pocket and compression straps. The Lite is the lightest sack in their Guide range and the stated weight is 1150g, however on my rudimentary kitchen scales I weighed it in at 1250g. The back length is fixed and seemed to fit my medium (175cms) frame snugly.
one of the better back support systems I've come a cross for a while...
The support in the frame comes from a 5mm diameter Delrin rod threaded through sleeves to form an inverted U shape. Interestingly Delrin is a tough flexible engineering plastic developed in the 1970's and was used as wheel bearings for the first generation "Hot Wheels."It is still used extensively for guitar plectrums today too. Support is further enhanced by a removable foam sit mat, which was very easy to remove and replace. The whole set up, I have to say is one of the better back support systems I've come a cross for a while, providing good longtitudinal support yet offering enough flexibility to contour your back shape. I did try, but couldn't remove the frame.
The lid is fixed and has 2 fixing straps, this meant the lid was nice and stable. It has 2 pockets, the top having a waterproof zip and a key fob. It has 4 D rings for attaching crampons, but no straps. I felt it may have been better to have Hypalon loops which would have made attaching shock cord easier. With shock cord attached though, the crampons felt secure.
This pack is designed to cater for many mountain activities.
Overall it felt light and secure whilst on the move. This pack is designed to cater for many mountain activities and so there has to be some compromise. The hip belt, although comfortable was quite wide so would interfere with a harness if done up whilst climbing. The fastening system (which tightened by pulling the straps towards you) was excellent though, making the sack fit like a limpet.The shoulder straps were also a little on the broad side and began to chafe after an hour or so of carry reasonably heavy loads. It was good to see a traditional sternum strap adjustment, not on fiddly rails which seems to be the current fashion. There was also plenty of room on the sternum strap for attaching my watch and I felt confident I wasn't going to lose it.
On top of this the sack boasted a ”chimney” effect ventilation system but in practice it was just as hot as any other sack I have used.
One flaw that I noticed with this pack was the interference with head movements whilst climbing, even with the lid tucked in the main body. This could be easily remedied by having a removable frame system. Finally, one other minor flaw was that compressing the pack was compromised a little by the ski attachment loops at the bottom, which were reinforced with extra webbing and branded Hypalon meaning the bottom couldn't be fully compressed.
The Guide Lite 32 is a 32 litre sack, so is ideal for ski days, continental ice cragging, sport climbing, alpine days and hiking. It may also be big enough for a summer day out on the grit or outcrop climbing where you are not going to take a lot of clothing. In those instances you can get everything in, including the rope. Come Autumn, Spring and Winter though, you are going to struggle, particularly as the Guide doesn't have a rope retainer under the lid. As a "do everything" pack 32 litres just didn't seem enough but Deuter do offer alternatives such as the regular Guide 45+.
...certainly looks the part with plenty of good features.
So, in conclusion, it's just the sort of sack I could see some swanky Chamonix guide wearing in the Midi 'phrique' and it certainly looks the part. It's comfortable as long as you're not too narrow yourself and has plenty of good features. It's light and robust but may be just a little too small for UK trad climbing. Great for ski days, continental ice cragging and sport climbing though.
Stockists: UK stockists
What Deuter say:
The ultimate Deuter lightweight alpine backpack is now here, for all mountain enthusiats to enjoy. Climbs and high-level mountain tours can be embarked on with ease, with not one gram of extra weight sapping your energy.
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