Deuter Freescape Lite 26 – Excellent Backpack for Day Trips
Deuter Freescape Lite 26 – Excellent Backpack for Day Trips
When I’ve thought of Deuter in the past, it’s been about their backpacking and mountaineering packs, the ones I used to sell when I worked at REI. I didn’t think about ski packs. But through the Pinnacle Sales’ Kinfolk Ambassador program, I got the chance to try one and become a superfan. The Deuter Freescape Lite 26 is an excellent day pack for day trips in the backcountry, resort skiing, and fair-weather ski mountaineering: lightweight, thoughtfully laid out, and well-featured.
Deuter Freescape Lite 26 Review
The empty pack feels lightweight but still has structure from Deuter’s Alpine Lite frame, a low profile integrated wire frame. For a pack meant for medium weights, I was impressed with how much it was able to carry. I just had to be slightly careful with packing to avoid getting poked in the back by a poorly placed water bottle, which is more user error than anything. Packed properly, the Freescape Lite 26 carries quite comfortably.
In addition to the “standard” sizing, there is a “slim fit” (also referred to as “women’s fit”) built for shorter backs, narrower shoulders, and conically shaped hip fins to fit narrower waists. Although the slim fit is just 2cm shorter than the standard, I found it to be much too small on my sturdy 5’9” frame. The standard size fits comfortably.
I like the low profile and tidy lines of the pack, as well as the color options for both the loud and mute dressers among us. You don’t have to guess about my preference.
This pack is 98% of everything I want it to be for most days in the backcountry as well as the resort. It sits close to my back such that I don’t notice it while skiing. The side zipper gives me easy access to water and the repair kits stuffed in the bottom of the pack.
The avy gear is right where I want it. Getting things from the top of the pack is quick and easy, and the phone pocket is also the perfect spot for my pee funnel storage (my phone lives elsewhere). And then there is the nifty touch of a sunglasses arm holder conveniently located on the shoulder strap – something I didn’t know I liked until I had it.
I’ve filled this pack to the gills – just to see what I could get away with – and the zippers still begrudgingly allowed me to close them (I shouldn’t do that very often, it’s just asking for a zipper to blow out). The only thing I don’t particularly like is the diagonal ski carry.
I find the removable strap system to be a bit fiddly to use with gloves on, although I admit that there could be user error or a lack of patience in that department. I can ultimately set it up and it carries just fine, just not as quickly as I’d prefer. The A-frame setup works just fine.
My favorites are the phone pocket and sunglasses carry loop on the shoulder strap.
Ski/snowboard/external gear carry: 2 removable straps can be configured to carry skis diagonally, a snowboard vertically, and reportedly crampons or snowshoes as well. The side loops allow for an A-frame ski carry. 2 tabs, a reinforced sheath strap attach certain ice axes, and bungees keep the handle secure.
Unfortunately, my Camp ice ax doesn’t work with this system without some creative ski strap wrapping. The shoulder straps have loops for wrangling radio cords, a hydration hose, or a carabiner for quick glove clipping. And then there’s the loop you never knew you wanted: the one that stashes your sunglasses when you decide you don’t want them on your head for a while.
Avalanche gear pocket: As is typical, the avy gear pocket has different colored zippers than the rest of the pack and allows easy access to tools, as well as the standard sleeves to keep your shovel handle and probe from shifting about. When the pack is stuffed full, I found that the shovel handle and probe needed to be on opposite sides of the pocket, and that my shovel blade couldn’t be any bigger and still let me get the zipper closed. When the pack is loosely packed, there is no issue.
Skin pocket: An excellent feature to keep wet skins away from everything else. It works to a limit – as with the avy gear pocket – only when the pack isn’t stuffed to the gills. It’s difficult to get skins in the pocket when the pack is full and you’re pushing against a shovel blade.
Helmet carry: The helmet harness lives tidily in the skin pocket and deploys easily, with one corner girth hitched to the pocket and 3 plastic hooks that attach to small webbing loops. I like that I can also fit my helmet inside the pack on shorter days or when I don’t feel like having a helmet shell on my back.
Side access: I’m a huge fan of a side access zipper. You can dig toward the bottom of the pack without removing everything from above or messing with un/re-zipping the entire back panel. It’s where my water bottle lives for easy hydration access and where I can pull my repair/first aid kits out from the bottom of the pack.
Top access/brain: The integrated brain flips easily out of the way to allow access to the top of the pack. The brain has one pocket, accessed from the top, which I use to hold quick access snacks and sunscreen.
Internal pockets: There is a pouch along the back panel for stashing a hydration bladder and a zippered hanging pocket above it. I tend to use the hydration pouch to keep a snow saw out of the way and the zippered pocket for things like ski straps. The hole through which a hydration hose could go is also useful for routing a radio. The main interior of the pack fits everything I’ve wanted, from a giant summit puffy during single digit (Fahrenheit) temps to crampons and a snow study kit. \
Hip belt pocket/gear loop: The one additional thing I wish this pack has is a gear loop on the hip belt. The little zippered pocket is where I like to keep an extra buff. For people who are good at remembering to zip hip pockets, it would be a nice place for chapstick, a snack bar, and a wee little sunscreen. The dangling hip belt straps tuck tidily into elastic loops.
Phone pocket: A neat feature I’ve not seen on other packs for keeping your phone safely out of the way but also easily accessible. If your shoulders are flexible enough, you can pull a phone out from the side pocket without taking your pack off. I love this pocket for an alternate reason. It’s where I stash my pee funnel, a piece of gear I never leave home without in winter (and a home for which is mandatory in all of my packs – I don’t just want that thing flopping around on the outside of my pack or contaminating the main compartment.) There’s even a loop that’s probably for keys, but for me keeps my funnel sack from escaping.
P15 Deuter suggests using this pocket for phone and keys. I prefer to use it for my pee funnel.
The Bottom Line
The Freescape Lite 26 is a quiver of one (a multi-trick pony? A pack panacea?) for skiers in the backcountry, resort, and fair-weather mountain climbing. I imagine it works well for splitboarders too. Unless you’re someone who likes to have lots of extra gear and snacks (full respect to those people), it fits everything you want for your snow ascending and sliding activities.
Cori moved to the PNW for grad school but found her soul in the mountains. In 2015 she tucked her engineering degrees away for future use and embarked on a seasonal life in those mountains – living, working, and skiing at Crystal Mountain, WA in winters and riding bikes, running, and wrangling a bike shop in Hood River, OR.