There aren’t many outdoor brands that can trace their history back over 100years, still fewer that can directly tie their products to iconic ascents over that sort of time scale. Deuter supplied the pack that Anderl Heckmair used on the first ascent of the Eiger’s north face back in 1938, they supplied packs to the 1934 Nanga Parbet expedition and later to Herman Buhl’s successful 1953 Nanga Parbet ascent. Deuter have remained at the cutting edge of pack development as well as maintaining high levels of social and environmental responsibility. They are a founding member of the European Outdoor Conservation Association, a bluesign® system partner and a member of the Fair Wear Foundation.
Increasingly popular in the UK Deuter packs have always been popular in Europe and their iconic Guide 35 Sac is a common sight in the Alps. An overhaul of the line for the 2017 season sees further refinements to reflect changes in modern alpinism. The Guide Lite 32 is the lightweight ‘stripped back’ member of the guide family. It lacks the ski slots, side zip access, and rope-holder of its heavier sibling and makes use of a lighter but still very durable fabric (100D Pocket Rip Mini). The upshot of this is that the Guide Lite comes in at 1050 grams rather than 1550 grams for the Guide 35. For me this pretty important – half a kilo saved is significant; it equates to 2000 calories of food or a nice belay jacket, even a light sleeping bag.
Initially the Guide Lite 32 looks very similar to the the Standard Guide, closer inspection reveals the absence of the ski slots and side zip entry neither of which I particularly miss being a non-skier and I’ve always packed so that I can access things at the top of the sac or in the lid pocket if needed en route. I was surprised at how much I missed the rope strap though. They never existed on the sacs I started winter and alpine climbing with back in the 80s but have become almost ubiquitous since and in the process I’ve become accustomed to them. There was at least one occasion when I nearly let a rope toboggan down the approach slope when I carelessly unfastened the lid – the small weight penalty for a rope strap would be welcome in my book plus it lets you carry a rope easily when you have the lid pocket tucked into the the sac. The redesigned tool holders on the Guide Lite are amongst the best I’ve seen – the unbreakable aluminium hook buckles are simple to operate with cold fingers/gloves and secure a variety of tools perfectly and can even be crossed over to compress a mostly empty sac once on your route and they cope with anything from a straight piolet to funky ergo tools. At 32 litres the Guide Lite is about as big as I will comfortably climb with and with the stiffening frame in place you have to be careful not to pull the sac too high on your back or you get that annoying sac/helmet interference limiting upward vision but adjusted properly there is no issue and it is possible to remove the flexible frame (it’s incredibly strong & pliable and doesn’t break when ‘unthreaded’ but I must admit to being a little nervous first time I took it out!). Sadly the removable hip belt has not transferred over from the standard Guide though the lightweight belt on the Guide Lite can be easily fastened through the tool holders and out of the way when climbing. The Guide Lite also has unobtrusive ‘tabs’ that allow you to fasten Deuter’s helmet holder (an optional extra) which provides a neat solution if you prefer not to stuff it in the sac or have it dangling on the outside.
In use the Guide Lite proved to be a very comfortable and capable load hauler for typical winter day climbs and ice routes. The frame and exceptionally well designed harness coped well with any load that you could reasonably expect to cram into a 32 litre sac. I didn’t do a lot of climbing with the sac on but when I did it was comfortable and un obtrusive. Proper adjustment or removing the frame solved this issue instantly. Overall the Deuter Guide Lite makes an excellent sac for winter climbing and would equally suite Alpine use on single or double day routes. The only improvements I’d like to see are the inclusion of a rope strap and making the hip belt removable as on its bigger sibling.
- Light (enough)
- Super comfy
- Excellent tool retainers
- Lacks a rope strap
- Hip belt not re-moveable
Stockists Deuter UK
Richie is the enthusiastic amateur of the team. Enjoying all aspects of climbing but especially alpine, winter and his local grit . Having managed to survive the vagaries of both fluorescent Koflachs and rainbow tights in the 80s he looks forward to an even more stylish future. A shady past in mountain marathons and adventure races, including the Marathon des Sables, means he’s an advocate of fast and light. Though the former is debatable if you’ve seen him on a tricky lead!