ProView – deuter Freescape Lite 26
Working as an Adventure Supervisor for a therapeutic boarding school has its challenges when it comes to outdoor activities. When snowboarding at Whitefish Ski Resort in NW Montana twice a week with 40+ students, communicating between groups and having the correct essentials can be a heavy task. The deuter Freescape Lite 26 backpack and its features allow me to communicate more efficiently with my team, have room for the essentials, and carry the massive quantity of layers shrugged off by the students after their first run down the bunny hill.
deuter Freescape Lite 26
Product Name: deuter Freescape Lite 26
Product Description: The Freescape Lite ski mountaineering backpack offers high wearing comfort, robust, extremely lightweight material and safe, easy handling. Thus, the additional side zipper opening provides quick access to the equipment inside, while skis, snowboard or crampons remain fixed thanks to the variable attachment straps outside. The separate safety compartment for probe and shovel is immediately accessible in case of emergency. The bluesign® certified, PFC-free backpack is made of 100% recycled material.
Offer price: $185 MSRP
What deuter’s Freescape Lite 26 lacks in fit and feature placement, it makes up for in its durability, construction, and style.
- Lots of Pockets
- Stylish (unorthodox color options)
- Sizing is harder for small people
- Bladder tube port is in a difficult spot
This 2021-22 snow season has been my first winter experience west of the Mississippi, and to sum it up: enchanting. I spent more time on a snowboard in December and January than ever before. It’s safe to say I was new to the scene and new to the gear required for a winter in the Northwest.
Northwest Montana can present a wide array of weather from negative twenty degree temps with forty mile per hour winds to high humidity and dense snow that finds its way through any layer. This created a diverse testing environment for the Freescape backpack to show what it has to offer. The weekly adventure schedule at Chrysalis School consists of two full days of skiing and snowboarding with 35-40 students. The challenge presents itself in communicating between smaller groups and making sure each group has the essential medications, legal information, and all other basic needs. I began the season with a 12 liter Osprey hiking backpack that wasn’t even close to waterproof. I did not have the space I needed, and by the end of a humid snow day, my pack would be soaked through into my extra layers. This is where the deuter Freescape showed up and showed out. At 26 liters, I have room for my spare layers and goggles, a two liter bladder, extra snacks and water bottles, legal documents in a binder, medications and first aid–all in a safe, waterproof environment.
The deuter Freescape covers a lot of bases in the area of performance. That being said, I had some issues personally with the fit and comfort of the pack. As a smaller person, coming in at a whopping 5’ 7” and 150lbs, I had some trouble with the “one size fits all” sizing. I had most of the straps cinched down all the way, yet deuter’s tensioned Delrin U-frame was a bit too long for me and sat very low on my hips.
I am a fan of the high visibility yellow as it made the pack easy to spot in crowds or in dense trees. It’s refreshing to see unorthodox color options in place of the stereotypical black or gray.
The Freescape shines with its convenient features including a large number of pockets for a variety of uses, a light weight construction, and connection points for backcountry gear and the helmet pouch. My personal favorite pockets are the zipper side entry to the main compartment, or the “phone pocket” that happens to be the perfect size for a flask. I thought the placement for the bladder tube port was a bit strange. It sits at the top center of the pack which makes it really difficult to reach while wearing the pack, but if you run it through a loop on the shoulder strap, it freezes almost immediately. I definitely understand the use of having it in the middle. For me personally, my shoulders wouldn’t really allow me to reach it without someone’s help. I would have preferred the pack to have the option of the port coming out of either shoulder at the top of the strap.
The Freescape performed exceptionally well, especially in comparison to the packs I have used for snowboarding in the past. All surfaces of the pack repel water remarkably well, which is essential for the occasional warm and humid February days that soak everything down to your undies.
I was genuinely impressed by the durability of the Freescape with how thin and light it is. I expected at least some sign of wear on the bottom of the pack, but there is no visible wear after weeks of the pack being thrown around in a van filled with teenagers and abused by icy conditions. After the dust settled, not a single rogue drop of water infiltrated my layers inside throughout testing.
Friendliness to the Earth
deuter has a detailed section on their website outlining their “responsibility” to the environmental standard. It outlines their dedication to producing products that are environmentally friendly, PFC free, sustainable, and socially responsible. They provide links to other resources and further detailed information, including an in depth statement in response to COVID-19, and what they are doing to mitigate risk in and around the workplace. Overall, I am impressed with deuter’s attention to detail with communication and transparency.
To sum it up, deuter’s Freescape Lite 26 is a durable and exceptionally functional backpack that tailors to backcountry and organizational use. The Freescape welcomes all gear with its extensive pockets and options for attachments. If you are a smaller person, the Freescape Lite 24 SL that is constructed more towards the “female anatomy” may be a better option for you. I would love it if the pack came in a few sizes.
About the Gear Tester
Seth currently works as an Adventure Supervisor for Chrysalis Therapeutic Boarding School in Eureka, Montana. He leads the students through various activities like rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing, and more. Previously, Seth has worked as an experiential education instructor in North and South Carolina. Seth is passionate about whitewater paddling, rock climbing, snowboarding, and just about any kind of food. You can connect with Seth on his Instagram @itinerant_wayfarer.