Deuter Race X Air Review

by Brian Mullin on June 12, 2011

This is a pretty nice hydration pack, with some exemplary features. The foremost feature, is their Aircomfort System, which uses thin steel springs and a mesh backing to tension the pack away from your back, providing excellent ventilation and air flow without getting a sweaty back. Everything works in tandem with mesh shoulder straps, padded hip and neck sections (where the springs attach), and waist and sternum straps. The system also helps distribute the weight load evenly, for a noticeable comfort, and good anti-swaying characteristic. Deuter is a German company that was founded in 1898, initially making mailbags, and they now manufacturer sleeping bags, and backpacks for all sorts of activities, including outdoor sports, traveling, business and school work.

Deuter Race X Air
The Race X Air has a 850 cubic inch or 14 litre carrying capacity, weighs around 820 grams or 9 ounces, and comes with a 2 liter reservoir bag, and a plethora of features. The tear dropped shaped pack is made with a combination of HexLite 210 and their Deuter Microrip Nylon fabrics, for lightweight and durability, and comes in Ocean/Silver and Black/Titan colors. The Race X Air is the smallest of their Race series of packs, and uses their Advanced Aircomfort ventilation system, which is a very innovative and highly functional entity.

The reservoir bag is made by Source Vagabond Systems, and is called the Streamer, and it’s pretty trick. The Streamer’s closure is a variant of a river runner dry bag closure system, and is durable and leakproof. Just slide the top bar off the reservoir, fold open the bag, clean or fill as needed, then fold over and slide it back on. Source was founded in 1989 and manufactures in Haifa District in Israel, where they make hydration systems, adventure sandals and travel accessories. Besides the excellent opening system, the reservoir has the Helix Valve silicone mouthpiece with a Dirt Shield cover, PE film material with Grunge-Guard (an anti-microbial treatment) and a Glass-Like surface which prevents a bio-film build up.

The pack’s storage is divided up between one large main compartment, a small front pocket and two side mesh pockets. The reservoir nicely drops into a pouch in the back of the main compartment, and hangs from an easy to use Velcro strap, and the tube routes through a small opening on the top, and then over the shoulder strap, all in a nice seamless and carefully thought out manner. This arrangement certainly makes it easier to pull the bag out for filling and cleaning. I liked the bite valve, as it never dripped, but I found it hard to get a good draw. Although the reservoir was easy to fill and clean, it needs a quick-disconnect for the tube for easier usage. When the reservoir is full and is inserted into the pack, it pushes out between the two vertical steel frame slats into the free space between the mesh, and the bowed out back, so not as much internal pack volume is lost. The main compartment is nice and large (for a mid sized pack), and its two zippers can be snapped together so they don’t accidentally open, and spill out the contents. I do wish the main compartment had some small pockets or pouches, or any sort of additional storage placements, as this would greatly help in organizing gear, especially smaller items. The front pocket has plenty of room and is quite expansive, although the storage space gets flattened out when the pack becomes full. The side mesh pockets were very secure and useful for energy bars, gels and my Spot location device.

The very bottom of the pack has a zippered compartment that holds a rain cover for the pack, which is a totally trick item. Besides working great in rain and wet snow storms for protection, I also used it as a helmet carrier when riding on mellow fire roads. With its extremely bright neon green color, you certainly will be seen!

Measured Specs:
Weight – Pack : 810.4 grams/28.6 oz, Bladder: 158.7 grams/5.6 oz, Total: 969.1 grams/34.2 oz
Size – 19 (H) x 10 (W) x 7 (D) inches

Impressions
The Aircomfort system works extremely well, and it definitely kept you from getting a sweaty back, which was quite enjoyable. The system also carried the weight efficiently, keeping it in a distributed and balanced manner. On gnarly or extremely steep terrain, the pack didn’t bounce around nor creep up towards your neck, and it seemed to stay planted on your back. I did notice that the hip padding and lower section, where the bottom metal braces are attached, dug into my back sometimes, and I found that disconcerting, but it was a minor issue while riding. The meshed shoulder straps were quite nice, especially in warm weather, never belaying a hint of sweat, although I would have liked a touch of padding, as the side ribbing on their outside edge was rough. The sternum strap worked well, and the sliders for it were very beefy, and it was easy to adjust them for load variance and fit. The waist belt cinched in as needed to carry the load, and they had these useful plastic sliders that the excess strapping popped into, instead of using the usual elastic loops. I think a further extension of the hip padding would greatly benefit the entire waist system. I liked how the bite valve worked, and you could easily twirl it in any direction, and the twist on and off was quite nice, but I found it difficult to get a good draw when drinking. The Dirt Shield cover seemed like a smart idea, but it gets in the way and bangs around, so I just left it off, and it slowly morphed its way to a cabinet at home. The HexLite material has been very durable, and has survived multiple crashes and tree branch encounters, and the stitching and construction are excellent, and I haven’t found a loose thread nor frayed spot anywhere. The zipper pulls were very robust, and were easy to grab, and the snap together features of the two main zipper’s rules! The big compartment made it really simple to cram stuff in there, and that was especially functional when packing for inclement weather, but it really screams for some internal pockets, for compartmentalizing things, else they tend to get lost in the bottomless pit.

Bottom Line
The Deuter Race X Air is quite an exceptional mid sized hydration pack, with many innovative and functional features, and its 14 liter carrying capacity is the perfect accompaniment for long rides. Their Aircomfort System is works like a charm, and it keeps the pack off your back, increasing comfort, ventilation and load carrying characteristics, so say good bye to an overtly sweaty back and pack interface. The voluminous main compartment is simple to load, and the front and side pockets are useful, although additional internal pockets would help to organize smaller items. The Streamer reservoir worked quite nicely, and the internal hanging system was easy to use, and the bite valve has some nice features, but was difficult to draw water effectively. The pack is well made, with good stitching and material choices, and has been very durable.

Strengths

  • Reservoir system
  • Aircomfort system – great ventilation and load carrying
  • Waist sliders
  • Light and durable pack material
  • Well built
  • Zipper snaps
  • Rain cover

Weaknesses

  • Main compartment need additional pockets
  • Bite valve – hard to draw
  • Shoulders strap edges are rough
  • Hip padding metal brace area can dig into back

Overall Rating: 4 Flamin’ Chili Peppers

Race X Air Company Specs:

  • Visit the Deuter Race X Air Website
  • Weight – 1/13 lbs/oz or 820 g
  • Volume – 850 cubic inches or 14 litre
  • Size – 19 / 8.7 / 5.9 (H x W x D) Inch or 47 / 22 / 15 (H x W x D) cm
  • Material – Deuter-Microrip-Nylon / HexLite 210
  • MSRP $ 69.00

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