Deuter Race Air 10 Review
I’m a hydration heathen. I’ve bonked or been reduced to begging water off riding buddies more times than I care to admit.
Problem is, after a series of early 2000s half-shell hydration packs that made me feel like a Ninja Turtle yet half as nimble, I’ve stuck with water bottles—two, maximum, no matter how long the ride. The key to mid-ride hydration is making it effortless; if you have to think, you won’t drink. And if you notice your backpack, you won’t wear it.
Enter the Deuter Race Air 10.
Coming in at a featherweight 800 grams, the Race Air 10 boasts AirComfort suspension with breathable mesh on the shoulder and waist straps over a lightweight spring steel frame, so you don’t sweat out all the water you’re carrying.
Hydration that’s easy to operate with gloved fingers—or better yet, with your teeth—is ideal. With the big Helix bite valve on the included three-liter reservoir, just slide the attached cover off, twist and quench.
Other nice touches abound: the small sleeve for sunglasses arms (although shades with chunky frames may have a hard time squeezing in); the Velcro enclosure for securing the hose to the shoulder strap, which is much easier to handle than an elastic loop; the “chip clip”-style system for the reservoir, which makes for easy filling and washing; and the thick, impact-proof plastic of the reservoir itself.
Backpacks are like houses: no matter how big they are, you’ll always manage to fill them with stuff. The Deuter Race Air 10 strikes a nice balance of adequate space for the essentials—tools, tube, pump, snacks, jacket—without getting too over the top. I’ve shoved a flannel in the main compartment on cool morning rides, and cans of cold post-ride beverages in the water bottle holders on the sides of the pack. All without noticing the bulk on my back. If you’re heading out for an all-day backcountry epic in inclement weather, you might desire a larger-capacity pack. However, for this pack’s stated purpose—the half-day ride—it’s perfect.
I took the pack out on a late August ride when the mercury was pushing 100 degrees. In these temps, riding is ill-advised; riding with a pack is madness. Thanks to its vented back and straps, the Race Air 10 kept me noticeably cooler than comparably sized packs. And the Helix valve kept me sucking water, not wind, up the climbs. For sustained climbs, I stashed my lid on the pack’s helmet strap loops for additional ventilation.
On the descents, the mesh frame kept the pack feeling glued to my body without leaving me drenched in sweat. On my 6’1” frame, the waist belt sat at about belly button height, which takes a moment of getting used to but also means the bottom of the pack isn’t pushing your shorts down or buzzing your back wheel. And the low profile means the pack won’t be snagging any trail-side branches.
- Mesh back and shoulder straps provide excellent ventilation
- Fits an outsized amount of gear for 10 liters
- Pack feels secure on everything from hike-a-bikes to rowdy descents
- May be a bit small for all-day, foul-weather epics
Since that first ride, the Deuter Race Air 10 has accompanied me on two-hour hot-weather hike-a-bikes and endless, rocky descents; short evening jaunts and long backcountry bushwhacks. Simply put, it’s easy to forget the Race Air is there, except when you need a swig of water.
I’ve seen the light.