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The Deuter Race X backpack might be a bit large for some racers, but its features and design make it ideal for commuters, gym-goers, day trippers and tourers. The Race X has morphed somewhat over the years – tweaks to the size, shape, straps and access arrangements have led to this version. It's not overcomplicated in terms of pockets and access, with decent ventilation at the rear and through the straps, a comfortable fit plus a splattering of bonus features. While this all makes it stand out among other packs, just be sure to check that it's a sufficient size for your needs.
The Airstripes (which sit against your back) are a staple feature of Deuter's Biking range: two contour-shaped layers of knobbly foam with AirMesh lining that are designed to provide minimal contact with the back, so maximum air flow. The good ventilation continues along the straps. The upper strap is a made using Deuter's flexible, 3D AirMesh technology; the 3D element gives the strap some substance and minimalist padding, while the AirMesh promotes two-way ventilation – air in and heat out.
Only a proportion of this upper strap actually comes into contact with the body. The straps are anatomically designed to reach away from the body before they come close to the armpit. The 3D AirMesh is, at this point, replace by a standard, adjustable strap.
All of this makes for a seriously comfortable and effective setup for both riding and general use. I experienced hardly any build-up of sweat under the shoulder straps. Yes, there was a build-up of heat at the back, but certainly less than any other rucksack I've ridden with. And depending upon the air temperature, the heat build-up didn't always result in sweat – a winner for commuting. At the end of the day, if you are going to stick something on your back and cycle at pace, you're going to sweat there.
One good thing about the Race X is that it is quite short in the back. I really noticed this when riding for more than an hour – I didn't get the lower back pain that I would have expected with a 'longer' pack.
It's very different to riding with some of the latest large packs that cover the vast majority of your back, blocking airflow and placing increased pressure on the lower vertebrae. I've used this bag for rides of up to four hours and not felt any discomfort, though it's worth noting that my load was never excessively heavy.
Once on your back, a waist and chest strap can be used to lock the bag down. You can achieve a really snug and stable fit, lifting the pack well clear of the lower back, without the straps cutting in at the shoulder. The Airstripes help hold the pack centrally in place too. The waist straps mimic the shoulder ones – a section of wide, anatomically cut 3D AirMesh, running into a standard strap with buckles.
Both the waist and sternum straps are really easy to adjust on the go. The sternum strap has vertical adjustment too: a smooth-sliding clasp that sits securely at your chosen height. It's a super feature, especially for us women.
The Race X has a 12-litre capacity and it carries its load in a relatively streamline casing. There aren't that many interior compartments: there's a main section, which will hold the bulk of your cargo, a zip-up mesh pocket measuring about 20x14cm, and a section for a bladder. I fitted a full 2l Platypus in it no problem, with the tube coming out over the left shoulder and sitting securely in the intended Velcro slot on the left strap. This is obviously using some of your 12l capacity. While you might not use this compartment for its intended purpose, it's good to know it's there, and with a depth and width of 30cm and 20cm a tablet fits in it easily.
The bag is really versatile. It's ideal for a commuter carrying a light load – if you keep shoes at work you can get trousers, a top and some lunch in there easily. A towel, costume/shorts/T-shirt and some toiletries are no problem, making it an ideal bag for a ride to the gym/pool.
I took it on a recent touring trip – it's only 550g and is low bulk so bungees to the rear rack well. I was so glad I had it. It gives you the freedom to dump panniers and go off exploring with a good supply of spare kit, some food and other essentials. Similarly, it makes a great companion for a day trip if you don't have a rack or bar bag.
You won't forget which pocket you put your essentials in with the Race X: there is just one external zip pocket at the top of the pack. It holds a phone and wallet easily. There is a key strap in there too – no fishing around for a key at the bottom of your bag.
There are open pockets either side of the bag which are useful for non-valuables. You can just fit a bike bottle in them if you haven't packed the bag to bursting, but I didn't find them ideal for this; they are quite short and there's no way of really securing the bottle in there. A smaller, soft drinks-style bottle fits quite well. They are certainly handy for gloves, gilet, snacks, spare Buff and so on.
The bag has loops for Deuter's helmet holder but this is an add-on accessory not supplied with the bag.
Deuter has added a neat loop for a pair of sunnies on the right strap. It works well and is particularly useful if you're frequently getting off the bike and removing kit.
Reflective detailing is effective and well placed, too.
The bag itself is water resistant to a decent level. I got caught in a few light showers and kit inside the bag remained dry each time. For heavier rain it's definitely necessary to make use of the highly visible rain cover to make the bag fully waterproof. It's stashed in a zip-up compartment at the base of the bag and it really easy to get out, put on and pack away again. It's detachable too, so easy to clean.
The tabs on the zips of the main compartment have a press stud on them, a small detail that will give you peace of mind if you've packed the bag to full capacity and are concerned about it opening up.
Deuter has placed a decent lengthened hook at the top of the bag so that it can be hung up. It's practically positioned for you to hang the bag and access contents in a changing room – no messing around on the floor, getting it dirty or trying to keep it upright.
It also comes in a range of colours: black, Cranberry-Maroon, Navy-Denim and Petrol-Arctic, you are sure to get one to suit your taste.
The RRP of the Race X is £64.99, and it's certainly worth it if you intend to use it on a regular basis. It's well made and will stand the test of time. If you are wanting more of a race model or mountain bike-specific pack, the Camelbak Chase is worth considering, but it'll cost you another £25.
You can spend more and get a bit more capacity: if you are after a pack for commuting, day-tripping or more casual use then Osprey offers slightly larger packs, such as the Talon 22 for men and the Tempest 20 for women. Both have significantly more capacity than the Race X but don't cost too much more. We've no reviews to comment on performance and comfort, yet.
While its price tag might be a tad high on the face of it, the Deuter Race X is an exceptionally comfortable, stable and well-ventilated pack. It's a perfect go-to bag when you just want to get out of the door with essentials on your back. You won't regret the investment given its performance and versatility.
Don't be misled by the name... a comfortable and well-ventilated pack perfect for a whole host of activities, not just racing
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Deuter Race X
Size tested: Volume 12L
Tell us what the product is for and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
Deuter describes the Race X pack as 'the perfect lightweight pack for those who only want to bring the bare minimum. With bike specific reflective touches on the front for low light safety and a snug fitting hip belt, this pack is ideal for riders looking to get out quickly without overthinking too much. The new Airstripes system enables a compact and secure fit.'
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
*Sturdy, stay-in-place fit thanks to airy, light mesh hip fins
*Attachment loops for glasses on shoulder strap
*Free range of motion guaranteed by ergonomically S-shaped shoulder straps
+Loop for safety light
*Stretch side pockets
*Detachable rain cover
*Hydration system compatible
*Wet laundry compartment
*Internal mesh pocket
*Outstanding ventilation and compact, secure fit due to the Airstripes System
*Zipper pocket on top
*Internal pocket for tools
*Loops for helmet holder (accessory)
First rate. Tidy seams, no loose ends.
Carries essentials and a bit more without being overcomplicated. Won't have your back dripping in sweat or induce nagging lower back pain.
Hardwearing outer. It took some rough handling on the touring trip and isn't showing any signs of wear.
Best I've experienced.
Doesn't match many others at a similar price in terms of capacity, but performance and comfort are outstanding and all extras are very well considered.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
Brilliant – carries essentials and some more, doesn't irritate the back and won't have you sweating buckets.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Versatility without being overcomplicated.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
See main review.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
'Race X' might suggest it's a piece of kit solely for racers, but it's a perfect go-to bag for so many other types of riding so don't be misled. It's excellent: versatile, comfortable and functional.
About the tester
I usually ride: Road My best bike is: Carbon road
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Expert
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, general fitness riding, getting to grips with off-roading too!
Emma’s first encounters with a road bike were in between swimming and running. Soon after competing for GB in the World Age Group Triathlon Championships in Edmonton in 2001 she saw the light and decided to focus on cycling.
After a couple of half decent UK road seasons racing for Leisure Lakes, she went out to Belgium to sample the racing there and spent two years with Lotto-Belisol Ladies team, racing alongside the likes of Sara Carrigan, Grace Verbeke, Rochelle Gilmore and Lizzie Deignan. Emma moved from Lotto-Belisol to Dutch team Redsun, then a new Belgian team of primarily developing riders, where there was less pressure, an opportunity to share her experience and help build a whole new team; a nice way to spend her final years of professional racing.
Since retiring Emma has returned to teaching. When not coercing kids to do maths, she is invariably out on two wheels. In addition to the daily commute, Emma still enjoys getting out on her road bike and having her legs ripped off on the local club rides and chain gangs. She has also developed an addiction to touring, with destinations including Iceland, Georgia and Albania, to mention just a few. There have also been rare sightings of Emma off-road on a mountain bike…