Deuter Compact Exp 12

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When taking on mountain ranges with only yourself, your gear, and your bike it’s important to have the right backpack to carry everything you need. Mountain Bikers who are in search of a well-rounded hydration backpack that can carry the gear they need while providing the hydration they require shouldn’t look any farther than the Deuter Compact EXP 12. This pack offers great features, a large capacity, and a sleek, design users hope for when choosing a backpack to carry along with them while they are biking. Whether going on a short trek around your local area or taking a longer trip where you need more gear, this bag is versatile enough to handle anything. Keep in mind, however, this hydration pack isn’t only for biking. This versatile pack can be used for many types of adventures. In this review, we will discuss both the pros and cons of the Deuter Compact EXP 12 so that you can make an informed decision on whether purchasing this pack is the right decision for you.

Editor's Pros & Cons
  • Amazing Space
  • Very Supportive
  • Comfort
  • Heavy
  • Complaints of shoulder strap stability 
  • On the pricier side

Key Features

For mountain bikers, a backpack becomes nothing more than a place to store their gear or kit as it’s often called. The Deuter Compact Exp 12 provides this space in spades and is considered one of the best features this bag has to offer. With three main compartments, this backpack easily divides up the workload of carrying gear by giving each of these compartments their own specific job.

The main compartment has a zippered mesh pocket and a second zipper that can be used to expand the biggest compartment allowing for more storage when needed. Directly below this area is a storage compartment where the mesh helmet keeper can be found. This tool is good for keeping your helmet tucked out of the way when off your bike and enjoying the scenery around you.

Toward the back of this pack, a side accessible pocket is available. This pocket is intended for use with a hydration bladder. This allows for bikers to carry the water they need to stay hydrated on their ride.

The last compartment is the easiest to access. This area is nice for storing any tools you may need while out on your ride. Spares and other items that need to be accessed quickly are intended for this compartment and allow riders the opportunity to access them quickly and easily.

The two main compartments of this bag feature extra double zippers that can be clicked together. On the waist belt, riders will also find two zippered pockets and two side pouches that can provide outdoor lovers with the extra storage space they need for smaller items and quick access extras they need on their ride.

One last feature many riders consider crucial when choosing a pack for riding is reflectivity. This bag provides riders enough reflectivity to take night rides without worrying with any extra gear or issues.

At the bottom of the bag, you’ll find another storage area quite similar to that of the helmet keeper. Here you will find the included rain cover. This rain cover comes in safety yellow and can be used to cover the entire length of the bag and keep it dry from the elements. This cover is easy to access and quite easy to use. Once stretched into place, this cover can be secured at the top of the bag near the shoulder straps by two small clips. This is an essential feature for any outdoorsman who spends adequate time in areas where rain can be an issue.


One of the most important aspects of choosing a backpack suited for bike reading is the comfort. Yes, carrying gear is important but if the bag cannot support the gear while still providing riders the comfort and ease of movement, it simply isn’t worth the effort. That cannot be said for the Deuter Compact EXP 12. This bag uses the Deuter Airstripes system which helps regulate comfort and temperature on the rider’s back. With this bag, this system consists of two padded ventilation strips. These thin strips cannot keep a biker from becoming sweaty but do offer a level of climate control by allowing air to move around the back which aids in making the rider more comfortable. This system is also used around the shoulders where enough padding for comfort is included but not enough to cause heat issues. This, however, is one of the downsides of this bag. Some who have purchased the bag feel that those with slimmer shoulders struggle with making the shoulder straps tight enough.


Although it provides comfort, an hydration bladder, and other amazing features, the Deuter Compact EXP 12 still has its downsides. One of these downsides is the weight. Yes, this bag can provide riders, skiers, or hikers with an incredible amount of space for their gear and needed items, but the bag is one of the heftiest on the market. Although the streamlined design allows for easy movement when wearing the pack, those who have an issue carrying the extra weight may prefer choosing a smaller version or another bag altogether. If you are a gear junkie who doesn’t mind the weight as long as you have the gadgets you need, then this bag is perfect for you.


There are several ways this bag goes the extra mile to provide users the support they expect. Using a dual flat steel frame, this bag provides perfect support at the foundation of this bag and gives wearers the feeling of being hugged by the bag instead of being loaded down by it. By using an anatomically shaped waist belt, the Deuter Compact EXP 12 is able to offer users lots of support. This waist belt offers straps that pull forward instead of the traditional backward tightening. This allows for a more comfortable fit with the support you expect.

Hydration Bladder

One of the biggest draws of this backpack is the hydration bladder. Considered a hydrations pack, the Deuter Compact EXP 12 offers riders, or other users, the opportunity to carry up to 3-liters of water during their adventure. Featuring the Streamer 3.0 Hydration Bladder that delivers water through a tube into the Helix bite valve, drinking with this pack is made easy. The easy to use locking on and off valve allows users the opportunity to quench their thirst even when using riding gloves.

Making the hydration system even easier, this pack provides a zipper that opens the length of the right-hand side of the bag. This is where the hydration bladder system can be found. The provided Streamer 3.0-liter bladder comes with hooks for hanging and an opening on the end where filling can be made easy. This bladder is made of sturdy construction and offers users what they are looking for in a hydration system.

Routing the drinking tube cannot be simpler. The shoulder straps of the Deuter Compact Exp 12 comes with hooks and loops to allow the tubing to be managed easily. The same hooks and straps are in place at the shoulder straps to allow the drinking tube to stay in place for easy hydration. Velco is also provided to hold the bladder itself into place once it has been filled and you are ready to start your journey.

Detaching the water bladder is quite simple as well thanks to the quick disconnect tube and hydration sleeve. This means you can quickly clean your hydration bladder and be prepared for clean water or storage until your next trip.


The Deuter Compact Exp 12 is a very versatile hydration pack. While it provides users with the hydration system and support they are looking for, this pack also provides lots of space. This is a plus whether you find yourself on the back of a bike or taking on trails and mountains by foot. Providing this type of versatility is a feature any sportsman will love in this dependable bag.


When first looking at this pack, the size may be a bit overwhelming. At 12-liters, you’ll find this to be one of the largest packs on the market geared toward bikers. Fortunately, with the sleek design and compact make, when not using all the extra storage options that are provided, this bag looks smaller and weighs less. For those who don’t mind the hefty size and need a bit more space, this bag can expand to 15-liters by using the additions located at the front. Although this is considered one of the downsides of this bag, those who love the ability to carry extra gear and additional items while they are out and about won’t have any issue with carrying the extra weight to make that possible.


The Deuter Compact Exp 12 provides more stability than many would expect. With its dual steel frame, users will find this bag easily adjusts and fits their back easily. This provides a good balance when taking a ride. With the positioning of this bag, riders have found it easy to maneuver on their bikes, even when fully loaded. This stability is a necessity when being on your bike is the game plan you have in mind.


While this hydration pack isn’t considered a steal, it isn’t the highest pack on the market. Keep in mind, however, it is quite close. This pack provides durability, features, and hydration while out and about. With the extended storage capabilities, users may find themselves debating whether it’s worth the money. In the long run, it is, but if saving money is a factor you can find other packs on the market for less. Comparing prices of this pack to the others of the same size and hydration capabilities online, you will see that although only a few costs more, this pack can be considered quite the value for the money you’ll pay. The price can be somewhat offset by the fact this bag should last you for a few years and can be used for long trips and short rides both.


The best applications for this pack are of course for mountain bikers. This pack provides the necessary room, breathability, and function bikers need when facing a mountain trail. Don’t feel as though this all you can use the Deuter Compact EXP 12 for, however. This pack can function as a daypack if needed and is good for use by hikers and climbers who don’t mind the extra weight it can add on. Hikers who like having the necessities easily available will find this hydration pack as their go-to pack for carrying what they need, having the hydration to keep going throughout the day, and to stow their gear when not in use.

The Bottom Line

When you find yourself debating whether you should purchase the Deuter Compact EXP 12 weighing the pros and cons is key in making the best decision possible. If you aren’t a fan of bulkier, heavier, packs then perhaps this one isn’t the choice for you. If you are a fan of storage areas, additional pockets and attachments, and of course comfort, then you should keep this pack high on your purchase list. With all the extras this pack provides, including the easy to use a 3-liter hydration bladder, the safety colored rain cover, and the mesh helmet protector, bikers and outdoors lovers alike will find themselves hard pressed to walk away. However, keeping the cons in mind is also important. If you aren’t up for transporting heavy loads or feel the steep price of this bag is out of your range, then perhaps a bit more research is required. For those who aren’t put off by the weight and price then this gear lover’s dream may just be the hydration pack you’ve been looking for.