The Compact Air Exp is an offshoot from Deuter’s most popular all-around back pack, but with some added features for those of us using the pack for our biking pleasure. The most prominent of these features is the curved back panel, which raises the pack off your back, allowing for increase air circulation – this is a great feature which was very much appreciated on a warm day. While I loved the cooling effect, I did find that when the pack was filled to capacity, it tended to flop around because it wasn’t flush with my back. I did not mind this, or notice it as much on the climbs up; however, on the descent I found it to be rather awkward.
The Compact Air Exp 10 is a 10 liter back pack with a separate compartment designed to carry a 3 liter hydration pack, which came included with my pack, making the total volume of the pack 13 liters. Inside are a number of compartments to store all of the necessities; tools, pumps and a spare tube. There is also a sealed valuables pocket in the inner compartment for your phone or wallet. The size and the number of compartments are just the right amount for either a short after work cruise or a long all day expedition, dependent on the type of ride you’re doing. The cone shape of the pack helps to keep your items snug, but I found that it also makes it challenging to access items near the bottom without opening up the entire pack.
The exterior of the pack offers a number of well thought out features. A mesh helmet holder for either a full face or xc helmet that easily stashes into an exterior stow pocket, a rain-mud cover for those wet days, and a mesh bottle holder, which I found was the perfect spot to hold my bear spray. The zippers pulls have snaps to hold them together so they don’t flap around and additional zippered mesh pockets are on the hip straps for easily accessible storage. The side compression straps can double as a place to carry your knee or elbow pads while you pedal up the mountain; a bonus for those hitting up the more gnarly and technical trails.
The Compact Air Exp 8 (one size smaller) comes in either the regular or SL version, SL being a women’s specific version, offering smaller buckles, tapered straps and a reduced back length to accommodate our smaller frame size. The shape of the pack itself is also slightly conical to properly fit women’s hips and waist. I would suggest fitting this model first ladies, unless you need more room in your pack.
Overall the Compact Air Exp 10 is a great-looking pack that offers plenty of features a mountain biker will find useful when out for a long day on the trail. It’s also extremely comfortable to wear, which is probably the first thing I noticed. My overall rating for the pack is 3 out of 5, due to the awkward bounce and movement I found when moving fast down the trail.