Deuter has long enjoyed favorable reviews from many of us here at This time, the dynamic duo of Lee and Sharon have done their best to beat up the Deuter Compact EXP 12L hydration pack. After two years of abuse, Sharon shares her thoughts.

Deuter Compact EXP 12 Features:

  • Expandable main storage compartment
  • Back panel features Deuter Airstripes System Bike
  • Breathable mesh shoulder straps and waist belt
  • Deployable rain cover
  • Side mesh pockets for extra water bottle carry
  • Helmet holder
  • MSRP: $125

Deuter EXP 12 Hydration Pack Review - Lee Lau

My Long-term Experience

The Deuter Compact EXP 12 is a mid sized hydration pack able to hold 3l water bladders (not included) with 12 litre main storage compartment that is expandable, an outer mid sized pocket with more pockets and an external secure pocket. Two smaller mesh zippered pockets on side of the pack and on the hip belt. Rain cover and helmet carry strap in their own pockets.

Deuter has many different sizes and styles of Hydration Packs. The Compact EXP 12 is part of their ‘compact’ range designed for urban as well as epic mountain bike use. The pack weighs in at a respectable 1 lbs 16 oz or 840 g and is made of Deuter-Ripstop 210 and Deuter-Super-Polytex.

This pack has a lot of pockets. You will never have anything loose in the pack with all of the available pockets.  The expandable sides and built-in compression straps create versatility to use this pack to carry body armor and can expand to carry more clothes or food for those epic rides. The side mesh pockets help to keep the weight down while still having lots of versatile pockets.

Deuter Compact EXP 12 Hydration Pack

Lee and I have been using this pack now for over two years. During that time, this pack has been well-used including two three-week trips to Switzerland, two two-week trips to Moab, two weeks in the Yukon, two weeks in the Canadian Rockies, many day rides in Whistler, North Shore, Pemberton, Fraser Valley etc. We’ve ridden in rain, sun you name it. The pack still looks great, all the zippers still work. The fabric durability has been great. When it gets dirty you rinse it off and its dry by the next day. It’s kept everything from my wallet, phone, keys and GPS secure and dry. It gets tossed, hung, banged and battered and it just keeps on going.

Deuter Compact EXP 12 Hydration Pack Deuter Compact EXP 12 Hydration Pack

The helmet carry has been very handy and has also been used to carry body armor or a jacket. In the wet weather of the Pacific Northwest, the rain cover has proved itself on several occasions.

Truthfully, this has become my favorite go to pack for longer days when I need to carry an extra jacket or an extra bottle of energy drink or a tall can. I’d recommend this pack to anyone looking for a durable, spacious pack that won’t let them down.

Thanks to the folks at Mountain Equipment Co-op for providing the sample!

The Good:

  • Pockets galore keep all your gear organized
  • Comfortable, breathable suspension design
  • Mesh straps are unobtrusive
  • Extremely durable

The Bad:

  • Has a tendency to move around a bit on technical descents

The Bottom Line

The Deuter Compact EXP 12 is a lightweight pack for its size and includes storage galore. We’ve beat it up and it still looks and functions like new.

Buy Now: Available at (in Canada? Visit

About Author

Sharon Bader is an avid skier and mountain biker who gets out for many days on skis and bikes in her backyard of North Vancouver and Whistler, BC. Check out more reviews and adventures from her and her husband Lee Lau at

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