Deuter Compact 10 Air EXP: Final Review- by Grannygear

deuter compact 10 Air EXP

Deuter Compact 10 Air EXP: Final Review- by Grannygear

We took a close look at the Deuter Compact 10 Air EXP here in the Out of the Box post and we have been wearing it here and there for various adventures ever since.  I have grabbed it for quick after work putts with the dog and multi hour expeditions and so I have had it nearly empty and nearly full and in hot and cold weather.  What stands out:

The good -

  • That Air Comfort back panel is unique and amazing in the level of ventilation, support, and comfort it provides.  In fact, I can wear it over a layer or two of clothing and most of the time not be able to tell exactly if the pack is even touching me where that mesh panel is.  You can feel the air flow through as well and in hot weather it was about as close to having nothing against your back as you can get and still have something against your back.  In winter it might be a disadvantage if you think a hydration pack keeps you warm, but if it keeps sweat from building up, then you likely will be warmer even in cold weather.  The FlexLite system with the steel ‘X’ that is claimed to add torsional give and support to the pack…well, honestly I am not sure if that is doing much as far as allowing the pack to move along with body motions, but it seems to help in supporting the pack under heavier loads and it tensions the sweet Air Comfort back panel.
  • The storage capacity is large enough and the organization is quite good and easy to live with.  I did come to miss not having a top pocket like you see on a typical Camelbak or Osprey pack…the one that is softly lined and is good for sunglasses or cell phones, etc.  The expandable main compartment allowed us to easily swallow JeffJ’s full size DSLR with biggy lens and extra batt pack during a photo shoot and it will let you stuff quite a bit in there clothing wise as layers get shed, etc.    It carries the goods and remains solid and comfortable. even as the load gets to capacity.
  • Quality.  It looks and feels like a solid product.
  • Nice feature set.  From little touches like the zipper pull snaps to the integrated rain cover and helmet bra, the Compact 10 Air EXP has the goodies.  Big kudos to the 2 stretchy side pockets that carry a water bottle externally.
  • The 3.0L/100Oz reservoir has one of the best closure systems in the biz.  The roll top with the sliding clip lets you get both arms in there if you need to for cleaning and ice filling, etc, and has never leaked.  The bite valve is easy to open/close with one hand and there is an attached cover/cap for the bite valve for travel or whatever.  The bite valve never leaked either.  No post nasal drip onto my leg.
The less than great (not really bad) stuff –  there was not anything on the pack that I thought sucked but there were some things I noticed…
  • Side to side stability on the pack is not the best and I think that comes from that comfy mesh back panel that does not really ‘grab’ you in any way.  So we have the small ‘Hip Fin’ pads at the waist belt level that you can adjust by bending the inner aluminum support, varying the amount of body contact of each pad.  Those do a lot of the stability work of the pack but they also were the only part of the pack that I felt were an annoyance every so often.  Getting the height of the pack right is key because if the pack rides high, then the hip fins hit you in the kidney area.  About 1/2 the time I would be shifting the pack around in the first few minutes of the ride to get those hip fins in the right place then over time I would never notice them again for the rest of the ride.
  • It does not ride light and may be more pack than most folks need.  The internal structure of the pack that helps stabilize it and support bigger loads also bulks the pack up and takes it out of the light weight division.  However, this is the biggest of the Deuter AIR EXP packs as there is a Compact 8 version that is smaller in capacity and if you want to be even sleeker, yet with many of the same features, the Race EXP Air is for moving fast and taking names.
  • The bite valve on the reservoir is not the easiest thing to get a lot of volume out of and finding the right place to bite it is trail and error.  It is a bit of a mouthful too.  The cool little cover cap hangs by a string from the bite valve area and would typically touch the top of my right leg during every pedal stroke unless I pushed the drink tube up and then it was bit short to drink from.  If I cut the string off the cap, it will be lost to eternity, sooo…
  • The Compact 10 has a unique way of getting the reservoir in and out of the pack by way of a dedicated zipper than runs the length of one side of the pack.  At first it seems great but I never found it easy to reload the bladder and much poking and stuffing ensued till it went back in there.
  • The hip pouches were very difficult to get zipped closed with one hand while riding.  Even when stopped, it was a bit of a contortion act to reach around with both hands to get it closed.  The other Deuter pack we reviewed, the Trans Alpine 30 was the same way.
The Compact 10 AIr EXP is one of the packs I have that would get the nod if the day was going to be varied and long in any weather condition and I needed to cover my bases.  It will handle pretty much anything but an overnighter, is a bit much for the quick after work ride, and the go light-go fast folks will likely be better off served with the Race EXP Air.  But in between those extremes lies the meat of hydration pack use and the Deuter Compact 10 Air EXP is ready to go on your next adventure.
deuter compact 10 Air EXP
Note: Deuter sent over the Compact 10 Air EXP pack to Twenty Nine Inches at no charge. We are not being paid, nor bribed for this review. We will strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.