Compact EXP 12 backpack (12)
This is a fairly heavy pack (970g) but it’s a serious work of construction. Well made and well featured, the pockets are large and compartmentalised for easy sorting (plus there’s an ever-useful pump sleeve), and you can expand or cinch it in.
It’s so well done it feels like a Tardis – better even, as it swallows much more than it should be able to without attracting Cybermen.
The back has a central channel with flexible stays for support. But, while it does keep it balanced when loaded to capacity, they only flex vertically and not horizontally – meaning you don’t get that optimum feel of it moulding perfectly to your back.
Mesh straps save some weight, but in truth we’d take a few more grams in exchange for solid straps with a little more padding, especially on the wings of the hip belt. The EXP 12 doesn’t come with a bladder (it has runs for the tubing, though) so bear that in mind when considering the price.
This article was originally published in What Mountain Bike magazine, available on Apple Newsstand and Zinio.