German brand Deuter has been making bags for over 125 years. The Attack 20 is designed to keep you safer in the riskiest riding situations, while still carrying all your kit conveniently.
If the relatively stiff fit works, it does a great job that’s backed up by an awesome repair and replace warranty, that underlines already excellent build quality. Despite being heavy and pricey even by armored pack standards, does it earn a spot on our list of the best mountain bike backpacks? Keep reading to find out.
For information on Bike Perfect's testing procedures and how our scoring system works, see our how we test page.
Design and aesthetics
Deuter makes it clear that this is a tough bag straight away, with a rip-resistant snakeskin/canvas look material making up most of the bag, and a super rugged, waterproof ‘tarpaulin’ fabric bottom end. The ’S’ shaped straps, waist belt, and bag are all sturdily made with heavily reinforced seams and edges all round, while the shoulder strap, ‘Contact’ back pads and big wraparound hip pads use an open cell mesh to improve moisture wicking. The pads are lower profile and broader than Deuter’s Airstripe design used on its lighter bags, like the Compact EXP 14, so the whole pack sits closer and spreads loads more widely.
That’s because the inner pocket holds a Sastec impact protection panel to hopefully save your spine from damage in a big crash. The back panel of the bag is still stiff and lightly protective, even if you remove the 360g protector.
The main compartment opens with a top and full-side zip with a velcro tab at the top and an elasticated sleeve to take a hydration bladder if you need one (it’s not included). Mostly though it’s a big broad space that you can stuff pretty much anything into, even big bulky insulated jackets or bikepacking gear if you’re out for a proper adventure. The inside panel also includes emergency contact and survival info in both English and German.
Moving to the outer pockets (which are as big as a small backpack in their own right) you’ve got a soft-lined, zippered pocket for your goggles up top. You’ve then got a multi-mesh and zippered pocket-filled lower compartment for all the spares, tools, snacks, etc. that you don’t need to reach super quickly. The ones you do need to get to fast can then go into either of the semi-stretch mesh zippered pockets on the hip belt. Given the general scale of the bag, it’s annoying that you can’t get a smartphone into the hip pockets. While the sliding, adjustable chest strap and additional upper bag to main strap tension adjusters are great for tuning fit, they don’t have the same elastic straps to stop the ends flapping about that the waist belt does.
Otherwise, Velcro drinking hose flaps, pull out helmet hammock, and neon yellow waterproof cover/signaling flag, complete the extensive features list. Build quality in terms of stitching and the chunky pullers on the YKK zips is totally bombproof throughout too. This underlines Deuter’s excellent lifetime repair or replace warranty on its bags however you’ve busted them, and is a big positive in terms of long-term value.
At over 1.5kg and a full back width, the Attack 20 is a bulky beast before you even put anything in it. Quick pull straps all around and the soft moldable back panel mean it actually hugs pretty well straight away. Even when switching between different bags to check I wasn’t just adapting to the Deuter myself, I found the fit got better the more I rode it too. It stays put well for a big, backplate bag, although you’ll still have to strap it down tight to stop it from climbing up round your helmet if you’re getting really heavy on the front brake on vert descents.
While I was in no hurry to test its effectiveness for real, the Sastec panel meets all the relevant safety standards for MTB use. This definitely helps peace of mind on full-face helmet level rides. It also makes this bag race legal for enduro events that stipulate a back protector must be used.
While the flapping supplementary straps occasionally irritated when I forgot to tuck them in (especially when using a chest cam) I soon realized I could stick my phone in the mesh bottle pockets on either side of the bag for fast access, which solved my second small grumble.
It’s inevitably bulky and heavy even for an armored bag, but Deuter has done a great job of shrinking the Attack 20 in terms of how it feels on your back. As a result, it actually became the bag I used more than the lighter Deuter Compact EXP 14 that I was testing at the same time, as it actually felt like a closer, more stable fit and if I was going to carry a pack, I may as well get some extra protection in the process.
Now I’ve worked out where to put my phone for instant ‘influencer’ action. The storage all makes really good sense too, and the Deuter has gained the considerable honor of a hook spot by the workshop door. The fact that Deuter’s warranty effectively makes it a ‘bag for life’ helps justify the high initial investment cost too.
Tech Specs: Deuter Attack 20
- Price: $259.94 / £190 / €230
- Weight: 1610g
- Colors: Khaki/Turmeric, Graphite/Shale, Brick Red/Slate Blue