EVOC has long been known as category leaders for mountain biking rucksacks, hip packs and flight cases, but where do they fit in for gravel and bikepacking? With the recent release of the EVOC Ride series, designed for versatility rather than all-out protection, we put the 12 litre model to the test.
Introducing the EVOC Ride series
Released in September 2020, the Ride series from cycling luggage leaders EVOC includes three sizes: 8, 12 and 16 litres, and are available either with or without a 2 litre water bladder (bar the 16L which is only sold without). Unlike EVOC’s burlier mountain biking backpacks that feature integrated back protection, these more slimline packs are designed with entry-level riders in mind, commuting and a more versatile range of uses.
Looking for something to test whether you could travel by bike for multiple days comfortably while carrying a laptop, I measured up the new EVOC Ride 12L to fit my Macbook Pro perfectly. Over the winter, the pack was tested on a number of city commutes, many filthy days on the mountain bike where spare layers and hot drinks were essential, and now into the spring on longer gravel rides, including the laptop.
EVOC Ride 12L design features
The 12L backpack measures up at 24cm wide 47cm tall, with a shallow 10cm depth, so is fairly narrow but long, and weighs a claimed 590g.
On the back of the bag, there’s a large zipped main compartment, a smaller zipped pocket at the top. I suppose this smaller pocket could be handy for little items that you need to keep handy, but I didn’t use it much as I didn’t want to stow anything too heavy high up, and there were plenty of internal pockets that felt more secure.
At the bottom there’s a large helmet carrying pouch, which can be adjusted via two buckle straps to accommodate all helmet shapes and sizes. Why would you need a helmet pouch on a riding backpack then? Well turns out it’s really handy for all those off the bike things: for packing your helmet on the train or for safely transporting your lid through air travel in your hand luggage, and the expanding compartment also doubles up as a great stuff-space for bulky jackets or that bit of shopping you needed on the way home for dinner. Find a load of rubbish on the trails? This also makes for a handy pocket to stow crushed cans and packets until you can reach disposal, without mixing it with the rest of your kit.
The main compartment opens fully down to the base, much like a camera backpack, which make organising and accessing kit really easy on bigger days out. This reveals the mesh pockets on the flap, the water bladder sleeve at the back and the main cavity.
Internally on the back of the bag, a velcro loop at the top holds any optional water bladder in place (up to 3L), which can sit in the elasticated sleeve. This is where I stowed my Macbook Pro. This measures 30.5 x 21.5cm, and as the sleeve comes up at 30 x 23.5, its a pretty darn perfect fit. The sleeve would be equally handy for any paperwork up to A4 size, or larger items that you’d like to keep flat and upright.
There’s a clever port a the top for if you’re using a water bladder hose, which can run through a loop clip into a small, discreet toggle on the right shoulder strap. Therefore, you pack works just as well without a water bladder, as there isn’t much excess hardware.
The flap of the main compartment is lined with mesh pockets: a zipped one at the top including a small plastic hook for securing keys, then a double open top mesh compartment and a lower zipped pocket. EVOC suggest that this is a tool organiser, but really you can stash whatever you like in these pockets, and leave the main compartment for bulkier items like spare layers or jackets.
The padded shoulder straps connect down the the hip wing panels, which each feature small elasticated mesh pockets, and provide attachment for the waist strap. The bag is further secured using an adjustable chest strap.
The EVOC Ride 12L is available in either this Chili Red-Carbon Grey colour or a more neutral Carbon Grey-Black, with a few yellow toggle highlights: so either a low key, dark colourway or something with greater visibility. To add further in that department, a small loop on the bottom of the bag makes attaching a rear light to the bag pretty simple. The smaller 8L pack is offered in a gorgeous mustard colour, and the 16L in a two-tone olive too.
EVOC Ride 12L fit and comfort
Thanks to the adjustable shoulder, chest and hip straps, there’s quite a wide range of fit for the EVOC Ride 12L, although I had the shoulder straps cinched down to almost the end of the webbing when in use. Perhaps if you have a really small frame or are buying for a youngster, it’s worth trying on in a shop before you buy, just to make sure you can get a good fit.
My main concern with the backpack would be comfort over multiple hours in the saddle. Of course, how you pack the bag will have a decent bearing on that, and it’s always advisable to try and carry heavier items on the bike rather than supported by your back. In a way, the smaller 12 litre size is helpful here, as there’s less temptation to overfill it when the backpack is a bit smaller.
For a of couple hours of wintery mountain biking, the backpack was just the ticket: larger than a bumbag which meant more space for extra layers, snacks and even handy anchoring points for trail building tools. Turning to the spring season, the real test of comfort over mileage was ready to be trialled.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that even after five hours in the saddle with the pack carrying a laptop, tools and a few extra layers, it was still mostly comfortable. The wide and padded shoulder straps certainly help here, as well as the wide hip flaps which gave no rubbing or irritation. Some multi-sport backpacks can be cut quite high on the back, so when in a low or descending position can interfere with the back of the neck and helmet, but thankfully this was not the case with the EVOC Ride 12L. The only negative that I did notice was feeling a bit wheezy on the steeper climbs, where I unclipped the chest strap to reduce any restriction on lung capacity.
Against the back, the four protruding mesh pads of the EVOC ‘Air Pad System’ keep things cosy, while ventilation channels down the spine and laterally between them help to improve air flow to reduce that horrible sweaty back feeling. In reality, you don’t notice these four pads as you ride, but you can certainly feel the benefit of the ventilation on hotter or harder days. While there isn’t any inbuilt back protection unlike some of EVOC’s more enduro-focussed packs, a thin, semi-rigid back means that you shouldn’t feel packed items or sharp edges through the bag onto your back.
EVOC Ride 12L longevity
On test from December through some of the muckiest winter months and now (thankfully) into the spring, the EVOC Ride 12L hasn’t had an easy time of it, but has stood up remarkably well to the conditions. Although the pack feels really lightweight at 590g, with thin outer ripstop material, these technical fabrics seem to be durable and robust. No snagging on brambles, no rubbing or abrasion, no staining.
When mud splattered and filthy, you can just scrub over the outer fabrics with a damp cloth to get it looking fresh again. You’ll find darker colours for the lower parts that are more likely to get mucky to prevent staining, and a much lighter liner in sandy beige to help you find your packed items easily.
The only issue I’ve found with the pack was that the hip belt buckle felt a bit fiddly. On closer inspection, part of the plastic mechanism was broken, although still functional. I contacted the distributor about this, who offered a warranty replacement of the bag (this would usually be done through the point of sale, bike shop or online shop), so good to know my back was covered (ha, sorry).
From my experience of using backpacks for a multitude of sports over the last few decades, a quality choice can really last for years and years. At sub-£100 (£84.99 $100 €90), the EVOC Ride 12L is one of the more budget-friendly packs from EVOC, and you’d hope that it’d give you excellent value for money over years of use.
The EVOC Ride 12L verdict
There are very few negatives to report when it comes to EVOC’s new Ride series, and specifically this mid-sized 12L pack. It’s really comfortable, gives loads of options for packing kit, and has some really neat high-end features on a bag that’s really quite accessible in price, considering the quality.
One thing that is becoming more and more important as a consideration is the use of recycled materials in new product manufacture, so I’d like to see EVOC employ more of these in subsequent releases. It’s clear to see that their material choice and development is very important, and helps to make such durable products, but I would be much more impressed if there was some recycled content here. Although not as technical as EVOC, Millican bags are all made from 100% recycled post-consumer plastic waste: I’d love to see EVOC work towards the same.
That aside, with little to fault about the bag itself, I’d highly recommend the EVOC Ride 12L for any rider looking for a versatile backpack that’s handy, and most importantly, comfortable.
Last modified: 26th April 2021