The Mountain Bike Life
I have been using the EVOC Freeride Trail pack for just over 7 months and in that time I have taken it on everything from long XC rides to lift assisted riding at Mt. Washington and Whistler. I have ridden with it in all conditions, gotten it wet and muddy the last few months,  covered it in dust and dirt of late summer, and everything in between. Not only has it served on my sweaty back on rides but it has also carried laptops (I put two in it a few times, full sized Lenovo laptops, no netbooks here) and lunch to and from work during the week. It’s gone on hikes, road trips and to the beach. I have used and abused this pack, filled it with tools, extra clothes and put it away wet, only to pick it up and do it again when the call comes to go out and explore.

 

If you have not seen the preview I wrote when I first got the pack check it out for more details.
Let’s start out with the basics – the materials. As I said in the preview, the pack feels like it is quality right from the get go. The fabric is light, but I do not feel like it is flimsy at all – it has not ripped, torn or been punctured. The zippers are adequate. They do the job but feel like they get stuck once in a while. With that said, they have never busted open when I have over-packed and I have done that more than I would like to admit. I really like the little zipper pullers they have, a silly little touch but I really love the little touches like that in this pack, not only are they easy to grab onto with tired, gloved hands but they are reflective too…yay safety! The velcro bits have stayed sticky to each other, and other than being a little dirtier than it was when I picked it up from the shop, it looks basically just like new.
The EVOC FR Trail 20l has 7 pockets in all, two little pockets on each side of the belt, a map pocket, a robust tool pocket, a glasses pouch with key holder, main storage compartment and the hydration/back protection compartment.

 

 

I put crap in all of these compartments except the little side pockets, I really should find something to put in them, but as it is I can almost guarantee that I have the heaviest pack on any given day on the trails. What can I say? I like to be prepared. I put my pocket video camera, phone, keys, and wallet in the glasses compartment; it’s great for easy access and rarely sees any abuse. The tool compartment is full of pumps, tools, tubes, snacks, first aid kit and anything else small I may need easy access to. In the main compartment I usually keep my helmet cam, any extra clothes and other random junk that I may or may not need for the ride. This compartment fits a TON of stuff – I have gone away for weekend trips and just packed this pack full, and still had too much stuff, it is that roomy. The only issue I have is the same as my Dakine pack – to get at the tool and map compartment you have to undo the helmet/compression straps. It’s not usually a huge issue, but if you have a helmet in there it’s a bit of a pain.
Speaking of straps, the FR Trail has any straps you may need. I love that the armour straps pack away nice and clean in the helmet pouch, just take them out when you need them….very nice touch. I can load this pack full and tighten down the straps and still feels tight to my back when riding.
I have carried many different styles of full face and XC/AM helmets all with no issues. I really like the little rubbery bits inside the helmet pouch to keep the helmet from moving around, a very nice touch.
As I said I like to be prepared out there so usually end up carrying quite a heavy pack, but not once have I ever felt the shoulder straps dig into my shoulders; they are padded nicely and are quite comfortable.
The other nice things about this pack that some of its competition do not have is the built-in rainfly. When I have had to use it, it did its job, it kept everything nice and dry…very nice. I also really like the thick belt on this pack. I was not so sure when I first got the pack that I would like it, but once I put it on I found that not only was it comfortable but it helped keep the pack in place.

 

 

EVOC realizes that not everyone is the same size and has made different size packs. This is a feature that I think will be appreciated by tall and short people alike. I am 6’4″ and am using a M|L. I could probably get away with using the XL, but I have never felt that it was too small on my back.
The big feature that puts this pack ahead of the pack is the Liteshield Back Protector, I am happy to report that I have never had to use this feature, but it’s nice to know that it’s there just in case. You never know what may happen out on the trail and it’s good to know that this pack has your back.
I have a few friends with this pack now and they have all mentioned how big it looks when you first get it, but once you put it on it just seems to disappear on your back. EVOC have really figured out how to make a comfortable pack that feels good on little after work rides but can also pack anything you may need for those longer journeys too.
All in all, this is a great pack with some features that no one else has, but it does come at a fairly high cost. At $180.00 CAN retail I think it is the most expensive pack in its class and it does not even come with a water reservoir. What you have to figure out is if the extra safety and features are worth it. I decided it was and bought the pack they gave me to test … so if anyone wants an old pack, let me know, I have one sitting around.

Pros: 

  • Tons of storage
  • Extra protection
  • Waist strap keeps it from moving and doubles as a kidney belt
  • Well built

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No water reservoir included
  • Zippers could be better

Details:

  • Retail: $179.95 CAD
  • Volume: 20L
  • Weight: 1300g or 2.86lbs (size M|L)
  • Size: 27 cm x 56 cm x 14 cm (size M|L)
  • Material: Nylon 210/D Ripstop PU coated, N150/D, N600/D
I got a great deal on mine from Lorien out at Sooke Mountain Cycles, a great shop with great service, check  it out next time you are out in Sooke.
Transition Bike Co takes a huge step back
Sometimes photos don't tell the whole story...

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