EVOC has developed a new trail riding backpack designed to comfortably haul a few days worth of gear as you head out on a mountain bike adventure. With two volumes available to fit either short or long torso riders, we picked the larger one to stuff full of gear for an extended week of traveling and riding off-road. For the most part the Explorer Pro builds off the same tech we’ve seen in many other smaller hydration packs and day packs from EVOC, but with seemingly endless number of pockets (and a few small hidden tricks) it was easier than ever to keep all of my gear organized, and nicely keep those wet clothes separate…
Tech details – Storage
Organization is probably the buzzword on the 30l Explorer Pro. On the back it gets five main zipped compartments, pretty much all of which get divided up inside for even more sorting of your gear. The two back pockets flip down revealing a grid of mesh storage pockets that helped us organize food, tools & snacks, plus some camera gear. Inside there is a small mesh toiletries/wash bag, making it easy to keep everything you could need, easy to access.
The top pocket to the main compartment flips down as well, making it easy to access what’s inside and displaying EVOC’s signature sewn-in Emergency Plan. That main compartment is actually accessible from the top zip opening, but also from the horizontal zipper all around the lower portion of the pack.
In between there is a roll-up style closure like a dry bag that lets you adjust the volume of each pocket or open it into one big pocket accessible from top & bottom. With the separation the mostly water-resistant fabric does a solid job at keeping moisture on the side you want it.
Of course one of the pockets is for a hydration bladder with storage for up to 3l. At the same time it is the pocket that accesses the built-in protection padding.
Plus, there are a couple more good sized pockets on the waist belt that wrap from the space beside the pack around your hips, lending enough room to stash a bunch of food or a phone, wallet & camera close at hand. There is even a mesh water bottle pocket on the right outside. Then lastly on the outside the Explorer Pro gets a helmet carry flap that stuffs out of way when not in use, then pulls up & clips on to carry any half shell helmet.
On top of it all the bag gets compression straps top & bottom on both side that let you cinch the bag down tight if you don’t need to be always hauling a full 30l worth of gear.
A stable & secure fit is key to hauling this much gear on technical trails. EVOC uses their Brace-Link shoulder straps which aim to adapt well to a wide range of shoulder widths by adjusting their angle. Then comes the wide vented Airoflex waist belt, that offers support & flexibility with a fit like a lifting belt.
The back of the pack gets their Airflow Contact System which is essentially a few strategically placed corrugated EVA foam blocks behind a mesh layer that aim to support the bag while actually contacting your back as little as possible. It seems to do a good job at preventing the pack from feeling too hot, while allowing sweat to evaporate away too.
The pack itself is made of 420D nylon at the top & 600D nylon down below. All of that gets polyurethane coating inside making the pack close to waterproof (without taped seams) even before you put the rain cover on top.
The Explorer Pro comes in two sizes the small 26l pack designed with its 48cm (18.9″) long back (claimed 1250g), and the medium/large 30l pack with a 52cm (20.5″) back (claimed 1250g).
The Explorer Pro was essentially designed for multi-day riding off the beaten track in the vein of the TransAlp, but is just as well suited to weekend trips riding closer to home. We spent just a couple of days riding with the pack fully stuffed, in the middle of a week where it constantly got abused keeping dry & wet gear separated as we move from cabin to cabin on day trips.
Our riding wasn’t ever more than a few hours from the trailhead, and in relatively cool conditions so we didn’t have to load it down with liters of water or heavy camping gear, but we still stuffed the bag with more dry & warm clothing and food than we really needed to make sure we got a feel for the pack. The large wide velcroed waist band ( that then gets buckled securely over top) was a lot more comfortable that more simple setups I’ve used on similarly sized bags, and made for a really secure fit that sat comfortably low on my hips keeping the bulk of the weight off my shoulders.
Inside the roll down closure between the upper & lower compartments did what was advertised and for almost a week kept sopping wet gear in the bottom of the bag from getting any of my other gear wet. Outside fighting the rain, the Explorer Pro gets a rain cover stashed in a pouch at the base of the bag, which wasn’t a big surprise. But was novel were a couple of appendages on the side that wrapped around covering the waist belt pockets as well. We were already pretty happy with the deep waist pockets that made for an easy to access stash for food, phone & wallet. But getting full coverage there was extra welcome once the skies opened up and we got dumped on.
The Explorer Pro sells for 180€ in either the 30l or 26l versions that essentially equate to a S & M/L respectively. Only the larger bag is available in the blue we tested, while both sizes get black versions and an olive green variant, with the small pack also available in a dark red. All versions are expected to hit shops mid fall, sometime between the end of September – mid October.