Attached to the rear of this pack is EVOC’s new Airshield spine protector, which sits directly against your back. The lattice-like design offers masses of coverage, and it’s reasonably flexible, which is a real plus in terms of comfort and fit, although it does add to the pack’s 1,067g overall weight.
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The NEO comes in two sizes and includes a height-adjustable waist strap for a better fit. There’s decent padding on the shoulder straps, and the waist and chest straps can be cinched down tightly so that it sits comfortably and securely on your back.
I found it only shifted upwards when fully loaded and tackling steep, rough trails, when you’ll want to batten down the shoulder straps and pull the top in tight to avoid contact with your helmet.
The main compartment has a sleeve for a bladder, but none is included – a shame at this price. There are loads of mesh and zipped organisers in the front pocket. You also get a fleece-lined pocket for a phone or eyewear, plus two handy pockets (one zipped) on the waist strap.
The roll-down rain cover is quick to access and use.
While the NEO is pricey, it’s comfy, offers plenty of back protection and will carry a load of kit securely. Just be sure to adjust it properly before you hit the trails.