Accepted by most as the stalwart of luggage, EVOC’s reputation is built on solid ground: its packs are frequently well-made, well-designed and exceptionally tough wearing.
It also caters for the relatively niche demands of photographers, bikepackers, bike transport and protection, and the more mainstream rider with a range of packs that are best described as expansive.
The Stage 12l pack sits comfortably in the middle of its range as a day pack with a bit of extra space.
EVOC Stage 12l backpack specifications
It features four individual zipped compartments, each designed with a different use in mind: there’s a tool compartment with internal dividers, a smaller micro-fibre-lined glasses and valuables pocket, a large compartment with a separate mesh bag for items such as keys and coins, and a bladder pocket (but no bladder).
It’s got two mesh pockets on the bag’s sides, a rain cover and the option to carry either full or open face helmets.
There are padded hip straps and a height-adjustable securing chest strap. The shoulder straps attach to the bag using EVOC’s ‘Brace Link’, which allows them to move from side to side to help with fit. The shoulder straps have built-in hydration hose guides as well.
The back of the bag is made from mesh with large blocks of soft foam between the bag’s body and the mesh. This pushes the pack away from your back, creating an area where air should be able to flow in a bid to reduce heat and sweat.
It’s made from abrasion- and tear-resistant fabric that has a water-repellent coating to boot.
EVOC Stage 12l backpack performance
Thanks to the multitude of pockets and internal organisers, it’s easy to keep valuables away from heavier, bulkier items. The dedicated tool pocket is easy to open and access quickly without needing to delve deeper into the bag.
However, the top of the pocket is only sealed with Velcro, and in heavy downpours my tools did get a bit damp. This isn’t a massive issue, but if you were carrying items that need to remain dry you’ll have to store them in one of the other compartments.
The bag is deceptively large and happily swallowed a full 3-litre bladder, snacks, tools and a tube. Once loaded, the bag hid its weight well, transferring most of the bulk through the padded section into my hips rather than hanging off my shoulders.
The straps are easy to adjust on the fly and I didn’t struggle to get it set up for my back, body or shoulders in the first instance. I found the bag exceptionally comfortable to wear and it has very quickly become my go-to pack for riding.
The rigidity created by the large foam sections against my back stopped it bulging uncomfortably, even when it was very full. I also found that over rough terrain it remained impressively stable and didn’t need to be really tight to be kept in place.
It’s a shame it isn’t supplied with a bladder, but the hose guides and bladder integration are fantastic, especially the small clip on the chest strap.
Showers were brushed off well, with water beading on the bag’s surface, and I didn’t feel the need to reach for the in-built rain cover until I was caught out in a monumentally heavy downpour. Even then, the contents of the bag remained dry.
The mesh padding did help create some airflow between bag and back, but because the gap isn’t huge and the mesh’s contact area is quite large, I did end up with a sweaty and wet back on hot climbs.
With two individual solutions for carrying open and full-face helmets, I was impressed with its integration and ease of use. Full-face lids are attached using two clip straps at the top of the bag that wrap around the chin bar, holding the lid securely in place. Although, when you’re carrying a full-face lid on the bag, it isn’t possible to access the tool pocket.
Open face helmets are attached using an elasticated mesh carrier that opens out from its own storage pocket and holds helmets in place without any dramas. Like the full-face lid, you’re not going to be able to access the tool pocket with a helmet attached.
I found that I could carry a convertible helmet’s chin bar with either option, too.
In all, the EVOC Stage’s helmet carrying solutions are class-leading.
EVOC Stage 12l backpack bottom line
It’s fair to say that the EVOC Stage 12l is one of the best packs I have used in a long time thanks to a multitude of storage compartments, a comfortable and easy to adjust design and well thought out features such as the helmet carrying options.
It’s good looking, doesn’t weigh a ton or cost the earth either.