Review: EVOC bikepacking packs dial in secure, compact storage for mini off-road adventure rides

Tips & Reviews

Back at the start of August, EVOC debuted a complete family of compact off-road adventure bikepacking bags. Nowhere near the scale of most massive modern bikepacking bags, these waterproof Boa-secured packs are actually an ideal size (mostly) for the mini-adventures we usually can make time for in our busy schedule – stuff in the extra layers & snacks needed, whether for really long rides or a weekend of credit card bikepacking…Advertisements

EVOC Handlebar Boa, Seat Boa & Top Tube Packs

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mountsEVOC’s adventure bikepacking bag lineup is composed of two technical packs & two more simple packs that strap onto almost any bike. The techy waterproof handlebar & seat packs are the most recent debut, each including lightweight internal structure & fixed plastic/rubber supports that secured to the bike with Boa dial & wire closures.

Then, the more basic top tube & multi-frame packs are water resistant, and simply strap onto the bike with velcro. For our graveling adventure setup needs, I tested out all but the multi-frame pack – from smooth dirt roads to rutted singletrack…

EVOC bikepacking packs – Tech details

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts, Basso Gravel tour photos by Javi Echevarria
rain & riding courtesy of Basso, photo by Javi Echevarria

For the complete breakdown on the new bikepacking packs you can check out our coverage of their launch. But a few key details of each pack set them apart from others on the bikepacking scene…

The Handlebar Pack Boa probably deviates most from the bikepacking norm these days. At just 12.5cm in diameter for the medium-sized bag I’ve been testing, it is pretty tiny – hauling only a max of 2.5L of gear. The $130/120€ bar bag does fit comfortably between even narrow dropbars, is claimed to weigh just 200g even with its Boa retention & rigid structure, and promises to not bounce around or damage cables when riding over rough off-road trails.

A larger 15cm diameter version with twice as much internal storage is also available, with the same mount and narrow overall width – still much smaller than most off-road ready waterproof bar bags.

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mountsThis little Top Tube Pack actually popped up earlier this year, back at Sea Otter in April. Available is just this one, very small size, the 0.5L internal storage pack is 15.5cm long x 8cm tall, with a claimed weight of 75g & $40/35€ price tag.

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts

The Seat Pack Boa is available in three different sizes – 1L, 2L & 3L of storage. I’ve been testing the largest, and at $150/140€ most expensive option in the line. It still is quite small in the bikepacking world. But at a claimed 225g weight, the waterproof 3L pack can still haul a decent amount of gear, stuffed under your saddle.

EVOC bikepacking packs: Riding Impressions

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts, Basso Gravel tour photos by Javi Echevarria
photo by Javi Echevarria

As it was described to me, EVOC knows these weren’t ever really meant to be true bikepacking bags – in the sense of loading up a bike to head out on multi-day, unsupported adventure rides. There are plenty of bags available that can fit a tent, sleeping bag & a week’s worth of clothes for both on & off the bike – but that’s not the aim here at all.

Instead, EVOC wanted bags that regular cyclists would actually use. What portion of off-road gravel or mountain bike riders regularly ride with several days worth of gear strapped to their bike, anyway?

EVOC wanted to make bags for the type of adventure riding they actually did themselves… That’s more like all-day, dawn-to-dusk mountain bike rides high in the mountains. Or a quick weekend gravel trip where you pack an extra set of clothes & a credit card, then ride out to some remote mountain lodge or even a friend’s house for the night. Or maybe a semi-supported bike tour where a support crew will drop a bag off at a hotel for the night, but you still need to spend 6-12 hours on the bike, prepared for changes in weather & packed out with plenty of food for the day.

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts, Basso Gravel tour photos by Javi Echevarria
photo by Javi Echevarria

So that’s how I’ve been testing out the new EVOC packs. A multi-day gravel ride with bag shuttle service to the hotel provided by the excellent Thomson Bike Tours, here. Then, silly long days out on the gravel bike, there. Where rough terrain means super slow speeds, and we’re just as likely to spend an hour and a half enjoying mid-ride lunch with friends and a view, as we are to end up coming back home after dark with less than adequate lighting, needing more kit to stay warm. The idea is adventure riding, just without the need for packing a tent and the kitchen sink.

So then, how do the bags fare?

EVOC Handlebar Pack Boa, medium

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mountsThe secret to this handlebar pack is its structure. On the outside you get a molded plastic bracket that attaches to the handlebar on either side of the stem with rubber pads that once tightened down, properly keep the bag from rotating even on the bumpiest terrain. It also sits the bag just far enough off the bar (<1cm) that hand positions on the bar are not limited. Nice.

That bracket contains a single Boa dial, which allows a single long wire loop & two straps to cinch down tightly around the bar. (It’s the same style of Boa attachment as Silca’s saddlebag tool roll, and feels quite secure.) The attachment mechanism is flexible enough to probably fit any bar shape, and stayed completely in place (no rotation at all) while riding bumpy roads & trails.

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts

On the inside the bar pack’s bracket is riveted to a perforated plastic sheet to give overall structure, and keep the round shape. That internal structure does make it somewhat difficult & less efficient to stuff anything rigid or blocky into the bag (like a tool, pump, or tube). But since the coated waterproof fabric is actually quite grippy, it does make sliding & stuffing in items like clothing a bit easier. Also, it retains the bag’s shape whether empty or full.

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts, actual weight

On either side you get a dry bag style roll-top closure. I was able to stuff a spare jersey, bib shorts & a packable jacket inside. And once caught in heavy rain, it kept that spare kit completely dry (after I pulled out & put on the jacket.) As to its weight, my bar pack was 25g heavier that the official estimate.

In the end, handlebar packs with simple roll top closures usually aren’t so easy to get gear in & out quickly while riding. Like most, this did best when packed before the start of a ride, and unpacked when done. When bad weather was expected, I kept spare clothes safely packed inside. But when I didn’t need the full hauling capacity of both front & rear packs, the Handlebar Pack was the first one to get left at home.

EVOC Top Tube Pack, small

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts

For anyone looking for a little bit of extra storage beyond jersey pockets, a toptube bag is usually my first addition. Mounted just behind the stem, it’s an easy-to-access spot for quick snacks while riding, a battery pack to charge straight to a GPS for long days navigating, or a camera/smartphone for snapping mid-ride photos.

The EVOC pack includes a rigid plastic cable port with an elastic flap on the inside to route cables, while keeping water out. I never used the port in the rain, so I can’t attest to how it resists water infiltration along the cable. But I do know that the stiff port was difficult to get a micro-USB cable through to start with. If you’ll need charging on the go, I suggest routing before you install the bag on the bike.

Some riders have issues with their legs rubbing wider toptube/fuel bags and their velcro attaching straps. The EVOC pack is narrow enough that the first probably won’t be a problem. But the velcro strap is still there at the back, so sensitive riders will have to keep an eye on setup. (Neither was an issue for me.)

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts, actual weight

Instead, at just 76g, my only real issue was that the small EVOC Top Tube Pack was just too small. At 15.5cm x 8cm overall, the angled/chamfered rear half of the bag meant that my smartphone wouldn’t fit inside. At 14.5cm x 7.5cm, my iPhone X certainly isn’t huge in the realm of modern smartphones, so a slightly larger pack would be more useful. Even keeping my phone in a jersey pocket, I still have used the EVOC pack a lot, stuffing it with a couple of bars and some chews on longer rides, if for no other reason that a visual reminder to eat on long rides.

The construction of this pack isn’t the same fully-waterproof setup of the bar & seat packs, but it’s still quite resistant to water getting in. The bag also gets a waterproof zipper, and whether dripping sweat profusely on it while riding for several hours in the Spanish sun or getting drenched in heavy autumn rains, my snacks & wallet inside stayed dry.

EVOC Seat Pack Boa, large

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts

Like the bar pack, the saddle pack features a mix of waterproof fabric, light internal structure & a small external mounting bracket. Here, seatpost attachment is limited to a ~3cm tall rubberized contact just below the saddle rail clamp. EVOC says this allows use of the Seat Pack with minimal travel limitation on dropper seatposts, and it also works well with both round & aero post shapes.

I was at first worried about the fit on the wide, 2-bolt head of the offset carbon seatpost on my Basso Palta gravel test bike. But even with a seemingly imperfect fit, the Boa dialed up tightly, and held the pack securely in place across truly rough terrain.

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts

A pair of regular velcro strap loops hang the pack under saddle rails, which both supports the weight of the loaded pack and keeps it from moving around while riding. I never had any issue with the pack moving around, but felt like it would have been nice to have the security of the Boa retention on the attachment to the rails too (or even instead of the connection to the post?) My Saddle pack was also a bit heavier than claimed, but only by an inconsequential 9g.

Again a roll-top (with pleated sides that fold closed together, held with velcro before you roll) & coated fabric provides a waterproof closure that kept my gear dry, even while exposed to direct spray from the rear tire. A long rear strap secures the roll-top, held in place by a slightly finicky plastic buckle that took a bit of getting used to (but never failed).

Unlike the bar pack, this Seat Pack has a wide, tapered opening that was much easier to pack. And the 3L inside felt much roomier than the 2.5L up front. That ease of use made it my preferred option for carrying spare clothes that I might change into quickly when riding. And it felt secure whether it was half empty or totally stuffed.

EVOC bikepacking packs: Final Thoughts

EVOC Bikepacking bags review, off-road riding MTB gravel adventure packs with Boa dial mounts, Basso Gravel tour photos by Javi Echevarria
photo by Javi Echevarria

All in all the EVOC bikepacking packs actually seemed more suited to my regular riding than more common larger bikepacking bags. If searching for on-the-bike packs for multi-day camping trip rides, look elsewhere.

But if you are looking just to expand your ability to haul extra clothing to accommodate unpredictable weather, to simply carry a change of clothes for post-ride fun, or just to have more food stores to extend your rides, this might be the lightweight on-bike luggage you have been looking for.

EvocSports.com

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