New EVOC Explorer Pro hydration pack promises comfort and stability in challenging terrain, with sufficient load-lugging capacity for a multi-day Alpine adventures
Available in two volumes, 26L and 30L, and a palette of bright hues, the Explorer Pro is designed around EVOC’s new body-hugging fit. The goal for EVOC, best known for its game-changing bike bag, was to reduce pressure points, maximise airflow, and minimise movement, so that you forget it’s there and can focus all of your attention on the trail ahead. With this in mind, it was designed with the input of vert rider Harald Philipp, a man who seeks out the most technical descents in the Alps – inevitably proceeded by precipitous hike-a-bikes and a need for self-sufficiency.
In detail, there’s a 3D Airmesh material and soft, EVA padding and integrated ventilation channels for the back section. The new Brace-Link design ensures that the shoulder straps adapt to the width of the wearer’s shoulders, and large wings spread the load onto the hips, as opposed to the back and shoulders.
With a huge array of compartments, even the most OCD of riders will be satisfied with the storage on offer. A large main section, with adjustable volume, swallows bulky items, or partitions off dirty clothing. There’s also smaller compartment for tools, first aid kit and food, while the hip pockets can take a smartphone, snacks or map. There’s even a removable wash pouch for your toothbrush and room for a 3L water reservoir. It’s built from abrasion-resistant 420 and 600D nylon, and in foul weather, the water-resistant coating is bolstered by a rain cover.
We got a chance to try the new backpack in the Italian Dolomites, on an epic ride that incorporated all the aspects of a mini-Alpine adventure: sun, rain, hail, scree, hike-a-bikes, mechanicals and a coffee-stop.
Confession time; I hate wearing a pack. But that means that any backpack touting comfort and stability on technical trails – and believe me, this ride had plenty of chess moves along the way – has to be pretty special if it’s not going to get my back up. Well, the Explorer Pro proved impressively unobtrusive from start to finish.
Slacken the shoulder straps on the climbs and let your hips take the weight, then cinch them down for the descents, and it doesn’t swing round or pendulum as you transfer your weight in the corners. I rode the larger, 30L pack, and not once did it knock the back of my helmet on steep chutes, and yet the bigger volume proved to be an exceptionally comfortable shelf to support a bike while hiking.
Criticisms? Well, I felt the edge of the lumber support on my back a few times, and €180 is certainly a lot of money, but the design and construction seem top notch, so hopefully it will prove as durable as it feels well-built.