I have yet to wear an EVOC pack that I don’t like. The EVOC Trail Pro 16 however, is one that I really like. EVOC released the pack at the end of February as a lighter alternative to the heavy-duty Neo 16L, which we reviewed at the beginning of 2020.
The Neo 16L is a burly, trail-pocalypse-ready pack, with a thick, yet vented back protector. The Airshield errs on the side of protection, so it is more chunky and apparent than it is lightweight or scant.
Price and deets
The pack comes in 10, 16, and 26L sizes, for $220, $240, and $260 respectively (available at Competitive Cyclist and Wiggle). We tried the 16L. Like any good hydration pack, the EVOC has pocketed hip belts. Tucked deep inside the left hip belt behind a zipper is a rain cover for the pack. On the inside of the pack’s main compartment, there is room for a 3L bladder, and unfortunately, the steep price tag on the Trail Pro doesn’t include one. So if you have saved one from a prior hydration pack, it should install without any issues, or EVOC sells their reservoir for $35-40.
The Trail Pro has a “Brace Link” on each shoulder strap, allowing them to self-adjust to the wearers’ shoulder width for comfort and ergonomics. The flagship feature on the Trail Pro 10 though is its lighter spine guard, the Lightshield Plus. According to EVOC, the protector is made from water repellent EPP foam and a thermoplastic polyurethane. By design, the Lightshield should defend the thoracic and lumbar spine, and the coccyx. If only Grandma Dynamite had been wearing one when she was ripping motos at the dunes. On top of the spine-saving properties, the Lightshield promotes ventilation and flexibility.
On the trail
There are a few things that make a good pack for mountain biking, some are mandatory, and some are preferred. The pack should be reasonably lightweight, because mountain bikers like to complain about that sort of thing. The back panel should not be a heat trap, because who wants a soaked jersey at the end of the ride? The pack should hold at least 2L of water, because any less can be accomplished in a hip pack or water bottle.
One of the other requirements I see, and this goes for backpacking packs too, is that the weight of the pack and its contents should be supported by the wearers’ hips instead of their shoulders. Not only does this stabilize the load, but it makes for less pain on the wearer’s shoulders and upper body. The pack should have organization that is sensitive to a rider’s needs and have good cargo space. Every EVOC pack I’ve worn does a good job with these duties, but the Trail Pro 16 performs these tasks exceptionally well.
The pack is light, rests well on the hips with its fat hip straps, tools are neatly stowed and quickly accessible, and as a bonus, your spine gets a bit of insurance without sacrificing comfort.
There are five pouches on the Trail Pro 16 that riders will be primarily concerned with: The main pouch is open and spacious, with room for a rain jacket. I rode with an assembled camera, and didn’t need to break apart the lens and body for it to fit comfortably. The reservoir is stowed in a sleeve inside the main pouch.
There’s a small media or lens pouch up top, lined with fleece to keep things scratch-free. Below that pouch is a larger one with six mesh pockets for tools, energy gels, and accessory storage. Both the hip belts are big enough to stash a pair of gloves, a phone, a set of keys, or a bag of snacks.
My one complaint for the Trail Pro should be obvious. At nearly $300 for the 16L plus a hydration reservoir, it’s pretty damn pricey, so the performance that comes with it is expected. These packs are made for the long run, and the EVOC packs I’ve had around for a few years already are still working great, although it’s still a steep purchase price for a pack.
The Trail Pro 16L is a lightweight and comfortable pack for long trail rides, with a bit of health insurance built in. For those who find the back protection on the Trail Pro 16L to be too big or bulky, the Evoc Trail Pro 10 may be a better choice. The Trail Pro 16L is pricey to say the least, but it should hold up for years.