Most of us aren’t EWS photographers who need an assortment of long and short lenses on every day rides. Rather, a smaller photo pack made for riding will do the trick for most mountain bikers, and the EVOC Stage Capture 16L is up for the task.
The EVOC Stage Capture 16L is a “camera and sports backpack all in one,” says EVOC. The pack has a well-ventilated back panel, space for a hydration reservoir, or a laptop, a customizable camera compartment, a rain cover, a printed emergency scenario plan and whistle, a tripod carrier, and just about anything else that someone can expect from a photo pack — although you may not expect instructions from a backpack on how to signal to a rescue aircraft that they need help.
As someone who uses cameras on the trail for work and for fun, I was excited to try out the Stage Capture 16L. It’s much more compact than the Photo Scout 18L I tried out in 2018, which aside from one zipper pull that came off, is still alive and well after many, many shoots.
The EVOC Stage Capture 16L solved one issue that I had with the Photo Scout, and that was its water carrying capacity. The Stage Capture easily fits a 3L hydration reservoir, or a laptop if you’re traveling with one. If that’s still not enough water, there’s a side pocket that can hold a bottle.
The fit on the Stage Capture works very well. Both myself (5’8″) and my partner who shoots (5’3″) were able to get the pack sized correctly on us and it feels secure, snug, and comfortable. The back panel vents excellently, and on a 2+ hour, early summer ride, when I took the pack off toward the end, the back of my jersey was only a little damp when it could have easily been soaked with many other packs.
The pack is also comfortable and secure, even loaded down with a bladder full of water and camera gear. I can descend confidently with the camera pack on since it stays in place and feels centered.
I really enjoyed the camera compartment on the EVOC Stage Capture 16L. The zippered U-shaped design to access the compartment makes it quick to deploy a camera with a handy unzip around the bottom. After getting the shot, it’s easy to stuff the camera back in, wrap the zipper around the bottom again, throw the pack on, and hop back on the bike.
There’s not a ton of room in the camera compartment, so it takes a little more planning to think about the shots you’ll want on the trail for proper lens packing. It’s easy to fit a camera with a longer lens attached to the body, and a shorter lens or accessories in the compartment with it. The larger space above the camera compartment can also fit another lens if needed. Of course if you still need something bigger, EVOC has a new version of their 18L photo pack which Gerow reviewed earlier this year.
My only wish for the EVOC Stage Capture 16L is that the compartment higher up had more organization for necessary trail items, like snacks, a tool, CO2, a tube and so on. It’ll fit everything, but it’s going to be a little jumbled up.
The EVOC Stage Capture 16L is the perfect choice for someone who wants a hydration pack that doubles as a secure, lightweight photo pack. It has plenty of room for the necessities, and although it could be a bit more organized for those items, the pack will gladly take on select camera pieces and everything you need for the trail without feeling like a bag full of bricks.