Hip packs. Bum bags. Fanny packs. Whatever you want to call them, they’re becoming an increasingly popular substitute for backpacks and I wanted to find out why.
Admittedly, I hate wearing bags and if I could strap it all to my bike frame, I would. But, of course, hydration and storage are pretty necessary for most MTB rides, so I do have a system of frame bags, straps and small hydration packs to choose from depending on the type of ride I’m heading out on. Unless I’m guiding, then my guide pack weighs similar to that of a small friggin’ child. One reason I don’t like wearing backpacks on a ride is that I get so hot with them on my back and when I overheat, I tend to get pretty bad headaches. Seeing hip packs more and more in the enduro scene, I was keen to find out whether it would be a happy medium for me.
EVOC Hip Pack PRO 3L
Developed by the mountain bike luggage guru’s, EVOC, the Evoc Hip Pack Pro is designed to store all your ride essentials, including hydration, proving to be a handy little storage solution for all your basic ride needs.
Unlike a backpack which hugs around your back, this hip pack sits snug around your lower back and waist. With the hip pack situated lower down, it gives your back the opportunity to breathe, but EVOC has developed mesh panelling to ensure this airflow keeps circulating so you don’t end up with a sweaty lumbar region, this is thanks to EVOC’s Air Flow Contact System which uses channelled grooves along EVA padding to keep air flowing while your back is protected.
Mountain biking demands a certain quality of hardwearing materials and fabrics to withstand the rough and rugged nature of the sport. EVOC uses Nylon 210/D Ripstop as the outer material for their hip pack PRO because it has characteristics which include durability, water resistance lightweight and abrasion resistance. Coupled with a double PU-coating, this nylon outer is additionally protected. The Ripstop name comes from the microtexture of the filament which segments the basic fabric into tiny squares to help prevent rips.
Evoc Hip Pack PRO 3L: Verdict
The EVOC Hip Pack PRO has so many individual compartments for your things, ones which EVOC recommended for certain stuff, but sod that, I stuff and stowed everything anywhere I could and where I wanted it for ease of use. Saying that though, I was surprised by how much I could pack into this bag; tools, snacks, waterproof, phone, cash, keys and crap tonnes of lip balm. However, despite the stuffing and stowing, the increased weight didn’t become a burden because the wide waist belt was flexible and distributed that weight comfortably.
Now, when I wear a pack, I usually do it up fairly tight because I can’t stand having a bag slip around my body when I ride. However, to do this with the EVOC Hip Pack PRO can be quite uncomfortable as it can feel like you’re being cut in half, especially when climbing. It did take some time and rearranging to get the pack into a comfortable position, but once it was, I found the hip pack to be quite supportive of my lower back and agreeable in comfort. The EVOC hip pack PRO does have a nifty feature called the Venti Flap which folds away the back piece for improved ventilation, articulated by side straps. So for long climbs, you can release the Venti Flap to boost air circulation, and close it again for the descents ensuring the pack sits flush against your back.
For more information on the EVOC Hip Pack PRO 3L, head over the EVOC website.
It did take some time to get used to having the weight focused around my waist, but I found it to be quite comfortable to ride with. Of course, when descending particularly rocky terrain, the hip pack did move a little more than what I would like, which is to be expected when the weight is focused around the lower back, without the support from shoulder straps.
For £85, the EVOC Hip Pack PRO is well built, provides ample storage and, certainly, for hotter days out, it will really help to keep you cooler than a backpack. For shorter rides out which don’t require a great deal of kit, or for events and races, this pack would be ideal.
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