First published in Singletrack Magazine issue 99
EVOC’s Photo Scout bridges the gap between regular riding pack and dedicated camera bag. It’s not a pro-level pack, but it’s significantly more pro than shoving your camera in a dry bag in the top of your normal bag and hoping you don’t crash.
Thanks to the pack’s rigidity – think of a comfortably padded picnic hamper with straps, and you’re there – it will swallow a surprising amount of gear. I can fit two bodies w/lenses, one long lens, one GoPro with mount kit and two Gorillapods into the lower compartment with plenty of room to spare. I often end up packing a waterproof or windproof layer and woolly hat/Buff in this compartment too, as it’s then immediately on hand for shooting stops and takes up the extra space that more enthusiastic photographers than me are probably filling with more lenses.
The top compartment is undivided, and will easily take a second spare layer, tools/spares pack and pump (a full-size pump fits in sideways, just), a couple of 29in tubes and snacks. Hydration needs are met by the self-contained side pocket – this has routing for a hose, but I prefer to use one of CamelBak’s lockable Podium bottles. The dividers for the lower section are super-adaptable and very useful (unless like me you have a dislike of Velcro that verges on phobia, in which case you’ll put them in one place and leave them there).
The harness brings EVOC’s trademark comfort; the well-loved waist belt is there, giving plenty of support for the extra weight of your gear, and the shoulder straps are semi-rigid, helping to do more of the same. There are tension sliders on top of the shoulder straps to pull the top of the pack into the yoke, too, which is a nice touch. It’s as adjustable as you’d expect and I had no problems fitting the shaped straps round my chest either.
Not everything about the pack is perfect, however. One quibble is that the slots for SD and compact flash cards situated inside the flap of the lower compartment are too small and too tight to use easily, even without gloves on. The larger semi-transparent pocket which sits just above them is much more useful. The waist belt pocket needs to be bigger too – an iPhone is a proper fiddle to get in and out.
There’s a pullout raincover stashed in a zipped compartment, but even without it the outer materials are pretty water resistant. The zip around the lower compartment theoretically sits right in the line of fire for spray off the rear wheel and I’d expected some ingress, but in reality even on really wet, ‘big rain’ days (the sort that you can hear bouncing off your helmet), there was nothing to worry about. And, as far as crash protection goes, the few I’ve had with the pack on board haven’t caused any problems at all – to the camera gear, the pack or to me.
It’s not a perfect product, but the few faults are minor. And yes, it’s expensive, but it does both of its two tricky jobs very well indeed. If you’re looking to ride with a small camera set-up in safety and still be able to carry enough kit to keep yourself comfortable too, then this is definitely worth a look.
|Product:||Photoscout camera pack|
|Tested:||by Jenn for Four months.|