Evoc’s new Trail Pro backpack offers Level 2 certified back protection in a light weight pack. There are three size options: 10 litre, 16 litre and 26 litre. None include the hydration bladder, but they are compatible with those if you buy them separately.
I have previously used and reviewed the Evoc Neo Protector which has become my go-to pack for its useful size, functional spaces and comfortable fit. The downside of that pack is that it’s pretty weighty – the claimed weight for a size S/M is 1580g before you’ve put anything in it. It costs a bit more than this Trail Pro too. But with the rubbery back support and hip and shoulder straps I’ve found it really stays in place which largely offsets the weight.
The same sized Trail Pro 16 knocks 500g off that claimed weight, at 1000g for a size S/M. That weight difference is instantly noticeable as you lift the pack. I can see that in the small 10litre size this lighter weight pack makes more sense, but at the larger end of things I wonder how much you’re going to notice the weight difference once you’ve packed your bag full of a few litres of other gear. The pack comes in two sizes based on your back length. S/M fits torso lengths of 41cm – 48cm, and L/XL 48cm – 53cm. I’m 5ft 9.5in with a torso length of 46cm, and I have tested a S/M pack.
Using the Evoc Trail Pro
The basic pocket layout is similar to the FR Lite Race that Amanda reviewed, with a fold out twin-zip flap at the front and inner main section which unzips to open out fully. If you’re comparing your options, note that the sizing is different between the pack Amanda tested and the two I’ve tested – choose the right size for you to ensure the spine protector fits.
The feel of the Trail Pro seems to me less substantial than the Neo – to be expected when there is weight saving happening. The twin zip construction with the pull cord between them feels like you’re tugging at the fabric and zips rather than smoothly following the contour of the zip and I wonder how it will fare over time – I have other backpacks on the go that are well over five years old. The Velcro that holds the top of the front pocket closed catches on my gloves as I open it too. All in all I don’t think I’m a fan of this particular pocket access design and prefer the more traditional design of the Neo’s pocket.
The inside of this section is something of a disappointment to me too – the mesh pockets are all small pouches. Amanda’s FR Lite Race and my Neo had one double sized pouch where you could put a small tool roll – this does not. My Neo also had a really useful double elastic for holding a pump – again this is lacking that. This meant I ended up chucking things into the main section whereas I would have liked to have them in the front for easy access and saved the main section for spare layers, tubes, and sandwiches.
Elsewhere on the bag there’s fleece lined pocket for your glasses or goggles, the main section with a small zipped section for valuables, and two zipped pockets on the hip straps. One of these pockets contains the rain cover – I like this because I’ve previously found that rain covers which come out of a zipped pocket on the very bottom of the bag tend to fare badly in British weather. Being right in the firing line for the worst your rear wheel can throw at it, the zip gets clogged with mud, and the pocket itself ends up a little damp and icky on the inside. This side pocket set up is a big improvement for the rain cover, in my opinion. That said, I really liked the stretchy accessed pocket on the Neo – it’s great for stuffing food wrappers into on the move without having to fiddle with a zip, and I’d have liked to see it carried over to the Trail Pro. There’s no helmet carrier built in – but you can buy a little helmet net as an additional accessory if you like – and no straps on this model that would serve to bodge holding a chin guard or helmet on transfer stages. The 26 litre model does have some upper straps that might just do the job, but they’re absent on this smaller bag.
As someone who spends much time riding in a waterproof or windproof jacket, whether a pack is cool or hot to wear is often of little relevance and it’s rare that I get the weather to benefit from the slightly cooler running of the Trail Pro. I felt the need to fiddle with and tighten the Trail Pro more than the Neo – it feels to me like it moves around a bit more and doesn’t sit quite so neatly – I put that down partly to the difference in the backing on the pack and the fact the rubbery Neo sticks to you (especially in a waterproof jacket) a little more.
As a race pack, I think it lacks chin bar storage and the neat layout that you’d want to have everything in its place at all times. Personally, even away from the race tape, I value the better pocket access and layout too much to make the swap from the Neo to this Trail Pro, but if you’re looking for a pack with less heft that still offers back protection and storage volume, this could be a good option for you.
|Trail Pro 16
|by Hannah for 3 months