Editor’s Note: This test was conducted by Mtbr contributor Ben Pritchett, who’s based in Crested Butte, Colorado. Pritchett is co-owner and lead guide for Colorado Backcountry Guide Service.
What is it
The EVOC Explorer Pro 30L fills a niche as a high-capacity mountain bike touring pack. Beyond the needs of your average day pack, it’s designed to carry a 30-liter load securely and comfortably while rocketing down trails. Guides or the chronically over-prepared will love this pack. The EVOC Explorer Pro 30L is also a good choice for riders who need more hauling capacity for Euro-style town-to-town bike touring or even light overnight camping gear. Press play to learn more.
- Superb stability while shredding
- Efficient mid- and upper-back ventilation
- Streamlined pocket organization
- Durable fabrics and top-notch construction
- Huge quick-access hip pockets
- Warm around the belly
- Frame flexes and pops
- Tool compartment doesn’t fit longer hand pumps
- Fabric color faded quickly
As a backcountry mountain bike guide, I was looking for a pack that can haul a full kit, day after day, while shredding through any type of trail. The EVOC Explorer Pro 30L fits the bill perfectly.
EVOC is known for their stable, low profile load haulers. And true to form, the EVOC Explorer Pro 30L comes with their Airo Flex weight-lifter style waist belt. No other pack I’ve tried offers the same degree of load stabilization. The wide and low design is like a badger clinging to your back. The Airo Flex waist belt also provides the primary pack-to-body anchor point. It’s a slightly stretchy, somewhat breathable 3” wide Velcro belt anchored to a broad mesh covered open-cell foam lumbar patch. Cinch this belt down and the pack won’t budge while you drop, carve, and buck your way down the gnarliest descents.
When inspecting the pack straps, the aluminum and webbing shoulder harness attachment may catch your eye. Besides the 1990’s anodized aluminum look, this little detail dubbed Brace Link really does allow the pack to fit a wide range of shoulder shapes and sizes. Indeed, I tested fit on a variety of shoulder sizes (from groms to giants) and the straps rested naturally on each physique.
Also impressive is how the EVOC Explorer Pro 30L’s shoulder straps anchor to the top of the XL-sized hip wings, not the bottom of the pack. This design shortens the overall length of the shoulder straps, further enhancing the pack’s stability. The last piece of the harness system is a fairly standard thin chest strap complete with the now standard whistle-buckle combo closure.
EVOC’s Air Flow Contact System prioritizes ventilation across your back. The back of your jersey rests against a robust mesh panel providing ample room for air to flow over your mid and upper back. To suspend the mesh, foam blocks are bonded to an aluminum-braced framesheet, creating a gap between the framesheet itself and your back. It’s quite effective at moving air and has proven itself as a dramatically cooler back panel solution than what EVOC uses on their Enduro or Trail lines of packs.
With a month of hard and heavy daily use, the framesheet has deformed a bit, folding near the pack’s external side cinch straps. The issue stems from cinching the pack down while not filled with 30 L worth of gear. If the pack were stuffed to the gills every time, it wouldn’t be an issue.
It’s also worth noting that there is no integrated spine protector, though you could certainly slide one inside the pack if you want, and likely it would offer the support required to keep the frame sheet from folding.
Compared to other high-ventilation suspended mesh back panel solutions from brands like Deuter, Osprey and DaKine, it’s not quite as airy, but coupled with the Brace Link shoulder harness and Airo Flex waist belt, the EVOC Explorer Pro 30L’s ventilation system makes for a far more stable ride in the rough. Given that we’re talking about a mountain bike pack, that’s a trade-off which will make aggressive riders happy.
The EVOC Explorer Pro 30L’s pockets store all your riding gear simply and efficiently. Accessible without taking the pack off, two humongous waist pouches will store hours’ worth of food and swallow all the little bits you might be inclined to keep in your short pockets like a phone, camera, sunscreen, energy bites, or money, all together.
There’s also a fleece lined goggle/glasses pocket near the top of the pack, and a nicely organized tool pocket on the outside. However, our Lezyne Micro Floor Drive HP pump is just a touch too long to fit. But other than that, the EVOC Explorer Pro 30L does a great job of organizing tubes, tire levers, patch kits, multi tools, spare parts, zip ties, and whatever other emergency gear you want to toss in.
Unfortunately our pump is relegated to the voluminous main compartment, where it cohabitates with our first aid kit, rain gear, portable shelter, and water filter. The main compartment is so big, it even includes a second entrance, below the tool pocket, like the sleeping bag compartment on a backpacking pack. The divider inside the main compartment includes a roll-top type closure so it’s easy to shift the partition higher or lower depending on the load.
The section below the divider is perfect for squashing down a light summer sleeping bag, or even a large first aid kit while guiding. To top it all off, there’s an integrated and removable pack cover, as well as a helmet carry pouch, and rear-blinker light mount.
After a month of fairly intense use, the pack has shown absolutely no wear and tear, though the once vibrant “enduro blue” fabric has sun-bleached to a faded baby blue. Aesthetics aside, the EVOC Explorer Pro 30L is running strong and proving itself a favorite long-haul trucking rig. Bottom line, if you ride deep into the backcountry and like being well-equipped to handle the unexpected, the EVOC Explorer Pro 30L is worth serious consideration.
Rating: 4 out of 5
More Info: www.evocusa.com