EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L Review
Cons: Expensive, limited gear storage capacity
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Hip Pack Pro 3L pack takes home our Editors' Choice award as the Best Mountain Bike Hip Pack for another season. There are some great options in this review, but none of them are as well-rounded as this one. The Hip Pack Pro found itself at the top of nearly every metric but especially stands out for its comfort and smart storage setup.
Ease of Drinking
The Hip Pack Pro is an easy-drinking hip pack. There are two key things going on with the hydration aspect of this pack: it has both a hydration bladder and also space to hold up to two water bottles. This choice of a hydration bladder and/or dual bottles really adds to the versatility of the bag.
The hydration bladder/hose system is easy to use. The hose is of adequate length, and even the tallest riders should have no trouble reaching it to their mouth either seated or when standing. The hose comes out of the right side of the pack, follows the waistband, and has a magnetic clip that hooks up to a magnet on the left side of the waistband. The magnet is strong enough to hold everything securely in place, saving you from the nightmarish scenario of the hose coming unclipped and falling down towards your back wheel. However, until you are familiar with the system, we suggest paying close attention when you are dropping the hose magnet into the waist-band cradle magnet. Getting it in there flush is key and takes some practice.
The hose nozzle has a shut-off valve that works well. To open and allow water to come through, turn the blue valve counterclockwise as you are looking at the opening of the nozzle. To shut it off, turn it clockwise to the right. While riding, it is best to leave it open; there's no worry that it will drip on your legs. When having a swig of water, it is easy to take a strong haul off the bladder without excessive force, though it doesn't have as much flow as other nozzles.
The bottle holders are a nice feature located on the sides of the pack and can be easily reached while in the saddle. The bottles are held securely and never fell out during testing. There is an elasticized cable on each side that you can use to secure the bottle while in the cradle. Simply pull your bottle out, have a swig, and replace the bottle into the holder. Putting the bottle back in the holder is a little more difficult than removing it and best done when stopped.
Ease of Filling
The Pro scores well here due to its quick-connect hose/bladder interface that makes filling a breeze. The HydraPak brand bladder also has a slider style opening that is easy to use and opens wide for filling.
To fill the Hip Pack Pro, it is best to disconnect the hose from the bladder. This makes it much easier to remove the bladder and fill it. The quick-connect valve system makes this very easy as you do not need to remove the hose from its routing. Simply use your thumb to pinch the quick-connect valve and pull the bag out. This system makes it so water can't escape the bladder when the hose is not connected.
To fill the bladder, simply remove the slider from the tracks. Unfold the flap of the bladder, peel it open, fill, re-fold it, and re-install the slider. Drop the bladder back in the back, connect the hose with a simple push, and you're off. We find the slider top system to be a little less intuitive than a screw-off system, but once you have the process dialed, this system is preferable. The consequences of incorrectly installing a screw top are very high and can lead to water pouring everywhere — the slider system is much harder to mess up.
The Hip Pack Pro is the most comfortable pack in our test. EVOC paid attention to the details on this one, and everything from the fit, ventilation, size, and especially the waist straps are very well-executed.
The most notable comfort aspect is the straps that secure the pack to your waist. They are far and above the most impressive in this review, it's simply no contest. From the back of the bag, the hip straps wrap around and taper down into a broad, elasticized, strap. This strap is coated with fine velcro on the left side which is substantially longer than the right. Simply overlap these two velcro straps and then connect the quick release buckle. The broad strap is exceptionally comfortable and secure on the waist. The stretch and width of the waistband make it highly most comfortable, and it holds the pack securely with little to no interference with the waistband of your shorts.
The portion of the bag that sits against your back has a screen covering three pads. These blue pads contact your back and the spaces in between promote airflow. This Airflow Contact System is effective and is the best in the test. On the hips, a soft, textured material provides comfort, and the wings are well articulated to cradle the top of the pelvis.
The size of the Hip Pack Pro helps keep things comfortable too. Hip packs that are too large start to contact other sections of your body unintentionally. Some of the larger bags in our review hit the upper buttocks while in a standing position. Others start to get the ribs as you lean sideways a little bit. This one strikes a great balance of being a useful size, without being too big or bulky.
The Hip Pack Pro has a respectable amount of storage. It isn't necessarily cavernous like some of the other packs our test, but the 3L of storage is ample for moderately long rides and riders who don't tend to carry much more than the basics.
There is a tool storage compartment in the front of the pack. It is accessed by a combination of a velcro system and a dual zipper design. There are two zippers that are connected by a length of webbing. Once unzipped, a panel folds open, revealing the storage area. On the flap that just folded open, there is a small zipped pocket. This is ideal for a credit card and various small items, including come cell phones. On the main part of this pocket, there are three elasticized storage slots that are prime for multi-tools, C02, and a tube. The center of these three slots is the largest, while the two others are smaller.
The main storage compartment holds the water bladder in a nylon sleeve with plenty of room to stuff a jacket, tube, a small hand pump, or other larger items. Additionally, there are two pockets on the portion of the bag that wraps around the waist, one pocket on each hip. These pockets are great for a snack or a small cell phone, and are important as they are easily accessed without taking the pack off or spinning it around to the front. When not in use for a bottle, the water bottle pockets can come in handy as well. They can fit a small, packed-up rain shell or a folded up map.
The Hip Pack Pro pack weighs 427-grams without the hydration bladder. It is the heaviest waist pack in our test class. The additional weight of this pack is due to the exceptional ventilation system and the stretchy and wide waist belt closure. Those seeking the lightest option should look elsewhere, though they won't find the comfort or ventilation of this pack.
Ease of Cleaning
This metric can be really important when making a purchase decision. If you have a bag that is easier to clean, you are more likely to clean it. The Pro scores decently here.
A detachable hose/bladder is quite important when considering the ease of cleaning, and the Pro has it. This setup makes it very easy to remove the bladder from the bag and give it a thorough cleaning. On other bags, you have to pull the hose out of a tight hole that it is routed through from the interior. While this isn't a dealbreaker, it's certainly a hassle. With this EVOC pack, you can easily pull the bladder out separate from the hose and give it a proper scrubbing. Every so often, you can also remove the hose and give that a nice once-over with a pipe cleaner. The slider-style opening at the top of the bladder opens nice and wide for reaching inside the bladder and scrubbing it down, and it's also claimed to be top-rack dishwasher safe.
The rest of the bag is easy to clean as well. The material has a water-resistant feel to it and is quite easy to clean with a rag and some cleaner, or even blast out with a hose.
This pack is expensive — we tested some other options that are about half of the price of the Hip Pack Pro. That said, the quality of the design and features do justify the higher price tag. This is a well-executed piece that works very well on the trail. We love it.
The EVOC Hip Pack Pro 3L takes home top honors. EVOC delivers a very well-designed pack that is exceptionally comfortable, easy to use, and sensible. The bag is compact and stealthy enough to work well on hot laps, yet also holds enough water to log some big miles. The hydration bladder system is well-executed, and the pack is easy to clean. In other words, the Hip Pack Pro does just about everything well, and it should be on the top of your wish list.
— Pat Donahue