Well thought out, is robust in construction and tough enough to take a beating
The Evoc Explorer Pro 30L hydration pack is one of the biggest packs Evoc makes and is intended for bikepacking or multiday rides.
Those rides where you have to bring pretty much everything including the kitchen sink. Too large? You can also get it as a 26L version.
At the Explorer Pro’s heart is a central compartment that runs the length of the pack and will take all manner of spare clothing and victuals. It’s a customisable space, you can subdivide the bottom third with a roll-top closure to effectively create a second central compartment with its own external zipper entrance. It’s a really smart design because you can adjust it according to the vicissitudes of your trip, expanding it to take dirty clothes as they get soiled. Full length double zips mean you can lay the pack down and open up the whole thing, without having to rummage deep down inside to get what you want.
There are two other compartments on the front of the Explorer Pro, a tool section divided into five unequal sized pockets, and a soft lined top section to take your smart devices. The subdivided pockets are useful in size and shape to take tools, tubes and the usual spares but there really needs to be a zip-accessed one to stop little bits like a spare mech hanger floating off.
Fortunately there’s a zip-pocket inside the main compartment, with what for me is a must have, a key clip. Finally there’s a reservoir compartment next to your body, but this version doesn’t include the bladder itself.
Riding with the Explorer Pro feels almost weightless thanks to in part to the shoulder straps that contour the shape of your shoulders and are pre-curved to slip neatly under your arms. They also ‘float’ at the top and can move about a centimetre to allow for vagaries in your shoulders, ideal for anyone with old injuries like a dropped shoulder. Most of the stability comes from a huge hip belt that encloses your waistband like a weight lifter’s belt, effectively transferring most of the pack’s weight here. It has zipped pockets for bars and gels too. There’s some flex to this belt so it felt supremely comfortable, even offering some support when you’re pushing hard on a climb. The trade-off is that it’s slightly hotter around the hips, but the Evoc Air Circulation mesh back does a great job of holding the bulk of the pack off your body to make up for it.
The Explorer Pro is well thought out, is robust in construction and tough enough to take a beating thanks to its abrasion-resistant 420 and 600D nylon material, while the zips feel smooth enough to last the life of the pack. It comes with a host of features that are actually really useful, like a separate washbag pouch, a rain cover and a helmet carry to take an open face helmet. Most importantly, it never budged, even on steep stuff where some packs feel like they might leapfrog you. It’s a pricey pack though, especially when you have to budget an extra £30 for a reservoir, and it’s 200g heavier than its main competition, the Osprey Escapist 32.