I’m somewhat bag obsessed—backpacks, especially. I’ve tested hundreds of them over the years and we’ve even designed some of our own. Among the greatest hits is a brand called Goruck whose product development was helmed by Jack Barley. Barley left the company last year to start his own line, Evergoods, and he was kind enough to loop me in on the journey from the very start. The Evergoods Kickstarter is live as of this morning (and funded already!), offering two introductory backpack models—a mid-sized, sleek 24 liter and a larger 30 liter; they’re both panel loaders. I’ve been testing a prototype of the smaller of the two, the Civic Panel Loader 24 (CPL24), for a month now and it’s already at the top of my favorites list.
The CPL24 is constructed from weather- and wear-resistant nylon that has a more sophisticated than utilitarian look to it. This juxtaposition grounds the essence of what Evergoods is up to—bags for the outdoors that can fit in to every day life. The backpack has one vertical external pocket, a laptop compartment and a couple well-placed interior pockets. It’s a “panel loader” so the front face of the bag fully zips around the top and sides allowing the bag to hinge open for full access. At the same time, the zippers offer the perfect amount of friction to maintain whatever opening you need to get stuff in and out of the compartment on the go. There are side and top carry handles and a utility attachment point. This bag layout is not uncommon, but they’re typically clad in military-style accessory loops and attachment points, whereas the CPL24 is much more minimalist. Even the hydration bladder access points in the shoulder straps are thoughtfully designed and integrated so they’re good whether they’re being used or not.
While the CPL24 is a great looking and durable bag, its wearability is an even stronger suit. Panel loaders are very easy to pack up—I can easily fit my 15″ MacBook Pro, iPad, DSLR and a lens, cable bag, sweatshirt and more. The CPL24 is exceptionally comfortable to wear, even when over-packed and weighed down with gear. This is largely due to the contoured shoulder straps and asymmetrical laptop compartment working in tandem to hug your upper back and distribute the weight of the loaded bag across a broader range of contact. For hand-carrying, the side and top handles are strengthened with lightweight aluminum stays, but feel good even with extended usage.
Designed and developed in Bozeman, Montana, the CPL24 and its bigger brother, the Mountain Panel Loader (MPL30) have just launched on Kickstarter with super early bird pricing at $209 and $229 respectively.
Images courtesy of Evergoods