The last few months have been a time of great Kickstarter hype. Boundary Prima System, Remote Equipment ALPHA 31, and Evergoods have been promising high-quality, backer-funded bags and as their campaigns have closed and backers have (not so) patiently played the waiting game, we’re finally getting to see some of these guys deliver. As much as I love seeing new companies throwing out new and interesting designs, I’m also a student and have to do boring things with money like feed and clothe myself. Therefore I had originally passed on the Evergoods line of products during the original Kickstarter. However, soon after these bags started rolling in I realized I had made a mistake and decided I had to get my hands on one for a review. The folks at EVERGOODS were kind enough to provide us with a half price Mountain Panel Loader (MPL30) for us to test, but after taking it through its paces, I’m probably one impulsive click away from buying the Civic Panel Loader (and anything else they decide to come out with for that matter).
As a company, EVERGOODS is relatively new on the scene, the founders Jack Barely and Kevin Dee sport impressive resumes with names like GORUCK and Patagonia, just to name a few. Their Kickstarter raised about $161,000 for production of their Mountain Panel Loader and Civic Panel Loader.Although these bags were originally marketed as being produced in the USA, the team ran into cost issues relatively early on so although all R&D and patterning takes place in Bozeman, Montana, the actual manufacturing is done overseas. That being said, Evergoods was quick to refund any Kickstarter backers who felt this was a deal-breaker and even give any backers who held on a 7% refund on their initial pledge.
The Mountain Panel Loader (MPL30) is the bigger of their two packs. Directed more towards outdoor adventuring, but hypothetically equally at-home in an office or university setting. The majority of the bag is composed of 420d HT nylon that is black on the outside with contrasting grey on the interior. The shoulder pads use Zote EV50 foam and the body is reinforced with a removable HDPE frame sheet. YKK #10 and #8RC zippers are used throughout.
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Quality and Comfort
The suspension is comfortable and well-contoured for active uses such as hiking and biking. The padding is just enough so that my standardized 20Lb (9kg) 1-mile concrete carry test didn’t kill my shoulders or back, but also light enough so that I didn’t feel encumbered with a lighter load. Unfortunately, the back panel, while it also contours incredibly well with the body, has almost no breathability so I foresee an issue for sweaty dudes (or ladies) in warmer climates. I have access to a locker room when riding to work, so this isn’t a dealbreaker for me, but I could see a problem in even just riding public transit if your antiperspirant isn’t prepared for the task.
The pack comes with a removable sternum strap and non-removable hip belt that includes built-in pockets. The hip belt is comfortable and goes a long way in taking the weight off your back when you’re hauling lots of water, or taking groceries back from the store. The pockets are meant to be easily accessible and fit a phone or wallet, but definitely take some getting used to in order to actually be usable. I found it very difficult to fit my phone fully into the pocket and zip it while the hip belt was buckled until I made some major adjustments to the shoulder straps and angle of the pack. I think they are a great idea but might need some reworking in the MPL30 2.0.
I can’t mention the hip belt without bringing up what I think it the most frustrating part of this fantastic pack. The compression straps have an incredibly well-engineered elastic band that allows quick sowing of any extra strap material to keep everything nice and tidy. For some reason, EVERGOODS decided not to include this on the shoulder, chest, or hip straps so you have approximately 30,000 yards of nylon webbing hanging off of you, especially if you are a skinny dude like myself. Although this is easily remedied with some one-wrap, it should have been a no-brainer to carry over what I think is definitely the best solution on the market right now for that extra strapping. Again, something to think about for future iterations of the bag.
Another under-appreciated feature is the top interior pocket. It’s just big enough for wallet, keys, and a snack, and somehow is always easily accessible no matter how overstuffed the bag is. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but for some reason, I really love this pocket and want it in every bag that I own.
On the flip side, the internal mesh pocket is a miss for me. I find it too flat to easily access my small MAGPUL DAKA pouch especially if there’s anything bulky on the interior of the bag. The outer vertical pocket on the other hand easily fits the DAKA, and the independent volume here definitely increases the usability of the space.
To add to the “crossover” appeal of this pack Evergoods included an elastic hydration-pouch-slash-laptop-sleeve that actually functions quite well as either. It easily swallows up a 3L bladder with well-designed internal routing for the hose. It can also fit up to a 15-inch laptop, although I found with my normal loadout, my Windows Surface was probably the biggest I wanted to stuff in there before it began to encroach on internal space of the bag. Along with this same line, I wish that they had included bottle pockets on the side. Stretchy pockets made out of the same material as the bladder holder would have been a killer addition, and the panel loader design should hypothetically allow this addition without too much difficulty.
One minor detail that I wasn’t a huge fan of was the zipper pulls. There’s nothing wrong with the included nylon, but I chose to replace them with orange paracord on the inside for visibility and navy blue on the outside because why not. Again, nothing wrong with them, just personal preference and an easy modification to make.
There have been some internet posts running around about how this is a pet hair and dirt magnet and I think that’s an important point to clarify. I have a small collie-mix that sheds approximately twice her weight in body hair daily and have yet to see it stick to the pack–It seems that the CPL is made of a slightly different material than the MPL30 so while I can’t speak for it’s smaller cousin, the MPL30 seems actually much more dirt resistant than other packs I have carried in the wilderness such as the Mystery Ranch ASAP or the BOGear Bullpup (you’re supposed to #dirtify that anyway).
- Fits a ton, but keeps it neat and tidy
- Super high quality, well worth the price
- Very comfortable, even for heavy loads
- Independent volume of outer pockets is super nifty and well thought out
- Compression strap management system is best I’ve seen
- Great for on the bike use
- Strap management for everything BUT the compression straps
- Sweaty backs galore
- Doesn’t stand up on it’s own
- Inside mesh pocket is difficult to use
- Lacks external bottle pockets
Overall, the quality of this pack is top-notch and there’s no way I’ll be selling it anything soon. EVERGOODS has set an incredibly high bar for themselves and I hope they consider making an updated version of this pack in the future with feedback from some of the customers. If $249 USD is something you can afford in your budget for an pack, it’s definitely one of the more versatile and well thought out bags I’ve seen from a new company in a while and well worth the money. EVERGOODS has already been teasing a few new products over social media and you can bet that I’ll be first in line for whatever they decide to put their minds to.