Alpha OneNiner Evade 1.5: Review

The Evade 1.5 is the third generation of a semi crowd sourced backpack from Alpha One Niner (A19), a “side project” company by Helmie Ashiblie. You can read more about Helmie and A19 from when we talked with him not too long ago.

The Evade 1.5 is product iteration at its best. I owned the original Evade 1.0 when A19 partly crowd sourced the bag design over at EDC Forum in 2015. It was a good bag. Later in 2018 came the Evade 2.0, which incorporated some improvements but also a substantial increase in capacity. I switched to the 2.0 as they fixed one of the issues I had with the original, how the shoulder straps were attached. In 2019 A19 came out with the Evade 1.5 and 1.5 Lite, again partly crowd sourcing the design from its users in The Perfect Pack community. While this review is for the Evade 1.5, I have added details of the Lite version as they are practically the same except for the laptop area.

Tech Specs

ImperialMetric
Height19″48.3 cm
Width12″13.5 cm
Depth7″17.8 cm
Weight4.4 lbs for 500D
4.0 lbs for 420D
4.4 lbs for 1050D
2kg for 500D
1.82kg for 420D
2.22kg for 1050D
Capacity1342.5 cu. in.22L

For its third iteration, A19 reduced the capacity bringing the capacity down to 25L, or 22L for the Lite version. In practice I found the actual carrying capacity lost from the 2.0 version to not be too noticeable, but visually the bag looks smaller, and feels smaller when on body. That is a welcoming change for some of us vertically challenged users.

The Evade 1.5 Lite is about 0.4 pounds lighter and 1 inch less deep due to the lack of a dedicated laptop compartment.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review front pocket organization

Quality and Comfort

The Evades are designed in the US and manufactured in Asia. The pack comes in several choice of materials, from 500D nylon to 420D Diamond Ripstop, to a 1050D ballistic nylon for the user that plans on putting the bag through some serious wear and tear. The overall quality of the bag is superb. Having owned four different Evades I feel I have a better than average sampling of their products. From stitching to how round corners are sewn, I really have never found any issue with the manufacturing.

I am also a fan of their diamond ripstop fabric. The ripstop versions are slightly lighter than the 500D version: 0.4 pounds / 0.18 kg lighter. I use my Evade for a great deal of business travel and the material holds up well.

The comfort factor has continually been improved over the three versions. The first version, I hate to say, has a strange strap attachment system that is flexible, but not comfortable to use. The newer versions have the straps attached at fixed points, but with load lifters to adjust the carry position. The current 1.5 version has mesh backing on the straps, and two thick channels of mesh foam on the back panel. While there isn’t a solid frame sheet, the back of the pack is quite stiff and places weight effectively. When I travel with the bag, I load it up to the max and run between airport terminals with ease.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review straps and back panel with luggage pass through

Organization

From a distance the Evade is a simple enough looking pack. It has a slightly tapered shape – narrower and rounded at the top with a reasonably square bottom. The front compartment is almost the full height and width of the pack, but it is also slightly tapered all around. The signature omega shaped zipper adds to the visual illusion that the bag is smaller than its actual capacity.

The front compartment has a depth of 1.5 inches. While the top few inches shares space with the small quick access pocket at the top, the rest of the volume can hold a great deal. I put my Sony full size headphones with hardcase easily at the bottom of this compartment.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review modular front compartment

The front flap has a zippered mashed pocket at the top. When I am traveling or just on the go, the front compartment is where I put everything that I need in a hurry. Headphones, a pouch for a small charger, pen and post-it notepad. Because of the omega shaped zipper, I can open the front a small way down to make sure the contents stays inside, or all the way to get to the bottom of the bag easily.

The back wall of the front compartment is looped lined. A19 sells two different admin panels that fit into that space nicely, or you can use any other hooked back organizers that you already own. There is a D ring at the top of the compartment that is somewhat hidden by the quick access pocket material. It is designed to accept a small A19 Matroskya pouch.

While other bags are known for their admin area – the Evade has taken it to a whole new level.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review loop lined front compartment

The back of the Evade (Full) is the laptop compartment. The laptop area is extremely well padded and suspended. This compartment is 1.5 inches deep – I usually put my 13 inch Macbook Pro in there with my notebook. There are additional pockets that I can put my 11 inch iPad Pro with the Apple keyboard in there, but there is not quite enough depth for the laptop, the iPad Pro and my thick notebook.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review laptop compartment with notebook mbp

If you do not need to carry a laptop, go with the Evade 1.5 Lite, which is exactly the same pack without the back electronics area. Half of an inch is added to the main area of the lite version to make up for lost capacity. That is a unique choice by A19 that you don’t really see anywhere else.

The main compartment opens just about full-clamshell without sacrificing the two large water bottle or dump pockets on either side of the bag. The main compartment is 5 inches deep (the lite is 5.5) and can take a full load of pouches and items. For my standard 3 day travel, I can fit a medium size packing cube, a dopp kit, and my small EDC pouch in there easily. When I am out and about with my family, I often throw my camera gear in there, with additional pouches and snacks.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review main compartment organized

The front of this compartment has two meshed zippered pockets with a small pleat on either side to add a bit of volume. I use the top one to hold items like snacks that I access more often.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review front mesh

The back wall of the main compartment is a full wall of PALS loop. I do not setup pouches in the back wall often, but if you need to setup a specific set of gear on the back wall, the options are endless. With the Evade 1.5 Lite without a laptop compartment, sometimes I hook in a laptop pouch to carry my Macbook Pro 13 inch there.

Note that top of the backwall also has three D rings for hooking up either Matroskya pouches or other gear.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review back panel loop lined

The back of the pack has a large hidden pocket that is almost the entire height of the panel and opens on both sides with double zippers. The walls are loop backed, and I can easily fit my 11 inch iPad Pro. My Macbook Pro 13 inch will not fit because the opening is just a few millimeters too short. With the loop walls, you can configure it as a CCW compartment as well.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review water bottle pockets and conceal carry compartment ccw

The two large water bottle pockets are very useful. They accommodate the largest water bottle you probably own. It is also a good stuff pocket for a light vest, or if you need to quickly put all your metal items from you pocket as you go through a TSA checkpoint.

There are two compression straps on either side of the bag. They definitely help to pull the bag in when it is not full. However, in its default setup, it gets into the way of the main compartment’s zipper opening. Users quickly found that by swapping them front to back so that the bucket is on the front side it solves that problem. The photo shows the original orientation.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review water bottle pockets

In addition to all of the above, there is a good size lined pocket at the top for sunglasses or a smart phone, a luggage passthrough on the back that can be mistaken as a handle, a comfortable but thinly padded top handle, and removable straps at the bottom. The loops in the front can also accept an optional beaver tail. The bag comes with black shock cord that I replaced with my own.

What’s Perfect

  • Large water bottle pockets while still being able to open clamshell style
  • Roomy and easy to configure large front pocket
  • Great carry comfort under load
  • Multiple choices of material, and even configurations
  • Spacious and protective laptop compartment
Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review laptop compartment

What’s Not

  • The bag is heavy, no matter which material you choose, coming in at 4+ pounds
  • The zippers are YKK #8, which function just fine but feel a little small on this bag
  • The compression straps have an interference issue, but can be resolved by swapping them front to back

Wrap Up

The Evade 1.5 is an unassuming bag that is extremely versatile. As a bag reviewer, I have 5-10 bags at any one time that are similar in size and function to the Evade. However whenever I am in a hurry to get out of the house and need a bag, I almost always take the Evade because it just works. You can just use pouches and leave the loop walls unused, or set up the main compartment exactly the way you need to lay out your equipment. It carries a lot more than it looks. It is comfortable under load. I use the bag for 2-3 day business travel, for heading to the office with all my electronics, for running around with the family on the weekends, all with equal ease.

While the bag is pretty perfect today, the only ask I sometimes hear to A19 is to make a version with more “exotic” hardware and material. I think that goes against the original intent and design of the product. That said, A19 will be auctioning off 2 (maybe 3) Evades in VX21RS with all proceeds going to a charity selected by the winner from a pre-approved list. Keep an eye out on their social media as well as in The Perfect Pack community for more information.

The A19 Evade 1.5 Full and Lite are currently available for pre-order directly from A19 starting at $180 and $150 respectively.

Alpha OneNiner A19 Evade 1.5 Review front of bag