Back in 2017 EVERGOODS launched their first Kickstarter campaign for CPL and MPL bags (Civic and Mountain Panel Loader respectively) that was a big success raising over $160k and quickly putting EVERGOODS on a map of those who appreciate high-quality, functional, and comfortable gear.
Now just a few years later, it’s fascinating to see how much has been done since that first KS campaign – the launch of revised and improved versions of the extremely popular CPL and MPL, expansion of the product line with a new daypack CHZ22 (Civic Half-Zip), the introduction of spectacular org pouch CAP2 (Civic Access Pouch) and so much more. EVERGOODS came out of nowhere and now it’s hard to imagine the world of carry without it.
What is the secret of this success and love from the community? Instead of going crazy and blowing up their portfolio with every product imaginable, Jack Barley and Kevin Dee (the founders of EVERGOODS) meticulously revisit existing offerings in search of the best way to take their products to the next level.
Launched in August of 2019, CHZ22 has occupied a crowded niche of simple daypacks and made quite a splash with its robust harness system, smart organization, and signature EVERGOODS design features (such as grey inner liner and low key logo on the front that serves as a morale patch attachment). The CHZ26 is the next iteration of this bag, launched in October of 2020.
How does CHZ26 fare in the oversaturated EDC market? Does it bring more than just increased capacity to the table? Read on to find out.
|Capacity||1586 cu. in.||26L|
Quality and Comfort
Without beating around the bush I can say upfront that the quality of CHZ26 is excellent. The choice of materials and hardware is deliberate to make sure you get a pack that can take a lot of abuse and one that laughs in the face of the elements.
Black 500d HT nylon (with water repellent finish) is used for the outside and grey 420d HT nylon is featured on the inside making a balanced bag that retains most of its structure even when empty. As to be expected from a black nylon bag – yes it does pick up dust and lint easily which is no surprise and actually quite common for this material. According to many long-term users of the CHZ22 and CPL24, with time the fabric seems to attract dust and lint less prominently.
The stretchy fabric used for the water bottle pockets is very pleasant to the touch, yet extremely durable and abrasion-resistant.
Everything about the CHZ26 feels solid and complete as to be expected from EVERGOODS.
The zippers are industry-standard YKK – #10RC for the main compartment and #8RC for the quick access pocket and 2 pockets inside the main compartment. Despite zippers being unquestionably high quality and durable they are also tight and stiff, I was a bit concerned by how much effort they required to open, especially the main compartment.
The comfort is superb. EVERGOODS has introduced a unique way for the shoulder straps to contour to your body, basically eliminating the need to have the load lifters altogether. The straps are well-padded and feel really great even over extended use with a heavy load. The sternum strap is pretty standard but has improved attachment points compared to CHZ22. Some owners reportedly had lost their sternum straps due to unreliable attachment to the shoulder straps.
The back panel is very simple with no air channels so you can expect your back to get sweaty on those hot summer days, but this is to be expected from any backpack. The back has a nice curve to it and I found it perfect for my build (I am 176 cm, 93 kg). I did not notice any issues with the lower part of the bag poking my back as reported by some other users, perhaps they were too tall (or short?) for the bag as the CHZ26 is meant to sit high and tight on your body.
Organization and Access
The CHZ26 hits all of the basics of an EDC bag when it comes to organizing and accessing your belongings. Externally, there is one quick-access pocket on top of the bag (dubbed “taco pocket”) that has no organization and is just perfect to throw your essentials like wallet, phone, keys, spare face mask, or sanitizer. Conveniently, this pocket also features a strap with a bright red carabiner to attach your keys. Internally there is a large, padded, and well-suspended laptop compartment that fits 15-inch laptops with ease thanks to some built it stretch and cutouts at the bottom.
There are also two zippered pockets; a small one on top of the lid for some additional organization and a similarly sized mesh pocket. This pocket on the inside is intended to be used when the front flap is open, turning the pocket upside down. This is great when using the bag open, but if you wish to access the contents of the mesh pocket when just opening the main compartment, you can’t without risking the stuff falling out. Similarly, with the flap open the top pocket will be upside down which will cause the contents to fall out if you unzip the pocket. A bit weird.
The rest of the space is yours to pack to your heart’s content thanks to it being just one large cavity, begging for a large packing cube.
Last but not least, inside the bag, there are two rows of so-called utility webbing on top of the main compartment. They can be used to attach additional gear, pens, or even a small pouch (but you will be restricting access to the laptop, so that should be kept in mind)
- The size of 26L makes the pack a perfect option for EDC, an overnight trip, or simply those folks with larger frames that could not make CHZ22 work with their physique.
- Durable, confident inspiring materials easily stands up to the abuse and the build quality is excellent
The top quick-access pocket is large enough to store the essentials like wallet, keys, headphones, mask. Moreover, the zipper is silky smooth and a breeze to use one-handed making this pocket one of the most used features of the bag
- The comfort is top-notch. Well-padded, contoured shoulder straps “hug” the body and allow the bag to sit high and tight even without the load lifters.
- Subtle velcro logo on the front of the bag not only is appreciated for the general clean look but also allows personalization with morale patches
- The simple built-in organization might feel spartan for many but those who are invested in pouches/organizers would take full advantage of the CHZ26 volume without the need to “adapt” much to the pocketing and layout.
- With the right load, the bag stands on its own thanks to the flat bottom. This might seem like a minor thing, but after using so many bags that topple over unless put against a wall/furniture I appreciated the self-sufficiency of CHZ26 to stay upright without extra support.
- The grey inner liner made out of 420d HT nylon provided high-visibility for the insides of the bag and also incredibly pleasant to the touch while being durable, water, and stain-resistant. This might be my new favorite liner. Great job, Evergoods!
- Pet owners beware – the 500d High Tenacity Nylon used for the main shell is a dust and hair magnet. Unless you carry the roller and wipes all the time do not expect the bag to look clean most of the time.
- Even after 4 weeks of use the YKK #10RC zippers used for the opening of the main compartment have not fully broken in and to this day require more effort to operate than I would have liked. Using GORUCK bags in the past and knowing that Jack (one of the founders of EVERGOODS) was with GORUCK for a decade I was a bit surprised not to find the same smoothness and ease of opening that has become standard on all GORUCK products (I used GR1 26L, Bullet 10 and 15 and all of them feature silky smooth opening)
- The lack of external access to the laptop is not noticeable until the bag is stuffed to the brim. When full, I had to take out some of the things to be able to reach my laptop, same goes for putting it in. The usability of the bag would be so much better if EVERGOODS made a dedicated side or top access to the laptop so I could finally forget what it is to shuffle my contents to reach the laptop.
On paper, you need to be able to accept some of these things if you want to make the CHZ26 work for you:
- It won’t look pristine most of the time due to dust and lint sticking to it like a magnet (according to some reviews this is a temporary behavior that wears off with time)
- You need to be fine with accessing your laptop through the main compartment (with occasional need to shuffle the contents of the bag to get to the laptop itself)
- Spartan organization invites you to take advantage of pouches and organizers
- The zipper to the main compartment requires some time to break in
In a world where we like things to adapt to us and not the other way around the above might sound like deal breakers. However, in my use of the bag these were completely overshadowed by excellent comfort, perfect EDC size and just the right organization that in combination with the unique vibe of the bag just made it my go-to option from the day I received it. Consequently, making my personal daily driver, the Tom Bihn Shadow Guide 33 V2, rest a bit and collect some dust.
All in all, despite some quirks and obviously not being perfect, I can still confidently recommend the CHZ26 for anyone looking for a capable, durable, simple top-loading bag that is not afraid of some abuse. Bonus points for personalization via morale patches – those are a whole world to explore and allow some fun expression of yourself.
Editor’s Note: The CHZ26 was provided by EVERGOODS as a sample for review purposes. The content of this review was not shared with EVERGOODS before publishing. Our reviews are unbiased and never modified to keep a brand happy.