Commuting by bike across the city has its challenges and hazards. Safety equipment, however, is still almost exclusively the domain of the offroad sector. EVOC now launches a backpack geared to the needs of commuters: the COMMUTE Pro 22 with an integrated back protector borrowed from the mountain bike sector.
Safety, functionality, and comfort: with these three features in mind, many manufacturers develop bikes and equipment for the mountainbike sector. Any number of clever solutions have been created for the offroad area over the past decades – making mountainbiking safer and more comfortable than ever. For these innovations to break into the urban sector usually takes quite a while, though. Pity, for commuters certainly do have a need for high-quality equipment that also offers them protection on their way through the city.
EVOC, known among bikers mainly for their protector backpacks, have now turned their attention to this need, merging a commuter backpack with their mountainbike back protector into the COMMUTE Pro 22. It seems to be a sensible idea to use trusted protectors from the offroad sector. To what extent EVOC has managed to meet the remaining needs of modern commuters was the question we tried to answer in our long-term self test.
Tumbles over wet roots, on steep downhills, or in dusty curves are common in mountainbiking. The use of protector backpacks makes sense: they provide stowage space and at the same time protect the spine in a crash. However, accidents unfortunately are no rarity in the city either and, as opposed to mountainbiking, often involve vehicles that weigh tons as well as rock-hard asphalt. EVOC uses a level 2 back protector that not only distributes the forces at impact but also absorbs 95% of it – currently the highest standard according to EU norm. However, an increased need for safety is not the only requirement for the commuter backpack: a laptop compartment is a must to carry the work tool safely from A to B, as are numerous pockets to organize miscellaneous odds and ends; some stowage space for the quick dash into the supermarket on the way home; also, ergonomic features and ventilation that are adjusted to driving on the street; furthermore, visibility features, which help the commuter to be seen… On the other hand, many features of a mountainbike backpack are pointless and redundant for commuters. It quickly becomes clear that a commuter backpack needs some thinking-through. On paper, the EVOC can tick all those points off the list. However, in the end it’s all about the performance on the bike and in RL.
So, we’ve commuted to the office with the Evoc COMMUTE Pro 22 every day for the last 2 months and tested it inside and out. Okay, we didn’t have any nasty crashes (fortunately). But even so, we can tell you a thing or two about the protector.
The protector developed by EVOC is flexible and doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Or rather: it is practically unnoticeable when you wear it, as it totally adjusts to the shape of your back. Weighing only 168 g, it is very light, too, and stowed in a way that basically doesn’t affect the volume of the backpack. There is actually no sane reason not to drive with a protector.
Workmanship and haptics on the backpack are top-notch. Seams, materials, zippers, and imprints are of the highest quality. Our test did not reveal any failures, the rucksack was easy to clean, and it generally gives the impression of planning to stay in business without a hitch for a very long time. The simple, single-coloured design – you can choose between black or blue-gray – goes with most outfits and nicely complements the subtly sporty shape. The reflective imprints on all sides are kept in the colour of the backpack and are hardly noticeable in daylight. As for ergonomics and ventilation, the Evoc COMMUTE Pro 22 is on the right track there as well: the AIRO-FLEX waist strap typical for Evoc is easy to use as well as excellent in the wear comfort, nicely balancing the weight and preventing wobbling. It also doesn’t lead to heat buildup. Last but not least, it is flexible, adjusts perfectly to individual proportions, and is also easy to remove.
Thanks to the flexible protector and the equally flexible back plate, the COMMUTE Pro 22 nicely adapts to the shape of the back and stays in place. This means that the backpack does not sit flat on your back. While commuting at leisure, this results in an ideal mix of ventilation, comfort, and stability. However, if you like to exert yourself on your roadbike after work, you will miss better ventilation. Something that is not obvious at first sight is becoming clearer in time: the bags, meshes, and compartments are strategically distributed and positioned in a way that is perfect for the needs of commuters. For instance, the small zippers on the waist strap offer enough space for keys, a multitool, and an energy bar. The compartment for the smartphone can be reached during the ride due to its opening towards the front. It is padded on the inside, waterproof, and spacious enough. The compartments for the glasses and the 15” laptop are padded as well. The main compartment can be fully opened, and meshes on the sides keep your most important items within reach at all times. To cap it all off, the well thought-through transport concept offers a stowage compartment for locks on the front.
The positioning of the many bags, meshes, fastening lugs, and bottle holders results in a well thought-through backpack that you will enjoy using on a daily basis. The only disadvantage is that at € 260.00 it is rather pricey, especially in combination with the small delivery content. Rain cover, helmet mesh, or special tension belts have to be bought separately and will take another € 20.00 to € 25.00 per item out of your pocket. On the other hand, what you get is a high-end backpack that will do more than most to keep you safe. With its high-quality workmanship and well-conceived segmentation it will keep you in a good mood for a long time during your commute time.
- excellent workmanship
- well thought-through overall concept
- Protection feature because of back protector
- Accessories cost extra
You can find more about at evocsports.com
Words & Photos: Jan Richter