Like many photographers, I demand much of a camera pack. It not only needs to be capable of protectively portaging my equipment, it needs to also accommodate the various other things I use in the backcountry. It seems like a reasonable ask, but only a handful of packs have extra storage as part of the design. I also have to be able to access my cameras and equipment quickly without much effort. Not to add to my lofty demands, all-day comfort is not too much to expect of any backpack. After an exhaustive and frustrating search, I finally found a pack that ticks all of the boxes, the EVOC CP 35L.
With dimensions falling within most carry-on luggage limits, the EVOC pack was the obvious choice for my recent trip to Nepal. Not only did it fit my two Fuji XT-1 gripped bodies, it also accommodated a large 50-140mm lens, two additional lenses, one full-size flash, copious amounts of batteries, a wireless hard drive, and other image making essentials including a Sony RX100IV and 4K Action camera. It also provided enough space to fit a waterproof coat, down jacket, SteriPen, toiletries, hydration reservoir, and everything else I had to ferry on a week-long trek into the mountains.
One of the attributes I was really hunting for was back-panel access to my cameras. While some packs attempt to make at least one camera accessible without removing the pack, I have found these designs to be cumbersome and can risk a dropped camera. A better solution is an access panel beneath the pack harness. This allows the user to remove the pack, lay it on the ground with the harness facing up, and then with one fluid motion of a large-gauge zipper, the entire back of the pack is splayed open with its contents exposed. This feature becomes even more convenient with the EVOC’s rain cover in place.
With more than enough room for two full-size DSLR bodies and several lenses, the CP 35L also has a small compartment at the top of the pack which can be used for additional camera accessories, or for general gear storage. Two large side pockets accommodate a hydration reservoir with a drink tube port, and mesh side pockets make for convenient places to quickly stash small items.
As a travel bag, the EVOC CP 35L is hard to beat. A large padded handle at the top permits a quick and comfortable grab, and the rubberized feet at the base help it stand upright. An external panel gives easy access to a tablet or laptop. Additional inner organizers and a padded pocket can be used for sunglasses, a smartphone, or other items benefiting from a little extra protection. The bag even has a slight taper at its upper aspect allowing it to slip into the curved shape of an airplane’s overhead storage bin.
All of this refined design is moot without a good pack harness and the EVOC’s shoulder and hip belt components are top notch. The unique AIRO FLEX hip belt wraps completely around the user’s waist with the 1.5-inch nylon adjustable belt fixed over a breathable, flexible layer. The result is a belt with superior support without cutting into the waistline. It is extremely comfortable.
The shoulder and back contacts are padded with a high density foam to alleviate pressure points and the back panel has a refined shape that follows the contours of my back. EVOC clearly spent as much time designing the user interface as they did the pack features. Over the course of two weeks of travel, the EVOC CP 35L not only housed my precious camera gear, it was comfortable to carry, user friendly, and added to my overall travel experience. Being the tough critic I am, I was quite impressed with the EVOC CP 35L. I foresee using it on many adventures to come. MSRP $400
Notes from the field:
As a working journalist, traveling internationally with the CP 35L was a telling test. Passing through the airport in Doha, Qatar involved multiple security checkpoints with many thorough physical inspections. Because the pack opens so easily, inspectors were able to view all of the contents without rummaging around or disrupting my gear.
To streamline the pack for air travel, I removed the waist belt to make the pack that much easier to wiggle into the overhead bin. A word of warning about its use as a carry-on, the EVOC CP 35L is technically an inch or two over the limits of some airlines and it does have the presence of a larger carry-on. Loading the side pockets will likely raise an eyebrow and get the bag sent below deck.
The rain cover, paired to the back panel access, was indispensable during an eight hour hike in heavy snow. I was able to drop the pack in the snow on the cover, get to my cameras, and not have any part of the pack get wet or muddy.