There was a time when fanny packs were very uncool, but thankfully that time has passed. Fanny packs, hip packs, lumbar packs, whatever you want to call them, serve a really useful purpose when it comes to mountain biking. They carry all the essentials, often come with a water reservoir to make hydrating on the go as easy as possible, and even better, they don’t sit on your back and make you sweaty. Among our list of the best MTB hip packs sits the Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L, and for good reason. Having spent a couple of months taking it out on the trails and long-distance gravel rides, this unassuming pack has shown itself to be an Aladdin’s Cave of storage space and innovative systems developed by the brand. Keep reading to find out more.
Design and aesthetics
Evoc has been designing hip packs for a while now, and the Hip Pack Pro 3L is the latest iteration of its popular model. As suggested by its name, it carries with it three liters’ capacity, spread across a well-designed and good-looking pack with pockets galore.
The main compartment has a slot for the included 1.5L water reservoir, which is simply held in place by a Velcro strap — not as intricate as, say, Osprey’s tiny buckle and strap approach, but effective all the same. The hose clips into the front of the reservoir and threads through a small opening in the side of the bag, through several layers of pockets, and wraps around the front of the body. It is affixed in place with a magnetic clip that can be removed and placed anywhere convenient (so if you prefer to keep your water hose higher up, you could clip it to the collar of your jersey, for example).
At the front of the pack is a smaller compartment accessed by lifting a Velcro flap and tugging on the two side zippers. The unzipped flap opens out fully and contains a secure zippered plastic pocket on the inside, designed to hold a mobile phone, while three elasticated mesh compartments provide space to stash and organize your tools.
To each side of the main compartment is an elasticated pocket large enough to store a water bottle in, so you can actually carry a large amount of H2O on your ride. This makes sense seeing as the pack is clearly designed to be used in hot weather when hydration is key. On the inner side of the pack, you’ll find Evoc’s Back-free Air Flow Contact System, which consists of a mesh outer lining and thick foam that’s designed to create wide air flow channels and prevent sweat build-up on your lower back.
Continuing along the sides, there are two more zippered pockets, one on each hip wing, with one containing a carabiner key strap. This makes for six pockets in total.
The hip pack is fastened not only with a buckle and strap, but also the Airo Flex: a wide and stretchy belt, which is one of my favorite features, oddly enough, but I’ll come back to that later. One of the Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L’s most unique features is the brand’s innovative Venti Flap System. This comprises two straps, one on each side of the bag, which can be pulled or loosened to adjust the tension — and therefore the tightness — of the bag as it sits on your hips. The idea behind it is that you can loosen the tension while climbing, to aid air flow, and then tighten it before a descent, to prevent any unnecessary flapping on the way down.
The bag itself is a good-looking design, features extra details like a loop for attaching a rear light, and compression straps to help keep everything contained. It comes in four different color options, so there’s bound to be something to suit most. But how well does it actually perform? Keep reading to find out.
First things first, as I mentioned before, the Airo Flex stretchy Velcro belt is my favorite aspect of the overall design, and that’s because it makes for an extremely comfortable fit, even for those of us with a bit more to love around the middle. Other hip packs I’ve used often rely solely on a buckle which, when you have curves, makes it very difficult to achieve a good fit that isn’t too loose or too tight, and often results in an uncomfortable digging. The Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L is easy to put on, you can tighten the belt so everything is secure, and still move freely thanks to the stretch. Add to this the Venti Flap technology that enables you to adjust the tension as you shift around on the bike on undulating terrain, and you’ve got a fit that feels pretty much tailored to your needs at every step of the way.
I found the moveable magnetic clip a really nice detail, because let’s face it, we all have different shaped torsos, and what works for one person may not work for the next. After experimenting with different placements for it, I settled with having the hose on my left hip, tucked out of the way. Another thing I really appreciated was the strength of the magnet, as I’ve been caught out before with drinking hoses suddenly coming loose and flapping around my legs while I’m pedaling up a technical climb, or plummeting down a muddy descent and winding up with a less-than-appetizing bite valve. I found it easy to clip the hose back into place and it stayed put throughout my rides.
The bag has an excellent amount of storage. The main compartment can fit the 1.5L bladder, plus an extra layer, a spare inner tube, and a mini hand pump. The smaller pockets on the hip wings can store a decent amount of snacks, plus you can use the carabiner to store your keys safely. The bottle-holding mesh pockets do exactly as they should, and I was able to cart around an extra 1.5L of water on a particularly long ride. The extra compression straps make it easy to secure them in place without the risk of them slipping out, and I had no such issues. Then the additional front pocket can accommodate key tools, including a multi-tool, tire levers, a chain breaker, pliers, a tubeless repair kit (or patch kit), some tire boots and a pair of gloves.
The plastic phone pocket is, I’m happy to confirm, completely waterproof. Before I was prepared to take any risks, I put a piece of paper in there and exposed it to running water, on both sides, for a few minutes, and it came out completely dry. So I proceeded to store my precious phone in there, and mercifully it came out unscathed, despite some very wet riding conditions.
The rest of the bag, however, is not immune to downpours, and while out on a particularly wet ride when it became completely sodden with mud, I later discovered that the warm layer I’d packed was damp and useless. So this is worth bearing in mind if you’re heading out in changeable weather.
Even loaded up, because of the bag’s placement on the lumbar region and the strap’s ability to spread the weight evenly around your hips and lower back, its weight never proved to be too much of an issue.
Meanwhile, the Back-free Air Flow Contact System is extremely effective. While admittedly here in the UK we've not had a lot of heatwaves lately, I have been putting it to the test by riding hard, doing lots of hill climbing, and breaking a sweat. On days where I wasn't wearing a waterproof outer layer, I was happy to find that my lower back remained for the most part free of that horrible soggy patch that often comes with wearing a bag of any kind while riding.
All in all I really like the Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L. It’s well designed and well thought out, has plenty of useful storage space, enables you to organize your things and keeps your phone safe in a fully waterproof pouch, all while carrying two extra bottles of water. The process of removing the water reservoir and refilling it is mercifully easy, and the hose can be clipped wherever you want it to be while on the move. The Airo Flex strap makes for a super comfortable and stable fit, and the Venti Flap System is a nice addition to tailor your experience if you wish to use it.
Tech Specs: Evoc Hip Pack Pro 3L
- Price: $120.00 / £84.99
- Weight: 453g
- Dimensions: 28 x 18 x 8 cm
- Colors: Black/Carbon Gray, Carbon Gray/Chilli Red, Sulphur/Moss Green, Multi Color.
- Materials: N 210D Ripstop HD, 3D Air Mesh, Airo Flex