The Evoc Glade Daypack 25L is an eye-catching and capacious backpack designed specifically for women. I'm not sure this really makes such a big difference when compared to unisex packs, but it certainly does the job.
Given its description as a 'bike all-rounder' and 'daypack for city excursions', I thought it would make an ideal pack for commuting, being spacious and, hopefully, comfy both on and off the bike. My initial impressions were that its design is biaised towards mountain biking as it features straps for attaching a full-face helmet plus a compartment for a hydration reservoir. I was also attracted by the bright yellow colour which, although not hi-vis, would make me more visible on the road. There is a black option if you prefer.
The pack appears very well made, with quality fabric and zips that can withstand the rigours of daily use. The outer is made from a mixture of tough polyester and ripstop nylon, both polyurethane (PU) coated to make them water-resistant.
Huge attention to detail has gone into this pack – it has numerous pockets and compartments, plus internal zipped mesh pockets in both the roomy main compartment (with a handy key clip) and the smaller front compartment that is designed for tools. The latter also has a further five small pockets – you just need to remember where you've stashed everything! The shoulder straps are shaped – 'specially designed for the female anatomy' – and lightly padded, and you can slide the chest strap up or down to find the best position.
This is a well-thought-out backpack. Both the main and tool compartments unzip fully so you can open them right out, which I found useful for both packing and finding stuff. There's no need to pull everything out to get to something at the bottom – though this works best when you can lay the backpack down flat, otherwise things can fall out if you unzip too far.
You can fit a lot into its 25-litre capacity – the main compartment easily swallows a medium-sized (15in) laptop plus shoes and change of clothes for commuting, with space to spare, or will do duty for overnight bike trips. The vertical zipped pocket at the very front is handy for tickets/snacks. The small, zipped, fleece-lined pocket at the top is called a sunglasses pocket but is large enough to fit a great deal more. I find the zipped hip pocket very useful for items like keys and lip salve, but it'd be good to have one on both sides. The generously sized mesh side pockets are a bonus – all packs should have side pockets this deep. They can easily fit a light jacket, water bottle or compact umbrella. There is also a separate zipped hydration compartment that will fit a 3-litre bladder, which would appeal to mountain bikers.
The material is water-resistant thanks to its PU coating, and it shrugged off showers well, with the rain visibly beading. In heavier showers you'd need to use the rain cover to be certain to keep the contents dry.
Now for what doesn't work so well. The rain cover is inside a zipped pocket at the very base of the pack which is tricky to access, but once you've pulled it out of the tight space it stays in place thanks to a strap that passes under the shoulder straps and clips back on to the cover. The cover is black but does have a large reflective 'evoc' logo. The only other reflective on the pack is a tiny patch behind the rubber strip designed for clipping on a rear light, which will then obscure it.
As well as the straps for attaching a full-face downhilling (DH) helmet (which are tucked away in a concealed pocket on the front) there is a roll-out net designed for normal lids inside yet another zipped compartment. I found it fiddly to clip into place and too small for my cross-country helmet, which actually fell out, so I just used the DH straps instead, which was much easier and they were more secure.
Also, the Glade is not as comfortable as I'd hoped, considering it shouts about its female-specific design. The back feels quite rigid thanks to the two rows of firm foam pads, and because it's very long – mine actually measures about 54cm – the top reaches the base of my neck, which niggles me when I tilt my head up to look ahead. When wearing the pack off the bike, the bottom bumps the top of my hips – and I'm fairly tall – though this wasn't an issue on the bike because it contours to my back in the riding position, and with the hip and chest straps fastened it stays in place well even with a full load.
As for the shoulder straps being female-specific, I didn't notice any difference from my non-gender-specific backpacks. Also, Evoc makes claims for the design giving great ventilation, saying it will keep your back dry. While the mesh webbing and foam pads do keep any pressure off your spine and allow for air flow, I've yet to find any backpack that doesn't give me a sweaty back on warm days or when riding hard.
In all, this is a quality backpack that performs well, but I'd definitely recommend trying it on before you buy to see how comfortable you find it. It's not cheap either.
A generously proportioned women-specific pack with all the bells and whistles, but better suited to tall women
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Make and model: Evoc Glade Daypack 25L
Size tested: 25L, Women's, Lime/Orange
Tell us what the product is for, and who it's aimed at. What do the manufacturers say about it? How does that compare to your own feelings about it?
The Glade is sold as: "Appealing bike all-rounder with shoulder straps that have been specially designed for the female anatomy... [that] cuts an attractive and sporty figure when used as a daypack for city excursions."
It fulfils this description.
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
Construction Nylon 210/D Ripstop PU coated, P600/D PU coated, 3D Air Mesh, Air Mesh, Atilon PE-Foam
Flexible Lycra mesh side compartments with quick access
Fleece-lined glasses pocket
Side compression straps
Roll-out helmet holder
Concealable fastening system for full-face helmets
Integrated rain cover
Backlight clip with reflector print
Additional compartment for hydration systems of up to 3L volumes
Clip for drinking tube
The pack is very well made.
It performed its job well with just a few minor niggles.
In the few months I've been commuting with the Glade it has proved itself tough and durable. Apart from getting a little grubby from station platforms, it still looks nearly new. The stitching is strong and well finished and the zips are gliding nicely.
It's fairly substantial, but then it's not sold as a lightweight pack - it has lots of pockets and zips which, of course, add weight.
On the whole this is a comfy pack.
It's very well made and has lots of good features, but nearly £110 is a lot for a pack that, because it's so long in the body, may not fit many women that well. You can buy a similarly well featured pack from Osprey (the Escapist 25) for £80.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
As a riding pack, the Glade scores well, thanks to its quality construction and considered design.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
The appearance, the fully opening main compartments, useful mesh side pockets and generous capacity.
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
The overly long, rigid back and the fit when wearing it off the bike.
Did you enjoy using the product? Yes
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes - if they were tall.
Use this box to explain your score
It is a very good pack, although the overly long back detracts from it.
About the tester
Age: 43 Height: 170cm Weight: 60kg
I usually ride: Marin Point Reyes 29er My best bike is: Giant Anthem X1
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, mountain biking, audax