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The clue's in the name – Evoc's Commuter Backpack is designed specifically with commuters in mind. It's very waterproof, roomy, and can transport all your tech essentials in safety. It's also very comfortable, looks good and there are some great reflective details. The price is pretty high, but it compares well with many commuter-specific bags tested on road.cc.
One of the Commuter's biggest advantage over other backpacks is its solid waterproofing, thanks to the PVC-free tarpaulin construction and waterproof zips. It's not 100 per cent waterproof – the Commuter has several zips for opening its various compartments instead of a roll top – but after a 20-minute ride in heavy rain, there was no water to be found inside.
Although it wasn't able to pass my garden hose test – five minutes of constant water aimed at the exterior and some water did work its way past the zips – it's still very impressive, and certainly good enough for the amount of time most people spend riding on a commute, even those covering longer distances like myself (around 12-15 miles each way).
The bottom of the backpack is covered in Cordura – the same stuff used in motorcycle gear to protect against abrasion at high speed – which helps to prevent the bottom getting worn when it's on the floor. Overall, it feels like a very sturdy and well protected backpack.
There are loads of compartments on the inside, perfect for stashing all sorts of things. The laptop pocket can easily house a relatively new 15-inch MacBook Pro (or the newer 16-inch version), and if your laptop isn't quite as slim as that, there's plenty of width to house a chunkier model. An adjustable Velcro strap keeps your laptop firmly in place, and the padded housing keeps it well protected. Plus, you don't feel anything on your back while you ride.
You also get a storage compartment in front of the laptop pocket specifically for an iPad (up to an 11-inch Pro, at a push), but it'll fit most other types of tablets too.
The organiser compartment on the front of the bag is perfect for storing your phone in the zipped pocket, and there's an additional pocket for pens, two pockets with a Velcro closure for storing things like cables or headphones, and a bigger open pocket for other stuff like keys or whatever you like.
And let's not forget about the pockets on the outside: on the top is an easily accessed sunnies/phone slot with a brushed interior to protect whatever you put inside, while a long pocket at the front allows you to store slim items like magazines.
So, there are lots of pockets for all your things, and thanks to the Commuter's 18-litre capacity, you're still left with enough space in the main compartment for shoes, clothes and a packed lunch. So basically, it's ideal for the daily commute.
Although it feels like quite a big bag, once it's on your back you hardly notice it there. Unlike the non-cycling-specific Evoc Mission, which Matt found unusually tight on the neck and shoulders, the Commuter is exceptionally comfortable to ride with for many miles, even when fully loaded with a laptop inside.
Unlike some bags that feel as if they're sat almost flat against your spine, the six flexible cushioned sections on the rear help the Commuter Backpack to conform to the shape of your back as it arches, making it feel more natural and comfortable. Each of the cushioned sections has a mesh covering which probably helps with airflow where each panel comes into contact with your back, but it's hard to say if this really made a difference or not.
The straps are similarly comfortable, with plenty of adjustment to alter the height at which the backpack sits on your back, and though there are no chest or waist straps, it doesn't feel like it needs them – the bag is perfectly stable in use, even heavily laden. It's less to fuss with when you're on the go, too.
The Commuter also features a sturdy handle located on the one side of the bag, which makes it ideal for carrying like a briefcase if you need to.
Another commuter essential that is sometimes overlooked, or just not done terribly well, is visibility. Though the black pack on test here looks brilliant, it wouldn't stand out in daylight (though a light blue and khaki green version is available), but at night the massive reflective Evoc logo on the back lights up like a beacon, and there are two small reflective details on the front of the straps. There's also a handy loop at the bottom of the rear to attach a light to.
We've tested loads of commuter-specific backpacks on road.cc, at various prices. The fully waterproof Ortlieb Velocity 17-litre backpack is cheaper at £90 and definitely worth a look, though it doesn't quite have the versatility in terms of storage.
For similar cash, you can get a lot more storage space courtesy of the Thule Pack 'n Pedal Commuter Backpack, which has a generous capacity of 24 litres, though it's not waterproof out of the crate – you need to use the built-in rain cover to protect it, which in my experience is a chore to deal with when you're commuting.
With all the attributes you might need on a commute, it's hard to fault the Evoc Commuter. Nitpicking, a hidden pocket to stash your valuables would be handy. Other than that, it's just the high price tag that some will find a little offputting. But it really does feel like you get what you pay for here – this bag feels like it will last a lifetime.
Great waterproofing, storage options in spades and very comfortable – one of the best commuter bags going
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Evoc Commuter 18L Backpack
Size tested: 30x48x12cm
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?
Firmly aimed at commuters who want to carry all their gear without it getting wet, whilst looking good.
Evoc says, "Water-resistant office backpack/ office bag combination made of 100% PVC-free tarpaulin."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
NOTEBOOK POCKET Laptop compartment
ORGANISER COMPARTMENTS Pockets for small items for better organization
TABLET POCKET Tablet compartment
MOBILE PHONE POCKET Mobile phone compartment
SUNGLASS POCKET Compartment for optical glasses
BACKLIGHT CLIP Loop for attaching a bike backlight
It's built like a tank, the tarpaulin material is very hardwearing and the Cordura base will ensure the bottom of the bag never gets scuffed or worn.
Solid waterproofing, versatile storage, very comfortable and good reflectivity at night.
Early days, but lots of quality materials and chunky YKK zips look set to survive anything.
The construction and all the different storage options mean it's a little on the heavier side for a bag of this capacity, but you don't notice when you're carrying it. It's comparable to similarly tough/waterproof options out there.
Very comfortable, even when full and heavily laden. The straps don't nag your shoulders and the flexible back panels keep the bag positioned to work with the curvature of your spine.
You can buy cheaper bags of this capacity, but it's comparable on price with similar offerings.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
The Evoc Commuter is designed for commuting and for that it excels, ticking all the boxes – waterproofing, comfort, storage, visibility – and it also looks great.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
It's really comfortable, very secure and I loved all the different storage options (the soft glasses pocket was the icing on the cake!)
Tell us what you particularly disliked about the product
How does the price compare to that of similar products in the market, including ones recently tested on road.cc?
It's more expensive than the Ortlieb Velocity 17-litre backpack, but I'd argue that isn't quite as convenient to access, with its roll-top closure system, and doesn't have anywhere near the storage versatility. The Thule Pack 'n Pedal Commuter Backpack is about the same price and bigger, but doesn't have the same level of waterproofing (you get a rain cover, which isn't as convenient).
Did you enjoy using the product? Very much so.
Would you consider buying the product? Yes
Would you recommend the product to a friend? Yes
Use this box to explain your overall score
If you can afford the premium price tag, you're rewarded with a premium product: great waterproofing, loads of storage options with space for all your tech, a high level of comfort, good visibility and it's very nicely designed to boot. If you want the full waterproofing of a rolltop bag and don't mind the access faff involved, think of this as an 8/very good; for me, it's waterproof enough for my needs, and I love the zips and pockets – it's exceptional.
About the tester
I usually ride: Steel audax bike My best bike is:
I've been riding for: 10-20 years I ride: Every day I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, club rides, sportives,