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The Evoc Mission 22 backpack isn't part of Evoc's dedicated cycle range and it's easy to see why. Despite being very well made and filled with features and practical details, for broader-shouldered riders it's not particular comfortable to wear on the bike. It could make a perfect school bag, though.
The Evoc Mission 22 backpack is – as the numerical component of its name would suggest – a 22-litre rucksack. However, its variety of pockets and pen, notebook, phone, laptop compartments and bright colourway would suggest it's rather more suited to the daily grind than any kind of top secret mission.
Indeed, for day-to-day life it looks almost perfect. At its core is a simple top-loaded, drawstring-closed main compartment with two padded sections for computers and devices, and a couple of internal side pockets. Then there's a zipped external top flap pocket, an external side pocket with clip closure, and another external side elasticated pocket.
My favourite feature, however, is the zipped front compartment. Open up and you'll be greeted with a zipped meshed pocket, pen holders and a range of other little sections for bit and bobs. I like being able to access this kind of stuff quickly and easily, yet many manufacturers nowadays seem to place these sections in hard-to-reach depths of main compartments.
Everything is put together well and build quality is very good. The bulk of the main bag is made from thick and robust material that has proven impressively water resistant – no moisture has made it through, even when I gave it the full in-the-shower test. There's a reinforced area at the bottom of the bag for durability, too. And the all-up weight of 575g is okay for a well-made, sturdy product.
However, now we get to the rub – literally. This is the least comfortable rucksack I've used on the bike for quite a while. The lack of chest or waist strap is a bit of an omission but normally it wouldn't be a deal breaker in itself. Instead, in the case of the Mission, a few elements transpire to create a problem.
To get the bag stable on your back while riding it's important to get the shoulder straps tight. But because of the shoulder strap padding – which is stiff, to say the least – and the fact that the distance between shoulder strap mounting points is only 50mm, things start feeling very tight between the shoulders and on the neck.
Things do stretch and shift into place eventually – initially it was a little painful to lift my head to look further than about 10 yards up the road – but even after you've got used to the Mission, it's far from a joy to wear. It's worth pointing out that there's not a huge amount of back padding, either.
Before you discard the Mission entirely, though, I'm willing to concede that it could be my stature as a broad-shouldered chap that's contributing to the issue. Lara tested the similar Evoc Street Backpack recently and thought it was perfectly comfy.
In terms of value, of the bags I've personally tested, probably the most similar is the fabulously comfy but not waterproof Merida Fifteen II, which has less carrying capacity but only costs £49.99. In terms of more direct competition, the £85 Osprey Escapist 18 shows the Mission is very much in the right ballpark, price-wise.
And don't forget that Evoc Street, which is £10 lighter on your wallet, lighter on the scales at 480g, and a little bigger at 25 litres.
After all that complaining about comfort, it seems like thin gruel to praise the Evoc Mission now, but it's actually far from a bad product. Overall build quality is superb and I like the front pocket with its selection of compartments and pen holders. That and the colourful appearance means, to me, it feels more like a school rucksack or an option for anybody who only needs to take a pack lunch and limited clean clothes to work. And then it's best if they're of a relatively petite stature – for broad-shouldered folk, it's a fairly tight experience.
Well made and well featured but can feel unusually tight on the neck and shoulders when riding
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road.cc test report
Make and model: Evoc Mission Backpack
Size tested: 40x25x16cm
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?
This is a fairly straightforward non-cycling-specific rucksack, designed for day-to-day use. In fact, Evoc actually says: "Hands-on top load backpack for your daily business."
Tell us some more about the technical aspects of the product?
22 litre capacity
Laptop, tablet and mobile phone compartments
Drawstring-closed main compartment
Elasticated side pocket
Zipped front organiser pocket
Very hard to fault build quality - very tidily made.
Can carry lots, so does that part of its job fairly well – but it's not a very comfortable way to do it.
Looks built to last - no issues during testing.
575g is no lightweight but it's not excessively bulky.
For me, it was really terrible. Things have improved slightly as I've used the bag more, but initially it felt almost unusable on the bike.
A little higher priced than some, but the excellent build quality and durability make up for it. The Evoc Street is £69.99, lighter and bigger; the Merida Fifteen II has less carrying capacity but only costs £49.99; the very similar Osprey Escapist 18 is £85.
Tell us how the product performed overall when used for its designed purpose
On the bike, wearing the Mission felt pretty awful. It can carry plenty of stuff conveniently, though.
Tell us what you particularly liked about the product
Front organiser pocket. I don't know why, it just tickled me - must be a reminder of long-lost school days.
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?
The £69.99 Evoc Street is lighter on your wallet, lighter on the scales at 480g, and a little bigger at 25 litres. Of the bags I've personally tested, probably the most similar is the fabulously comfy but not waterproof Merida Fifteen II, which has less carrying capacity but only costs £49.99. In terms of direct competition, the £85 Osprey Escapist 18 shows the Mission is very much in the right ballpark, price-wise.
Did you enjoy using the product? Nope
Would you consider buying the product? No
Would you recommend the product to a friend? No
Use this box to explain your overall score
The Evoc Mission is a hard one to score because, to me, it felt so uncomfortable to wear. That had nothing to do with carrying excessive weight or even stability - it is purely down to the shoulder strap placement and padding. Forget the shoulder straps and you've got a very decent product that's made well with a broad range of useful features. Without the shoulder straps, it's not much of a bag, though.
About the tester
I usually ride: Islabikes Beinn 29 My best bike is: 25-year-old Dawes Galaxy
I've been riding for: Over 20 years I ride: Most days I would class myself as: Experienced
I regularly do the following types of riding: commuting, touring, sportives, general fitness riding, mtb, Leisure