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Evoc Stage 18 ReviewBest Hydration Pack for Mountain Biking: MTB Hydration Pack Review

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 40% 40%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Price: $119.95

Gear Capacity: 3.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 540g

Dimensions: 8.7” x 3.5” x 17.5” / 23 x 9 x 44.5cm

What We Like: ReTrakt Hydration Hose, Great Main Compartment Organization, Lightweight

What We Don’t: J Shaped Zipper, Subpar Water Reservoir

The Evoc Stage is also available in 3l, 6l, and 12l.

Since hitting the mountain bike market in 2008, Evoc has taken the industry by storm with their back armored backpacks. However, for this review, we are steering clear of protective hydration packs, and focusing on packs that are a bit lighter and keep you a bit cooler, while still carrying your water and necessities. As such, we chose to include the Evoc Stage, rather than some of the brands better known for back protector hydration packs. 

At 18l, the Stage is the largest mountain bike hydration pack on our list, but it is available in 12, 6, and 3l versions as well.

Osprey Raptor 14

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Top Notch Comfort and Organization

Cons

Average Weight

Pricey

Gear Capacity: 11.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 20” x 9” x 9” / 48 x 22 x 25cm

CamelBak Skyline LR 10l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Low Rider Technology is Comfortable and Stable

Best Water Flow in Test

Cons

Average Weight

Not Terribly Easy to Access

Fill or Clean Hydration Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 995g

Dimensions: 8” x 8” x 15” / 20 x 20 x 39cm

Platypus Duthie AM 10.0

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 100% 100%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 70% 70%

Pros

Best In Class Ventilation

Great Organization

Cons

Only Slightly Above Average Water Flow from Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 7l

Bladder Capacity: 3l/100 fluid ounces

Weight: 800g

Dimensions: 9” x 6” x 18” / 23 x 15 x 46cm

CamelBak MULE LR 15

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Low Rider Hydration Reservoir Positioning

CamelBak Bite Valve

Cons

Subpar Ventilation

Heavy

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 990g

Dimensions: 21” x 10” x 9” / 53 x 23 x 25cm

Dakine Seeker 15l 

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 60% 60%
  • Weight 40% 40%

Pros

Water Resistant

Tons of Storage

Comfortable

Cons

Heavy

Not the Greatest Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 12l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 1340g

Dimensions: 19” x 12” x 8″ / 48 x 30 x 20cm

CamelBak Lobo 9l

  • Storage 60% 60%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 100% 100%

Pros

Lightweight

CamelBak Big Bite Drinking Valve

Sale Prices

Cons

Not Much Storage

Subpar Ventilation

Gear Capacity: 6l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 480g

Dimensions: 18” x 8.3” x 7.5” / 46 x 21 x 19cm

CamelBak M.U.L.E. 100 OZ

  • Storage 70% 70%
  • Comfort 70% 70%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 80% 80%
  • Weight 80% 80%

Pros

“Everything You Need and Nothing You Don’t,”

CamelBak Big Bite Valve

Cons

Not as Comfortable as Some Newer Bags

Twist Off Water Reservoir Lid

Gear Capacity: 9l

Bladder Capacity: 3l

Weight: 620g

Dimensions: 17.9” x 8.7” x 8.9” / 45.5 x 22 x 22.5cm

Thule Vital 6l

  • Storage 80% 80%
  • Comfort 80% 80%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 40% 40%
  • Weight 90% 90%

Pros

ReTrakt Hydration Hose

Great Main Compartment Organization

Lightweight

Cons

J Shaped Zipper

Subpar Water Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 3.5l

Bladder Capacity: 2.5l

Weight: 540g

Dimensions: 8.7” x 3.5” x 17.5” / 23 x 9 x 44.5cm

Evoc Stage 18

  • Storage 100% 100%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 20% 20%
  • Weight 50% 50%

Pros

Top Notch Comfort and Storage

Cons

No Water Reservoir Included

Pricey

Gear Capacity: 18l

Bladder Capacity: Accommodates Hydration Systems Up To 3l (Not Included)

Weight: 965g

Dimensions: 8.25” x 17.3” x 4.75” / 28 x 50 x 12cm

Evoc CC 10l

  • Storage 90% 90%
  • Comfort 90% 90%
  • Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking 50% 50%
  • Weight 60% 60%

Pros

Comfortable

Stable

Great Storage and Accessibility

Cons

Average Ventilation

Subpar Water Reservoir

Gear Capacity: 8l

Bladder Capacity: 2l

Weight: 690g

Dimensions: 7.9” x 19.7 x 3.9” / 20 x 50 x 10cm

Storage

The largest pack on our list, the Evoc Stage 18 is not short on storage, nor does it come up short on storage features. A large main compartment will hold everything that you might need it to, from spare tubes, co2 canisters and pumps, to a few small Tupperware containers for those who prefer fine trailside dining to Cliff Bars. At the top of this compartment, there is a single mesh pocket, which can be used for quick access. In addition to being one of the largest main compartments of the hydration packs that we reviewed, the Evoc Stage’s main compartment also unzips further down the sides of the pack than others, making for an almost lay flat clamshell design. This makes it very easy to open the pack up and survey its contents.

Just outside of the main compartment, the Evoc Stage 18l features a fleece lined sunglass compartment, which is also a great place to stash your cell phone.

On the front of the pack, there is a quick access tool compartment, which features several dividers so that you don’t find yourself digging through a million things when you only need one.

Outside of the pack, the Evoc Stage has a few more tricks up its sleeve. It features a “helmet net” for carrying open face helmets, as well as straps that will hold your full face lid. There is also a stowed away rain cover, and there is even the option to attach a “protective gear pouch” to the outside of the pack but, unfortunately, that nifty little item is sold separately.

Comfort

Comfort is an area where the Evoc Stage 18 shines. While most Evoc backpacks feature back protection, the back panel of the Evoc Stage is fully devoted to comfort and ventilation. This takes the form of Evoc’s Air Flow back panel, which consists of mesh tightly stretched across four pads. These pads do a great job of keeping the pack secured tightly to your body, while the mesh paneling delivers a solid amount of airflow to your back.

The shoulder straps feature Evoc’s brace link. Brace link is a metal tab similar do a D ring, which connects the straps to the pack. Both the strap and the main pack body attach to the link via a nylon loop, which is free to slide back and forth, allowing the pack to perfectly form to the contours of just about any rider in just about any position.

Like the Osprey Raptor, which also received top marks for comfort, the Evoc Stage 18 uses a more substantial hip belt than many of the hydration packs on our list. This results in a pack that stays more secure, while their ventilated nature keeps added heat build-up to a minimum.

Water Reservoir and Ease of Drinking

The Evoc Stage is one of our favorite hydration packs in almost every single way. However, it has one major shortfall. It doesn’t come with a water reservoir! This might not be too important if this were a backpack review, but since the focus is on “hydration” packs, a “hydration” pack without a water reservoir is a bit of a shortcoming.

The good news is that this frees you up to choose the water reservoir from your favorite brand, as some riders will no doubt prefer a pack and a reservoir from a different manufacturer. However,  At $150, Evoc doesn’t really leave you with too much budget for adding on extras, like a water reservoir or their add on gear holder.

The reservoir compartment is large, easy to access, and features a standard hole to run the hydration hose through, as well as a loop to run it through on the shoulder strap. We just wish that it came with a hydration reservoir in it.

Weight

Weighing in at just shy of 900g, the Evoc Stage is one of the heavier hydration packs that we reviewed. However, it is not the heaviest, and this is all the more impressive when you consider the fact that it is the largest, as well as one of the most comfortable.

What Did We Really Think?

Overall, the Evoc Stage 18 is an amazing hydration pack for mountain biking. Furthermore, its 12l version gives up none of the features of its larger sibling. It even features the same organization setup, with a smaller main compartment, so you are not missing out on any organizational features if you decide that you love the pack but don’t need the extra space.

The thing that holds the Evoc Stage back is its nickel and dime approach for “extras.” While I could see selling the detachable protective gear pouch as an extra, at $150, we expect to see a hydration pack for mountain biking come with a water reservoir. 

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