I have been needing to test this bag for a while now. It is, from a pedigree standpoint, a bag that should be right up my alley. But I’ve never really liked the looks of the bag, if I am blunt — it looks kind of bad on your back. However, sometimes the stars align and I say what the hell. I got this bag for something like $130 on sale, and I am glad I did. This is a damned good bag.
GORUCK style interior labeling. Love the extra details they added to it.
As I mentioned: I wasn’t a fan of the looks of this bag, however what I mean is I like the way it looks not on a person, but on a person it looks weird. So purely from an aesthetics point of view, this is a nice looking bag. I can’t see my own back, so I have to pretend I look awesome wearing it.
The entire bag is understated. It is stealth. If you don’t know what it is, then you ignore it. It doesn’t look cheap, but it also doesn’t look special. Which is ideal. Ideal because now you don’t need to worry about becoming a target just because you have a badass backpack on. It’s a thing, go with me on this. Instead this bag looks at home in an office or plane, or hiking trail. It blends well.
But there are two issues with the looks of this bag:
- The bladder sleeves on the straps tend to pucker up when not in use. That’s lame, that looks bad. This is a city bag, save the bladder pass through for the mountain bags.
- The way this bag is designed, the top pulls towards your body, this makes the bag look top heavy when worn on your person and thus bigger than it actually is. Not cool.
When empty, you can really see how low profile the bag can be.
Even after only a few weeks of usage, you can see the frame sheet is bent slightly forward, and you can begin to see my issues with the harness system.
This is silly, but that bent forward part bothers the crap out of me. It looks dumb.
For the CPL 24, this bags ranks very high on the utility scale, basically second on my list of bags. This bag has three primary compartments:
- Front vertical zipper pocket.
- Main compartment: including two zippered pockets on the lid and one elastic mesh type pouch.
- Laptop compartment.
Dreaded front vertical pocket of doom. Lovely red key keeper.
The only real complaint about these pockets is the ill thought out front vertical pocket. Basically when it zips vertically you open it usually by tipping the bag on the side. This is great in meetings, except this pocket is a black hole and everything sloshes to the bottom of it when you stand the backpack up right, as in putting it on your back, like you would with — say — a backpack. This is a common complaint about the bag, so I agree, it is an issue. I have to use pouches in this pocket to make it useful. And to keep from getting a lump of shit at the bottom of the bag.
The main compartment is fantastic. Well thought out and well sized. In fact, at 24L, this backpack is ideally sized for everyday carry purposes. It houses everything I need, without a lot of extra room left on days I carry more. It’s very good and leaves little room for complaint.
Top of the laptop compartment, where you can hang a water bladder and see the nightmare extra material.
The laptop compartment is likewise good and easy to access. Much easier than most bags. Stuff slides in and out nicely, and the zipper is never in your way.
The thing is, with the CPL 24, if all you wanted the bag to be is an office bag, like a Tumi, then this is a winner all around. But the CPL wants to be more than that, it has water bladder ports and it wants to be more of a platform. And once you start to use this CPL for those activities. For hiking, for day trips with the kids, for travel, the bag starts to show weaknesses.
That same lack of volume you praise for everyday use, isn’t often enough when you want to stuff bulkier goods in it. I feel like I can store more in the 21L GR1 than I can in this 24L bag because I feel like a lot of the volume is in the laptop compartment and the front pocket. Which is not where I need the space.
And while the handles are superb, the side handle is much too long. It is not needed to be that long and it actually detracts from the functionality of it as it can and does get caught on things when moving the bag in and out of tighter areas (like the seat in front of you on a plane).
The bag is really great if you are headed to the office, perhaps one of the best office backpacks I have ever tested. But its only ‘good’ for everything else — not great. It is simply not as versatile of a bag as it is sold to be. Remove the water bladder hose pass through, clean up the side handle, and all of a sudden it might become the best backpacks on the market — still, not the one you want to travel with or do non-office things with, because…
Carry & Comfort
These are almost my favorite shoulder straps.
Half of the backpack is carrying it and the comfort related to that. So let me say upfront, its super comfy, provided you keep your carry ‘in scope’. I’ll explain…
I tested the abilities of this with a 20LB ruck plate in the laptop compartment and went for a 2 mile ruck. This is my new standard testing metric for comfort as it will quickly point out to me flaws you might find after a day of traveling with a lighter bag. Here’s my observations from that ruck:
- The bag performed far better than I thought it would. Specifically the straps themselves were incredibly comfortable and supportive. These are A+ level straps and among the best out there.
- Because of the design, with how the top of the straps move forward to almost curl with your back, it is hard to maintain good posture while wearing this bag with weight. Typically, I found that my shoulders and upper back curled forward with the weight — this is not good at all.
- Further, the billow that allows for the top of the straps to articulate forward increases the space in the laptop area, such that the ruck plate was no longer secure and flapped back and forth smacking the top of my shoulder blades. So I am guessing a large and heavy gaming laptop will face the same issues. I really can’t excuse this.
- Lastly, the way the straps articulate forward causes excess weight to be felt at the bottom edge of the bag, pushing into your lower back. I diagramed it for you too…
Without my lovely annotations.
Yellow: line of the back of the bag without it expanding out. Red: the bit that rolls forward with you. Green: area of hatred.
This is the Achilles heel of this pack — the harness is too clever, so that it lost functionality. It is wonderfully comfortable if you keep your load under 10lbs, but if you go over that then you are being pulled backwards because of that billows or you are curving forward to compensate — both are bad.
Here’s the deal: this is one of the best, if not the best, EDC packs I have ever used. It’s better than the GR1 if all you are carrying is a few odds and ends and a laptop/iPad. But if you want to go hiking, if you want to travel, if you want to stuff the bag full, it starts to become less than. This is what I mean when I talk about versatility of bags. This bag is good at the light duty stuff, but sucks at anything above that level (and the includes bulky items like jackets, not just weight). That’s not to say this bag isn’t durable, I think it will last just as along as a GORUCK for most people, but you’ll also use it far less.
Make no mistake, it is an amazing pack.
Better than GR1? No. But you cannot beat the price of the CPL 24 and if you cannot afford the GR1 this is what you should buy.
It almost dethroned the GR1, if they fix my issue with the harness it might dethrone it in the future. I look forward to whatever else Evergoods designs.