×
SIGN-UP AND GET THE SCOOP ON THE WORLD'S BEST CARRY
Carryology delivered. Your inbox. every two weeks.
Only the best stuff, we promise.

Insights

5 Key Elements :: Designing EVERGOODS Crossover Equipment

by , June 25, 2017

A lot of bags claim to be versatile. But with EVERGOODS gear, they really mean it. Versatility is a key design element in their carry, which aims to deftly straddle the outdoor/urban divide. Helming the Bozeman, Montana-based brand is GORUCK co-founder Jack Barley, as well as Kevin Dee whose design experience includes Patagonia’s advanced R&D center. Eager to dig down into the brand’s design ethos, we asked Kevin to share insights into creating EVERGOODS’ crossover carry equipment… 

1. What does “Crossover Equipment” mean?

When you start telling people that you’re working on a backpack brand, the first question you usually get is something like “What kind of product is it?” or “What’s the market you’re after?” or “What’s going to be your angle?”  Basically people want to know what established backpack genre your product will fit into, and what (if anything) you think will make your bag stand out from the ocean of bags already on the shelf.

These are good questions, and ones that deserve answers if you’re making backpacks (or anything else).  Jack is generally a bit better spoken on this topic than I am, but the answer for a while was this string of run-on sentences that attempted to explain what we wanted EVERGOODS to do.  Eventually we started calling it “crossover equipment” and saving the run-on sentences to answer the follow-up question: “What does Crossover Equipment mean?”

At its essence, Crossover Equipment is general-purpose gear that’s intended to work well across a variety of environments and scenarios, mainly Outdoor and Urban settings.  This certainly isn’t a new idea.  Plenty of brands are offering product marketed as “town-to-trail” or similar.  But rather than an afterthought or some new outlier in the product line, we wanted this to be the focus of EVERGOODS from day one.

“At its essence, Crossover Equipment is general-purpose gear that’s intended to work well across a variety of environments and scenarios, mainly Outdoor and Urban settings.”

2. Where’s the focus in “general-purpose”?

If you’re making an activity-specific pack, then most of the design decisions flow from the perspective of that activity.  But what becomes the focal point of general-purpose utility packs?  EVERGOODS has planned product lines around several different landscapes.  We’ve designed packs focused for each environment, but suitable to crossover into the others, with fit and ergonomics as a high priority for everything we make.

“EVERGOODS has planned product lines around several different landscapes. We’ve designed packs focused for each environment, but suitable to crossover into the others, with fit and ergonomics as a high priority for everything we make.”

The CPL24 is our more city-focused pack.  It’s got a tight, clean profile for denser surroundings and a boxier silhouette for hauling rectangular and cylindrical things like water bottles, notebooks and computers.  There are plenty of laptop compatible backpacks, and putting the weight of a laptop right against your back makes a lot of sense from a load-carrying perspective, but it usually ends up feeling like you’re wearing a board.  The laptop sleeve in the CPL24 is narrow at the bottom to stabilize the computer, and wider towards the top so that the shoulder harness can wrap the contour of the body while the laptop continues its linear course. This pocket is padded on all sides for laptop protection, but it easily accommodates a hydration bladder with low-profile tube routing over either shoulder for more active pursuits like hiking or mountain biking.  The CPL’s laptop focus with hydration flexibility is a great example of how Jack and I are thinking about “Crossover”.

“The CPL24 is our more city-focused pack. It’s got a tight, clean profile for denser surroundings and a boxier silhouette for hauling rectangular and cylindrical things like water bottles, notebooks and computers.”

Similar considerations had to be balanced in the hip belt of our MPL30.  This is the mountain-focused bag of our launch, and the hip belt’s primary job is to transfer the pack’s load into the hips and pelvis.  But we really wanted to do this without a thick, monstrous foam belt, just in case you end up in a grocery store or a Greyhound bus with this bag on.  So we designed a lower-profile, integrated hip belt, and a lot of effort went into patterning the bag to fit the lower back and the hips with as few parts as possible.  The entire hip wing and bottom assembly is padded with a single piece of foam, adding structure and load transfer in a minimal package so that the harness can do its load-carrying job on the trail, but also fold up and get out of the way in an overhead bin or vehicle trunk.  We also worked pockets into the hip belt so you can easily get at those small essentials, whether they’re Clif Bars or credit cards.  This balance of urban and outdoor is at the core of EVERGOODS’ Crossover concept.

“The entire hip wing and bottom assembly is padded with a single piece of foam, adding structure and load transfer in a minimal package so that the harness can do its load-carrying job on the trail, but also fold up and get out of the way in an overhead bin or vehicle trunk.”

3. So, what features define “crossover”?

Because these are general-purpose utility bags, there are no ice axe loops or crampon bungees on the MPL, and no cup holder or shoe compartment on the CPL.  For this reason, fit and intuitive layout probably define Crossover more than any specific features or doodads.

Jack and I thought a lot about how bags work when you’re wearing them, and also how they work when you’re not wearing them.  Most bags don’t really sit upright when you set them down, they always fall over.  Rather than attempt to defy gravity, we decided to accept it and consider design from this point of view.  We engineered the pocket arrangement and zipper orientations on both of these bags to work from an upright or sideways position.  This side access not only works while the bags are sitting on the ground, but can also be utilized on the body, an inspiration from years spent using sling bags as a bike messenger in Chicago.  Things like this aren’t easy to point to in a sales pitch, but it’s these kinds of design considerations that excite me about the work that Jack and I are doing.

“We engineered the pocket arrangement and zipper orientations on both of these bags to work from an upright or sideways position. This side access not only works while the bags are sitting on the ground, but can also be utilized on the body…”

4. Build and materials

Lots of people are drawn to product from technical mountain brands, and with good reason.  Pursuits like alpine climbing bring life-and-death demands to harsh environments.  And products that perform in this scenario have to be “good”, right?  Certainly we all aspire to own product of this caliber, and to project the legitimacy of backcountry brands, whatever we’re doing.  EVERGOODS wants to bring this level of product-making to everyday crossover equipment through attention to fit, raw material selection and build detail.

Many of the pocket openings in these packs are clean finished, meaning that the zipper is set between two layers of fabric rather than being left raw or edge-bound.  Not only does this reduce bulk at the pocket opening for smoother hand access, it creates a double layer construction in high wear areas.  Our MPL30 uses a 420D high tenacity nylon for its shell and lining.  This fabric has a good strength to weight ratio and its bright yarns are highly abrasion resistant.  The harness uses a 500D high tenacity textured nylon, this offers a bit more friction against the body for better carry and also buffers a small amount of moisture, making it more comfortable in the harness.

“Many of the pocket openings in these packs are clean finished, meaning that the zipper is set between two layers of fabric rather than being left raw or edge-bound. Not only does this reduce bulk at the pocket opening for smoother hand access, it creates a double layer construction in high wear areas.”

The CPL24 uses the same 420D lining, but uses this 500D textured nylon throughout the entire exterior of the pack, giving it a burly feel and a duller, more subdued appearance in town.  Both of these fabrics are plainweaves (the simplest of woven constructions), and they’re also balanced weaves, meaning that they have an equal number of yarns (and strength) in the warp and the weft.  Balanced weaving is more expensive and you can’t really see it without magnification, but Jack and I wanted to use textiles that were straightforward and high performance without being flashy or gimmicky.

5. The sum of its parts

So, the body fabric on our city bag is a bit rougher and tougher, while the textile on the mountain bag is slightly lighter and brighter, but the truth is that much of the finished aesthetic of these packs is also a result of the goals and priorities that we identified in each bag’s design brief.

“Balanced weaving is more expensive and you can’t really see it without magnification, but Jack and I wanted to use textiles that were straightforward and high performance without being flashy or gimmicky.”

Staying true to our vision of crossover utility meant being honest about what these bags do, and what they don’t do.  It means that the MPL will not carry your snowboard, and the CPL will not charge your mobile devices.  Being realistic about this and not trying to build a Swiss Army knife allowed us to focus on each bag’s pocket layout and ergonomics.  Executing these with shapes and volumes that we felt were pleasing, and doing away with straps and features that we felt were unnecessary has resulted in an intuitive user experience with a clean and sophisticated appearance.  One that fits in and looks confident wherever you roam.  We hope the result is functional and modern, with the potential to become timeless.  Thanks for your interest.

“Staying true to our vision of crossover utility meant being honest about what these bags do, and what they don’t do.”


Kickstarter Giveaway

Brace yourselves pack fiends, there’s an EVERGOODS Kickstarter on the horizon (July 11th!) and Jack and Kevin have been super generous and offered – if the KS campaign funds that is –  a signed first run MPL and CPL as prizes to two lucky winners.

How do you throw your hat in the ring? Subscribe to their newsletter. Easy.

EVERGOODS

  • http://blog.watcult.com WatCult

    “The CPL24 is our more city-focused pack. It’s got a tight, clean profile for denser surroundings and a boxier silhouette for hauling rectangular and cylindrical things like WATER BOTTLES, notebooks and computers.”

    Is there a compartment for holding water bottle? I remember during the FB Live session that Jack or Kevin mentioned that there isn’t any water bottle holder for the CPL24.

    • http://www.davidadam.com/ David Adam Edelstein

      I am not associated with Evergoods but I believe their point is that there isn’t an external water bottle pocket, but it’s designed to be able to accommodate a water bottle on the inside of the pack.

    • Wesley Tian

      I prefer bags that don’t have a water bottle holder so that the you don’t have an unbalanced load on your shoulders which could lead to discomfort. It’s also more aesthetically pleasing to me without an external water bottle holder. I think they meant for the bottle to be placed near the bottom of the bag. Just my 2 cents.

Subscribe

Carryology delivered. Your inbox. every two weeks. Only the best stuff, we promise.