- Buyer's Guide
First Look: EVERGOODS CHZ26 and CAP2L
If you’ve spent any time in our Carryology Classified group or followed any other carry forum, chances are that you have heard of EVERGOODS. Jack and Kevin, the dynamic duo who left their respective roles at Patagonia and GORUCK, stormed onto the carry scene in 2017 from a small corner of rural Montana. Since then they have swiftly developed a loyal following with their crossover collection that initially included the Civic Panel Loader 24 (CPL24) and the Mountain Panel Loader 30 (MPL30). These bags enhance the user’s ability to indulge in the “crossover lifestyle” that so many of us yearn for. The ability to go from work to activity at a moment’s notice.
They continued this trend when adding a Mountain Quick Draw 24 (MQD24) hiking pack and Civic Transit Backpack (CTB40) all-rounder to their catalog next. In autumn 2019, they introduced the Civic Half Zip 22 (CHZ22), and this autumn they updated their line with subtle, user-inspired changes to bring us the V2 of both the CPL (now in a 24 and 28) and MPL30. I give you this lineage not for historical accuracy, but for a grasp of their ideology. You only need to listen to Jack and Kevin discuss how they considered the ethos of the brand before they had a product to understand their goal here.
EVERGOODS continues to design and create products that allow you to do more living, and less yearning. The two newest items to their impressive catalog are the natural evolution of that ethos: The Civic Half Zip 26 (CHZ26) and the Civic Access Pouch 2 (CAP2L).
Civic Half Zip 26 (EVERGOODS CHZ26)
I wanted to love the original CHZ22. It was sleek, stylish, and functional. However, it was too small for me. I stand 6ft tall, and weigh 220lbs. It just didn’t fit me how I wanted it to, particularly after the great experiences I had previously enjoyed with the CPL and MPL packs. So when they announced the slightly longer, slightly more voluminous EVERGOODS CHZ26, I was very excited. Then when I learned it had some sneaky upgrades, I had to sit down.
Let’s start with the construction: no matter how good a design is, the material and manufacturing choices have to match up. EVERGOODS knows that, and pays very close attention to what materials will make their bags excel. The outer shell of the EVERGOODS CHZ26 is 500D High Tenacity nylon with a PU coating. I really, really, really like this material. It is robust enough that you can take this bag wherever it needs to be taken without having to be overly delicate. I had no concerns setting it down on the tarmac at the train station, the gravel by the turf, or the stone floor at the office. It can take a lot of abuse, and still look good doing it. The Air Textured Yarn has a subtle matte finish which allows the bag to blend into its surroundings; no sheen here!
Add in the fact it is PU finished on the inside and DWR coated on the outside, this bag can take a pretty good beating and keep your precious goodies safe and dry. In fact, on the East Coast, we’ve been having a pretty bizarre weather front. It has been varying from glorious sunshine to 3-hour-long torrential downpours on the same day. During said downpour, my EVERGOODS CHZ26 took a lashing from the heavens, but my Kindle, iPad, and change of clothes all remained bone dry! The YKK 10 and 8 RC zippers are also coated with a DWR finish, adding another layer of resistance to the elements. While the bag isn’t waterproof per se, I was truly impressed.
The bottom of the pack has some padding so you don’t have to worry about your items getting damaged. This also provides some extra rigidity and structure to the bag.
Want a hug?
The brand’s bags are known for their comfortable, ergonomic harness system. The EVERGOODS CHZ26 offers you a hug every time you put it on. No load lifters or multiple adjustments needed here, it conforms to your back with ease. That is aided by shoulder straps from Zotefoams, so you can get the attention you’ve been missing during lockdown. Loneliness aside, comfort shouldn’t be underestimated in a bag, and EVERGOODS understands that. In all of the bags that I have used from them, I have never found myself doing the self-soothing shoulder rub or the mini yoga session at the end of the day after taking the bag off. The harness design keeps the load close enough to your back for good posture and balance, but far enough away that your movement isn’t restricted.
Similar to its smaller sibling (and all bags in their catalog), the EVERGOODS CHZ26 has all the pockets you need, but not a single one more. Externally, the stretch water bottle pockets expand comfortably to hold a 36oz water bottle, a pair of gloves, or even a packable raincoat with great ease. The small holes in the corners allow dirt and debris to find their way out; it’s basically self-cleaning! These sleeves are also sleek and spring back to the bag’s side when not in use. I like that they don’t billow like a sail when empty, it keeps in line with the minimalist urban aesthetic.
The top quick-access pocket is perfect for any combination of wallet, keys (key loop), glasses, mask, and hand sanitizer. The YKK #10 zipper on this pocket follows the natural line of the pack which makes it a breeze to use and allows you to get at those crucial items the moment the bag is off your back.
Internally, the gray 420D high tenacity nylon is tougher than you find on the outside of many packs! It is robust, and should leave you with no qualms about using this however you see fit. My rugby boots (studs and all) have been in and out of this bag. There isn’t even a sign of fraying or any nicks on the lining. An elegant, suspended laptop sleeve made out of a four-way stretch material hugs your laptop and keeps it snug. It is also padded so your computer is safe from any scuffs or scrapes from other items stored in the main compartment. It held my 16″ MacBook Pro comfortably, and could probably house a 17″ laptop too. While this is primarily for laptops, in true EVERGOODS fashion it also doubles as a slot for your hydration reservoir if you’re taking the CHZ26 into the wild.
Aside from the laptop sleeve, there are two organization pockets. The simple security pocket is a good spot for a phone, headphones, a wallet, a notebook, and any other smaller items that you could access quickly, but want to keep secure. Underneath that is a slender mesh pocket. I found this to be a great spot for a beanie, gloves, or a pencil case. The final internal organization are some simple pieces of webbing. These housed my flashlight (for that 4pm sunset!), a couple of pens, and a pocket knife. You could also hang smaller pouches off these if you desire more specific organization. These pocket choices are everything that I need in a daily bag. I didn’t once find myself muttering “I wish it had…” – always a good sign.
How and what does it carry?
The EVERGOODS CHZ26 feels a little bit like the lovechild of the CPL24 and MPL30, both aesthetically and in use. It really hits a sweet spot sizewise and in its functionality. For daily carry I think that the 26L size is perfect. I carried my computer setup, lunch, an extra layer, and a waterproof jacket with room to spare. When on photo assignment, I carried a mirrorless, two lenses, accoutrements (batteries, remotes, SD cards), and a tripod with great comfort. While I haven’t yet had the chance to take it on a full day hike, on a 6-mile ramble, I carried extra layers, waterproofs, IFAK, and snacks for both my wife and me. As with all EVERGOODS backpacks, the CHZ26 is truly versatile and fits their crossover culture.
All technical details aside, what makes this bag a winner, in my opinion, is how enjoyable it is to use. Due to comfortable handles, easy opening zippers, well-placed pockets, and everything in between, I found myself smiling using this bag. It just made my day a bit easier. I found myself getting down to business a little quicker at work, putting my sunglasses on swiftly when the downpours stopped, and guzzling water with a quick pull from the side of the bag. I don’t think ease of use can be underestimated in a daily bag. It should enhance your day, not hinder it. With the perfectly sized EVERGOODS CHZ26 I feel like I saved a few minutes every day, whatever activity I was engaging with. In my eyes, that is a life hack worth indulging.
Civic Access Pouch 2 (CAP2L)
If you’ve had the pleasure of using EVERGOODS items, you’ll know how great they are. However, if we’re being honest with ourselves there are times where perhaps you want to delve into other parts of your carry collection. Maybe you want to go classic with a waxed cotton bag. Or you’re escaping for a few days away with your fancy weekender but you still yearn for that EVERGOODS hit. Thanks to the CAP2L now you can bring the Bozeman company with you, wherever.
This little combination of 420D and 210D high tenacity nylon has been a legitimate revelation to me. I, like many others, am a self-confessed pouch-a-holic. I have far too many, but at the same time not enough. The ones that I do own all have a purpose and have served me well. I have everything from extremely subject-specific millimeter perfect pouches to all-rounders that can multitask pretty well. However, I find myself quite often doing the Goldilocks swap depending on my need. “This is just too big” or “that’s just too small”. I don’t say this lightly, but the CAP2L could be “just right”.
I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at how much this can hold after I’ve talked about how EVERGOODS design is functional to the nth degree. But nonetheless, I am surprised! They’ve achieved a wonderful balance of simplicity and intricacy with this CAP2L. Thanks to the intelligent use of space, it holds a lot for a 2L pouch.
In my testing I managed to carry the following in the CAP2L: 1 x car and house keys, 1 x wallet, 2 x notebook, 2 x full-size pens, 3 x 2m cables, 2 x SD card, 2 x microSD, 1 x computer hub, 1 x 100w charger, 1 x SSD, 1 x EDC kit (scissors, cache, pen), 1 x snack bar. To me, that is an impressive amount. And if I wanted to cram more in, I probably could. However, personally I like a pouch to be usable at a moment’s notice. I believe you have to leave room for the ability to move items around and quickly access what you need.
This is where Kevin and Jack have really taken the design to another level compared to other pouches I’ve used. What I’m going to call the “caddy” feature is really quite something. With one wonderfully smooth zipper motion, the pouch goes from a rectangular shape to a triangular profile with a flat bottom. I go from having an assortment of my tools bundled together, to an easily accessible, well organized, and functional tool kit on my desk. I cannot state strongly enough how refreshing that is, particularly for remote work. There is no need to spend five minutes taking things in and out, lining them up on a coffee shop table deciphering a plan of attack. Instead, I just unzip and start working, knowing that all I need is readily available and on display for me to grab.
Not only that, one of the most enjoyable features for me is the dual access. If you’re smart with your packing of the CAP2L, you don’t even have to open this to utilize its contents. I found myself placing my most commonly used items in the top pocket. This meant my notebooks, pens, wallet, and keys could be accessed instantly. I’ve not encountered double entry on a pouch before where it is genuinely functional in a way that integrates with your daily use.
Jack of all trades
While this pouch has primarily worked in an “office” environment for me, you could easily adapt this to any manner of situations. It could transform into an individual first aid kit for hiking, and take advantage of the multiple access points. I managed to pack a small prime lens, some batteries, a strap, some microfiber cloths, and spare SD cards to work as a small camera cube for my mirrorless camera accessories. If you use action cameras or a point and shoot, this would perform admirably. I don’t doubt there are myriad ways to utilize this intelligent design to great effect.
Nooks and crannies
The CAP2L has a curated selection of pockets and zippers. I like the fact that the chaps at EVERGOODS haven’t rammed it with 25 different zips and elastic. Through this design choice, as I alluded to earlier, it is genuinely malleable. If you look at the CAP2L when open, there are two large simple pop pockets that house most of your bigger items, in my case a computer charger and EDC kit. In the middle of the compartment there is a wonderful “floating wall” with a zipper pocket directly down the center. This is truly useful as it allows you to change the format of your loadout.
You can, for example, move it to increase the volume on either side of the wall. It is lightly padded, so you could use it to add some protection for more delicate items. The zipper compartment in this floating wall is big enough to hold batteries, SD cards, computer dongles, etc. It even has its own small pocket to put small items in. It fits a Space pen, small pocket knife, or business/credit cards nicely.
When in caddy mode, there are three small pockets along the front wall, two short and one long. These can pop open or lie flat. They can easily accommodate a USB drive, an eraser, some post-its, or similarly sized items. On the “top” of the pouch, you have the double-entry pocket. This is accessible from the outside when closed, and from the inside when in caddy mode. I estimate that this pocket is roughly a third of the capacity of the whole pouch. It comes with EVERGOODS’ signature red key loop and gray mesh that is both tough and opaque enough for you to see the goodies inside.
On the outside of the pouch you have two large slip pockets. These rise to about 90% of the height of the unit. Personally, I didn’t find these useful for my day-to-day, although your mileage may vary. I prefer to carry things zipped away. It’s worth noting that there isn’t a huge amount of give in these pockets. They are likely best used for passports, notebooks, and the like.
The outside also has the Velcro 2×2 EVERGOODS hook and loop logo patch which allows you to attach a morale patch of your choice. Personally, I love the EVERGOODS glow patch for this! The pouch is finished with a grab handle, flanked by two loops, allowing you to either attach other items or carry freely!
In sum, the CAP2L has left my other pouches gathering dust on my shelf. Not because they are bad, but because it is that good. When I say good, I don’t mean that it is the most expensive, or the rarest, or any of that fluff that sometimes pushes us into buying products. I say it because, similarly to the EVERGOODS CHZ26, this pouch has streamlined my working day. It doesn’t take up much space at all, and it’s enjoyable to use. When we look at the grand scheme of things, what else does a pouch need to do?
People often talk about simplicity in a complicated fashion. It is seemingly so close to us at all times, yet sometimes hard to obtain in our daily routines. However, that doesn’t appear to be the case in the EVERGOODS workshop. Jack and Kevin’s philosophy on design, materials, and life itself have yet again distilled into two wonderfully authentic and useful products. I cannot wait to see what’s next for them, but until then, thanks to these two items, I’ll genuinely be able to go about my daily routine in more comfort, with a bit more efficiency, while keeping my eyes open for the next adventure. For a bag and a pouch, that’s quite the impact.