- Buyer's Guide
EVERGOODS CIVIC Half Zip 22L Review
By now, we all know the origin story of two superheroes who united to create a modern team that the EDC world needs right now. Experts in design and R&D from GORUCK and Patagonia, Jack and Kevin launched their first pack, the CPL24 and EVERGOODS along with it, three years ago.
Since then the CPL24 has seen a revision, they launched the Mountain Panel Loader for off-road adventures, and a 40L Civic Transit Bag for you dedicated one-baggers out there. But they didn’t stop there. EVERGOODS recently launched their latest EDC bag, the CIVIC Half Zip 22L (CHZ22) and it’s a stunner.
I started my obsession with the CPL24 after Jack showed us an early prototype in a top secret meeting at Summer OR in Salt Lake City, close to four years ago. Since then I’ve watched the company go through a successful Kickstarter campaigns, deal with moving production off-shore, and make small tweaks to the bag. But I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger.
Since then, I’ve talked to two EDC company founders who swear by their bags and carry them daily. And the overall consensus in the carry community is that the CPL24 was a triumph.
But, you see, the CPL24 checked almost all the boxes for me but I had some niggles with the design. The laptop compartment was not suspended and took up a lot of volume, even when empty. And the quick-access zipper was on the “wrong” side, if you’re right-handed. Also, for many, the lack of water bottle pockets was a no-go from the start.
Personally, I need to carry a laptop everyday and also like to carry lots of small accessories (notepad, pens, battery pack, cables, charger). I also use my EDC pack primarily for work and the occasional trip and would prefer one bag serve both purposes. I like bags that are between 18L and 22L and I need them to carry comfortably on hauls. Finally, I have a smaller frame (5’8″) and like bags to carry compactly and “densely”, which means a pack that is self-contained, without too much dangling loose, and void of too much sway as I explore.
After carrying the CIVIC Half Zip 22L for nearly two months, I can tell you it checks all those boxes and more. It shares much of the same DNA as the CPL24 including the shell and lining material, zippers, and shoulder strap foam but then it starts straying from its older brother in a refreshing way. Instead of a full clamshell opening the CHZ22 is a half-zip so it’s more akin to a traditional EDC school or book bag. The truncated zipper opening means room for a water bottle pocket on each side.
The laptop compartment is suspended and both it and the water pockets self-adjust so they slide out of the way when not being used. There are two accessory pockets, one accessible from the outside of the bag, just behind the main compartment zipper. The other is inside the front of the bag, for items that may require more security or are accessed less often. Small details like accessory loops on the inside and outside of the bag really pull it all together.
So how is it to actually use? In a few words: familiar and reliable. I switch my main pack 3-4 times a year so I get to really put many different styles through their paces. The CHZ22 is built very much like a traditional school backpack which I consider a big pro. There are no load lifters to fiddle with and there is only about ten inches of slack on the shoulder strap attachment. I prefer to wear my packs high and close to my back and not slouched and low so your mileage may vary depending on your stance. While I like the short length and the loops at the end for easy adjustment, I do wish there were some loops or clips to tuck away the excess webbing.
Comfort-wise, the bag is great. I love how compact and dense it feels on my back and that’s generally the “feeling” I like when carrying a bag. I don’t want bags to necessarily feel heavy but I want the load to stay tight together so there aren’t major sways or shifts in weight. The shoulder straps are really beefy and the padding is really consistent and uniform which means there are no hot spots. I wish, for my body shape, the straps curved in a bit more so it would put less pressure on the edge of my armpits, but that’s just a small niggle.
Let’s take a deeper dive into what makes this backpack such a joy to use. Starting with the materials, the CHZ22 features a 500D High Tenacity Nylon with a water-resistant coating. This is the same as you’ll find in the CPL24. It has a tightly finished weave with high abrasion resistance and a matte finish which I think looks great in an urban or office environment. After using the bag and putting it on the ground on a daily basis, I haven’t seen any dirt or debris on it. My office is also pet-friendly and we have a handful of office dogs but my area doesn’t have any. Regardless, I haven’t seen any issue with dirt or hair. During the review, I set it down in the dirt path a few times. The bottom got dusty just like any bag would but it brushed off pretty easily.
The interior lining is made of 420D HT nylon with PU coating in a contrast (gray) color to make it easier to find things. I think I would have preferred a brighter color like an orange interior but that might be too much for the entire inside. Maybe just for the top accessory pocket?
The shoulder straps are lined with nitrogen gas filled Zotefoams which results in uniform bubble distribution, even density and long-lasting compression recovery. The straps are also constructed like a sandwich, with the top material cut longer than the bottom before being joined together. This results in a natural curve of the strap, mimicking the curve of the chest.
The bag uses two sizes of YKK RC zippers which were designed for luggage, where high resistance to abrasion is critical. They are also DWR treated for increased water resistance. In some areas of construction, patterns are cut at a 45-degree angle from the roll of the fabric. This increases abrasion resistance in areas that need it most such as the bottom of the bag and the top of the shoulder straps.
The rest of the hardware is pretty average. The pull tabs, buckles, and sternum strap all do their job but they are nothing to write home about. I actually wish the zipper pulls were paracord but the flat-cord that comes with it works just fine and is long enough to function well.
The laptop compartment is suspended and holds up to a 15″ laptop. I use it daily with my 2015 MacBook Pro 15″ which is obviously a little thicker and heavier than the newer generations. It handles the laptop perfectly. One interesting aspect of the design is the top accessory pocket hangs loose in the main cavity and creates a sort of flap over the laptop area. This means any time you take the laptop in or out, you need to deal with pulling the computer around the flap, or tucking it behind the flap. This doesn’t take more than a few seconds but it’s a strange interaction that doesn’t really occur with other bags. Of course, you could always decide to just let the flap sit behind your laptop. The compartment also supports a water bladder with exit over each shoulder.
The two accessory pockets are great. There’s an easy-access one just behind the main compartment, at the top. It has a red key strap which I hardly use but can see coming in handy when I travel and need to store my house keys. I put my work badge, sunglasses, and little knick-knacks in there. It’s great to be able to quickly grab at the badge when I get to work. Due to the position of the pocket, I can even wear the pack on my front and still access the contents easily.
The other pocket is on the inside front of the pack. I like unzipping the main compartment half way on each side, allowing the front to fold open, creating a sort of shelf. From there, it’s easy to slide items in and out of the pocket, perpendicular to the bag.
Top Strap and Freestanding
The top carry strap, which I’ve always said is a must-have on any bag, is just great. It’s nice and wide, thick, and well padded. I use it every single day and am not worried about carrying the bag by it for long periods, if needed. The zippers, as described earlier, do a great job keeping water and dirt out but sometimes I think, combined with the front shape of the bag, can be difficult to use. Since the half-zip nature of the opening is curved, the front of the pack has a tendency to collapse on itself (especially if the bag isn’t stuffed full). This results in a strange path for the zipper; lots of curves in and out. In my experience, opening is usually a two-handed affair. This doesn’t bother me much and I got used to it pretty quick.
The bottom of the pack features a large flat area, so it’s designed to freestand. However, this is really dependent on what sort of load you have in the pack. If you don’t carry the right combination and weight and volume, the bag will tip over, usually forward due to the design and shape of the bottom area.
Water Bottle Pockets and Latch Points
The big addition to the bag, over the CPL24, is of course the water bottle pockets. A simple foldover design prevents snagging and exposing seams. It’s fitted to hold a 1L bottle and does a good job of getting out of the way when not in use.
Speaking of the flap, there are loops sewn in that act as latch points which are perfect for pens or PALS attachments. There are also two attachment points, one on each side of the top carry loop, for small items like carabiners (Heroclip, anyone?).
So, what do we have here? Who is this bag for? To me, EVERGOODS was very purposeful in their naming scheme. It’s part of the CIVIC line of packs, which means it’s designed for in-city pursuits. It’s 22L which falls in line with a perfect EDC daypack range for me (20L +/- 2L). It supports a laptop, has accessory pockets to hold keys and pens, and water bottle pockets for your Nalgene. The back and straps are textured and padded for comfort and the pack sits high and close to your back for stable carry. It’s not without niggles but they are all very minor compared to how well the pack excels in materials, construction, comfort, and use. In my opinion, this is one of the best releases of the year, and a case study into how to nail a daypack.
I would consider the CIVIC Half Zip 22L among the best EDC backpacks I’ve used and I think it will be some time before it gets rotated out. Bravo, EVERGOODS!
Note: My friend Jonathan modeling the bag is 6’2″ tall.