Evergoods CPL24 review: A great minimalistic backpack
I've been subjected to over-designed bags all of my life, so when I finally come to a bag that has been carefully crafted from top to bottom I find myself trying to change it, not because its bad, but because I have been told by the many other bag companies that I need these features. When you strip away the “extra” and the “just-in-case”, you are left with a pure design. A design that has a clear intention and use. This is what two respected bag designers, one from Patagonia and the other from Goruck, came together to create.
The Evergoods CPL24 is a stylish urban-looking bag with a minimalistic aesthetic and a strong design philosophy that is felt when you use the bag. It doesn’t feel like the Evergoods designers threw in everything you might need, but instead carefully crafted a good-looking minimalist bag. Everything from the materials to the way you use the bag has a purpose or a direction it is trying to take you.
While it is not a bad backpack, at first I found myself applying my predisposed opinions on what a bag needs. Over my 3 months of using this bag for EDC, travel, and at the beach, many of these opinions changed, some stayed, but overall I gained a real appreciation for the CPL24.
Every inch of this bag felt like a departure from other backpacks I have used in the past. My experience first started with the outside of the bag in which three characteristics really struck me when using the bag. The first was when I held the bag for the first time.
The outside material has a coarse feel to it unlike other smooth nylon or polyester bags I have used in the past. The CPL24 has a 500d High Tenacity Nylon 6.6 (same yarn used in Cordura) with PU coating and an unspecified water resistant coating. This textured yarn gives the bag a black-matte look which I prefer over the shiny nature of other nylon bags.
I first noticed the bag picked up stray hairs and dust, but these debris wiped off relatively easily. Really, there was no reason to wipe them off because the bag didn't hold on to them for very long. Even if I didn't wipe the dust or hairs, after a day of normal use the dirt would be gone. What seemed like an annoyance at first really didn't turn out to be a deal breaker.
Update: Pets will cause the bag to be subjected to a relentless torrent of hair that the bag wont be able to keep up with. Hair stuck to the bag wont have time to come off before new hair finds it’s way back on. The CPL24 seems to always have hair since we got our new puppy. A lint roller gets the hair off easily. You will notice that every single photo in this article has hair or lint on it. The bag is in a constant state of having some sort of dirt on it.
Also, right before taking the final pictures, I washed the bag. This makes the CPL24 the first bag I have ever washed. The bag seems to hold on to stains. This can be a deal breaker for some as it loses its clean look, but I personally liked it when it had some dirt on it. It gave the bag a used looked that went well with its dull finish, like a patina on a leather bag. I feel like this is still a negative aspect to this bag as I dont want to be washing this bag every few months.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the bag dealt with sand on my 2 week beach vacation. Sand would gently grip, if stick at all, but with a quick shake all the sand would fall off. What did not come off easily was the lotion that stained the bag. This required me to wash the bag with mild soap and water. Kind of a bummer since I never had to do this with any other bag.
Mud on the other hand didn't stain the bag like the lotion did. The mud was easily washed off with water.
Evergood states the bag has a high water resistivity. This includes reversed DWR coated racket coil zippers, which are found on all the other zippers as well, and a water repellent finish on the outside material. As for the other external pockets there is a zipper garage on one of the vertical zippers and a gusset over the other zipper. There is no weather guard zippers and a large gap between the two zippers of the main compartment when closed, so in my opinion I wouldn’t trust my life on the weather resistivity. I believe this bag will be proficient in bouts of light rain or helping to resist mud.
As for the longevity of the material, I can see it holding up better in the long run compared to shinier textiles. Shiny textiles show their wear, but a matte bag, especially with what feels like a tough and rough coating, will look newer longer. This is completely speculation, but I will keep the article updated with long term use and wear.
The second feature of the bag is its harness system. The CPL24 has heavily contoured shoulder straps consisting of thick and plentifully stiff eva foam inserts. The straps wrap around my shoulders and chest securely. Shoulder straps are very comfortable and was able to have the pack donned for a few hours with a jacket, one liter Nalgene, and a mirrorless camera with little fatigue as I explored London.
I found this bag to be the most comfortable bag I have owned and their are a few reasons for that. The first was the nicely padded contoured straps I mentioned before. The second is a unique design where the bag contours off the wearers back and around the top shoulders. This is accomplished by having the fabric where the back panel meets the start of the shoulder straps come away from the back and create a fillet in the fabric so the bag can wrap around the back of the shoulders.
This design helps the bag sit closer to the wearer and force the bag to sit higher up on the back. There is one way to wear this bag and thats comfortably. Since the bag is always sitting in the same spot on your back, hugging it, the shoulder straps then also contour around your chest and shoulders perfectly. Combine this with the excellent foam in the shoulder straps and this bag can be worn for longer than most bags.
The CPL24 does not have a waist strap, but with the rough material and the bag hugging the wearer’s torso, the weight of the bag is distributed more on the body than other similar bags. The way it hugs the back along with the included sternum strap makes me think this would be a good bike or motorcycle commuter pack. I have not tested this but the thought creeps into my mind every time I use the pack.
Additionally, wearing the bag high up on the back adds to its attractive nature. If you haven't noticed already the bag is quite sleek and attractive. It has a minimalist clean urban look to it.
What is not found in the bag is any type of ventilation. If you dont consider the deep stitches on the back side of the pack ventilation, then CPL24 has none, not even on the shoulder straps. I found my back and shoulders get very sweaty on even short journeys. This is a shame because I love some good ventilation.
The third outside characteristic of the bag that calls for attention is the two long handles that run up one side of the bag and across the top. These two handles are large and easy to grab and sit flush to the bag giving the bag a sleek look. For a quick grab of the pack they fit their purpose, but because they are simply made of an aluminum stay wrapped with the backpacks coarse nylon, which also helps give the backpack its shape, the corners of the metal dig into the fingers when the bag is packed out.
I was pleasantly satisfied with the handles in use. Their large stature made them easy to find and handling the bag from the side or top both felt natural to use. When riding on the bus I could turn the bag sideways on my lap to a more comfortable position and quickly grab the bag and walk out without worrying what position the bag was in.
These two handles is where the design philosophy of the bag designer emerges. This is the start of the bags unique ergonomics in which the bag was designed to be accessed in both positions, side and top. The side handle can be used to help swing the bag around off of one shoulder and access the internals of the bag. This is important because some of the zippers run vertically along the bag. Which brings us to the internals of the bag.
From the outside, the bag has access to three compartments; the front quick access pocket, the large internal clamshell compartment, and the laptop pocket. The front access and laptop compartments are vertical zippers situated on the same side as the side handle. This makes them easily accessible when one-shouldering the bag or when placing the bag down on its side. This makes the bag feel like it has two bottoms and makes it nimble, picking it up and manipulating it which ever way is comfortable at the moment.
The main compartment has two zippers that go almost all the way around the bag. This allows the bag to open like a clamshell which makes packing larger items or clothes easy. I have fallen in love with clamshell bags and dont think I can go back to top-only opening backpacks. In general use, clamshell opening is superior.
I keep these two zippers at the top-side of the bag on the side of the handles so I can access it when the bag is laying on its side or bottom. These large racket coil YKK #10 zippers are easy to operate, but Evergoods incorporated pull tabs on each side of the bottom of the bag where the zippers end to help open and close the bag. This helps when the bag is full or completely empty, two times I need more leverage to close the bag.
The materials used for the liner feel just as robust as the outside. Evergoods used a 420d HT nylon with PU coating. There is not much in terms of flare when it comes to the inside, but the materials used feel great to the touch and I have no doubt they will last.
Everything I have said has been mostly good about this bag. The bag is a sleek looking backpack made of high quality materials, but where I found myself asking for more was in the minimalistic path that Evergoods took in its organization.
Quick access pocket
I believe that every backpack should have a quick access pocket. There are some items that you want to reach for while traveling and dont want to be fiddling to find. I would have preferred it to be a top quick access pocket for when the bag is at my feet on an airplane, but the front pocket that Evergoods incorporated works just as well since the bag can be rested on its side. What does not work well, at least not for all items, is that it is one non-compartmentalized large vertical pocket.
In this quick access pocket all items seem to fall to the bottom and everything piles up on each other. Because the bag can be handled from the side or top, the act of switching positions causes the items to stir around. You never know what is on top or in the back of the pocket. The zipper ends flush at the bottom so while holding the bag vertically I was afraid small items would fall out. Also, with the pocket being at the front of the bag means it is susceptible to pickpocketing. When using this bag around cities I rarely kept anything important in that pocket.
On my beach days I used this pocket to store my book and keys as the key ring is housed in this pocket. I was happy when I had a small set of keys, but when I clipped in a large set the keys started to rip up the book. The pocket is large but does not expand so a large book might not fit.
The key ring is descent and uses a simple clip that is easy to attach and detach keys. The strap is long enough that I could unlock a door without unclipping. The strap is located in the middle of the pocket which is weird place to put it, but I dont know if any other place would have been better.
The laptop compartment is situated on the side of the bag and can fit a 15in laptop (I saw a post on reddit stating their thick gaming laptop wouldn't fit) and smaller 17in laptops. This side access laptop pocket might have bothered me if this was a normal bag where everything is accessed only through the top, but this is not a normal bag. This bag is meant to be handled from the side and top equally.
There is nothing really special about this laptop compartment. The bottom is lined with foam to prevent damage to the laptop. I would have preferred a suspended bottom to the laptop compartment as some energy will transfer through foam. Every other side is lined with foam except the side with the zipper and the area of the shoulder straps that comes out to contour to the back of the wearer. I dont see these areas of exposure to be a great threat to a laptop, but this is a no frills laptop compartment.
Through this pocket you can access the plastic back panel. This back panel allows the back to always be straight and flat even when the backpack is packed out with irregularly shaped items. Others bags would have these items poking and pushing at odd spots of the back, but not the CPL24. This adds to the amazing comfort this bag has.
Finally, we make it to the large main compartment of the bag. Three other pockets can be found In this compartment; one pocket at the top of the bag with a top facing zipper, one larger meshed pocket below it with a vertical facing zipper, and a elastic sleeve pocket against the back of the backpack. There is nothing special about the two pockets. They are no frills pieces of fabric and mesh and serve as normal pouches. The elastic sleeve is kind of interesting.
The elastic sleeve is a good addition to this pack as it can hold business papers, passport, or even a large tablet. The sleeve is suspended and has its two bottom corners cut out. This accomplishes two things; prevents dirt from getting stuck at the bottom of the pocket and prevents the edges of business papers and folders from getting bent.
When traveling I kept my iPad in the laptop compartment, but when using the bag for EDC I kept it in the elastic sleeve. This is because I keep my charging brick and cables in the top pocket of the bag, so when I get to a cafe, or any other place to work, I can open one zipper, the zipper to the main compartment, and take out my iPad and its charger and get working.
Large meshed pocket
The large mesh pocket suffers from the same fate as the front quick access pocket, items just fall to the bottom and shuffle around. The mesh makes it easy to find something when the pack is fully open, but if swinging the bag over your shoulder and access it that way items will need to be found with a blind eye. This is the biggest organizational pocket in the bag, so it is a shame that Evergoods couldn't add some pockets, dividers, or pen holders. If not to this pocket, to any other pocket on this bag.
I have used many forms of backpacks and have refined the organizational style I like. I dont want to roll up to a cafe and open 5 compartments to start working, nor do I want everything in one pocket so that I need to rifle through 20 things to find that one item I need. The large pocket with some cable holders and pen holder would mean I didn't need to blindly look for my battery pack through 20 objects because those other items would be held in one place and therefore separated away from the battery pack.
Other bags like the dsptch daypack has pencil and cable management elastics in its vertical quick access pocket and the goruck has molle to attach other pockets and pouches onto the inside of the bag. Its hard to hate on the design approach that Evergoods took because of how well the bag is designed as a whole. This minimalistic approach means I needed to minimize the items I carry and add a pouch, something I usually dont use in backpacks, but this wasn't the end of the world.
Currently, my carry style consists of using the top internal pocket for my charger and charging cables. I use the front quick access pocket for my cleaning cloth, airpods, and sometimes a book. In large mesh pocket I have a slim pouch for my least used items and then items that I want to keep with me at all times, like allergy medicine, is thrown in the pocket, lose. The pouch is a nice addition to this carry style because I can remove the pouch if I use the backpack for walking around a city when I dont need to carry my travel ssd and a random micro usb cable.
I want to reiterate how good looking the CPL24 is. I must have commented on how sleek and minimalistic the bag looks many times in this review, but I have to say this is the nicest looking bag I own, and every time I wear it I cannot help but look at the bag in a mirror. No visual branding except for the velcro patch that one can place their own patch or logo over. Rides high on the back and contours to the shoulders making it look like a part of your outfit rather than a dangling amorphous container on your back. The bag has a clean look to it and I love it.
As a travel pack
At 24 liters, this bag sits between one bag travel and EDC size, but not perfectly fitting my needs for both. If I minimized my travel items down enough I could use this bag for one bag travel. The clamshell opening makes it easy to load and unload packing cubes. I can fit my full medium sized amazonbasics packing cube and my dopp kit above it, but then I dont have anymore room in the main compartment for something like my camera.
For trips to the beach or weekend adventures the bag has amble room for all my stuff. I was able to fit two beach towels, 1.5 liter bottle of water, two tubes of sun screen, 10.5 in iPad pro, a book, car keys, tissues, allergy medicine, and two iphones. This all fit into the main compartment and quick access pocket leaving the laptop compartment completely empty.
The bag does not have any external lash points (except for the large carabiner loops on either side of the handles) which means this is a strict 24 liter size. I cannot lash my sandy towel to the bottom of the bag or attach a tripod to the front. There are three loops, made from material as thick and wide as the handles, next to and in between the two handles, but those are only good for a large carabiner or rope. TSA took my large carabiner away so I dont have anything to attach to these loops.
As an EDC pack
The CPL24 works well as an EDC bag. It is small enough to not look like I'm living out of my pack, but it is at the biggest size of the EDC spectrum. At a smaller 20-22 liter, the CPL would have still been an acceptable size.
Where I did not like using the bag is when in big cities or pickpocket prone areas. The bag has no security features and the laptop and front access pocket are susceptible to easy pickpocketing. The only item I kept on the outside is a book and cleaning cloth. The rest of the items stayed in the main compartment.
What is holding me back from recommending this as a great school or work bag to others are two potential issues. The first is the lack of organization. I, for work and for school, carry many different items that I absolutely need, but with only three large pockets to stick them in I am forced to put unlike items in the same pockets, and with nothing holding them down they are mixed around creating a lottery of what item I will touch first. I feel the CPL24 does not offer as much as other bags when it comes to organization. If you dont mind the lack of organization, use pouches, or just dont carry much, then this bag can potentially work.
The second is how dirty the bag looks sometimes. You dont want to be walking into your office in a suit and dog hair covered backpack, nor do you want to be that kid at college drawing attention with your very dirty backpack. If you are someone who works in a blue collar or outdoor job, I can see the tough and worked aesthetic complementing your business attire. If you do manage to keep the CPL24 clean, I can see its sleek minimalistic style working well in all situations.
At its current price of $230, a drop from last years $250, I feel like the CPL24 offers less than other bags of similar price. When purchased only two items come in the box; a simple minimalistic bag and a sternum strap. No molle webbing to attach pouches. No attachment points on the bag except for the three awkward loops next to the handles. No weather guard zippers. No organization inside the pockets. No strap organizers. No additional pouches. One can pick up other bags for similar prices and get truck loads of features and add-ons.
With that said, I want to say that I absolutely love this bag. The bag feels and operates spectacularly. The lack of complexity gives the bag a clear vision of how you can use it. It may have few zippers, or a few of anything else for that matter, but everything it has works spectacularly.
Every material, stitch, zipper, and pocket feels like it was carefully designed, and this feeling is reinforced when you visit Evergoods website or youtube channel. There are many videos and articles explaining why they choose a certain material or why they manufactured a certain area in a specific way. You can get lost learning about different seam styles and the characteristics of materials. It is clear the designers at Evergoods know what they are talking about.
Just using the bag you can experience how little gets in your way when operating it. Zippers are smooth, seems are tidy, materials feel great, foam has the perfect level of comfort and stiffness, and the bag just sticks to your back. This is a well built and excellently designed minimalistic bag, and that can not be argued.
What needs to be considered in its high price is the high quality materials used in the bag (and that it is fabricated by a small factory in the United States)[After careful research it seems that the bags are not made in the United States]. If you consider how well built this bag is, and that it may last you a lifetime, then the price feels like it can be justified. With its high quality materials, excellent build quality, lack of complexity, and lifetime warranty I can see this bag being in my collection for a long time.
So, is the Evergood CPL24 worth the purchase? If the bag has all the features you need and you can get this bag on sale, maybe a black Friday deal or another sale, I would say go for it. I envy the people who picked up the grey CPL24 when it was on sale for $150. It is a great bag, but not a bag for everyone.
As for me, I wont use this as my daily bag for a few reasons; no water bottle pocket/no organization (I could have done without one but not both) and lack of ventilation. These are big features that I need for work. Because I loved using the CPL24 so much, it will definitely be in my bag rotation, hopefully, for the rest of my life.
Comfortable and a secure fit
Sleek and minimalistic aesthetic
Every component or material on this bag has a purpose and feels like the best material for the job
Large and easy to grab handles for its unique two style carry system
Great build quality and lifetime warranty
Few external lash points means it is a fixed volume
No organization/water bottle holder
No ventilation and hugs my back so it makes my back very sweaty
Not many interesting or stand out features for the price
Picks up dirt and hair easily
Its been three months now, and besides the stains and hair that sticks to the bag, the bag has no damage or visual wear to it.
I dont think I mentioned in the review but because there are two ways to place the bag on the floor, sideways or right-side up, you need to be conscious of which way you want to put your items in the bag. I quickly got used to this and was not an annoyance.