Starting roughly ten years ago, I started dabbling with shooting mountain bike photos, and after a couple years started to take it more seriously. Over the years I’ve used bags from Dakine, F-Stop, EVOC and others, each having their strong and weak points. I’ve never had any sort of endorsement or hookup, and always paid for my bags. Recently I had a chance to test out EVOC’s CP-26L, which unsurprisingly has 26 liters of storage. It’s worth mentioning that in the CP lineup this bag is flanked by 18 liter and 35 liter options. Anyhow, I’d actually used an older version of the CP26L in the recent past – while I was mainly very impressed with the bag, I had a couple of minor complaints and was curious to see if they’d been remedied.
- 26 liters
- 2400 grams
- External dimension: 52 x 30 x 17 cm,
- Camera compartment: 28 x 29 x 17 cm
- Room for a 2L Hydration Bladder
- Belt system for ice axes, skis, a snowboard or a tripod
- Integral rain cover.
- Side access to camera
- Padded sleeve fits up to 16″ laptop
- Top and rear zippers
- 60/40 partitions
For a big shoot where I need a lot of range in my lenses, I’d carry the following shown above, clockwise from right: Nikon D6 body, 70-200mm telephoto, 300mm, 24-70 mmmid-wide zoom, 16mm fisheye, 50mm prime, 20mm prime.
All of those lenses fit quite easily into the lower partition, with the full size camera, which has built in vertical grip by the way.
The foam partitions are soft and plush, yet do a great job of absorbing impact.
There are brilliant storage solutions throughout the bag. Clockwise from top left: 3 secure velcro slots are tailor made for storing memory cards. A sleeve in the middle of the back is ideal for cables and/or filters. The upper area is easy to access via the top loading zipper and the back as shown here. You can store food, spares, and clothing layers, or you could keep a second camera body, a strobe, or a drone up there. Lastly, there is a goggle pouch which has room for a good deal of items that you might want quick access to, as shown above.
Left: the CP26L’s fit is excellent. Curved and contoured shoulder straps and a stretchy belt keep things comfortable. Often if I’m working my way down the trail section by section, I don’t bother to close the belt’s quick release. When I have a long climb or descent however, I typically do. Right: there are a slew of lash points and straps aimed at mounting skiis, a snowboard, skateboard, extra light stands…you name it.
A deployable waterproof rain cover is stashed in a small pocked at the bottom of the bag. Incidentally, the sleeve itself adds to the bag’s padding at the base, which as you can see in the photo above, features some rubber feet to help it stand upright.
Clockwise from top: to me, one of this bag’s best features is its fully padded laptop sleeve which can take up to a 16″ laptop. It’s excellent for packing light during travel and breezing through airports. The sleeve on the front is nice for trail maps or even a light duty rain jacket. Lastly, there are two small zippers attached to the stretchy waist belt. I keep things like a multi tool, spare chain link, patch kit and zip ties in there, because you never know…
The CP26L features an outer compartment for a hydration bladder of up to 2 liters. Although I typically don’t use it, it is quite nice as an option. Generally, I stash my tripod in there as you can see above.
The compartment discussed above features a port for the water bladder hose.
The zipper parts and hardware on the CP26L are really dialed and well thought out. The zipper tabs are easy to grasp, the buckles are quick to find, and the bag has loads of adjustment throughout regarding fit. It even has a whistle built into the chest strap quick release, which is smart as it’s quite close to your mouth most times.
Lastly, something I don’t personally use often is the size access. If you’re in a hurry and want to leave one shoulder strap slung over your right side, you can quickly pull your camera out and avoid missing critical moments.
In this section, for most intents and purposes, I’ll cover overall usage and how the CP26L compares to other bags I’ve tried in the past. First and foremost, one of the best aspects of this bag is that it stays secure and out of the way when you’re riding. I’ve used a few bags in the past with a taller, narrower outlines. This meant that on steep sections the back of my helmet would hit the top of the bag when I was trying to look up – scary. This is not the case with the CP26L as it takes a slightly wider and shorter shape, thus staying out of the way. Beyond shape alone, the massive range in adjustability, quality of materials and genius fit help keep it in place nicely, even when weighed down on gnarly sections of trail. While this is mainly attributable to the sum of the parts, one of the design elements that is most deserving of credit is likely the elastic waist band – something I’ve yet to see from any competitors’ brands. Anyhow, in terms of features I can’t think of one single thing that the Germans neglected to incorporate into the bag, but that should come as no surprise. While I haven’t gone ice climbing or snowboarding with this bag, as far as I can tell, EVOC has done an incredible job of incorporating features that will be beneficial across a wide range of action sports shooting. As far as I’m concerned though, for MTB shooting they’ve left no stone unturned. Everything is exactly where you need it, in the most logical place, secure and ready to go.
As mentioned earlier, I had already worn an older version of the CP-26L in the past. In fact I basically ran it into the ground. While it was better than anything I’d used from F-Stop or Dakine, it wasn’t *quite* perfect. After a couple years of heavy use, some of the velcro partitions and separators in the camera block would come loose and disconnect, which is less than ideal. Keep in mind, that was on the old version and this new version I have uses totally different materials and is now as sturdy as can be. Another minor gripe on the old bag was that the zipper could get a little sticky and I often needed to keep things moving with zipper lube – yes that is a thing. So far, I’ve yet to need any on the new bag, which sees improved zippers. The only other minor change is that the belt is slightly thinner in terms of height, but it didn’t really feel distinctly different on trail. Lastly, one thing that separates this bag from many others is the full sized padded laptop sleeve. Many other brands have full size bags that only fit up to a 13″ laptop, which is a huge fail if you ask me. Aside from checking all of the boxes in terms of features, bells and whistles, most importantly the CP26L does a really good job of keeping your gear safe. I’ve had a few slide outs and crashes over the years with these bags (old and new) and never had any issues with my gear getting banged up.
At the end of the day, the CP26L truly has it all. It’s packed with smart features without being overwhelming. The durability of its materials is incredible and the price is quite good, comparatively speaking. It keeps your contents safe and is a dream come true to shoot with. Perhaps most importantly, it EVOC has done a great job of designing the bag to feel good on trail, so as to limit how much it affects your riding, which keeps things safe and a bit more fun. With this latest version of the bag, the CP26L sees updates that remedy the only minor downfalls of its predecessor. Twenty six liters gives you loads of room for carrying most of the lenses, spares and gear you’ll need to shoot in the field. If you’re looking for a lower profile bag with similar functionality that lets you shred even harder, the CP18L is great as well – it’s one of the few smaller bag that still fits a pro body with a built in vertical grip. I can’t say enough good things about either bag.