Review of Evergoods Civic Travel Bag (CTB35L)

Review of Evergoods Civic Travel Bag (CTB35L)

FOREWORD

Built for the unpredictable terrains of the wilderness; the sublime altitude of the sierras; and for wandering over the snow-drifted mountains and rocky highlands, we would like to welcome one of the best contenders forged for this task, the Civic Travel Bag 35L (CTB35). We’ve all come to know Evergoods for their industrial and sleek design, especially when the CPL24L went aloof in the market. It created quite a frenzy with subsequent drops of their products, and the CTB35 was no different.

It was built upon an initial blueprint of their first ever travel bag, the CTB40. Upon many remarks and feedbacks, they returned to their drawing boards, refining, and distilling what was already an extraordinary travel bag.

I, the author, had chanced upon an opportunity to bring the CTB35 on a trip to the rustic and picturesque city of Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. With its classical architecture and breathtaking views, it was sure to be an adventure worthy of this pack. Let’s see how the CTB35 fare though the rummaging of this trip.

WHO ITS FOR

1. Anyone looking for a spacious carry-on bag; one that packs like a luggage, but bestowed with the comfort and ease of access of a backpack.

2. For the itinerant traveler in search of a durable travel companion, one that would last them through years of peregrinate.

3. Anyone that values organization whilst travelling and appreciates the implementation of pockets and a dedicated laptop compartment.

AESTHETICS

The CTB35 is the embodiment of its younger siblings, draped in the same aesthetics, yet cloaked with a few functional upgrades, ones that you’ll come to appreciate with use.

Some would argue that this is just a beefed-up version of the CPL28, since they share most of their aesthetics, characteristics, and features, being rather subdued and industrial in their design choice. And I must concur. Being a fan of the CIVIC line of bags, I see this as a trump card, since I get to enjoy what the CPL has to offer yet reaping the advantages of the additional space and features the CTB provides. A big win overall.

Evergoods’ approach to styling may not be appealing or intriguing to most, but for those that value the gray man’s intuition, I grasp no better option than this; its sleek, inconspicuous, and stealthy. Bringing relatively less attention to oneself whilst travelling. Definitely a plus with avoiding atrocious pickpockets.

SPECS

  • Volume: 35L
  • Weight: 4lbs (1815g)
  • Overall dimensions: 20.5 x 8.75 x 14in (back panel length 19 inches)

MATERIALS

Fabric

Shell fabric: 420d High Tenacity Nylon 6,6 with Water Repellent Finish

The selection of materials for the outer shell is most crucial when it comes to any soft goods product, more so when it comes to travel bags. Since every ounce is of essence when we’re constantly on the go, it ought to be light weight yet not sacrificing on its durability, very difficult tasks to juggle at once. Also, weight must be kept to a minimum to be deemed worthy of a carry-on.

Evergoods utilizes a proprietary durable and water-resistant textile that’s cut from the same fabric as their MOUNTAIN line, offering weight savings with a low-bulk feel. A lower denier count 420d high tenacity nylon 6,6 fabric with PU knife coat was meticulously chosen to line the exterior of the pack. This basically means that the fabric has a high tenacity 420 denier nylon face with equal yarns in the warp and weft of the fabric, creating a perfectly balanced weave, bestowing it equal tear strength in both axes. One should note that this fabric is different from their 500D offerings on the other CIVIC line of backpacks, as those are textured nylons, having undergone an air-jet-texturing process – which gives it a more matted appearance, also enhancing the abrasion resistance of the fabric.

The 420d provides a more lucrative offer, as it maintains the balanced weave of the 500d, meaning you still get that dense feel in your hands, yet not compromising on the appearance as it tends to repel the frequent dust, lint, and the occasional dog fur more efficiently than the 500d variant. Keeping it neat and clean while you’re constantly on the go. The fabric has fared pretty well over the weeklong trip, having scuffs and dirt wiped right off with a damp fabric. I have no complaints here.

Inner lining fabric: 420d HT nylon with PU coating

The inner lining fabric is made from the same high tenacity fabric as the outer shell but sports a high-vis grey color to aid in visibility, especially in dimly lit situations, where a clear view is unattainable. This has been amazing to use on my trip to Hanoi, especially on night flights where the lighting is less than ideal. Evergoods is one of few companies that pays attention to the liner fabric, separating themselves from the crowd of high profit companies that utilizes cheap low-denier fabrics. The only other company that I’ve came across with that amount of precision and detail to their liners is Greenroom136, with their 420d Gold Oxford nylon. This gives an added peace on mind, knowing that the inner fabric is going to hold up as well as their outer fabric.

Stretchable fabric

Evergoods sourced one of the best selections of stretch fabric to be used for their packs. Built from hard-wearing mountain apparel grade 4-way stretch woven textile, it allows easy access to gloves, water bottles, sunglasses, etc. The aforementioned fabric is utilized in 2 designated areas of the bag - one being the internal document sleeve, located in the main cavity; the second being the exterior side pockets, functioning as dual side-utility pockets.

The idea behind stretchable fabrics is that it holds contents close and expands for larger items when required. Kevin and Jack, apparent wizards in their craft, came up with a simple fold-over construction, which reduces catching and increases the durability of the fabric. The elastic top edge is folded in a way that it forms a corner cutout, protecting it from abrasion which will eventually lead to punched holes. When utilized in the document sleeve, it allows papers and folders to fit better without the sharp edges impinging on the fabric. This also allow dirt, debris, and liquid to passively escape, if a situation arises that requires it to do so. A functional design bestowing Evergoods’ bags.

Inner Mesh

A color-coordinated proprietary mesh fabric is used in the interior of the CTB35. And it is remarkable, one of the best I’ve seen available in the market today. They have a certain thickness and stiffness to it, differentiating themselves from other generic companies. This gives it a sense of strength, exerting confidence that it’ll be able to withstand the wears and tears of everyday use.

Back Mesh Panel

The back mesh is something special altogether. Evergoods’ seemed to have cracked the code on creating a highly breathable back panel, yet not compromising on its durability. They went through lists of materials, with most having the issue of piling on the long run. After thorough testing, they have concluded on the ultimatum - a monofilament mesh back panel.

Piling plaques almost all bags with a mesh back panel, creating a rather unappealing look and feel after years of usage. The mono-mesh material has a nylon face for added durability and monofilament yarns beneath it to help with airflow. This refreshing take on mesh seems to have solve the age-old problem. And after handling it for the past week, the longevity of the mono-mesh seems very promising too. Evergoods might have just created the new industry standard.

Foam

Foam padding is of upmost importance in creating a functional travel pack. It either makes or breaks the usability of it. And with such at stake, Evergoods have chosen the Evazote EV50 shoulder strap from ZoteFoams for the specific task. Zote uses Nitrogen gas in a high-pressure process to create foams with small and highly uniform pore size and consistent bubble distribution throughout the material. This yields a pure EVA foam with extremely even density and long-lasting compression resistance.

The comfort of the bag is on par with the likes of Osprey and Mystery Ranch’s yoke harness system, excelling in what its intended for. Carrying the CTB35 has been a breeze, without having to take breaks as frequently even after longer carry.

Hardware

YKK

The CTB35 utilizes zippers from renowned Japanese manufacturer, YKK, situated in the highlands of the Toyama Prefecture. They are trusted internationally for their impeccable production standards and thorough quality control processes for their industrial grade zippers.

The zippers used in the back are of different sizes, with different intended use cases. A #10RC YKK Zipper line the opening of the main compartment, fitting its purpose since this is the most interacted piece of hardware on this pack. Multiple #8RC zippers line the compartments on the exterior, and #5RC YKK zippers line the interior pockets. They are all coated with a DWR finish, otherwise known as a durable water repellency finish in the outdoor and textiles industry. This is a chemical finish applied to fabrics during the finishing process to repel water, offering the zippers additional protection from the elements.

The experience of zipping and unzipping these are beyond satisfactory, a joyful and frictionless experience overall throughout this trip.

Frame Sheet: HDPE

The frame sheet is made of a highly technical material called High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. And it’s known to be sturdy and resists vigorous handling. Intended for high intensity industrial use, it’ll definitely be able to withstand occasional bents and twists.

Aluminum side stay: 7075 grade

7075 grade aluminum side stays are used for the main, side and luggage grab handles, and also for the internal frame of the bag, providing a constant silhouette, making a more rigid pack overall. I’m a fan of the implementation, although it can be rather uncomfortable after holding the grab handles for longer periods as it tends to dig into your hands. Evergoods’ approach to handles on the CTB35 is rather clever. They’ve made one that’s sort of continuous, starting from the top-right corner and extending down towards the left side. They’ve divided this by stitching it into sections, two of which form the top and left handle.

Embedded along the center air channel is a luggage pass-through. The aluminum stay makes sliding the luggage pass through onto roller-board luggage a treat to use. It also doubles a grab handle.

COMFORT

The fit and ergonomics is exceptional, having an integrated harness system with a curved aluminium stay makes for an excellent fit. And these translates well into real-world uses. I was able to carry it with ease for an approximate of 2 hours before I needed a break, and that speak volumes.

A fully padded 3D patterned hip belt contours perfectly to cup the hip bones, providing additional load support in miraculous ways, truly a Godsent. They are stowable too, getting out of the whenever you don’t require of them. Though getting it in and out of its dedicated compartment can prove to be quite a trial, due to the tight space available.

The EV50 foams plays an important role in aiding the comfort that the CTB35 provides. I would say it’s mighty comfortable for its intended use case. Evergoods also utilizes contoured shoulder straps that act as load lifter, so when carried high on our backs, the weight seemingly disappears.

ORGANIZATION

The CTB’s 35-liter capacity is maximized and decked out with thoughtful and easily accessible organization. Since it has a boxy shape and a clamshell opening, I was able to utilize the space available to its maximum capacity, not wasting even an inch of it. There are a plethora of zips and compartments to optimize organization on this bag. We’ll start with the exterior and slowly ease our way into the interiors:

EXTERIOR PANEL STASH POCKET

This dump-style pocket is a thoughtful addition for the constant traveller. Its deep, and voluminous for quick stash or retrieval of items such as the CAP1, a small water bottle, or even light jacket. It has what many bags lack - an independent volume. And it’s also high up on the bag, so isn’t easily impinged by other load areas.

EXTERIOR SIDE WATER BOTTLE POCKETS

The lack of side pockets for your water bottle has always been a drawback for me, and it was my only concern about the CPL 24. However, this model seems to be an enhanced version of the CPL, and it is flawless. The water bottle compartments feel really solid and deep without sacrificing the clamshell opening. What’s even more intriguing is that it’s able to fit a 2L Nalgene with ease, and even a fully packed CAP1L. Very, very impressive.

EXTERIOR FRONT PANEL POCKET

A large vertical zipper gracing the front panel allows for a better and larger access than the conventional horizontal or diagonal openings. This particular orientation also provides comfortable side access when its on-body or when it’s on the ground.

The internal drop-in sleeve for this compartment is perfect for flatter items such as an iPhone, wallet or a passport whilst travelling. Contents stay contained when panel pocket zipper is closed, so there no need to worry if they’ll fall out when the pack is being moved around. There’s also a zippered mesh pocket for smaller items such as change, receipts, batteries. Things you naturally would not like fumbling around in that compartment. There is also a pen slot available that holds pen of multiple fit and sizes. The remaining volume is still really spacious, and it can accommodate flat items like a notebook or a novel for longer flights.

PADDED + SUSPENDED EXTERIOR LAPTOP COMPARTMENT & INTERNAL ELASTIC SLEEVE

The external padded sleeve is fully suspended on all sides with bright red Velcro strap to protect devices up to 17”. Also has corner cutouts to allow for expansion and for the edges of the laptop to rest comfortably in the sleeve. The internal elastic sleeve is able to be used as a compartment for a separate computer, tablet, or documents. It can also be used to keep a separate button-up shirt to prevent it from getting crumpled. This elastic sleeve also has a hidden feature – to accommodate a hydration bladder. This can be done when this bag is used as an impromptu hiking bag, which can hang from the small loop provided, and the hydration tube can be passed easily through the sleeve in the shoulder strap.

QUICK ACCESS YOKE POCKET

This is the most understated compartment of this bag, and it happens to be my favorite too! It utilizes the available volume behind the curvature of the shoulders to keep fragile items like sunglasses up high and protected. It also acts as a perfect storage point for more quick-access centric items like our masks, a wallet or even a phone. It works hand in hand with the other exterior compartments, each complimenting the other in terms of usage and functionality. There’s also a red-accented key leash in this yoke compartment for easy access of keys or other clipable items. That’s real cleaver usage of empty spaces in a bag, kudos to the team for this treat!

INTERIOR PANEL SECURITY POCKET

Let’s move on the last 2 zippered pocket in the inner cavity. The larger-sized compartment is covered by Evergoods’ proprietary mesh, and it’s perfect for larger items such as a CAP1L, some flatter pouches. The zipper orientation allows access from both vertical or horizontal positions, making it less of a hassle when accessing this compartment while the bag is on-body.

The other smaller compartment utilizes the liner fabric to provide an overall more secured pocket for more valuable or sensitive items such as extra money or a passport. The drop-in pockets in this opaque compartment organizes smaller items such as memory cards or cables inside, keeping it from rummaging with other contents.

PROS vs CONS

Pros

1. The black-on-black aesthetic gives a stealth approach to travel, enhancing its versatility as an EDC bag when required.

2. Whether one paces down a city street or trek through a trail, the subdued looks of the CTB35 can blend into just about any environment it sets foot in.

3. The contoured yoke pocket is a Godsent, it makes for a convenient storage space during airport security, and arches perfectly to one’s shoulders.

4. The harness system provides amazing comfort, and it includes a stowaway hip belt too, score!

5. Spacious main cavity with pockets having their own liter-independency.

Cons

1. Some would argue having a dedicated laptop compartment in a travel bag is an overkill, and just adds unnecessary weight and baggage.

2. Hip belt stowage is a bit tight, making it a rather friction-full experience.

END VERDICT

The team behind this travel companion has done a spectacular job nailing the crucial characteristics that we look for in any bag, such as carrying comfort, space, and organization—three aspects that sound simple but are tricky to balance on large travel bags. And they seemed to have juggled them perfectly with a touch of finesse on their craftmanship.

I'm not sure what it is, but Evergoods just has a Midas touch when it comes to design. I'm one of the oddballs in our group that likes to carry as few bags as possible (preferably one or two in my rotation), so versatility is crucial to me, as there’s only one room for a travel centred bag. The volume-independent zipper compartments, the optimal number of pockets and organisation, and the looks are nearly perfect for its use case.

Don’t get me wrong, this bag isn't faultless; it's hefty for its intended usage, and it doesn't compress down, so it somewhat sags when its half full. But I do know that I get a level of satisfaction and happiness from using Evergoods bags that I simply don't from other brands. From where I can tell, the CTB35 is the closest I can get to a travel bag that can tick as many boxes as possible: travel, EDC, and one for the outdoors. As usual – excellent work Evergoods. I’m sure the best is yet to come!



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Author

Darren Loh

Raised in the south of Malaysia, I was drawn to spending as much time as possible outdoors. While dwelling in the beauty of nature, it sparked my interest in photography as well as all things carry. My interest in bags have been solidified every since I’ve stumbled upon my first bag right here in our own backyard, Greenroom136. And I have been on the hunt for the perfect pack ever since.

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