EVOC Capture 7L Camera Pack
Duration of Test (so far): ~2 Months
Stated Dimensions: 20 x 31 x 14 cm / 7.8 x 12.2 x 5.5 in
Stated Camera Compartment Dimensions: 18 x 29 x 11 cm / 7.1 x 11.4 x 4.3 in
Blister’s Measured Weight (w/ all dividers, rainfly, & straps): 606 grams
- In the padded main compartment the camera is protected by individually adjustable compartment dividers.
- Accessories can be stored in the attached compartment with a waterrepallent inner pocket, and accessed rapidly.
- Additional storage space is provided through additional pockets on the adjustable-length hip belt.
- Carrying comfort assured through the easy adjustment of the gap between back and pack using the VENTI FLAP system.
- Optimal air circulation and heat dissipation thanks to the ventilation channels in the back padding.
- Integral rain cover and belt system for holding a tripod.
It’s no secret that “fanny,” “waist,” “hip,” or whatever else you want to call packs that sit around your waist have been making a comeback in the mountain biking world. Many people, including me and other Blister reviewers, appreciate them primarily due to the fact that they don’t make your back as sweaty and often feel more secure on bumpy trails when compared to most backpacks.
While I’ve been riding with a hip pack for a while and kinda hate backpacks (especially heavy, bulky camera backpacks), I’ve also been riding with my camera almost every time I’m on the trail so I can capture the far more talented riders in the Gunnison-Crested Butte valley. Trying to keep up with those folks with my mediocre riding abilities means I’m constantly cognizant of the fact that I’ve got some fairly expensive and somewhat fragile gear right above my butt, and so I’ve long been on the hunt for a solid, biking-oriented hip pack that is also designed with camera gear in mind.
That’s where the EVOC Capture 7L Camera Pack comes in. After searching the market, it appeared to be one of, if not the only hip pack out there that was both designed for mountain biking and that offered the protection, organization, and easy-access features that would make things easier and give me some peace of mind while riding with my camera.
I’ve spent the past couple of months riding (and fishing) with the Capture 7L, and it’s proven to be almost exactly what I’ve been looking for. We’re also planning on sending it over to reviewer David Golay to get his take as a more experienced fanny-pack aficionado, but for now, here’s my take:
Design, Features, & Materials
The Capture 7L looks quite similar to EVOC’s non-camera-oriented hip pack, the Hip Pack Pro 3L, with a few noteworthy differences.
Both use a moderately thick, plain-weave fabric for most of the exterior of the packs. While it’s not as ultra-burly or water resistant as something like the X-Pac material used on the High Above Lookout pack, I haven’t managed to tear it so far and have had no major issues with water getting into the pack during some rainy rides and days on the water.
While the main material isn’t waterproof, the Capture 7L does include a stow-able and fully removable rain cover, which stays concealed and totally out of the way when not in use by stashing it in a zippered pocket on the underside of the pack. I’ve used the rain cover a few times and while I wouldn’t want to, say, spray it directly with a hose, it has done a solid job of keeping the inside of the pack dry during an hour+ in some fairly heavy rain. If I frequently spent many hours in the rain, I’d probably just put my camera in a waterproof bag inside the Capture 7L to be extra sure, since the rain cover material basically feels like the water-resistant material of a tent’s rainfly, rather than a fully waterproof tarp-like material.
In that same pocket where you stash the rain cover are two straps that you can use to attach a tripod or other larger items to the bottom of the pack. None of my tripods are compact enough to feasibly stash there but I have liked using those straps for stashing an extra layer, fishing rod tube, or other somewhat long & skinny items. I tried attaching my small pump (Crankbrothers Klic HV Gauge) with the straps but that pump seems just a bit too skinny and slippery to stay securely in place, so I’ve just tossed it inside the pack instead.
The hip belt is one key area of differentiation between the Capture 7L and Hip Pack Pro 3L. While the Hip Pack Pro 3L’s hip belt adds a wide strip of fabric across the whole belt area, the Capture 7L uses a more standard belt construction with mesh padding at the sides but a traditional webbing strap and large buckle at the waist. I’m pretty picky when it comes to hip belts (particularly them digging into my gut) and was a bit worried that the Capture 7L’s “regular-looking” belt would cause issues when loaded down with a camera, but it’s been surprisingly comfortable. The hip belt also features an elastic band so that you can fold and stow the extra belt fabric to keep it out of your legs (or rear wheel).
The backpanel of the Capture 7L has proven to be very breathable and comfortable, thanks to its combination of foam and mesh. I get sweaty very easily but even during some 80°F / 27°C rides, I barely noticed my back getting sweaty. The Capture 7L was way better in this regard than the old hip pack I’d been using, which had Cordura nylon straight against the back with no real ventilation.
To add more ventilation, the Capture 7L features what EVOC calls their “Venti Flap” system, which essentially consists of adjustable compression straps on each side that can be tensioned to pull the pack closer to your back, or loosened for added ventilation. I don’t think these straps make a massive difference in terms of breathability and they cause the pack to sag a bit when loosened, but I do like how well they secure the pack against my back on the descent (even when the pack’s fully loaded). Plus, the straps serve as a convenient spot to stash a fishing net.
One noteworthy feature that is not present on the Capture 7L is a hydration bladder, or a sleeve for one. While EVOC’s Hip Pack Pro 3L is designed to be compatible with a 1.5L bladder, the Capture 7L lacks a sleeve or clip for a bladder, so it wouldn’t be ideal for that. I’m sure you could figure something out, particularly when not carrying a camera, but it’s worth noting.
Lastly, the Capture 7L has three small webbing straps on the face of the pack where you could lash smaller items like a bike light.
Storage & Pockets
In addition to the generously sized main compartment, which I’ll discuss in more detail below, the Capture 7L features a small, zippered pocket on each side of the hip belt; one mesh water bottle pocket on the left side; and then an organizational pocket on the face of the pack for smaller accessories.
The hip pockets are fairly shallow / low-profile and are nice for small items like a bar, gel, lip balm, or lens cap. The water bottle pocket is also fairly shallow but EVOC included an elastic cord that you can loop around taller water bottles and I’ve never had any issues with mine falling out or bouncing around too much. The only real downside I see with the water bottle pocket is that there’s just one, and having a full water bottle on one side does make the pack feel slightly lopsided. But at least in my case, I’m fortunate to have a bike with a water bottle cage and rarely need more than a single bottle, so this is a non-issue for me. But it would be nice if EVOC just added another mesh bottle pocket on the other side of the pack.
The Capture 7L’s accessory pocket is secured both by dual, vertical zippers and a velcro flap on top. The zippers are moved by a single, big loop that makes it super easy and quick to access the interior, and the velcro flap means I don’t have to worry about accidentally opening the pocket and dumping the contents all over the trail. Inside the pocket are three small, velcro-closure pockets that are perfectly sized for an SD card.
I rarely fill up my 64gb SD card on a single ride so I don’t carry more with me, but it’s nice to have some options. In addition to those little pockets, there’s a zippered pouch on the face of the pocket that’s made with a water-resistant fabric.
The main thing that makes the Capture 7L stand out in the market is the fact that it’s designed for people who ride with a camera (or cameras). Apart from the accessories pocket, the biggest evidence of this is the Capture 7L’s padded main compartment.
With interior dimensions of about 18 x 29 x 11 cm / 7.1 x 11.4 x 4.3 in, the Capture 7L’s main compartment offers plenty of space for both the bike and camera gear I carry on a daily basis.
For reference, I shoot with an Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which is a pretty compact mirrorless camera with body dimensions coming in around 13 x 9 x 7 cm / 5 x 3.5 x 2.75 in. And for the vast majority of my photography, I use the M.Zuiko ED 12-40mm F2.8 Pro lens, which adds about 9 cm / 3.5 in to the camera body when it’s fully compacted and 12 cm / 4.75 in when it’s fully extended. The result is a package that’s much more compact than most DSLR setups, but that still takes up more space than I’d like in most <5L hip packs.
In the Capture 7L, I have plenty of space for my camera + lens setup and all the other bike stuff I need, like a spare tube, my pump, a multi-tool, and snacks. One ironic frustration I have with my small camera setup (and the fact that I often only shoot with one lens) is that most camera compartments leave too much space unused. With the included dividers in the Capture 7L, I can situate my camera in a stable, protected position while still having plenty of usable space for the rest of my essentials.
On that note about the dividers, the Capture 7L uses a pretty standard design with the main compartment being lined with a soft, fleecy material and the pack coming with three foam dividers that have velcro on the ends. This allows you to customize the interior setup a good deal, and it was easy for me to quickly find the right setup for my kit thanks to the very wide variety of divider setups you can create.
With fully padded sides, a padded bottom, and the padded foam dividers, the Capture 7L offers lots of protection for your gear. While I’m still always a bit worried about crashing with my camera, I’m less worried while using the Capture 7L than any other hip pack I’ve used. I guess I’m not that committed of a tester in that I didn’t go out and deliberately crash with my camera in the pack to test its protection, but I did accidentally do it two times and everything apart from my skin came away unscathed.
One of my only complaints with the Capture 7L is that the top lid of the main compartment does not feature any foam padding. Granted, adding stiff foam to the lid would make it trickier to close and I feel like an impact on the top of the pack would be pretty rare, but this was a bit surprising to me. Fortunately, my M1 camera is small enough that I can just set up the folding foam divider so that it folds over the topmost portion of the camera for some added protection in that area.
The other noteworthy aspect of the Capture 7L’s main compartment is its U-shaped lid opening. Unlike most hip packs with a “clamshell” closure (zipper running in a straight line from one side of the pack to the other, essentially splitting the pack in half), the U-shaped opening of the Capture 7L lets you more easily access all of the compartment without being impeded by the zipper.
Overall, the camera compartment of the Capture 7L does everything I want — keeps my camera protected, securely in place, and easy to access, while also leaving room for my other bike gear. The big thing to keep in mind here is what your camera setup consists of; if you carry a big DLSR and / or big lenses, you may not have enough room or might just need to strap some of your bike gear to your frame, rather than in the pack. But if you’re like me and shoot with a fairly compact camera body and often stick to a single lens, the Capture 7L offers plenty of space without being excessively big.
On the Trail (and Water)
Once I’ve got everything packed up and get on the trail, I rarely notice the Capture 7L. This is high praise and exactly what I want out of a hip pack.
While I find myself adjusting the tension of the hip belt before most rides, I can almost always find a tension setting that’s comfortable on the climb without being excessively tight in a single spot. And on the descent, after cranking down a bit more on the hip belt and the side compression straps, I very rarely notice the Capture 7L bouncing around in rock gardens or even on quick side hits and ~20-foot jumps.
As I noted above, the Capture 7L’s backpanel is comfy and very breathable. While I’m sure there are more breathable options out there, for being a camera hip pack, I’m totally content with how little the Capture 7L makes my back sweat.
One other key aspect with any camera-oriented item is how easy and quick it is to access the gear. I’m already slower on a bike than most of my friends, so the last thing I want is to take a bunch of time to get out my camera and set up a shot. With the Capture 7L, all I have to do is swing it around my waist, unzip the main compartment using the giant zipper pulls, and yank out my camera. Especially compared to hip packs with a more traditional “clamshell” opening, the U-shaped opening of the Capture 7L’s main compartment is big and makes it very quick and easy to grab and put away my gear.
Overall, I love riding with the Capture 7L. If it weren’t for its bulkier size and the fact that I wouldn’t need that much volume, I’d happily use it even if I was not bringing my camera gear.
Since I really like the pack and I also shoot a lot while I’m out on the rivers and lakes around Crested Butte, I’ve also been using the Capture 7L for most of my fishing. All that I really want to add on that note is that, if you happen to fish, bike, and like to take pictures of both, the Capture 7L works great for pulling double duty on the trails and the water. The little organization pocket is great for small stuff like tippet, pliers, indicators, etc., there are plenty of exterior spots to attach other things, there’s a water bottle (aka, beer) pocket, and you can stash a net in the compression straps or just between your back and the pack.
The EVOC Capture 7L Camera Pack is a purpose-built product and, while it’s one of very few mountain-biking and camera-oriented hip packs on the market, it fulfills its purpose extremely well.
It may not work for you if you have a big camera and / or prefer to carry big lenses, but it does an excellent job of securing, protecting, and keeping within easy reach a mirrorless camera body and fairly compact, single lens.
On top of that, the Capture 7L Camera Pack has several useful organization pockets, a breathable backpanel, and stays surprisingly secure and stable while riding harder than I probably should with a camera on my back.
If you like hip packs, like riding bikes (or fishing or hiking), and like taking pictures, I highly recommend the EVOC Capture 7L Camera Pack.