EVERGOODS Civic Half Zip 22L (V2) Review
The EVERGOODS Civic Half Zip 22L (V2) builds on the original’s simple yet thoughtful design with improved carrying comfort and added organization.
- Improved back panel expels heat more effectively
- Bag structure helps maintain a clean aesthetic
- Main compartment doesn’t feel cramped despite the features inside
- Large laptops clash with the yoke pocket
- Main compartment’s zippers can be hard to pull around corners
- Mesh pocket can be awkward to access when bag is upright
2.25 lb (1 kg)
Ballistic nylon shell
HT nylon liner
18 in x 11 in x 8 in (45.7 x 27.9 x 20.3 cm)
Ballistic Nylon, Nylon, YKK Zippers, Duraflex Hardware, DWR Coating, Polyurethane
Laptop Compartment Size
The more things change, the more they stay the same, or so the saying goes. The Civic Half Zip 22L, also known as the CHZ22 (or Cheese 22 as some of us call it when no one’s looking), is a backpack we praised for many of its pros, including its exceptionally comfortable carry. However, EVERGOODS doesn’t seem content with leaving it at that, giving the big cheese an updated back panel to improve comfort further. Not only that, the updated Civic Half Zip 22L (henceforth referred to as the CHZ22 V2) also features a more durable fabric with a higher denier.
The updates don’t stop there. EVERGOODS also made tweaks to the CHZ22’s organization and its overall fit and finish. While we do appreciate these improvements, they’re not drastic changes in most respects. The CHZ22 was already a good backpack to begin with, and the CHZ22 V2 just sweetens the deal. However, there are imperfections that we think could’ve been addressed as well. Let’s take a look at that and more in this review.
First, let’s talk about the changes on the outside. The original CHZ22 wasn’t a flimsy backpack by any means. In fact, we’ve always liked how EVERGOODS makes their gear. They’re put together very well without looking too ruggedized or having a “tacticool”-level of gaudiness. The original’s 500D high tenacity nylon doesn’t measure heavily in terms of denier, but it is enough that you can confidently take the CHZ22 outdoors.
So why make the change to 840-denier ballistic nylon (with DWR coating)? Well, it is more durable in terms of tensil strength and abrasion resistance, but it also gives the CHZ22 V2 more structure. One of the quirkier aspects of the original was its front’s tendency to form a duck bill. This happens when the pack’s relatively empty, with nothing to prop up the fabric around the top. We’ve found that the CHZ22 V2 doesn’t suffer from this—at least not to the same extent as its predecessor.
All in all, this makes the CHZ22 V2 more refined in terms of aesthetics. Again, though, it’s nothing groundbreaking. The styling remains largely the same, with its sleek and rounded profile with an all-black color scheme. There’s no option for other colorways at the time of writing, in case you were wondering. The usual hook and loop patch that serves as the EVERGOODS logo is here as well. You’re free to use either your own patches or purchase some Hi-Vis ones from EVERGOODS.
More of the same old features we like is still here. The base of the CHZ22 V2 still has the original’s scuff panel, which is a very rigid insert that’s designed for the everyday wear and tear of placing the bag on rough surfaces. However, even though it’s a flat enough base that you’d think the CHZ22 V2 is able to stand on its own, we’ve found that it struggles to stay upright and is best when leaning against a chair.
Up at the top of the CHZ22 V2 is a wide and thickly padded handle. This is a far cry from the typical nylon loop we’re used to seeing on other backpacks of the same 22-liter capacity range. It’s comfortable to hold, and it deals with a fully-packed CHZ22 V2’s weight reasonably well. It’s also flanked by open loops where you can attach additional accessories, a familiar feature we’ve seen EVERGOODS do with their other gear’s handles.
On the sides are bottle pockets. These look sleek and well-integrated for external bottle pockets. They keep a low profile when they’re not occupied but have a significant depth to take on tall but slender bottles. EVERGOODS designed them to fit even one-liter Nalgene bottles. On the other hand, we mostly work with insulated bottles, and 18-ounce sizes of those fit just fine, unsurprisingly.
The pockets have subtler features as well. There are drainage holes going to the front where water and dirt can exit. Built-in elastic give the rims stretchability and lends a firm grip to stop bottles from just tumbling over. The bases of the pockets also have gussets that allow them to expand. However, they’re very minimal, meaning bottles can dig into the side of the backpack depending on how large they are.
The harness system remains mostly unchanged from the original, except for two features, one of which is the sternum strap. The original’s sternum strap was notably insecure, as we were able to pull it through the loops occasionally. In fact, on the Civic Panel Loader 24L (CPL24), which uses the same sternum strap design, it came loose twice, which is twice too many for any backpack.
The new sternum strap now features beefier hardware that shouldn’t feed through the loops unintentionally. However, it’s still the same hook-on-loop design. We much prefer the slide-on-rail kind that we’ve seen other brands like Aer use because of its high degree of adjustability and easier use. That said, the CHZ22 V2’s sternum strap gets the job done and is removable.
As for the rest of the harness system, it still delivers the same comfortable carrying experience we enjoy on the original. The shoulder straps are thickly padded and curved so that they flow naturally from the top of the wearer’s shoulder to the back.
The most significant change on the entire CHZ22 V2 is its back panel. Whereas the original settled for its textured yarn to help ventilate some of the heat away from the wearer, the new back panel features ample (and comfortable) padding covered with 50D polyester monofilament that’s more breathable compared to the original’s fabric. There are also bigger air channels, and there are more of them. This should substantially help prevent sweaty backs on hot days but not outright stop it if the weather gets too hot.
A big factor as to why we liked the original CHZ22’s fit was how its back panel easily contours, and that carries over to the CHZ22 V2 as well. There’s no compromise despite the newer design, and that shouldn’t be taken for granted. Changing one aspect of a design could have unintended consequences for the others, so we’re glad that’s not the case here.
The back panel’s shape lets the CHZ22 V2’s shoulder straps stay higher without the use of load lifters. It’s proof that good design can minimize the need for other straps. Remember, this is a 22-liter daypack and not a high-capacity travel backpack, so you really don’t want too many straps to deal with. That said, the tall shape of the CHZ22 V2 means the back panel touches the back of the hip noticeably. We wouldn’t describe it like it’s digging in, but the small torso’d may still notice it.
Nitpicks? Well, there are no strap keepers to keep the excess straps out of the way. We get that EVERGOODS’ intention for the CHZ22 is to be a simple and straightforward daypack, but three strap keepers wouldn’t hurt, right? Regardless, you’ll have to add your own if you want that functionality.
Inside The Backpack
Let’s start with the pocket we’ve more or less associated with EVERGOODS backpacks: the yoke pocket. It’s nothing really super special or fancy; it’s just a quick-grab pocket, at least at first glance. However, it is a quick-grab pocket that we’ve generally liked using for a few reasons.
As you can see, the yoke pocket is located on top of the CHZ22 V2, which means it’s easy to access when you have it on the ground. This lets us dump everyday carry items like a wallet, a smartphone, and a set of keys easily just before we have to go through airport security. Since we’re frequent flyers here at Pack Hacker, that’s something we do on a regular basis, so you can imagine how convenient this feature is.
Another aspect of the yoke pocket that separates it from the rest is just how wide its opening is. Lots of quick-grab pockets are located along the top of backpacks. However, the yoke pockets on EVERGOODS’ backpacks combine that with a really wide opening and a spacious interior. Again, that’s a really good recipe for a pre-airport security dump pocket.
Is it time to get into the main compartment already? Yep, because EVERGOODS intentionally designed the CHZ22 to be a single-cavity backpack to keep things simple. We’d argue that the yoke pocket also counts as a cavity, but we understand what they’re going for, so we’ll let that pass.
Like the original, the CHZ22 V2 uses a combination of YKK #10 and #8 reverse coil zippers. The higher the number, the “chunkier” the teeth are, but for all intents and purposes, #10s and #8 are both beefy enough for a daypack. The main compartment gets the #10 zippers for obvious reasons, and once we tried to use them, we were hit with a sense of deja vu.
These zippers feel stiff at times, particularly when we have to get them around the CHZ22 V2’s top left corner. We’re quite sure that it’s due to the piping that sits very close to the zipper track itself that’s causing this. Recalling our time with the original, we remember its zippers also feeling stiff. The zippers did break in and became less stiff over time, so we’re expecting the same on the CHZ22 V2. For now, though, it’s a minor inconvenience.
With plenty of horseshoe-style backpacks, you’ll see us fold down the front to gain better access to the interior. In the CHZ22 V2, that habit becomes more regular since it requires it. On the front side of the main compartment are two pockets. The topmost zippered pocket is another quick-grab pocket for small accessories. This is where we put a lot of tech accessories we use on a daily basis. The pocket underneath that is the one we’re more interested in, though.
This mesh pocket isn’t present in the original CHZ22, but the mesh itself isn’t what we should focus on; it’s the orientation. It’s inverted, so you have to fold down the bag’s front in order to access it properly, otherwise, its contents just fall out. Unfortunately, since the CHZ22 V2 is a bit finicky to prop up without leaning it against a wall, you have to lay it down. Still, that may be a good thing because it puts the two pockets on their sides so neither’s contents can fall out.
As an aside, both pockets are stacked on top of each other, but they’re not starved for space. They have enough independent volume to be simultaneously usable, and that’s because the CHZ22 V2’s (and the original’s, for that matter) front section is spacious enough. If you look at the images, you’ll see that there’s not much fabric shrouding the area around the laptop sleeve, and that’s because most of it is in the front portion.
Speaking of the laptop sleeve, it’s padded and technically rated for “most 15-inch devices and smaller 17-inch devices.” EVERGOODS’ wording is a bit confusing, but we can confirm that a 16-inch MacBook Pro fits, but without much extra clearance. In fact, a 16-inch MacBook Pro touches the yoke pocket just sitting above, so we’re much more comfortable fitting a 13-inch MacBook instead.
The yoke pocket serves another purpose from inside the main compartment. Its front area has two sets of webbing. There’s no specific purpose to these loops, so you’re free to use them however you like. We like that they’re located near the top, where we can access them relatively easily even when the interior’s packed full of packing cubes and pouches.
You can also use the laptop sleeve to store a hydration bladder. There’s a small loop behind the yoke pocket where you can hang one and two pass-throughs where you can route a drinking tube. The pass-throughs exit about halfway down either shoulder strap.
Between the yoke pocket and two pockets at the front of the main compartment, that’s a lot of space just occupied by organization options alone. Yet, the CHZ22 V2’s interior doesn’t feel cramped. The bucket space still has plenty of room to fit packing cubes and pouches, and it’s easy to pack.
EVERGOODS did a really good job allocating the CHZ22 V2’s capacity in a way that maximizes it. We think the key to that success is their insistence on a single cavity design, which leaves room for the pockets they do want the CHZ22 V2 to have. We hope once the zippers break in some more that their stiffness goes away, but other than that, the CHZ22 V2 is a good upgrade on an already solid foundation.
- Material feels incredibly durable
- Digging the updated back panel
- Main compartment can be tough to unzip
- Material has held up super well
- Zippers have slightly broken in over time, though unzipping is still tough sometimes
- Improved carry comfort in the right ways