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Long, cold nights in tents are the secret of Evoc's success. Long before it was fashionable for anybody with an Instagram account to call themselves an adventurer or explorer, founder, Holger Feist, was travelling the world with his bike and snowboard. A former professional snowboader, he truly earned the right to call himself an adventurer, heading far away from the beaten path to destinations like Kenya, Uzebkistan and Iran. Out in that kind of backcountry a tent is the only hotel going, and on those long, cold, sleepless nights huddling on a some farflung mountainside he had plenty of time to think. The topic that kept coming back to him was an injury he suffered from a tool stored in his backpack that dug into his spine during an avalanche. Lying in that tent he kept coming back to that backpack and how nothing on the market at that time worked well. With his experience as a product manager in the snowboard industry he decided that if nobody else was going to make the backpack he needed.

Using his contacts he had a first prototype made up. While he was testing the backpack, he then turned his attention to how to carry his bike with him when he travelled. Sketching a rough design with big wheels and the weight all moved to the back of the bag he had prototypes of that made too. In late 2006 one of Holger's riding buddies, Bernd Stucke, who was to become his co-founder, took the bike bag and packpack into the legendary Flying Ball Cycles in Hong Kong, and there and then Mr Lee said he would order 50 bike bags. That was the birth of Evoc, it was that moment that they realised that other people might want these products too. From there they started taking the idea of creating a business from this seriously. Holger and Bernd officially formed Evoc as a company the day before ISPO at the start of 2008 as they needed a company to exhibit and the rest, as they say, is history.

Evoc HQ, Munich. The building used to house a printer, who retired last year - it wasn't a planned move for them, but to find a space like this one in central Munich can be almost impossible, so they couldn't miss the opportunity.

Bernd and Holger, Evoc's founders.

 

The other legacy of Holger's travels - you only need to peek inside the contents page to understand just how far he has travelled with his bikes and snowboards. When he casually drops into the conversation that he was part of the first group to ever ride Mount Kenya from north to south, you understand just how much of the world he has seen.

The Evoc story begins down here in the basement, where they keep their archive.

  

This rough sample is where it all began for Evoc. One of Holger's first ideas after the tool injured his back was to incorporate spine protection into the pack - this first design didn't pass the CE impact tests, but you can see many of the concepts and details that went on to define Evoc backpacks there already.

The evolution in their prototypes was rapid and the first few generations would be immediately recognisable to anybody who used one of their earlier designs. At first they were produced under the name FTC, a carryover from Holger's time a snowboard product manager. However, as soon as they start looking at the practicalities of using the name FTC they discovered it was already in use, so Evoc we born.

 

This is the first Evoc backpack to go on sale in 2008

    

The creative office today in Evoc - although their products are well-recognized and sold across the world, they're still a very small team - with just five people working on the design side of the business.

They are supported by the four girls who work in marketing and administrations, but that is Evoc - just 11 people.

  

The faces of Evoc - these are the people that design and produce their entire range of products.

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One of the biggest benefits of a small team is that they can work closely together throughout the life of a product and Holger is very hands-on throughout - it's clear to see how much he cares about every detail of every product Evoc make.

 

While we were at the Evoc offices they were working on a new line for this year - their Danny Macaskill range. As a trials rider he has very specific needs - he doesn't wear his pack to ride, usually but wants to be able to carry his helmet and laptop to his demos.Holger was clearly excited to put together the perfect backpack for him.

The other side of the building doubles up as a stores room and a workbench for the more hands-on parts of the design process - like working on the hard frame inside a bike bag.

 

No office should be without a foosball table, although being German Evoc are, of course, very strict on fair play...

Every office needs some Tippie, right? He has used Evoc packs for a few years now.

 

An old travelling and riding companion of Holger, marketing manager, Jan Sallawitz, has been with Evoc since day one. In between to promote Evoc across the globe he is also trying to prepare for the Cape Epic this year. This is his custom luggage that he will take to race, and his best athletic pose as he faces one of the toughest challenges in mountain biking that he is cramming in every mile he can for around the long hours he works.

On the other side of the courtyard is the most important room in the complex - the bike and snowboard room.

The team are well prepared for the end of the day too - the sticker on the shelf reads "zum Graum", which means "to Graum", the dirtiest, latest opening bar in Munich... The fridge also happens to make a convenient ambience testing spot for materials.

This article was originally published on PinkBike.com. For other great bicycle related news and reviews please consider following this link

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