First Ride with the New PNW Rover Hip Pack
The new PNW Rover Hip Pack has a smart adjustment system, detachable bottle holder, loads of organizing sleeves and details, and a well-proportioned design for use with a small camera. Check it out here and read our first impressions after using it on a 130-mile overnighter bikepacking trip…
Following the launch of their apparel collection, PNW just released the Rover, a mid-sized hip pack that has a lot of smart features, making it a solid option for anyone on the hunt for extra storage on long rides or bikepacking trips. The PNW Rover Hip Pack has four zippered compartments: one to access the main storage area, a front sleeve, and two additional pockets on the hip straps. It’s made from durable, hardwearing X-Pac fabric and has an Air Mesh Back Panel for better breathability and adjustable “wings” on the hip straps to help dial in the fit.
There are stretchy mesh pockets inside the main compartment, a neoprene padded cellphone pocket, a metal key clip in the hip pocket, and a reflective patch and zipper pulls for added visibility. PNW also includes a removable bottle pouch, which appears to attach via two webbing straps on the side of the hip pack. Like all PNW Components products, the Rover Hip Pack is backed by their lifetime warranty against manufacturing defects in materials and workmanship for the lifetime of the product.
I had the opportunity to try the new PNW Rover hip pack on a scouting mission this past weekend. I carried a small Fuji X100 camera, lens cloth, spare battery and cards, wallet, iPhone, and a cap, spread among its various pockets. I was immediately impressed by all the organizer sleeves and zippered compartments built into this little hip pack. They’re all well-positioned, thoughtfully proportioned, and allow you to keep items separated and easy to access. I found this to be the main design feature that makes the Rover stand out from other hip packs we’ve tried. There are also a few nice details in the pocket designs, such as a soft neoprene lining in the back phone pocket.
Another solid design decision that PNW made with the Rover is its large main pocket. You can easily fit a small camera in it, such as the Fuji X100 shown above. You could even squeeze in a larger mirrorless camera such as the Sony A73 with a relatively small lens. There are also two additional mesh sleeves in the main pocket, adding options for stashing a notepad, wallet, or other such items.
The Rover fit well and was comfortable; it kind of melted away in the background and I found myself reaching back to make sure I didn’t leave it sitting somewhere after snack breaks. The Rover’s AirMesh back and wing padding seemed to work pretty well too. It never got above 65°F where I was riding, so it’s hard to say how it would handle hot weather, but it seemed to do a good job at not causing any extra perspiration in those areas.
It has a different strap system than most hip packs I’ve tried. Instead of tightening at the buckle, there are two compression straps that pull from the sides. This is nice in that you don’t have any long excess lengths of strap dangling, and PNW also added velcro strap keepers to keep it all tidy. The front buckle is a little less obtrusive than others, too, resulting in a comfortable fit. The downside to this strap system is that it takes a little more effort to loosen, which slowed down my ability to access the camera while out riding. I got used to it over time, but it’s still not as fast as other single buckle-release hip packs. The slower weatherproof zipper didn’t help in the quick-draw department, either.
It’s worth noting that there are also two additional compression straps that pull the pack body into the strap wings, allowing you to cinch down the contents of the bag. This helps manage the movement of the bag when it has heavier items inside. That worked well with the camera and iPhone in tow, but tightening these straps made it a little more cumbersome to access the camera.
- Capacity: 2.7L (excluding bottle holder)
- Material: Tri-layer sailcloth fabric made from 100% recycled polyester
- Weight: 372 grams
- Place of Manufacture: Vietnam
- Price: $69 USD
- Manufacturer’s Details: PNWComponents.com
- Well thought out organizer pockets and overall design
- Nicely proportioned open main pocket works well for small camera
- Details such as the neoprene lining in phone pocket
- Not waterproof
- Side release strap design is a little more cumbersome to loosen than QR front buckle designs
Wrap Up: All in all, I’m quite impressed with the Rover. It’s one of the more thoughtful hip pack designs I’ve tried as it pertains to providing organizational pockets for mainstay items like a wallet, spare batteries, and a phone—things that otherwise get lost in larger bags. It’s also very well proportioned for a small camera. The strap and padding system is well-conceived, comfortable, and easy to adjust, albeit slightly fiddly to loosen on the fly.
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