Showers Pass Ranger Hip Pack: Quick Review – by Guitar Ted
Bags. If you are a cyclist, the term ‘bags‘ means something different to you than it does to most people. Although we do similar things with ‘our bags’, they are cycling specific bags, not like their bags, which aren’t our bag, ya know? Ba-dum-crash!
There may come a time when you have that need to carry more. More than your stalwart seat bag can carry. More than your top tube, “bento bag” can carry. But you don’t really want to invest in one of those big, ungainly frame bags. You don’t want to lose the ability to carry water bottles in the main triangle of your frame. A rucksack? Yeah……maybe, but they make you all sweaty and you don’t want all that weight on your back. What to do? Well, there are these things called ‘hip packs‘ and Showers Pass has an interesting one called the Ranger. Showers Pass recently sent one of the Ranger Hip packs out to Riding Gravel so we could have a closer look.
Here are the technical specs listed on Showers Pass’ website for the Ranger Hip Pack:
- Fully Welded construction with a single-sided TPU coating
- 7 liter volume
- External toll roll- Perfect for keeping wet/dirty items separate.
- 1 large pocket and 3 internal organizer pockets
- Adjustable waist cinch
- Water-resistant zippers on the main compartment
- Internal stretch pocket
- Reflective accent on the side provides subtle low-light visibility
- Hip belt pockets for easy access while riding
- Locking hip belt for secure and custom fit.
The Ranger Hip Pack is claimed to be waterproof and retails for $130.00USD. Oh, and it weighs 733 grams on my scale empty. In case you were wondering about the weight of this thing.
First Impressions: The Ranger Hip Pack is pretty big! At seven liters of cargo space, it rivals most hydration packs I have. Its physical size, roughly 13″ X 8″ X 8″, excluding the belt, seems reasonable and belies the cargo capacity inside the main compartment. The next thing I noted was the fabric and zippers. These are well made, with solid, clean stitching, what looks like reinforcements at points where belts and straps attach, and the zippers look to be up to the task of holding out water.
On the outside, there is an outer, small pocket with a waterproof zipper. this is a pocket best used for things like a small wallet, money, or keys. (Although there is a small “D” ring on the waist belt you could clip a key ring to as well.) The flap this pocket is on is held shut by a buckle which when released reveals the tool pockets. The buckle is adjustable to allow for bigger multi-tools or other items.
On the belt proper there are two mesh pockets with elastic openings that can hold water bottles or nutrition. Showers Pass claims these are accessible while riding. The belt is padded, and the part of the Hip Pack that sits against you is padded and all of this is vented with a mesh fabric to help provide comfort. The belt clip has a cam on it to lock in your adjustment. There are four adjustable straps to help stabilize any load that you decide to pack against your body.
Okay, so there is a lot of room, a fair amount of versatility, and it looks well built. It looks like I could carry a large amount of gear. Even the bottom is covered in a black fabric to ward against mud and spray. This Ranger Hip Pack looks well thought out. I was pretty impressed with it out of the box.
Ride Performance: Getting the Ranger loaded was an exercise in deciding what not to take, because you can take so much stuff! I was finally down to a tool kit, tube, mini-pump, my camera, my iPhone, and a rolled up Endura rain jacket. I hadn’t even touched the capacity of the main compartment. I also added a couple water bottles in the mesh pockets. Ultimately I only did one ride with the bottles just because of the weight. I didn’t like that much weight cantilevered off my back there, but it was not that I couldn’t do it. Just a personal preference.
The key to making this pack work, in my opinion, is getting those four cinch straps tightened up against your body. This stabilizes the load, and this also really makes the pack more comfortable to wear. When I had the pack cinched up tight, it felt secure, never got too bouncy, and many times I forgot it was back there. I recently built a new bike, so as a precaution, I took a lot of extra tools to make adjustments in the field, if necessary, and even with those heavy items, I never felt overburdened.
The nice thing about a hip pack is where it sits on the body. The hips are a better load bearing place to put cargo, if you have to carry it, and on a bike, it feels very natural, in my opinion, to have the hip pack there. Over the rough stuff, on two plus hour gravel grinds, and on many commutes, I never felt uncomfortable while riding with the Ranger Hip Pack.
However; I have a few nits to pick with this hip pack, and most have to do with the belt. For starters, this Ranger Hip Pack is a ‘one size fits most‘ item, and if your waist size is over 38″, you may as well look elsewhere. I could just barely get the belt to snap shut with the belt extended to its maximum. No doubt smaller individuals would find this bit a non-issue, but many people that ride aren’t small. Showers Pass might consider making a two sizes fits all Ranger Hip Pack line up.
Secondly, those mesh pockets are pretty much non-functional while riding. They aren’t in a natural place, on me anyway, and I had to take the pack off to really get anything out of there safely. Bottles, once removed, are not easily replaced in those pockets while riding either. Again, this may be owing to the fact that this pack is almost too small for me.
Finally, due to the circumstances I had with the size of the belt, it pushed the clip way off to the right side in a very awkward place for me to get it buckled up. So, when the pack is loaded, I had this several pound ‘grey brick’ wagging in the wind, being pulled down by gravity, and making it a near circus act to get the buckle snapped together. Again- maybe a longer belt is in order. You can always shorten a belt, but it is impossible to lengthen one as it stands with the Ranger Hip Pack.
At The Finish: There is a lot to like about the Ranger Hip Pack. It rides very well. Stable, not overtly bouncy on rough ground, and it sits on your body in a place that bears loads well. It is very sturdily built, and from what I can tell, waterproof, although I never was caught out in actual rain. I just squirted water all over it and it seemed to be okay with that. It has a very versatile pocket set, although those mesh belt pockets might be moved a bit more forward? Not to beat a dead horse, but it all could come down to the fact that this pack was at its limitations of fit for me.
And in the end, it seems like a miss not to have this pack be made to fit bigger folks. I could see this as being a pack that would work for day hikes, trips to the convenience store by bike, and for general living. (A place to store family living items while out and about for folks with small children, etc.) So, it maybe isn’t ‘just a bike bag‘ after all. But you have to fit within certain size limitations to enjoy this option.
Otherwise this is a viable bag for carrying a wide variety of items on any bike. That sort of versatility is key to why I recommend this bag. As long as you fit it, the Showers Pass Ranger Hip Pack is well worth looking into.
Note: Showers Pass sent over the Ranger Hip Pack for test and review at no charge to Riding Gravel. We were not paid, nor bribed, for this review and we always strive to give our honest thoughts and opinions throughout.