Based in Portland Oregon, Showers Pass is comprised of a group of outdoor enthusiasts that have been dedicated to producing clothing and gear that helps people get out on their bikes rain or shine, since 1997. Being based in the Pacific Northwest this mantra makes a lot of sense. As a Brit who now lives in North Vancouver I totally understand the need to get outdoors in inclement weather and the role clothing and equipment plays in making this easier. I’m also now in the perfect place to test their new Ranger waterproof hip pack!
Hip packs are gaining popularity in mountain biking recently, and for good reason. Backpacks can be sweaty, uncomfortable and can move around a lot. I struggle to find a good one that doesn’t bug me. Enter hip packs: they sit low down, don’t tend to jiggle around as much, and don’t make as much contact with your back. They do come with their own challenges though, including retention, volume, comfort, etc. Though there’s no perfect solution, the Showers Pass Ranger hip pack does check off a good few of these points.
First, let’s talk volume. Typically hip packs are quite a small affair, and while that takes care of my dislike for strapping tubes and other gear to my bike, it often doesn’t leave room for much else. The Ranger hip pack has a 7L carrying capacity, which is huge! For longer rides when I would often begrudgingly switch back to a backpack, I had absolutely no problem bringing the Ranger. The space available is actually in some ways more useable than that in a backpack partly because none of it is taken up by a bladder, but mostly because the space is so square and open, a much more useful shape. For example I could quite easily bring my full size DSLR to the trails to shoot photos, and stuff my phone, a jacket, and some bars in there with room to spare. The space is actually way more useable in this regard than many packs that I’ve tried with a larger capacity.
Equally important as the volume is that the Ranger hip pack is completely waterproof. We’re not talking water resistant fabric or a pull-out cover — this thing is fully sealed. Made from a PU-coated nylon fabric and with fully sealed zippers, the likes of which you might find on a heavy duty dry bag, this thing means business. The fabrics are super tough and I haven’t had a single drop of water whilst using it. I’m perfectly happy to just throw my phone, wallet, and other valuables in there for a wet ride without a single care. This is a big deal because it means that you can just grab the Ranger pack and take it out for a big ride without worrying at all what the weather is going to do. A couple of hours in the PNW can see several seasons worth of weather so it’s nice to not have to worry about that.
Now let’s talk features. The main compartment has a couple of mesh pockets in it and one larger one. They’re good for small items like a bar or a couple of credit cards, but I feel like there could be a little more organization in there. While the space itself is very useful, I do tend to lose things inside because of the sheer volume of stuff you can throw in there. There is also a flap on the front of the bag secured by a buckle which opens to a small tool roll sort of thing which as suggested, is useful for storing small tools, and is easy to access quickly. The flap itself also has a fully waterproof zippered pocket on the front. I quite often store my keys in here so that I don’t lose them.
On each side of the pack is a water bottle holster so that you have no shortage of water, and two compression straps to cinch things down. These help to keep the pack small when you need it to be and to keep things from moving around too much. The waist straps are big and chunky with a locking buckle that’s offset to one side so that it doesn’t get in the way. There’s also a chunky carry handle on the top which is nice for moving the pack around when it’s not being worn.
On the trail
On the trail, the Showers Pass Ranger is extremely nice to wear. Though it’s quite large, it doesn’t feel as big as I’d expect. As with any hip pack, you do have to cinch the straps down a little tight to get it to stay put, but I quickly got used to it. I find that thanks to the chunky straps, the pack stays in place pretty well and doesn’t have the tendency to spin around while descending as some other hip packs do. That said, if you’ve got a bottle of water in each holster it can get quite heavy and I tend to try and empty them by the top of the first big climb if I can. The compression straps are really useful for cinching the pack down when not using the full volume and keeping things from rattling around inside so you don’t necessarily have to consign it only to big rides.
One problem I’ve found with empty bottles however is that the compression straps tend to squeeze them up out of the holsters. I haven’t lost one yet but I’m constantly pushing them back down. Some kind of retention system for water bottles would be useful; maybe a small cord that loops around the top of each bottle.
I’ve used the Ranger hip pack for a little while now and in all kinds of weather and it’s been totally dependable, with zero leaks and my kit always stays dry. It has a really robust feel to it, with quality materials, really chunky and solid feeling buckles, and everything appears to be really well put together. It feels like it’s going to last a long time. In the time that I’ve been using the pack, the only issue I’ve had is that the rubber toggle attached to the main compartment zipper pulled off. I suspect that has something to do with the fact that the zippers are quite heavy as they’re fully sealed. It’s no big deal as it still works, though the zipper is a little harder to grip with went hands.
At $130 USD the Showers Pass Ranger hip pack (available at Amazon) is not cheap, however it packs a lot of versatility and storage into the hip pack format. I now find myself reaching for this pack for pretty much any ride over an hour or two long, or when the weather is looking questionable. I’ll also wager that thanks to the high quality materials and construction this pack will last a long, long time. Yes the Ranger isn’t perfect, but it’s not far off, and I’m still yet to come across anything else I’d rather take on a big ride with me. If you’re the sort of person that likes to go on long rides in crappy weather and wants to be able to bring spare clothing, food, tools etc. without having to wear a cumbersome backpack, this could be the solution for you.
⭐️ Find the Showers Pass Ranger Hip Pack at Amazon.
Thanks to Showers Pass for providing the Ranger for review.