PNW Components’ Rover Hip Pack cements the increase in popularity of bum bags over the last few years, and for good reason.
If you’re not out on an all-day epic or multi-day expedition, chances are you won’t need to wear a cumbersome backpack. But you will still need to carry some essentials.
While it’s easy enough to attach some kit to your bike, a hip pack is a great way to stow those extra, just-in-case items but still leave your backpack free and less sweaty.
The best hip packs should offer just enough space to cram in all the key tools needed to get you off the hillside in an emergency, as well as your phone, wallet and potentially even a lightweight jacket.
PNW’s Rover pack is well-priced and offers a decent amount of storage, but just how well does it perform on the trail?
PNW Rover Hip Pack details
The Rover pack is made from tough, “tri-layer sailcloth” fabric and has a claimed 2.7 litres of storage on offer.
That storage comes courtesy of a number of pockets, including two super-useful zipped pockets found on wings that sit right on your hips.
The largest, main compartment is quite cavernous, and features mesh stash pockets to help organise smaller items, which is handy.
Another pocket on the front is lined with a soft, neoprene-like fabric and is ideal for stowing a phone and bank cards. There’s another divider in here, too, just in case you need to keep things separate.
In a bid to keep the Rover comfy while riding, PNW has included a padded mesh back panel and wings. Although soft and malleable, it’s still rigid enough to stand up and hold its shape.
There’s a strap on each side of the Rover. These anchor on the very front panel and connect to each wing, enabling you to tune the pack’s fit.
The waist strap has two points of adjustment and one central, low-profile clasp to secure it. To help keep an excess strap from flapping around, PNW has included Velcro loops at the ends of the two straps.
This enables you to fold the excess material over before fixing it in place with the Velcro. It’s a neat solution and helps to keep things nice and tidy while you’re riding.
PNW has also included a bottle holder, which can be attached either side of the Rover via two sturdy poppers. This features a bungy-style drawcord to help ensure your bottle can’t escape once it has been loaded up.
All of the zips are YKK PU-coated to help better keep the elements out.
PNW Rover Hip Pack performance
Thanks in part to the really soft padding used across the deep back panel and the wings, the Rover feels comfortable from the get-go. Even when fully loaded up, there’s enough cushioning to prevent objects protruding and digging in, and once cinched up around the waist, the Rover feels incredibly steadfast and secure.
The deep back panel, coupled with soft padding and broad wing design, helps to distribute the load of this pack well, so it never feels as though it’s about to slump down and doesn’t dig in around the waist or across the stomach.
On bigger days out, I could stash a phone, wallet, CO2 inflator, tube, multi-tool, snacks and even a lightweight mountain bike jacket inside the rover without impacting on comfort. That kit is easy to sort too, thanks to the multiple pockets and internal organisers, which also help to keep items from shifting around too much.
I’m a big fan of the wing pockets. I kept a multi-tool in one side and an energy bar in the other. The location means you can access essentials quickly, easily and without having to remove the hip pack, which is always a plus if time is tight or you’re out in the elements.
Fixing the bottle attachment in place is straightforward enough, and it’s a plus that you can locate it on whichever side you prefer.
Once in place and stuffed with a bottle, though, it does throw the balance of the pack off somewhat, especially compared to the likes of the Bontrager Rapid Pack, which places the bottle centrally. That does impact on the overall feel of the Rover.
And although the bottle holder has proven to keep the bottle held securely, I found that when riding up out of the saddle, the bottle and holder were prone to wobbling around.
It’s less of an issue if you’re on gentler gravel rides, but not ideal when mountain biking, where you’re likely to be shifting around the bike more.
When it comes to weatherproofing, so far, I’ve got zero complaints. Everything I’ve carried inside the Rover has stayed dry. It also cleans up easily enough, once the mud has dried off, and doesn’t look too shabby once you’ve brushed it away. It dries in a reasonable time, too.
Overall, the Rover offers a decent amount of storage that’ll enable you to pack the essentials along with a little extra, all of which is kept comfortably locked in position on your back, no matter how hard you’re riding.
PNW Rover Hip Pack bottom line
The Rover Hip Pack is well made and, just like other products from PNW, really well thought-through too. The sizing and shape of the pockets offers just about the right amount of space for storing enough kit for longer rides and there’s enough in terms of internal organisation to keep everything you do stash inside secure.
Thanks to the design of the back panel and wings, plus the padding that’s been used, the Rover feels really stable, as well as comfortable when riding.
While the addition of the removable bottle holder is a great idea, it does upset the pack’s balance when loaded up and will wobble about a bit when up out of the saddle on the bike, which isn’t ideal. On gentler rides, that’s less of an issue, though.
There’s no getting away from the solid construction, decent weatherproofing and well-considered design of the Rover Hip Pack, which is why it remains a constant in my kit bag for mountain biking and gravel riding.