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Review

PNW Components Hip Pack, Jacket, and more... (pricing updated)

Words Cam McRae
Photos Denis Merdano
Date Jan 7, 2022
Reading time

Veering from your core product line is a tricky business, particularly if you make technical products for a discerning clientele. And yet there are some great exceptions in mountain biking. I've long marvelled at Specialized's ability to make great bikes as well as incredible shoes, and even socks (etc.). Bike Yoke is another that comes to mind. They began making niche shock linkages and now produce some of the best dropper posts you can buy.

PNW components, despite being a relatively young company, has already begun to pivot. Up to this point PNW has made solid-performing components at competitive prices, but more impressively the company has led the way in terms of customer service, warranty policy, and by up-cycling and refurbishing products that have been returned for some reason, so they can be resold rather than tossed in the bin. This is all impressive stuff for an upstart firm, but moving out of their lane and into apparel, outerwear and packs? I'll admit I was skeptical about this strategy considering how technical each is and how vital every detail is to both products but I was eager to check them out all the same.

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PNW Rover Hip Pack

I've been moving towards riding packless in the last year, but it doesn't always work out. I probably use a fanny pack about half the time, and more than that now that it's winter. There are several factors that tip me toward the bum bag; longer rides, the need for a tube (if I'm not riding run-flat inserts), extra clothing, or the desire to carry a malted beverage for the top of the climb. I don't need a lot of room, but I like to put my multi-tool, a tube, some sort of hole-plugging apparatus, my OneUp EDC pump, occasionally a shock pump, a few random items like a mini Leatherman tool and finally some glasses so I'm not doing trailside repairs blind. Even with that slimmed down kit, PNW's Rover hip pack seemed actually a little small for my needs. It wasn't quite that simple in the end though.

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One of my favourite elements of the Rover is the use of neoprene to give the pack some shape and add protection from impacts and elements. Materials and construction are of the highest order and it seems to be quite water resistant so far.

The Rover holds 2.7 litres. My usual bum sac, a 2.5 litre Camelbak Repack, is meant to be used with a 1.5 litre bladder. Ditching the water off my back boosts the volume available to 4 litres, which makes for lots of versatility. In place of a bladder, the Rover has a detachable water bottle holder, which I assumed I would only use occasionally, and only for a tallboy. Instead I realized the holder is a decent place to roll up a pair of gloves or a stuff-able jacket, improving the versatility and volume of the Rover. When empty I don't even notice it's there, but when needed it can come in very handy.

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It's a little tricky fishing things in and out of these useful side pockets, particularly with gloves on. They aren't big enough for smartphones but the rear pocket was designed for that purpose.

There are two mesh dividers in the main compartment of the pack and a secondary pocket on the back, with another divider, and two zippered hip pockets in line with the belt, which also have mesh dividers. These side pockets are a great idea but their size, shape, the length of the zippers, the mesh dividers and the slim design makes getting things in and out a little awkward, particularly with gloves on. Even my relatively small Crankbrothers multi tool is tricky to fish out. This could be solved by making the zippers a little longer if the design makes that possible and to have the outside fabric cut a little longer to give the pocket some volume. Removing the mesh divider from one would also help. These are a great idea but a little better execution could make them more user friendly imho.

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I use the cell phone sleeve for a few tools, to keep them separate from items that might have come in and out during the course of a ride.

The back pocket is big enough for a large phone and it is completely lined with neoprene for some protection and waterproofing. I like to have my phone at the ready for photos so I either keep it in my pocket or, when using the Camelbak, in one of the hip pockets. Knowing it's made for a phone makes me understand the volume of this pocket but the design means that anything placed within takes up some of the space of the main compartment. I'd prefer it if this pocket pushed out a little with a dedicated orifice.

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My OneUp EDC pump fits in the Rover, but without any room to spare.

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No flapping straps thanks to the velcro loops linking the end of the strap with the wrapped portion.

The strap system worked well for me and it's nice and tidy. The front cinches have loops that keep them from flopping around and there are supplemental cinches that pull your load in tight and make the fit a little more snug as well. These are easily adjusted without removing the pack. There is also a wide range of adjustment to fit riders of all shapes, from 24" to 48" around the middle.

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The back panel is a comfy padded mesh aimed at wicking away moisture and this material wraps around behind the hip pockets as well. Having only used it in winter I can't comment on how it sops up back sweat.

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This is the pack stuffed completely. I haven't loaded it up with much weight yet but it has easily handled everything I have tried thus far.

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Here's what I randomly had in my pack after my last ride. Plus a multi-tool in the right hip pocket. Photo - Cam McRae

There is a lot to like about this pack. The sailcloth that makes up the outer seems rugged and relatively water resistant, the strap system stays snug and can easily be made more snug with one hand. While the two hip pockets could be better, they are handy and one has a clip for your keys. The neoprene provides structure of the main pocket keeps things secure. Ideally I'd like the pack to be a little bigger for times when you need to stuff in some clothing but the size isn't bad when the bottle sleeve is factored in. I don't love waterproof zippers in use, because they are a little sticky but I appreciate their utility. The construction, materials, detail, and design are all top notch and would compare favourably to any mountain bike pack I've used in the past. Now that I've completed testing I haven't had any desire to swap everything back into my Repack. For me all of these factors make the 69 USD/86.63 CAD retail price quite reasonable.

PNW Rover Hip Pack

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PNW's Lander jacket. Fit is excellent.

PNW Lander Jacket

Considering the North Shore receives 2351 mm (92.6 inches)* of rain per year, my preference for waterproof outerwear isn't a shocker. I can put up with a lot if my body is relatively dry, but once I start to get wet, chills and misery are likely on the way. PNW hails from a similar climate, which is why I was surprised when their first jacket was not aimed at being completely waterproof. But then I did a little research and discovered that Seattle gets a mere 940mm or 37" of sprinkling per year. Emerald City my ass! It's practically brown compared to North Van.

*during November 2021 alone, North Van's Capilano weather station recorded 1047mm of rain

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Because I'm on the tall side (183 cm/6') for a medium jacket, hoods often feel stretched with my helmet on. The Lander however passed that test without compressing my neck. #tonkatruck

Seriously though, there is much to be said for leaving a breathable waterproof membrane out of a cycling jacket. If you like comfort you can have some nice stretch (4 way!), a less clammy feel against your skin, and much better breathability. The garment can be made to have better abrasion resistance and it should be able to come in at a lower price, particularly when compared to Gore-tex. Obviously if your goal is to stay as dry as possible without sweating like a boiled wiener, you should probably look to a membrane.

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If the inner mesh pockets (which double as vents) were attached at the bottom they could become extra pockets, but I really, there is no pocket supply crisis with this garment.

For low precip. days or for extremely sweaty humans, the Lander's soft shell is a wise choice. The material is soft and stretchy and, on one particularly cool day, I even found the breathability a bit too much for my chosen layers. One day I got pissed on a little wearing the Lander and it kept the light shower out capably. I did the same on a heavier rain day and got a little soggy.

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Subtle branding.

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Solid zipper pulls allow for gloves-on adjustments.

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The Lander does stuff into a pocket but, despite the included but not pictured belt, you can't wear it around your waist like a K-Way. It doubles as a parking lot football or an emergency pillow. Photo - Cam McRae

Feature-wise the Lander is quite unique. There are two zippered slash pockets in the front, that can also work as vents, and there is a huge tube pocket accessed by two zippers in the rear. The jacket comes with a web belt meant to stabilize any load placed in the rear pocket, but I didn't find this feature useful. I might put a spare pair of gloves back there but nothing heavy enough to require the supplementary belt. I guess if I was wearing a wool jersey underneath the jacket and I got too hot I could stuff that in the back pocket, but in those situations I normally remove my jacket. At first I assumed the jacket could be turned inside out and stuffed into this pocket, and then worn around your waist like a K-Way, but this is not the case. It does however stuff into the front right pocket, but there are no loops for the belt.

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The Lander jacket will just squeeze into the Rover pack, but I have to remove my pump to make it work. It won't stuff into the bottle sac like some other jackets I've used and the packability is not up to my preferred standard.

Once I corrected for the extra breathability, the Lander has been my capable choice for most of the snowy riding I've been doing lately. The fit is great, it's comfortable, and the hood does well enough over my helmet. The price is 149 USD/187 CAD, almost like they were mashing the keyboard. Those figures are reasonable for a well made jacket with well-thought out features. If you jump up to the 200 USD mark you can get something that at least claims to be waterproof, like Leatt's 5.0 DBX jacket or Race Face's Conspiracy.

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Within the flow-through rear pocket you'll find sleeves for individual items, like those on a road jersey. The intent seems to be, along with the included-but-removable belt, is to use it as an internal pack.

Not everyone wants or needs a fully waterproof jacket, or not for every day, and this meets a need for those people. I have a couple of Gore-tex garments that bear pedal scars, which is an expensive mistake. This fabric feels tough enough to easily fend off knife attacks from angry pedals.

For me, living where I do, this would not be my only mountain biking jacket, and my 149 USD/187 CAD would likely be spent elsewhere. As someone lucky enough to have multiple jackets, I can see it filling a role between a full waterproof jacket and a very light and packable wind shell. As with the Rover, construction and all materials are top shelf.

PNW Rover Jacket

I've also been riding in the Ozone Trail Jersey as an under layer. It's an 80/20 poly wool blend and I quite like it. The glorious PNW Wool Socks have been in heavy rotation during the recent cold streak, but the Shuttle Short will have to wait for the spring thaw.

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Comments

Vikb
+6 John Hinton moraucf Cam McRae papa44 sverdrup Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 7, 2022, 6:16 a.m.

I bought the Lander Jacket from PNW. Cost was $162USD and they then gave me a credit of $15USD because I joined their newsletter [cancelled right after I got the discount code]. So total cost was $146USD/$186CAD with free shipping to BC. Customer service from PNW was great. I forgot to use the discount code and they applied it for me after the sale without complaint.

The quality and construction looks great. Fit is good. I'm 5'11" & 190lbs out of the shower. I'm maxing out a L and an XL would likely to be too big. So I'm right in the middle of the sizing between L & XL. The cargo pockets in the rear and that belt make no sense to me. I'll be using the belt with my MTB pants and shorts as I like a belt for those. I'll use the pockets occasionally for small items, but mostly use them for venting the jacket. I really like the fact the hood can be rolled up and held in place vs. flapping around when not in use. I like having a hood on a jacket, but I tend not to use them much so a clean storage option is great.

I've had a number of similar soft shelled jackets over the years. I prefer them to fully waterproof jackets by a longshot. I prioritize breathability over keeping water out as I find I get wet inside all fully waterproof jackets anyways from my own sweat. So the only time I really want a waterproof jacket is in solid heavy rainy conditions and I don't ride/hike in those that much. It's usually cool/cold and moist with a threat of rain/light rain when I'd want to wear a jacket.

Too soon to provide a review, but based on my initial impressions and experiences with similar fabrics/pieces I expect the Lander jacket will be a good option to have in the closet and will see a bunch of bike/hike/run/urban use.

FWIW - it looks good and doesn't scream I MOUNTAIN BIKE so it can get used for lots of different activities.

Reply

Onawalk
-8 ehfour mrbrett moraucf 4Runner1 Vik Banerjee Karl Fitzpatrick Mammal fartymarty DancingWithMyself blackhat
Onawalk  - Jan. 7, 2022, 7:21 a.m.

What did you have for breakfast there man, break it down for me…

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+7 Vik Banerjee 4Runner1 Moritz Haager Grif sverdrup Velocipedestrian blackhat
Cam McRae  - Jan. 7, 2022, 12:12 p.m.

TMI isn't a thing around here.

Reply

Onawalk
0 Cam McRae Vik Banerjee
Onawalk  - Jan. 7, 2022, 6:53 p.m.

Figured I’d at least get a list of ingredients, next time maybe ;)

Be cool to one another out there!

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 11, 2022, 4:10 p.m.

We probably needed a ;) or something! 

Our commenters are very protective of the non-toxic environment they have created so the appetite for e-sarc (that isn't identified as light-hearted) is low.

Reply

Onawalk
0
Onawalk  - Jan. 11, 2022, 5:23 p.m.

That’s fair, and taken under advisement.

Much appreciated!

No disrespect was intended, only taking the piss

mhaager2
0
Moritz Haager  - Jan. 7, 2022, 2:52 p.m.

For my climate here in AB that jacket would be right on point, especially for winter riding. At anything below 0 breathability is far more important than being waterproof IMO. I second your experience of getting sweaty inside more waterproof garments with significant exertion as it just seems to overwhelm their ability to transfer moisture out.

Reply

Onawalk
0
Onawalk  - Jan. 7, 2022, 7:21 a.m.

This comment has been removed.

4Runner1
+2 Vik Banerjee Cam McRae
4Runner1  - Jan. 7, 2022, 7:27 a.m.

Good looking stuff. Not being able to wear the jacket as a K-way seems to be a miss though. I have a Sombrio that does just that and it’s a handy feature when the weather is right on that line that does / doesn’t necessitate the jacket.

Reply

Vikb
+1 4Runner1
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 7, 2022, 7:39 a.m.

Yup. If you are going to include that belt and a bunch of features you might as well go that extra step to make it really worthwhile. Especially since it's not a small/super compact packing jacket that you can tuck into a pocket.

Reply

mrbrett
+2 Cam McRae Vik Banerjee
mrbrett  - Jan. 7, 2022, 7:54 a.m.

Can't comment on the jacket, can comment on PNW in general - excellent customer service. They're on my short list of places to look for things, when I need things.

I'd give them a go for a jacket or waistpurse based on otherwise accumulated credibility.

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Jan. 8, 2022, 12:28 a.m.

Ditto on the excellent customer service.  There a great company to deal with and solid products.

Reply

kcy4130
+1 Cam McRae
kcy4130  - Jan. 7, 2022, 8:56 a.m.

Aha... the hand behind the back, hidden in jacket... that must be how he was able to surreptitiously take those photos of embargoed bikes that he leaked to that other site under a pseudonym. tehe.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 kcy4130
Cam McRae  - Jan. 7, 2022, 12:09 p.m.

Excellent deduction Watson!

Reply

cyclotoine
+1 Cam McRae
cyclotoine  - Jan. 7, 2022, 9:43 a.m.

Although I have yet to use my Rover Hip Pack, my first impressions on the pockets are bang on. Like why are there so many basically useless pockets since they have no room in them? I am tempted to contact them for a second bottle holder so I can put a rolled up jacket in it. Arc'teryx briefly had a minimal softshell called the Tenquille hoodie that is also a little heavy and a little less packable then I'd like but it fits in a bottle pocket okay when rolled up. I like it also because it is so breathable as it does not claim water proneness. I use it when on the coast riding in wet weather. I never liked waterproof jackets for riding. The lack of breathing just left me as wet inside as outside and more uncomfortable than just being in wet wool with a wind blocking softshell that allowed me to start drying out when the rain lets up. The jacket looks decent but I also thought the price seemed steep given PNW's generally decent pricing on other stuff, but a jacket is a hard thing to design and make I am sure.

Reply

cheapondirt
0
cheapondirt  - Jan. 7, 2022, 11:21 a.m.

I was also a disappointed by the pricing. My username checks out haha.

I'd be a tough sell on the shorts for example, at $128, when one could get Abit shorts for $110 or any other number of other well known brands under $100 (all USD numbers).

Reply

Sethsg
+1 impressedbyyourwokeness
Sethsg  - Jan. 7, 2022, 10:26 a.m.

The hip pack looks kinda ugly because it's so square, that squareness is a benefit because you get way more useable space. So many hip packs brag about having a 7L capacity but I find those numbers are usually misleading because the amount of actual usable space is a lot less than 7L.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
+1 Mammal
Cam McRae  - Jan. 7, 2022, 12:11 p.m.

I've been told it flatters my figure.

Reply

papa44
0
papa44  - Jan. 7, 2022, 1:01 p.m.

Looks good and I dig PNW but my question would be how does this combo compare to a high above hip pack with a Patagonia Houdini stuffed in the bottle holder? I’ve yet to find a better combo

Reply

Vikb
+3 papa44 DancingWithMyself Andrew Major
Vik Banerjee  - Jan. 7, 2022, 4:01 p.m.

I have a Patagonia Houdini Jacket. It's 100% more packable than the PNW jacket. I find it pretty clammy though for MTBing. I'll wear a wind vest to start and carry the Houdini as a just in case piece on the bike.  If it's cold enough to want a jacket I'd rather wear the PNW than the Houdini which is why I bought it. I wouldn't bring the PNW jacket on a ride that I didn't think I'd be wanting to wear it the whole time. Taking it off and storing it would be a PITA.

The PNW jacket fabric is a lot more durable than the Houdini if you are going to put it through a lot of abuse.

Reply

papa44
+1 Vik Banerjee
papa44  - Jan. 8, 2022, 4:06 a.m.

Valid points, I tend to keep the jacket in my pack as a just in case. What does everyone use for mid layers in the pnw? Bit of à hodgepodge of snowboarding stuff and decathlon cheapies over here

Reply

mammal
+1 Cam McRae
Mammal  - Jan. 7, 2022, 2:58 p.m.

I was interested in these when they launched, so thanks for the review.

On the pack, I would need a bit more space there too. My oneup pump (with tool and plugs) and tube both live on my bike(s), so I don't need to worry about those. But carrying a brew (or two) is often a requirement during 3 of the 4 seasons, and I like to supplement the big bottle on my frame with another smaller one. The Osprey Savu is perfect for that, as the two can pockets on the side can be collapsed for a slimmer profile when not needed. I can do 1 beer and one spare bottle, or 2 beers and a 400mL running bottle inside the pack.

As for the jacket, looks nice too, but I need a waterproof jacket so it can play double duty on hikes etc. I've found the Conspiracy is great for the compromise between ventilation and waterproof, it just doesn't have any pockets, a negative for function but a plus for a simple/waterproof design. The Lander is just a bit too pricey for a soft shell, but I can see it would be reasonable if that's exactly what you're after.

Reply

cam@nsmb.com
0
Cam McRae  - Jan. 18, 2022, 8:44 a.m.

Pricing update: it turns out I may have not been clear about whether the website was giving me US or Canadian prices. My apologies. The correct numbers are:

Lander Jacket - $149 USD / $187 CAD

Rover Hip Pack - $69 USD / $86.63 CAD

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