North St. has been busy for a while now, innovating and producing rugged, unique gear. The Pioneer pack is no different. It’s an organizer, but it can be expanded into a hip pack, shoulder bag, or even a bike handlebar bag. This is my review.
So, the Pioneer comes in a few different sizes, the 8, 9 and 12. The one I tested, the 12, comes in at 12″ x 7.5″ x 4″ and weighs about 10 oz without any extras. Features vary a little per model, but mine has a full perimeter zipper that allows it to completely unfold, revealing the interior. Inside, there is a zippered pocket, smaller organization pockets, and enough room to stash portable bike pumps, tubes, tools, snacks, lightweight rain gear, or other essentials. There is also a Velcro strip where optional add in pockets can be attached for expansion and organization. Outside, there are two plastic clips that secure and cinch the pack down, a wide zippered side pocket, and clips and loops for the optional shoulder, hip and bar mounts. The packs are constructed from exceptionally rugged 1000 denier Cordura nylon, and comes in a variety of colors. The Pioneer 12 retails for $78.98, is made to order in the USA, and optional accessories cost about $13-20 each.
All in all, the pack works quite well in a variety of situations. I loved it as a handlebar bag, with its huge storage capacity easily housing all the gear that is normally reserved to my backpack. This allows me to leave my hot, sweaty pack at home. It straps on easily with the optional bike kit and stays in place with surprisingly little movement. I also liked it as an organizer, tossed into a larger pack or vehicle with a subset of gear (electronic devices and tools for work were a common application). It’s also a nice shoulder bag, as it holds enough to easily double as an on-the-go wallet/purse substitute, with plenty of room for sunscreen, water, snacks, small purchases and such.
As a hip pack, it works well enough for very casual riding or walking. However, I found that aggressive road or gravel riding made the pack bounce around a bit on my butt, no matter how tight I cinched it. Mountain biking was simply a no go. It sits quite low and generally moved with the flexing of my glutes, which I didn’t like. This is mostly due to how it attaches,with a simple strap that slides through two large, open loops that really don’t have a way to keep it in place or dictate a particular position. It’s all up to gravity. It also bobs a bit for hiking when climbing over obstacles and rocky sections, which wasn’t a real issue, but I did find it distracting. A wider, more padded strap for the hips and a more precise way to lock it down would help a lot here.
The construction quality is all around fantastic. The Cordura fabric is thick, burly, and resists tears, cuts, and scrapes with no issues at all. It’s held up to light rain, extended sun, hiking, biking and being tossed about inside my house, garage, car and backpack. So far, I’m yet to get a single frayed stitch, hung zipper, or even a display of normal wear and tear. The pack is backed with a lifetime warranty, so if anything does happen, it’s covered.
Where the pack really shines, however, is through its flexibility. One minute, it can be used as a shoulder bag, exploring town and doing some light shopping. The next, it can be strapped onto a bike’s handlebar, or tossed around the hips for a light hike up the mountains. It also works great in the trunk of of a car as a convenient (and stylish) first aid kit or disaster kit. The possibilities are just about endless.
Overall, I really like the pack in most situations. It looks great no matter how it’s used, and it provides a huge amount of utility. With an active lifestyle like mine, a little storage and a lot of flexibility always come in handy. It’s definitely worth checking out.
For more information on North St. and their wide range of gear, check out their website, https://northstbags.com/
For information on our rating system and our testing procedures, check out our About us/ Contact us page.
I want to extend a huge thanks to North St. for providing this product for review. We couldn’t do it without their help. Our full disclosure can be found here.
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