The Route Seven by North St. is a large, spacious, waterproof pannier designed to connect directly to a bike carrier for everything from grocery runs to backcountry journeys. This is my review:
If you’re not familiar with North St, they specialize in hand crafted, high quality packs and accessories. They make everything from fanny packs, to backpacks and now, large bike paniers. Produced in the U.S. the Seven Route Carries on with their tradition of locally crafted, high quality gear.
The Route Seven in particular holds 17.5 liters of equipment in the main compartment. It opened and closed via a sealing roll top opening and tethered compression strap and buckle to lock it down. There are two open water bottle pockets, one on each side, and attachments internally for optional laptop sleeves (a separate purchase). Externally, there are a few webbing straps and plastic clips for other accessories and straps. The pack is constructed from a combination of 1000 denier Cordura on the outside, and from what I can tell Xpac Sail Cloth internally, which is completely waterproof. It attaches to a bike via two small top clips and a bungee corded bottom clip, and a firm back panel keeps the pannier in the proper shape while preventing bulges. It weighs 2.0 lbs, retails for $129, and can be completely customized all the way down to strap colors for $149.
The first thing I noticed when setting up the Route Seven for the first time was just how easy it was to attach to my bike carrier. Basically, all I had to do was drop the two clips onto my horizontal bar, and pull the bungee/clip down and clip it onto the bottom of the rack. That was it. Getting it off is just as easy too, just popping off the bottom clip and pulling up on the pack itself. This, as someone who uses their bikes for many tasks, was a huge boon. I didn’t have to go through a complex set of clips, lashing and adjustments every time I wanted to change modes, and the process never changed. Literally, 5 seconds on and 5 seconds off is all it takes, and the bike goes from a light weight commuter to a work mule.
Impressively, despite being so easy to take on and off, the pack also mounts quite securely. The pack doesn’t move around at all and manages to keep even hefty loads inside completely stable, without the bike feeling tipsy or off balance (throw a second pack on the other side of the bike for even better stability and storage). Even when riding chunky gravel, transitioning between surfaces, or even going off trail completely through uneven terrain, I never had a single problem. I probably wouldn’t take it on a serious mountain biking trip, but honestly I’m not sure it would be a problem if I did. It is entirely stable enough for light bikepacking though.
As with everything North St, the Route Seven is impressively built. The Cordura body is exceptionally thick and burly at 1000 denier, and holds up great to routine use, being pulled on and off a bike, being loaded with heavy gear, and being constantly exposed to dirt and the elements. The straps and buckles are all profusely engineered, to the point that they’re even a bit overkill, but in the best possible way. The stitching is absolutely top notch, without a single fray or sign of stretching on my particular pack, and the clips and rivets are all high quality steel, coated for weather resistance. There isn’t a single weak point on the pack and if history holds true like with my other North St gear, this is going to last for many years.
Carrying capacity is great, even if organization is a bit minimal. Basically, the bulk of the storage is the large roll-top central compartment. This can hold a lot of gear, including groceries, bike parts, camping equipment, clothing and much more. I was even able to shove lightweight tents and sleeping bags inside, although that’s probably better reserved for a handlebar mount. The only downside here is nothing can really be organized as is, unless you purchase a laptop bag or various other add on features offered on the site. You can also use your own stuff sacks inside, but, I never honestly found it to be necessary. Clever packing and self organization goes a long way here, and in the end I found the minimalist drop it in and forget it to be a bit freeing.
The pack also has smaller features that really make a difference, such as large reflective panels on the sides, an adjustable top closure to keep everything tight and secure, and a completely waterproof interior that just never seems to wet out.
Overall, the Route Seven Pannier is exceptionally functional, wonderfully styled, and is built to last a lifetime. I absolutely love how easy it is to get on and off, and the ability to customize the colors is really a nice feature I wish more companies implemented. The pack is a little pricey, but here, you certainly are getting what you pay for, primarily in durability and design. For daily commuting, or even backcountry escapes, the Route Seven is an exceptional pannier.
For more information on North St and their gear, you can check them out at their website.
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I want to extend a huge thanks to North St for providing this product for review and for their continued support. We couldn’t do it without their help.
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