The North St. Route Seven pannier ($130) is a durable, waterproof pannier that is made in the U.S. It has a fast and simple rack mounting system that securely attaches the pannier to the rack. It’s lightweight, very well made and is an outstanding price to value option for the bike commuter. Ahhh…bike commuting. I love it. But enough about me. Let’s talk about the North St. Route Seven pannier.
What I liked
- Simple mounting system. The North St. Route Seven’s mounting system consists of two simple, non-locking, durable metal hooks that hang from the top of the bike rack and lower metal hook. However, the metal hooks are riveted in place and do not adjust forward and aft making it unable to accommodate all rack styles. An adjustable strap and bungee attaches to the bottom of the rack for additional security and stability. The best sequence to attach is to clip the bottom hook first then the top. To detach, lift from the top first than detach the lower hook. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezie.
- Durability. The pizza resistance of North St. bags. When manufacturing and a corporate office are in the same city, Portland, OR, quality control is convenient, visible and continuous. The North St. Route Seven is made from military-grade 1,000 Denier waterproof Cordura nylon shell and an X-Pac vX21 waterproof liner. It is relatively simple to clean with a washcloth as long as it is not mud-caked. If mud-caked, it will require a full submersion in a bathtub or shower. The mounting system hardware is a durable vinyl coated metal. The bungee that secures the bottom hook is a heavy and wide elastic band and the bottom hook is also vinyl-coated metal.
- Waterproof. The North St. Route Seven is waterproof and features a roll-top closure which makes the main interior compartment waterproof. I did experience both a freezing rainstorm and a long ride in heavy wet snow, as well as frequent rides through puddles. All my stuff inside remained dry. Stuff in the outer pocket were slightly damp along the edges. Oh well.
- Simple but effective organizational features. The Route Seven includes one large main compartment, two unsecured outer pockets for carrying items like a bike lock, pump, tools, water bottle or commuter coffee mug. These two pockets are moderately deep making it somewhat simple for items to pop out when riding rough trails. Items that need to be secured or protected from the elements are best carried inside the waterproof main compartment. Inside the pannier are Velcro mounts that allow the cyclist to add additional organization pockets (not included). However the Route Seven does not offer any internal sleeve for a laptop. Reflective elements include a wide five-inch stripe on the flap.
- Customization options. North St. panniers are handmade in Portland, OR and their products can be custom made in addition to their stock panniers and bags. This allows you options to increase reflectivity with more stripes or flashy color combinations, as well as add more organizational pockets.
What could be better
- No shoulder strap included. The North St. Route Seven is designed with two sturdy plastic D-rings to which a shoulder strap can be attached. This allows the pannier to be carried as a shoulder bag from bike to building. But the the shoulder strap does not come standard with the Route Seven. It will cost you an additional (although reasonable) $15.
- Mounting system is not adjustable. Although it fits on my rear rack just fine, other cyclists may not be so lucky and may need to either change their rack or *gasp* go with another brand. But on the other hand, the more intricate and fancy the mounting system, the greater the chances for something to break. There’s no breaking the North St. mounting system and if you have to swap out your rear rack to accommodate the Route Seven, we’re talking maybe $20 at your local bike shop or REI.
Parting thoughts and parting shots
Lightweight, durable, fast & easy clip-on/off on bike rack, customization options and Handmade in the U.S.A., I’ve never really been able to shut up about how much I love this brand. I have a North St. Morrison and the Gladstone Grocery pannier and I don’t see myself stopping there. I’m the stereotypical annoying bike commuter snob. I take my panniers very seriously and that means my standards are very high. The Route Seven may have an over-simplified mounting system and minimal features but honestly, for 99.9% of bike commuters, it’s all that’s needed.
The North St. Route Seven is most definitely a Gear Gals Piece of Recommended Gear.