I love Swift’s retro aesthetic so you can imagine my excitement when the Junior Ranger Panniers arrived for review. My respect for their product is fueled by the fact that Swift bags and panniers are entirely handmade in Seattle, Washington, by a small team of four adventurous individuals.
The Junior Ranger Panniers were born out of a desire to pedal with less. Less space equals less stuff and as someone who went through a major “stuff purge” in 2014 I can appreciate Swift’s drive to go small on these panniers. The Junior Ranger is Swift’s smallest and lightest touring pannier, weighing in at 3.5 pounds and 20 liters capacity per pair.
The bags have the sturdy construction and feel that one expects from 1,000-Denier Cordura fabric. It’s water repellent thanks to the urethane coating and very abrasion resistant. Inside you’ll find a waterproof lining, but the seams are not sealed. Regardless, they’d shed a lot of water before your gear gets wet. If the unsealed seams are a concern you could seal the seams yourself with a $8 tube of seam sealer. Alternatively, Swift suggests buying a pair of Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Dry Sacks to ensure that your gear stays dry.
The Junior Rangers attach to the rack via Swift’s hook and bungee mounting system. Bungee tension is adjustable by replacing the knot in the cord. It took me a couple tries to get the tension where it needed to be to keep the bags from sliding forward over rough terrain, but once I achieved the right tension the bags didn’t budge. The handle on the backside of the pannier makes it easy to secure the lower hook, then tension the bungee to hang the bag on the rack.
A roll-top closure with the option to buckle at the top or on the sides of the pannier, allows you to modify the size of the bag. There are two unlined exterior pockets, one elastic opening suitable for an additional water bottle and a front pocket large enough for quick-grab snacks or other small items.
In terms of capacity, the Junior Ranger’s size will certainly keep you in check while you’re packing gear; but honestly, they don’t feel that small. I could easily do an overnight or an ultralight weekend trip in nice weather. If you’re going on an extended tour these would make a great second set of bags for a front rack. The elastic pockets are an awesome feature with the panniers on a front rack, putting additional water bottles at arms reach.
They’re also right-sized for day-to-day commuting. On trips to my studio the elastic pocket housed my travel mug. Inside one bag I fit a change of clothes, extra shoes, my DSLR plus an extra lens, and my lunch. Another plus, these bags are nicely scaled for a small size frame.
The Junior Ranger Panniers are available in fuchsia (tested), olive, or steel. The bright fuchsia was great for daytime visibility and there’s a reflective strip on the rear facing panel of the pannier for visibility at night. These are going to last for years to come and certainly worth the $220 as a touring pannier or and everyday commuter.
The Swift business motto is the same motto they stick to on a bike tour and is one we can all take a little inspiration from, regardless of the path pedaled.
Trust that you’re capable of going the distance
Let the experience fuel your creativity
Have a plan, and plan not to stick with it
Enjoy your encounters with the people you meet along the way
Move steadily and with purpose
Heighten your sense of place
Find inspiration in the little things
Get lost every once in a while
Be aware of the impact that you make