A NEW STANDARD FOR BACK-COUNTRY PANNIERS
GUEST POST BY HAL WALTER
I’ve been going on backcountry trips with burros for years, and one of the problems I’ve had has been finding good panniers or packs to carry my various types of gear.
Standard saddlebags are often too small, and when my gear is inside the pack, it’s often difficult to organize small items when I need them. Larger panniers are great if you’re going on a multi-day trip, but they provide a little too much room for day trips or short overnight trips.
Mountain Ridge Gear solves this problem with its Day Hiker Panniers. These panniers are so well crafted that, honestly, they should be the standard by which all others are judged. Eric Lynn, my friend and a retired career U.S. Air Force officer, designed them using his knowledge of military backpack design and his experience in the field.
These panniers are made in Colorado Springs using all American-made materials. There’s no skimping on workmanship or quality. Heavy-duty 1000 Denier Cordura and #10 YKK zippers are standard. Tightly sewn seams and double-lined bottoms ensure durability and long life. Measuring 15” x 14” x 7”, MRG’s Day Hikers are spacious enough to carry plenty of gear for a day trip, and I would not hesitate to use them for a light overnight trip as well.
At the top,the panniers have messenger-bag style flaps with military-spec side-release buckles. Beneath these flaps is a second flap that secures gear with the highest quality zippers, thereby reducing the chance of losing gear while also providing another degree of weather-protection. Inside the roomy cargo areas are additional compartments, including a 14” x 6” mesh pocket under each flap and 12” x 6” removable hanging pockets.
A common issue with some saddlebags and panniers is that they tend to sag unevenly with various cargo, but these panniers are different. A system of five heavy-duty, adjustable straps, combined with removable aluminum stays along the inner top of the cargo area provide support and shape regardless of what is stored inside.
Got more stuff? No problem. You can roll up a jacket, tarp, or pad and affix it easily to the underside using the bottom cargo straps. Alternatively, you can adjust the flap straps and place items like fishing rod cases underneath. The options for carrying more gear with these panniers are virtually endless.
One really great feature I really appreciate about the Day Hiker panniers is the addition of webbing strips on the side-ends that allow the installation of various pouches. I am a semi-professional photographer and it’s nice to have my camera readily available. Other pouches can accommodate water bottles, a potentially necessary small firearm, and on-trail snacks. It’s great to have quick access to these items while on the trail without having to dig through or disrupt the packed cargo.
MRG’s Day Hikers can also be adjusted to perform on a variety of saddles including sawbucks, Western riding saddles, and even my old McClellan. On my many trips out on the trail, I’ve found these panniers to ride evenly and smoothly, no matter the cargo, allowing for carefree and enjoyable hiking without constantly having to adjust loads or equipment. Even on long treks over very rugged terrain nothing will shift or slip with this gear.
I could go on and on about these fine panniers. If you spend a lot of time on the trail with your animals like I do, you know how important high-quality gear is — Mountain Ridge Gear Day Hikers are the best.
HAL WALTER IS A SEVEN-TIME WORLD CHAMPION PACK-BURRO RACER AND THE AUTHOR OFWILD BURRO TALES.