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Review: Swingline Pannier

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There’s gear that helps you accomplish what you want and gear so intrinsically awesome that it inspires you (or me, at least) to consider massive life changes. The Pacific Outdoor Sports Swingline, a dual-bag pannier that costs $149, is the latter. Gandering at it for the first time, it seems to ask, “Are you sure you don’t want to move to the rain-happy Pacific Northwest, just so you can use me more?”

Seriously, though. This huge one-piece waterproof pannier functions sort of like a garment-bag-meets-laptop-bag product. Find the zipper, hidden underneath taped seams, and start unzipping to open it up. The Swingline has an integrated, padded pouch for a laptop as well as the capability to transport your Brooks Brothers slacks wrinkle-free.

The Pacific Outdoor Equipment Swingline pannier

As some of the product’s marketing copy puts it: “The Swingline pannier has you covered when you need to don spandex for your commute but have to wear a tie at the other end.” Indeed, there are even slots for non-clipless shoes so you can bring along wing-tips with your suit.

All black and built from lined PVC, the waterproof Swingline has a classic look. It tips the scale at more than 4 pounds, so it’s not ultra-light on a bike. But if you compare it to other panniers, make sure to compare it to two panniers because this one-piece can’t be separated.

For putting it on a bike, it connects to a rear rack via a shock cord, which was one drawback in my test. This setup was more difficult than connecting two, non-connected pannier bags.

The guts of the Swingline pannier — a combination of dry bag, garment bag and laptop bag

With abundant internal storage, the Swingline also includes external daisy chains to allow you to strap on additional gear. There’s reflective trim to increase your visibility in low light. A rubber-reinforced carry handle and shoulder-strap-compatible rings let you haul it around off of a bike.

I rode with this pannier for a couple of dry months in the mountains of the Eastern Sierra this summer. Though I saw little rain in my test, the bag is one of the few that I’d feel comfortable being caught with in a torrential downpour — even if my laptop was inside. Its PVC design inspires the confidence of a dry bag. I trust it to keep my computer, and my Brooks Brothers slacks, bone dry. ($149, www.pacoutdoor.com)

—Stephen Krcmar lives in Mammoth Lakes, Calif.

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