I’ve had my Darche Ranger Solo for over a year now. In that time I’ve taken it all around my state, from the dense Mountain Ash forests of the Great Dividing Range to the banks of the Murray River. Here are my thoughts on how it holds up.
The Darche Ranger Solo out of the Box
Out of the box, the Darche Ranger Solo comes in a convenient carry bag. While I don’t use the bag when using the swag, it’s a good quality bag that, given enough manhandling, would be great for loading the swag onto your bike. Once you’ve removed the swag from it’s carry bag you’ll be presented with the swag, it’s mattress, and a small pouch for the poles and pegs.
The biggest shortfall the Darche Ranger Solo has is the mattress. This seems to be a complaint with most swags and the Ranger Solo is no exception. While being reasonably comfortable, and quite long, it definitely leaves something to be desired. The simple foam construction has a large volume considering how much back support it provides. I would definitely recommend swapping it out straight away with a lighter, thinner, and more comfortable mattress. I personally use a Mountain Designs Pro sleeping mat. It packs up to a fraction of the Ranger Solo’s foam mattress and is definitely more comfortable.
The swag itself is of high quality canvas construction. The zippers are chunky and feel sturdy. You’ll want to wet the canvas before taking it out in the rain. This causes the canvas to swell and seal any gaps in the material.
Packing onto the Bike
If you’ve removed the stock mattress the Darche Ranger Solo packs up to a convenient size. I also place my sleeping bag and pillow inside the swag before rolling it up so my sleeping setup is completely waterproof and self-contained. For colder climates you can sacrifice some pack size for comfort by adding a thicker sleeping bag or blanket.
Setting up at Camp
This is really the biggest selling point for all swags, and the Ranger Solo is no exception. In about one to two minutes you can have your swag set up and bedding organised. This gives you ample time to help your mates set up their tents- or kick back and supervise with a beer.
The D-loops are sturdy and allow you to compress the swag when packing up, but also unroll the swag quickly with little effort. The poles are keen to snap together and while the short foot-end one can need a bit of wrestling to get clipped in, after one or two setups it’s a non-issue.
The supplied pegs are beefy to prevent bending. Packing a small hammer would be wise or finding a rock or piece of wood nearby if the ground is hard. Something I really like about the Ranger Solo is the bright red guide ropes. It’s a minor but very considerate feature that helps reduce the risk of tripping in low light.
The sleep quality in the Ranger Solo is fantastic. Given that you’re not one to get claustrophobic. The top and head-end have high quality fly mesh. With the canvas rolled back you can enjoy a night under the stars. Or on poorer weather nights, seal up and be comfortably warm.
Again, like most swags, the Ranger Solo is easy to unpack, but packing up requires a bit more effort. In the time that I’ve had mine the overall pack-size to effort ratio has improved. Especially if you’re not using the included matress.
|Mattress||Pack Length||Pack Diameter|
|Included Mattress||64cm (25.2in)||40cm (15.75in)|
|My Mattress (Mountain Designs Pro Sleeping Mat)||64cm (25.2in)||30cm (11.81in)|
|No Mattress||64cm (25.2in)||20cm (7.87in)|
The Darche Ranger Solo as definitely proven itself to be a very capable piece of gear. If you’re not sold on swags as a whole then the Ranger Solo is no exception. But if you’re looking for a waterproof sleeping solution that can handle both cold and warm temperatures then it’s a winner in my book.
Check out more of our swag reviews by clicking here.