MYOG: a DCF double ended dry bag.

15 02 2018

With a Revelate Harness on the front of the bike, I have the choice of using an existing dry bag or random items packed in a roughly cylindrical fashion. The Sweetroll uses an integrated double ended dry bag joined to the bar mount, which I always like using. It is easy to load, adjust and get at your kit. Revelate offers a separate dry bag, called the Saltyroll which I thought about getting and Porcelain Rocket have the Nugget, which is a similar size as well.

However, I have had a hankering to make somethign from DCF (formerly cuben fiber) for some time and so I decided to bite the bullet and make a double ended dry bag. The downside is that if you screw up, the material cost per sqm is high. The upside is that it is really easy to work with. You need double sided tape, a good plan and a sharp blade, as it is surprisingly difficult to cut.

I used 34g sqm DCF, in black (more like see-through-dark) which is on the light side, compared to a Mountain Laurel Designs DCF dry bag for example, but should have enough abrasion resistance to last for a while.

The designs is a simple cylinder (rectangle with shorter seam joined by 25mm double sided tape) then the ends are folded and bonded around something that will provide some stiffness so the roll top will work. I used some 0.004″ shim stock plastic. Finally, you make strips (I used 5 layers of DCF, folded over) which were then bonded to the edges and simple plastic buckles. For these sections, I used 13mm double sided tape. I reinforced these with a ‘patch’ of DCF on a strip of wider, 25mm double sided tape.

Care should be taken so no join will be pressured in ‘peel’ – they should all be in ‘shear’. With this design, it is no great difficulty to avoid this.

Leave it to cure for 24hrs and then you’re good to go. Capacity is around 10L and it weighs quarter of a sparrows fart.

Questions? fire away!

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Maxxis Rekon 29×2.6″

29 01 2018

Yet another tyre size. Why oh why? whats the point? Blah blah blah.

I, for one, like all the different choices we now have in wheel and tyre sizes. You can really pick the one that works for you.

About 18 months ago, maybe longer, I built a front wheel for my trusty race bike – Maul – that could take advantage of 29+ tyres or fit a ‘wide trail’ tyre. I used an Enve fork so that offset could also be adjusted. I wanted to see how it all worked and figured the increased offset may work well with the bigger diameter wheel than the bike was designed for.

It was ok. The big tyre helped absorb some shock at the Wilderness 101, though I was still beaten up and with the release of the 29×3″ Minion series tyres, it gained preposterous front traction. To the stage where I had to replace the rear tyre with a Tomahawk, to get back some semblance of balance in terms of edge and cornering ability. Basically, with the Ikon I was using on the rear, or even the Ardent Race, the Minion wrote cheques the rear could not cash.

The geometry was always a little funky, though, and with the news of the Rekon 29×2.6″ I figured that would be the sweet spot. It would also drop over 300g from the front wheel and still be a reasonably absorbent and grippy front.

Well, I have a few hours on it now and its pretty good. It *is* light at sub 800g, but it doesn’t seem too fragile so far. The edge holds up and it certainly rolls fast.

I have 16 psi in it at present and doubt I want to go much lower.

It is in no way a plus tyre. That much is immediately obvious. The volume is just not great enough to make it behave in the way I have come to love with plus tyres in general.

The bike is back to its snappy, light, xc orientated ride and I’m happy about that.

As part of the project, I built a new Junglefox II 45mm internal rim onto a 100mm front hub. I have a notion to try the Minion DHF 29×3″ on the front of BA using an Enve fork. I feel that a ~50mm rim is ideal for true 3″ tyres. The bike is designed around a 120mm travel fork and normal 29×2.3″ wheel, so it might be just a wee bit steep at the front. We’ll see.

Interestingly, the build seemed much less tight than I am used to. Then it dawned on me that I hardly ever build with narrow OLD hubs any more! Still, 3x disk, 2x non, Sapim D lights and good balance and straightness should make for a decent wheel.





Banking.

27 01 2018

Ok. Every year – and I mean *every* year – I start crossing my fingers about now. Hoping that the weather is kind in spring and summer. I don’t go as far as autumn. Last year, things started ok ish, if memory serves. There was some nice weather early on, before it deteriorated into a wet, sloppy, crappy sort o’ late spring/summer.

The silver lining was that it finally prompted me to purchase an Alpacka raft from Andy at Backcountry.scot so I could join the watery element. Afterall, if you can’t beat ’em….

But again, this year, I am hoping…

As a result, with a *lot* of thought and consideration, I ordered a Prophet rucksack and Monk tarp from Mountain Laurel Designs.

This will augment my MLD FKT bivi to make a super light, cosy and roomy shelter when I am not using my MLD Cricket tarp/tent. The Monk is available in different materials and I opted for the lightest cuben in order to keep things as svelte as possible. I will pitch it as a half-pyramid, using a Z packs carbon pole. This will give me some added shelter for cooking and minimising precip, though I will need to be mindful of the midge.

The rucksack is a great shape for stowing an Alpacka. It is able to be packed quite ‘square’ with little volume protruding above the shoulder strap – which one needs to consider on the bike as a higher rucksack bashes continuously into the back of your helmet. The way different manufacturers describe pack volume is a bit of a minefield. In some ways, this pack could be considered quite voluminous, but the total includes the volume of the side pockets, full, and the top at its maximum roll-top volume. I will use it rolled over more times, in order to keep the pack low, below where it would interfere with my head. The rear and side pockets will fit the paddle, once broken down, and critically are made from robust material rather than just netting. This makes damage considerably less likely as the pole of the paddle will invariably get caught on someting while riding.

The material is Dynema X – a super abrasion and tear resistant, but lightweight, fabric. It can ‘wet’ as the PU coating is on one side only, which will add to weight, but I believe this worth the trade off given that cuben type materials are less tear proof: when you are jamming a raft into the bag, with the paddle, this is a serious consideration.

The materials used in superlight gear are well worth taking the time to learn about. I’d suggest starting with Bedrock & Paradox and follow the links to previous posts regarding materials, too. Dave Chenault builds and uses packs from many materials and offers excellent insight into the pros and cons of each design. I link to his blog from mine and I would thoroughly recommend taking a look, particularly if you do any MYOG stuff.

On that note, I finally ordered some cuben – or Dyneema Composite Fabric as it is now known. The CT2K.18 I ordered form extremtextil.de is 34g per square meter and this is certainly not the most robust weight that is made. I am going to make, with tape, a double ended dry bag to mount into my Revelate Designs Harness. Double ended dry bags are really easy to pack and I can decide on the perfect diameter of the tube I want. It will be my first time working with this material – cost and lack of abrasion resistance have stopped me in the past. I have had excellent use from my MLD and Z packs DCF stuff sacks and roll bags, for several years, so I decided to dive in.

I was also interested to see extremtextil now stock Dimension Polyant LiteSkin in two different weights. I have been seeing this showing up on various cottage makers instagram feeds for the last year or so. On paper, it has a lot of properties that should make it excellent for the type of bags I like to make. I might get some and see what it is like. In the meantime, here is an interesting video of some testing of different materials.

Anyway. Rabbit foot stroked, I’m banking on some good weather to put this kit into practice…





DeWidget – update.

22 01 2018

Ok folks.

New fangled 3D printed #DeWidget, left, old skool cool proto, right

So the DeWidget has seen a little update. Mark has been kind enough to put the design on Shapeways. You can see them here and here. You would need one ring and two ‘top hat’ parts to make a complete DeWidget. The price is a little more, due to the addition of another company in the chain, but – IT NOW COMES IN COLOURS!

I have a black one in hand that has a slightly textured feel, but this in no way harms function. The white is also a textured surface whereas I believe the coloured ones are ‘smooth’.

Shapeways have a facility in the Netherlands and one in the USA, so if you are ordering abroad, it should actually work out pretty good.

Do pass this info on if you wouldn’t mind, cheers.





Organising.

22 01 2018

Ugh. It’s been a while.

The rains came…

…then Christmas and Hogmanay (with a brief trip to Am Ploc, where I deployed the Yak in Loch Carron for my first salty paddle).

…and then, well, it started snowing.

Quite a lot, actually.

It gave me a chance to use Snow Job in earnest and I had quite a bit of fun, drifting around banked up corners and bombing steep techy drops – my heart in my mouth as I pinballed through rocks and roots under the snow.

As the snow is now melting and the trails will be flooded with the released H2O, I decided to tidy up my workspace and fiddle with a Dynaplug kit.

I had bought a 3/16″ 24tpi tap set, which is the size the Dynaplug insert tubes use, and some aluminium rod of various diameters to see what I could do after picking up a Survivor Pill and mega-plug cheap on ebay.

My first go was pretty serviceable, but assuming (ass, you, me etc) that there would be room for it and the insert bit inside the pill was a mistake. I’ll make another, narrower, one and see how I go.

I also plowed ahead with sorting my tool box with the cheap version of Kaizen foam I bought a while ago. It is strangely therapeutic to do and it is nice to have my tools easily accessible and not rattling around.

It is spring soon, I guess, and as davechopoptions pointed out, FBROTY needs attention and then the slow, painful regaining of fitness. Hopefully this year will be drier, here….

OK for now.





Bike packing bags.

17 12 2017

I have been subtly changing how I load the bike for bike packing. A little while ago, it became clear there are benefits to reducing the weight on the bars and reducing the volume under the seat – particularly if a dropper post is to be used.

As a result, a frame bag is needed to bring back the volume without loading it all into a rucksack.

So: a Porcelain Rocket Charlene (from Ride Auburn) which utilises a Wolftooth Valais dropper seat post guard (from MTBRiders) in order to give around 6l of storage that also still allows me 100mm of seat drop.

The Gas Tank and Tangle are essential and I also plan to swap in and out a full Revelate frame bag (all from Backcountry.scot).

The under downtube bag is actually a fork leg bag, from Oveja Negra – called the Bootlegger. I am mounting this to a bottle cage mount under the downtube with a Wolftooth B-Rad 4 plate I cut down to only leave 3 mounting holes. This reduces the overall unsupported length of the plate. It can also mount a King Cage Manything cage (from Justpedal.nl) if I want to use a dry bag instead.

The Revelate Harness, I have slightly modified to allow 4 point mounting to the Jones bars. This is so bomber that I am considering retiring my Revelate Sweetroll. We’ll see. The modification initially used the front ‘pocket’ straps, on which I unpicked the bar tacking I needed a way to utilise the webbing sewn to the Harness for a second set of bar mounts, with some extra foam spacers, but this was sub optimal, so I used some size 3.5mm locking oval carabiners. This also proved suboptimal on my recent overnighter – too much movement in the system. So I have changed it to use a simple wrap of double sided velcro with a Jones bar kit from Revelate and I am confident this is the way forward.

On the last overnighter, the Harness had my sleeping bag in a Mountain Laurel Designs cuben stuff sack (minimising the weight gain in using the Harness over the Sweetroll) and the Charlene had my wool longs and Mountain Laurel Designs Cricket Tarp/tent.

The Bootlegger held my Thermarest Neoair X-lite and some long wool socks and the frame bag held my tent poles (from Z-packs) Vaude ti tent pegs, MSR mini stove, a couple of large cuben stuff sacks to stow stuff overnight, an Opinel, a spare inner tube, another wool layer, a dyneema cord just in case and a wee bit of food. More food in the Gas Tank.

Everything else went in my Wingnut.

It all worked well and the bike felt lively, with plenty of stowage space.





Deep freeze.

11 12 2017

Wind from the north, more or less, and stable pressure. But cold. Very cold. Overnight, where I was heading, was predicted to be around -6°c or lower and I was a wee bit nervous. It had been a long time since I had bivied out in really cold conditions.

Still, I was keen to sleep under the stars and I had a few new bags to try out. I have been changing the way I pack the bike – less on the bars, less under the saddle and using the lower, central ‘in and below frame’ positions to get back the volume.

I rode out on familiar trails with bright light and crisp conditions under tyre. I didn’t rush. I wasn’t going far. In fact I hadn’t quite decided where my ultimate destination would be.

In the end, I picked the Queen Elizabeth Forest Park and left the West Highland Way as the sun was dipping below the horizon at around 4pm. From there, I climbed, then dropped rapidly into the forest with glorious views of the mountains of the Trossachs and the snow tinged with pink, then orange. My beard froze solid. Expired moisture and the rushing of cold air on downhills.

The temperature was dropping noticeably and I decided to stop earlier than I had planned as my fingers and toes were numb. I ended at Latitude 56.1738 North, Longitude 4.4646 West, more or less. A good spot.

Immediately, I needed to get into my sleeping bag and pull on all the layers I had brought with me. I had forgotten a hat, which was a mistake, so after a Firepot Chili Con Carne, washed down with a couple of cold cans of beer, I turned in at 6.15pm.

I had brought a book and a wee dram for the evening as I knew I wouldn’t be riding late into the night, but it was just too cold to do anything other than cocoon myself in down.

14 hours until daylight.

The night passed slowly. It was bitterly, painfully cold at times. I would wake, shivering and then move around, generate some heat and try to get back to sleep. How many times I awoke, I have no idea. At one point, I looked at the time: 2.56am. I knew I would make it, despite having considered a late night withdrawal just a few hours previously.

As the sun crawled above the horizon, I packed and got riding. No food, not even coffee. Too cold for that. It was amazing how much moisture, presumably from me, had frozen to tiny ice crystals on the inside of my tarp. I shook them out, mindful to avoid getting wet.

With the temperature still very low indeed, pedaling was a chore. I never seemed to generate any heat and my feet slowly and surely went entirely numb. My muscles were stiff and slow. But it will always end, you just have to keep going until it does, right?

The last trail.

Soon, home and the promise of some warmth. Food and coffee and the time to reflect. A deep frozen S24O. quiet, in the woods, the dark. Maybe for the last time this year.