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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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.





Bulk.

18 11 2017

So this is a B-Rad 3 from Wolftooth components. They offer a range of adaptors to refit bottle cages in such a way that you can carry more on your bike. More bottle cages, straps and stuff.

Why am I interested in it?

Well, I don’t generally like carrying stuff on my person while riding if I can avoid it, but with the arrival of the Alpacka Yak and my plans to bike-raft and bike-pack-raft, I am going to have to deal with carrying more stuff somehow. This adaptor has slots which house the bolts to attach it to the frame and allows some movement fore and aft. The bolt holes on the adaptor itself can then be used for other things.

Most of my bikes have provision for an under-the-downtube bottle cage. The B-Rad is stiff enough to allow 3 bolt items to be added – with the proviso I don’t overload the 2 bolts into the frame. I will alter it to only have 3 bolt holes: 4 is overkill.

What that means is that my King Cage Manything cage (buy them from jelle at Justpedal.nl in EU) can be utilised with straps and a dry bag, or an Oveja Negra Bootlegger, which should be with me in around 4 weeks can be fitted.

This bag has an integral aluminium skeleton to give support and allow it to be bolted on to the frame (or fork). It is sized for Nalgene bottle, but because I am going to use it with 2 bottle cage bolts, I will use it to stow food or soft items, such as puffy jackets and/or wool longs.

It all adds up when you are bike packing and creative space and volume use is essential to a good experience. My Porcelain Rocket Charlene will work with a dropper post – utlising the Wolftooth Valais – and this should give me a highly versatile and all-mountain competent bike/packrafting set up with lots of well distributed bag-space. Porcelain Rocket kit is available from Ride Auburn in the UK

On account of the Bootlegger not being with me just yet (I am awaiting stock of the Classic multicam DPM version) I have used Oveja Negra’s own pics: visit their site and consider some of their kit – it is very well thought out.





How to fit a DeWidget.

23 08 2017

Ok, how *I* fit a DeWidget – I am sure there are a number of ways!

First, you need some double sided velcro. This has a multitude of uses for the bikepacker. I usually keep a few wraps around bars and whatnot for use when out and about: temporary attachments; to insulate the frame or components from abrasion; tying down flyaway straps etc.

Anyhoo. You will need about 6-7cm 1cm wide and 7-8cm of 2cm wide. If you are struggling to find some, you can get it here. Search around for different widths and trim with scissors or a craft knife. In my experience it does not need ‘heat sealed’ on the edges.

Then, mount your top-tube bag to your frame, loosely, near it’s final desired position. Mount your DeWidget to the steerer.

1. thread the thin portion of velcro through the daisy chain on the front of the top-tube bag.

I then remount the foam spacer – I would recommend this if you have one.

2. mount the 2cm section of velcro to one side of your 1cm velcro.

3. fold the 1cm section back on itself, on top of the 2cm section.

4. thread the 2cm velcro through the slot on the DeWidget.

It doesn’t matter if the bottom section or top is longer…

5. attach the 2cm velcro to itself in a loop as tight as desired.

The velcro has inherent stiffness that helps keep the mounting absolutely solid, even if there is a fair distance between the bag and the stem – which may be desirable given stem hardware.

The other thought I had was to use a sternum strap split bar buckle and attach it to the daisy chain, thus presenting a ‘bar’ in ‘phase’ with the slot on the DeWidget, but velcro has worked so well I have never tried…

You can get them here, not very handy, but I have used this shop for many parts and materials for MYOG projects and can recommend them. I have not found the same buckles in the UK yet.





Optimisation, part 3: no Garmin, no rules.

29 04 2017

As much as I have come to believe in the ethos of ‘no Garmin, no rules‘ provocation, there is no doubt that in certain circumstances they are worth their weight in gold.

A long time ago, I chose to buy an eTrex 20, which has the benefit of being able to run on lithium AA batteries. These last for ages and in a pinch can be replaced with normal alkaline batteries ‘in the field’.

Mounting hardware for GPS units has moved on over the years and is now elegant, functional and ergonomic. Except for the eTrrex series.

With these, you are stuck with a large, ungainly, zip-tied on plastic unit that can be mounted to stems or top tubes or bars, but never seems to be in the *right* place, no matter where you put it.

They also break, take up large amounts of real estate and are fugly when not in use.

I wanted an ‘out front’ style mount, to optimise the position of the screen. Because I use Jones bars, this is a touch more difficult, as the unit needs to sit within the ‘loop’ of the bars.

I mainly use them bikepacking, so I did not want it to interfere with a bar harness set up and as I sometimes use feedbags, I needed it to allow me to mount these close to the stem, in order to avoid my knees when out-of-the-saddle climbing.

The initial idea came from Ricky Feather – who posted this image to his instagram account.

I also need to give a nod to K Lite mounts, who also posted an inspiring instagram image.

The breakthrough was finding a Japanese based mount seller – Rec Mounts – who make various eTrex compatible mounts, the GoPro one being the most important for me.

I then utilised a Raceware GoPro bar mount and the missing piece was supplied by Kevin at Pacifier in the USA, who custom machined me a small aluminium slab with a longer base in order to mount the Rec Mounts piece.

Rather than use the two M4 bolts for combining these parts, I bought an imperial 20tpi bolt so that it would be a little sturdier (the Rec Mounts part has a camera tripod fitting as well, which I measured to find the thread pitch).

In the end, I used an aluminium M4 bolt from ProBolt, as the stainless 20tpi bolt takes the load, so it is only there to stop rotation.

The Pacifier mount was drilled, de-burred and then fitted to the RaceWare bar mount. Unfortunately, the RaceWare mounts seem to use a interface that has a *slightly* different tolerance than the aluminium GoPro stuff so a little judicious filing was required to make everything fit well. I filed the Pacifier part, as I wanted to have the option to mount the RaceWare 31.8 ‘tube’ mount which can also be used for my Niterider light – a much better position than on top of the bars.

The drilling went well and was accurate. In saying that, I wish I had used a spotting drill bit, as my pillar drill is not a precision tool and in truth I would have liked to thread the holes and connect things a bit differently. I now have a spotting drill bit – thanks to Sean for his advice!

In use, the bar mount has been excellent. Good position, further forward and improves screen visibility.

The RaceWare bar loop is very clean, narrow and thanks to the material used and the rubber ‘pad’ integrated in the clamp section, it is carbon bar friendly and does not slip, even in the roughest terrain.

Lastly, it allows use of a bar roll bag or harness with no issues whatsoever. Questions? fire away…





Following rivers to the sea: part 1

17 04 2017

With a couple of days to spend riding, an overnighter long overdue and some mixed weather a route presented itself that would follow some of the most well known and beautiful rivers in the southern Cairngorm area.

The train delivered me to Pitlochry on Thursday afternoon and despite some anxiety regarding how much and what sort of precipitation I would encounter, I was happy to start pedaling alongside the River Tummel, past Loch Faskally and the gorgeous singletrack at Killiecrankie.

The sun still had some warmth as I turned north at Blair Atholl to follow the River Tilt and I enjoyed the light on the hills enclosing the ever deepening glen as I climbed towards the waterfall where the River Tarf joins the Tilt.

Unfortunately, my luck with the weather was beginning to erode and some very cold rain had me head down and shivering.

It soon passed and the sublime track through upper Glen Tilt, which has been improved to drain some of the peat bog and offer a clearer, more ridable line, was awesome as the sun began to dip towards the horizon.

I was still anxious about crossing the Geldie Burn, but had noted how low the Tilt was and I hoped that it would not offer a significant barrier. Past the ruin of Bynack Lodge, I found the fording of the smaller Bynack Burn to be rideable and on reaching the Geldie, was stoked to find it also rideable. I have crossed this river a number of times and I have never seen it as low – even in mid summer. Incredible.

With barely damp toes, my concern for a very cold night were lessened slightly. The rain was holding off and the forecast for possible snow seemed remote though the predicted overnight high winds were clearly beginning to drive cloud over the Cairngorm Plateau at a significant clip.

Fortune was with me and the wind offered a helping hand as I sped along side the River Dee, through Mar Lodge and then into the regenerated Caledonian pine forest just east of Braemar.

The sun finally dropped fully behind the mountains and with it the temperature plummeted. My tent and sleeping kit set up was swift, with me shivering in my puff jacket. A warm meal and a couple of beers saw me asleep with a great days ride behind me.

Tomorrow would be some known and some unknown as I aimed to reach the sea on the east coast.