Thursday, May 17, 2012

AlpKit / WRT Frame bag comp.

It's not everyday you get the chance to win a custom made frame bag but if you're taking part in this years WRT, that's exactly what you've got. The good people at AlpKit will lovingly produce a one off frame bag made especially for your bike and present it to you at the start of the WRT.

All you have to do to be in with a shout, is point your mouse HERE and follow the simple instructions. You'll require some old cereal packets, a pen, some kind of cutting implement, a measuring stick ... and a good reason why you should win it!

Jolly nice folk!





Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sneaky look ... Bear Bones jerseys.

Here's a preview of the new Bear Bones jerseys. They'll be avaliable to pre-order in the next week or so ... yes they are tent pegs in the pocket!


Now available to pre-order here - http://www.bearbonesbikepacking.co.uk/

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tarp Poles ... yes really.

It's fair to say that this might be one of the most boring things you could ever write about but it also might be worth taking at least a little notice ... you'll be thankful if the night arrives when your tarp's the only thing separating you from a winter storm. I'm a great fan of carrying a separate tarp pole, obviously there's a weight penalty but a pole really does open up a lot more options when you're trying to rig up some cover.

There's plenty of options out there, some are better suited to certain set-ups than others but here's three to give you an idea. They're all quite different (if three aluminium poles can really be that different) and I imagine between them they'd cover most situations or preferences.


From the bottom up - MSR extending pole - Ultralight Outdoor gear - Highlander telescopic. The poles in the picture above will all hold your tarp up, besides having to decide how high you want it held and how much are you willing to pay for the privilege, you'll also have to consider how best to pack your new pole. The MSR and Highlander are both pretty chunky and in reality may have to be fastened to your bikes top tube if you don't have some kind of rack. The Ultralight pole is much easier to stow and will just about slip inside a 13l dry bag without much fuss.


Did you have a think about how high you wanted your tarp? As you can see there's quite a difference in lengths between the three (the MSR isn't fully extended in the picture) ... if you want to rig your tarp so it's high enough to sit up under, then you'll have to ignore the Highlander, at 88cm fully extended it's probably just slightly too short for the vast majority ... it's even too short for me! Now, it's quite possible that the MSR has the opposite problem and might actually be a little too long for most. Where it does come in to its own though is when set up under a pyramid type shelter or rigging a 3m into a 'flying V' or similar. The Ultralight pole is more of a compromise and will just about be workable with whatever set-up you have in mind. All three are more than strong enough to withstand some serious weather and I'd be happy to trust any of them whatever the conditions.

MSR - 280g - Extended length 130cm to 154cm - Packed length 47.5cm - £24.98

Ultralight - 117g - Extended length 123cm - Packed length 35cm - £31.00 (other lengths available)

Highlander - 152g - Extended length 50cm to 88cm - Packed length 50cm - £8.00

So as you can see there's quite a few noticeable differences between the three ... all you need to do is decide where you're willing to compromise to keep that storm at bay.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Vargo Windshield ... mini test.

If you cook with meths or solid fuel then you'll know how important it is to have a decent windshield ... without one you'll be waiting along time for a brew! The usual solution is a foldable, foil affair. They generally do a good job of keeping the breeze of your stove and they're also light ... what's not to like?

This is Vargos take on windshield design, it's aluminium rather than Ti which is quite unusual for a Vargo product but it's hardly heavy at 36g (my foil windshield is 34g).





It's constructed from five plates that hinge together, so it's easy to get a 'snug' fit around your stove or open it out as the conditions dictate. Each plate has a cut-out both top and bottom. The bottom cut-outs obviously allow air to your stove, while the top ones are there to allow you to use it as a windshield come pot stand ... it's strong enough to support your average size cooking vessel but don't go mad! Each of the five plates is 80mm x 80mm, so the overall length is 400mm so it should be big enough to go round most things.

So is it any good? ... I've used it in some pretty blowy conditions and as a windshield it's performed as well as any other. As a combined windshield/pot stand it's also been fine, just as long as your pot is wide enough to sit on top. It's certainly light enough and would seem a little more robust than a foil equivalent ... so yes, it is good. The only criticism I have is the width when folded, at 80mm it's just slightly too wide to slide inside the majority of solo sized pots. If Vargo made each plate 10mm narrower it would still function perfectly well but would be much easier to pack ... giving each plate a 'little bend' to slightly curve them, would obviously achieve the same result ;o)

Avaliable via the magic of the internet in black, blue and silver for about a tenner.






Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WRT Grid References

The 2012 WRT grid references left the building yesterday. If you've entered but haven't received an email with the grid references ... check your spam folder. If it's not there then email me - stuart@bearbonesbikepacking.co.uk and I'll get you sorted out.


Obviously there's always a few people ready to rise to a challenge no matter what it is ... so it shouldn't really be a surprise that some riders are talking about attempting all the grid references.  It would result in a route of at least 190 miles with some very serious climbing. For others route choice seems to depend more on the locality of pubs and cafes ;o)