Monday, August 6, 2012

Wildcat Gear - Tiger

I think it's fair to say that the majority of the bikepacking world are now firmly of the belief that not using a backpack is a good thing and rackless carrying systems are the way forward ... those who don't subscribe to the above have probably never ridden for 100 miles with all their gear on their back and have never had a rack snap miles from home.

One of the criticisms often leveled at bikepacking luggage is the fact it's usually not waterproof, water resistant certainly but not actually waterproof ... after all, dry bags are now as synonymous with bikepacking as any other piece of kit you could name. You know the score, pack all your rather expensive kit into dry bags, then pack all your dry bags into all the other bags adorning your bike ... that's right, you've just put a bag inside a bag - WHY? ... is one bag not enough?

In my opinion this is where the Wildcat Gear Tiger comes into it's own ... it's possibly as near as we're going to get to being bagless.

8L Dry bag happily strapped to a Tiger.

The Wildcat Tiger isn't a bag, instead it's designed to hold a bag. I should say here, that it's not just designed to hold a bag ... it's designed to REALLY hold it, without any of the swinging and swaying sometimes associated with rear bags. It attaches to the bike around the seatpost and the saddle rails. The strap around the seatpost has some kind of 'rubber' on the inside which aids grip and I'm sure also helps to stop your post getting battle scars. The two saddle rails straps are quick and easy to fit and adjust ... the whole thing can be on and off in under 30 seconds. The strap system is fully adjustable, so you should be able to utilise most makes of dry bags. Purely in the interests of research, I completely over loaded this one, then rode the bike down some of the roughest trail sections I could find. The result of my 'research'? Nothing, nothing at all ... I forgot that it was there, it didn't do anything to remind me it was there, so it's not surprising I forgot. While Wildcat don't endorse this kind of behaviour, it's nice to know ;o)

There are two sizes of Tiger available, I've given the larger version a real battering over the last couple of months. It's held everything from some butties and a few tools to the biggest tarp you've ever seen plus pegs and groundsheet. Other times it's carried my sleeping bag, my cooking kit and food ... pretty much whatever I've wanted it to, without any fuss or drama. A quick run under the tap has it looking nearly as good as new.

All the materials used in its construction are the best available and as with all Wildcat products , the attention to detail and craftsmanship are faultless. However, what makes it great in my mind is the fact someones actually thought about it and found a better way. I'm sure it would have been easier to just knock out another rear bag that does the same as all the others ... it allows you to put a waterproof bag inside one that isn't, say it like that and it seems quite mad doesn't it.

Borah Gear Bivvy Bag

In my opinion a bivvy bag needs to perform certain tasks and possess certain attributes. If it can do everything asked, it then becomes the difference between a great night and a slightly less, possibly cold, wet and bitten night. It's a simple task to find a bivvy bag that's waterproof. It's not very difficult to find one that's not only waterproof but breathable too. How about waterproof, breathable and midge proof? They are available but tend to be heavy, bulky and expensive ... but not all of them!

Not much comes close weight wise!

This bivvy bag is made by Borah Gear in the US. It manages to combine all of the above in a package that weighs 179g and costs around $90 ... other options are available. This particular version has a Silnylon base, a Momentum 50 upper, midge net 'hood' and a 24" long side zip. It's also 'oversize' to allow for a winter mat and sleeping bag to fit inside.

Silnylon base, M50 top and midge-proof netting.

The bag has 4 pegging points (an option) and a tie on the netting hood, so you can hold it off your face. In use the Sil' base is pretty slippery so the peg points are a worthwhile investment. Unlike many ultralight bivvy bags the Borah isn't restrictive at all. Getting in and out of the thing is easy, the zipper is in the ideal place to make access easy once you're tucked up inside ... there's no drawcord hood to mess about with either. 

Yes, it looks like a rather large bin bag from here!

The Momentum fabric used for the top is rather special. It's quite surprising how something so thin and light can be waterproof, windproof and tough ... it's also a very shiny, almost sexy black ;o). I've spent a few nights in the bag and so far it's proving to be exactly what I'd hoped it'd be.

The quality of construction is superb and choice of materials and design make it ideal for most UK conditions. I'll report back with a more in depth review once we've become better acquainted ... something I'm looking forward to.

Borah Gear can be found HERE