Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bikepack Gas Tank - used and abused.

When you're packing your bike the big stuff's easy. It's the stuff you think about and allocate space to ... sleeping bag, tarp, cooking stuff, etc. Once it's all in place you suddenly remember all the little things you've forgotten. Sometimes you admit defeat and simply stick it all in a rucksack, other times you re-pack everything and try and find those hidden nooks and crannies to cram the last few bits in.


Extended length ... making full use of useless space!


A much better solution would be one (or two) of these 'Gas Tanks' from Bikepack. They're made from the same quality materials and produced with the same care and attention to detail as all the other Bikepack products and are amazingly handy.

Besides the standard size there's also a custom option available for a small charge. The standard dimensions are 5cm W x 20cm L x 10cm H, which makes it an ideal storage space for your camera or sweeties or anything else you might need handy. The usual mounting point is on the top tube just behind the stem ... although as you can see, that's not the only possible option.

I've been using a custom sized version for the last six months or so, mounted to the front of the seatpost ... somewhere which is usually just 'dead space'. It's the same width and height as standard but the length has been increased to 27cm and the zipper reversed so it opens from the top. I've thoroughly abused it, over-filled it and generally mistreated the poor thing and its not complained at all. Although it isn't advertised as waterproof I haven't found any water inside, even after some severe Welsh liquid sunshine.


Top tube mounted 'Fuel Tanks' ... in camo if you fancy it.


The possible options go further than just sizing, there's also a choice of colours and material spec' too. Prices start at £18 which I think is fantastic value with custom sizing adding a couple of quid. All in all a superb bit of kit, ideally suited to storing all those bits you forgot!

You can order one HERE

Monday, September 10, 2012

AlpKit Stingray frame bag ... first look

Rackless carrying systems are starting to become the norm these days, part of me considers them to be one of the things that divides bikepacking from touring. Frame bags often form the heart or foundation of many rackless set ups, so it didn't come as too much of a surprise when AlpKit launched theirs. What did come as a slight surprise was the fact that the frame bags would be 'custom' rather than a generic 'one size fits most' affair.

The term 'custom' might mean many things to many people. AlpKit haven't gone as far as some with the definition of the word but I imagine most folk will be more than happy with the available options. Firstly and quite obviously, the bags are made to fit your specific frame. This involves taping some card to your frame and with your best crayoning skills tracing the outline of your main triangle, not forgetting to mark things like cable stops, etc ... you order your bag on-line but post AlpKit your template. When you place your order you can choose your bags configuration, ie, one big compartment or split with an internal divider, there's also the option of a 'map' pocket too. Next comes the width, don't be tempted to go mad here ... you really don't need your legs rubbing the bag. The last things to decide are the colours, choose either a red or black bag, then decide on the stitching colour (there's lots) and last but not least pick a colour for the lining - simple.

Remember, the bigger your frame the more room you'll have for butties!

This bag doesn't have any bells and whistles, it's a single compartment with no 'map' pocket. However, I'm informed that the stitching is 'Lego blue' which nicely matches my frame. One thing I did deliberately pick was a yellow lining to help lighten the inside and make it a little easier to find things when I'm deep in the woods.

Yellow lining by AlpKit ... stains by me.

So far the bag's accompanied me on three trips and has done everything asked of it without complaint ... I'll report back when it's got more miles under its belt but so far so good.

Prices start at £65 and you can order your very own bag HERE

Friday, September 7, 2012

8g and 22g meths stoves.

I've been designing, building and messing about with meths (and sometimes wood) stoves for quite a few years now. Always looking to make the next one a little better than the previous ... lighter, smaller, more efficient, etc.

Earlier in the year I'd been on few overnight trips where I didn't bother to carry a stove. Not having a stove and eating cold food was fine but not having a brew wasn't! Thinking that only a small 450ml mug was required to make tea, I decided to make a stove to suit the mug. The majority of stoves are just too big when cooking with a mug, you end up with most of the available head going up the sides and wasted. Something much smaller was required and the 8g stove was it.

8g (left) and 22g meths stove ... yes that is a 1p piece.


Making such a small stove brings problems of its own. The tiny internal volume means the stove is very sensitive to alterations in pressure ... a long time and tens of prototypes were required to find the solutions. Jet location, jet size and internal and external air vents all had to be experimented with until the optimum was found. I think the result was worth the effort.

As I'm sure you might have guessed the stoves weigh a whopping 8g and as you can see aren't very big at all. I've now put both versions (8g and 22g) into 'production' so if you're looking for a lightweight cooking solution you're in luck.

More info HERE