TRIED & TESTED...
It was sometime in the early 90's that I started sewing. I had some goretex salopettes that needed the backside re-inforcing - after too much snowboarding, and I knew they were too good to throw out. I didn't know how to sew, but my brother did, so he sewed a cordura backside over the top, as I watched on enviously. Before long I taught myself how to fix and modify my own stuff, and started making a few simple stuff sacs, wallets and chalk bags.
The very first thing I made a pattern for and made from scratch was a pair of jeans. I was so stoked to have some baggy jeans, in an era when you couldn't buy them without getting a size 40 waist and wearing a belt. This turned into shorts, snowboarding clothes, and pretty much from then on if I needed a bag, sack, or a pair of pants for a wedding, I'd just take the time to make them.
As a full time graphic designer/ compositor - composer of type - for 15+ years, the skills learnt crossed straight over to sewing and pattern making. It's about planning. It's about imagining the end result. It's about lining things up, and staying within the margins. And in the end it's about time - some things just take time, so no point rushing.
When I was preparing to pedal my bike half way around the world, I noticed the massive dead space between my seat and rear rack. It's a common problem you'll see on plenty of touring bikes, and there is nothing you can do about it.
As I'm not one for handlebar bags, I decided that I'd make a handy filler bag that would be a place to stash my wallet, passport, sunglasses, camera and the daily incidentals. It was one of the most used bags on my bike.
I've still not seen anything like it to date.
18L travel pACK
Wanting a lightweight, compact sack for travel I made this 18L backpack . It's a one piece construction with a removable internal EVA padded sit mat. Once the padding is removed it pretty much rolls up to nothing.
Unpadded 50mm webbing straps also help to keep the bulk down as well. It's a no fuss simple sack, for the simple act of travel and riding a bike. No bells, no whistles, just what is needed.
I call this the skinny pack, as it's narrow. This allows the weight in the bag to sit as close to your body as possible. Also, means you have to carry less which is a good thing too.
The workmanship on this bag isn't perfect as I was half rushing it to get it done before a trip. I intend on making another at some stage, but it still works just fine as it is.
WATER FILTER BAG
On our worldy bike riding adventure this Katadyn pocket water filter got used near every day. Somedays it filtered upwards of 30L with nay a wimper or complaint. Unfortunately the generic bags these expensive pieces of equipment come with are pretty much junk, so I took it upon myself to make a new one.
This is two layers of 1000d cordura with a layer of polartec 300 fleece quilted and sandwiched inbetween. This made for a durable, slightly padded, bag that still looks near new to this day. Even after some really heavy use.
ADVENTURE TOOL KIT
Worldly adventures call for worldy tool rolls and this made to fit version worked a treat. Most people on long distance cycle tours carry a lot less tools, but I wanted to be able to fix everything myself, no matter where I was & the convenience of having the right tool was worth the extra weight in my opinion. Infact, it got used on other peoples bikes more than our own.
If I went on another long distance trip. I'd pretty much take the exact same things.
Along with the usual suspects it also included: spare pump, cable cutters, emergency hanger, bottom bracket tool - modified to be a chain whip too, and a short handled adjustable spanner.
rattle free PANNIERS
Ortlieb are pretty much the go to brand for panniers. Sure, other companies make some great versions, but theres a reason these are the panniers you see the most adorning the bikes of long distance bike tourers.
They are waterproof, they are the right size, they are pretty tough. They're almost perfect! But... Annoyingly, after a while the little inserts end up stretching and falling out. This doesn't effect the way they sit, but they develop an annoying rattle.
When I got home I wanted to make my own 'rattle free' panniers, which mount solidly to the rack. I've taken these on some super rough bush trails and they did not move a millimetre.
I've got a list of modifications and upgrades for the next incarnation, but version one is still going really strong, so I see no point in making another set until I need too.
Backcountry snowboarding is something I've been doing for over 25 years. Sure, I don't do as many days as I once did, but it's still something I really enjoy. Something special about getting into the mountains, earning your turns, and sleeping in a tent surrounded by snow.
Tired of snowboarding with my 3kg hiking pack, I made this 22L 800gm version. It could have been lighter still, but I had some ballistic nylon I wanted to try out at the time. Now I carry the little extra weight once to camp, and then every walk out after a run is over 2kg lighter. It's quite a difference riding with less weight on your back.
I really love caressing the curves of snow covered hills!
We've come along way, but lightweight outdoor gear can still cost a small fortune. Tired of lugging around a 3+kg four season tent on adventures I decided to make an extra large one person inner to go under an existing 8X10 tarp.
Design requirements were: High bathtub floor - something I'm accustomed too from alpine tent use, a mid wind buffer, and heaps of ventilation. Deadset, this is one of the best tents I've ever slept in. It's a perfect size for my 190cm frame, with room to move and not feel restricted.
Total weight including pegs, poles and fly is 1.5kg
- again, it could have been lighter, but why?
The blue tarp under isn't needed, I set this up one day for a photo and the ground was damp.
The vertical pole is the spreader pole from an old exped tent which I cut in two. Works a treat.
One day I'll make a dedicated fly which can be hunkered down for bad weather... but till then I'll just let the tarp fly.
Jackets & jeans
Jeans were one of the very first things I made entirely from scratch. Most people thought that I started sewing with something hard, but if you don't know, then it just is, and it all seemed just fine to me.
I really like the process of making clothes. Firstly because you know that you are the only one with those jeans, that jacket, that one off tee shirt, and nobody can buy it. It's not about being exclusive, it's an extension of being a creative.
This journey then saw me make goretex pants and jackets for snowboarding, waterproof shorts for rainy bike days, woolen jackets, and an array of other clothes.
Haven't made any jeans in a while, but I should.