Glenn Charles

Adventurer | Photographer | Connector

Today I am a Time Traveler with a Camera... Tomorrow, who knows

Porcelain Rocket Bags

A big thanks once again to Scott Felter for his support.  His Porcelain Rocket bags are simply mind blowingly awesome!!  I have used them non stop and had 0 failures or issues.  Scott recently built me new custom frame bag for the alaska trip with the double zip side panel.  This allows me to more easily get larger items in the bag such as stoves, fuel bottles, or even insulation layers.  Scott's attention to detail is evident in all of his bags and can be seen by the many happy customers going into extreme environments with his kit. 

For this trip I will only be using a Frame Bag, a Handlebar bag, and a Top Tube ditty bag.  On the back I will forgo my Booster Rocket pack and instead go with a rear rack and two Ortlieb panniers.  Aesthetically this runs against my grain, but the extreme conditions, remote nature of Alaska, and the scarcity of resupply points demand more storage than a typical bikepacking setup.

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This image shows nicely the advantage of the Panel Loader.  With this style bag, you have 2-3 options for how the bag is opened.  The top, horizontal zipper is a 2 way zipper that can be opened from either the left or the right side.  The vertical zipper goes from top to bottom.  If you open both zippers, the panel opens wide for the insertion of bulky objects.  This allows the following combinations:

  1. Zip the top from left to right and access the panel from the top
  2. Zip the top from right to left and access the panel from the top
  3. Zip the side from top to bottom and access the panel from the vertical
  4. Zip left to right, top to bottom, and the panel opens out

No more fighting to squeeze something through the zipper.  The beauty is in the details, so notice how Scott has added a flap in the corner to protect the two zippers from water immersion. 

Thanks Scott, the bag rocks!!

Patagonia Capilene 4

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Ok, I am almost done talking about gear, at least for the most part, because once I hit the road/trail in Alaska, it will be a different story... However, with that said, I have found what may be one of the finest base layers ever!! The Patagonia Cap 4 hoody, which I had read about over on Backpacking Light, is simply spectacular. It is comfortable, breathes amazingly well, has the full zip of the famous R1 and lastly, it just wicks the moisture away.

Two different rides, yesterday and today, and I am very impressed. Today I just wore it under my Pat Houdini and was very comfortable. I have been such a wool fan that it feels like I am cheating on a GF, but I am really excited about this piece. For AK I will use it as a mid layer over top of the Bryjne wool fishnet top. This combined with my soft shell should take me down to 0F when riding.


Updated Lake MXZ 303 Winter Shoes

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It looks like Lake is not resting with what has been a big success for them but is instead continuing to evolve their winter cycling boot with the new MXZ 303 model.  This looks interesting, I just hope that it is built on a wider last than before.

A couple of things I noted in the press release is the addition of insulation in the Toe Box area and a new foot bed liner to help insulate your foot from the cold that seeps through your metal cleat.  The boots still have the same style lacing which I must say I actually liked when in the deep cold.  It was easy to operate and never did fail.  However, if you are going into the wilds away from support, then this is simply one other thing to break.

The Lake's are notoriously narrow, which is so detrimental to keeping your feet warm in the winter. I am still banking on the 45Nrth Wolvhammers as my first option, but these are intriguing because of the price differential.  The Wolvhammers are more than $100 more expensive and since I am going to mod my boots with a special deep winter overboot, this may be a better route.  

Buy a couple of sizes larger and order the wide version.  Bikeman.com has them on pre-order now.

Winter Bikepacking Kit

Here is the first pass at my clothing & camp setup for the upcoming winter Bikepacking expedition in Alaska.  This kit is a derivation of the setup I used last year in the Gaspe/Chic Choc mountains.  The main difference is that I will be going into colder and more extreme situations which will cause me to carry a bit more food, clothing, and fuel.

The following is a textual layout that will be updated with the appropriate weights once I re-weigh everything.  Some of the numbers are holdovers from last year and should be correct.  I will also map out visually where everything fits on the bike and how it is all packed once the setup is complete.