007- Bike Pack

commuting chronicles, gear review, patagonia

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Imagine a panier mated with a traditional back pack and they had a baby… Introducing the bike-pack.

The bike-pack project was born of a bike commuters’ need for a multi purpose pack. I started with a dry bag from City Thrift, on Franklin. Through some expert bartering, I was able to get the clerk to throw in an old padded water bottle waist pack (which I intended to use as a removable padded waist band for the pack), all for $10. Next, I salvaged plastic clips from older packs long lost in forgotten corners of hall closets. Lastly, for the straps, I diced up an old slack-line.

Attendance at the Repair Cafe at Pack-it Liquidators, put on by Rethink Waist, an Environmental Center program, was crucial. It was here that I met Allison Murphy, owner of Utilitu, and Ben Lewis, owner of Pinch Flat Designs. Allison helped me with the initial back straps brain storm phase, Ben and I expanded on this, and he used his old school machine for the stitch work.

The first hurdle was deciding how many stitches to put in an already water proof fabric. After consultation with the pro semsters (Allison and Ben) we decided the top buckle would be directly sewn on to the water proof fabric, and we would find a way to make everything else removable. Because I needed to obtain velcro for attaching the waist strap to the bottom of the pack, I had to arrange to meet with Ben a second time at his studio in The Workhouse, near sparrow bakery. What an inspiring space to project in!

One of Ben’s four machines had what is called a “long arm” which made sewing velcro on the most difficult corner of the bag much easier. He was a super-trooper making many recommendations which I rejected and then, as the project progressed, quickly realized were not only necessary but clever and imperative. Shortening straps lengths here, double backing terminus webbing there, re-alining the waist several times, Ben is a master designer and semester. It isn’t often an artist can execute a design and the final product serves a function better than anything offered as a commodity. The work house is full of this ingenuity.

In the end, the bag has been an enormous success. Not only has it accomplished every task I have set it to, it also attracts massive attention. One of my favorite past times is when strangers approach me to learn more about the pack. The exchange goes something like this:  “Wow, I like your bag”, “Thanks I made it…” and a very interesting discussion commences. Because it attracts so much attention, co-workers satirically dubbed it 007 (covert is one thing the pack is NOT).

I found yet another use for the multi-purpose cargo unit while watching Valhalla, the seasons greatest narrative ski movie, put on by The Plankery, at the the Volcanic Theater Pub last Tuesday night. Arriving late meant all the seats were taken and I was relegated to the floor. Stuffing the pack with everyones jackets, I made a massive pillow and laid out below the screen finding I had the greatest seat in the house…

Lastly, had I not made my own pack, the next best bag for cycling on the market is the Black Hole. You can find it at Patagonia Bend on 1000 Wall st. In fact, come in tomorrow between 10:30 and 5:30pm, ask for Krystal and I will walk you through it’s features. Mary Moynihan, co-worker, Triple-Crown thru hiker, sole writer of Married to the Trail, and fellow carless bike commuter lives by this easy top loading, durable, nearly water proof, light weight pack. Though I haven’t tried it, I think the Black Hole would modify into a saddle bag easily as well.

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