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Old 06-16-10, 11:42 AM
  #23  
EAPellow
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Some food for thought: make your own.

I'm going to extrapolate my experience with making rather than buying my own camping gear to this topic, especially because the camp gear items that I most want to make on my own happens to be a series of packs. In my opinion, and I hope that you can all agree with me, buying gear, ESPECIALLY packs and other storage/carrying items is very difficult for one reason: it needs to be customizable to your own gear and needs. It's often difficult for a manufacturer to accommodate everyone's needs with just a few designs, and each design is often difficult to customize. Therefore, I think it's best to try and design your own so that it meets your needs and gear exactly, as far as you have an intimate awareness of what those needs are. FYI, this is also coming from someone who by no means has "magic DIY fingers." I usually go through one design after another until I get it right, but the gratification you get from using something you made is so much more than trying to make something you bought work the way you want it to.

Most of the folding bike carry bags I've seen seem to be identical or minimal improvements on bag #5 in your link, the one from RV Toy Outlet. It's simply a nylon bag, cumbersome and uncomfortable. If all you want to do is stow and carry, then sure, this will work. But it'll suck.

The first "bag" in your link, designed by Robin Davis, seems ingeniously minimal yet effective, and a very different approach to a carrying solution than the others. I'd follow a design similar to this for making a bag. In being so minimal, it securely straps to the bike. However, there are some basic issues I have with this design in being a little too minimal:
1. It doesn't completely cover the bike so it's still vulnerable to debris, rain, scuffing, and getting snagged on...everything.
2. In tandem with the above issue, it would not be able to also stow any other gear, thereby being a carrying solution for the bike and only the bike.
3. There are better solutions for separating the bike from your back that would be more comfortable than "pieces of ply" stuffed into pockets.

A simple solution to the first two issues would be a cover that starts by your back, and draws closed with a flap over the straps that you see in the picture. In this way, the straps are holding the bike, and the cover takes none of the weight so doesn't need to be make out of heavy nylon. I would recommend Cuben, which is 50% lighter than kevlar and 4 times more durable. It's also waterproof. I haven't used it yet but have heard great things about it. You can get it at http://www.questoutfitters.com/coated.html#CUBEN, a site I found for buying fabrics and other materials for making your own gear. They also sell remnants cheap if you want to experiment.

My solution to my third issue is more complicated. Going back to camping for a moment (hopefully there are enough campers on this site to follow this reasoning), I'd like to discuss the old school external frame packs and the now popular internal frame (if any, just a strip or two of hard material) soft packs. Soft packs offer a lower profile and form right to your back with substantial amounts of foam. The biggest issue with this is lack of airflow. Anyone who's been on a long hike with a heavy pack, or even a long walk with just a backpack knows how quickly your back starts sweating out all your fluids when a pack is against it. I hate it. And that's why I love the old external frame packs. The pack straps to the frame, which is usually bowed a little to give space between the frame and your back. The frame usually has a netting material across the width of the frame, and this is what rests against your back. It offers plenty of airflow and can be very comfortable.

Since Davis's pack straps securely to the bike, I think it would be possible to attach 4 stanchions to either the bike frame or the pack. Having them installed pointing towards your back, you could attach nylon web/mesh across them, as well as the shoulder straps, so that the mesh rests against your back with a slight gap between you and your pack. This could be tricky to do though, since it uses the rigidity of the bike as a frame for the stanchions. You could make a collapsible rectangular frame for them, which would put less potential stress on the bike, but it would also add a tiny bit of weight.

In the end, it's all about comfort and ease of use. Even the most complicated design can be simple to use, it's just a matter of what works specifically for you and your gear. I plan on making a folding bike bag soon, so thanks for this post! It's given me a lot to think about, as you can see.
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