Alpkit’s Bikepacking Accessories  Alpkit’s stated inspiration is “to build outdoor equipment in a way that everyone can use, kit that works on all levels.” The company works hard in pursuing that goal and I was excited to evaluate how the expectation for extraordinary equipment translates into their line of bikepacking accessories. As with Alpkit’s Bike Luggage, there are items I love, products I feel need further refinement and a bunch of gear that holds fantastic crossover application in other adventurous pursuits. Alpkit products had arrived at my home in early spring, when Durango was solidly stuck in a miserable “tween” season. Cold and snowy up high, wet and muddy in town with daytime temps hovering in the high 30s and low 40s. A deliciously sweet recipe for cabin fever or hypothermia, your choice! Obviously, it was a sub-optimal time to set out on a micro-fatpacking adventure. But the idea of fiddling around with all this new kit drove me outside. Between rain events, hot brews and cold beers, I filmed a First Looks Video for BPM. The Kanga  kanga_blackThe Kanga harness was the first accessory I wanted to try. I had to watch the tutorial video on Alpkit’s website to figure out how to mount it up. It was much different than anything I’d ever seen or tried before. Two fiberglass batons attach to and run perpendicular to your handlebars. A rigid backboard is nestled in a nylon harness, supported by the batons and connected by Velcro to your rig. The backboard has a lower attachment point that straps on above your bike’s front fork. Additional straps running through daisy chained channels on the backboard afford users a selection of secure attachment points for all of your needs.  I tried the Kanga with Alpkit’s dual loading stuff sacks and cranked them down using Alpkit accessory straps. This handlebag harness is innovative and holds great promise. However, the non customizable height of the batons causes the backboard to stick up- 2+ inches over my fatbike’s handlebars and the extra height is even more pronounced on my regular mtb. The overlap of the backboard renders any handlebar mounted devices like lights, cages or tech mounts hard to attach. The height is fine if you don’t need to run with items on your bars. Unquestionably, the Kanga harness allows riders to carry greater weight and more volume up on their bars. While this is useful in some heavier packing scenarios, it could easily lead to a classic pitfall of over-packing. Ultimately, this is not a system I believe the ultralight crowd will embrace in its current iteration. Trim the Kanga down so that the supports run up flush to the bars and decrease the backboard’s carrying capacity and this system is sure to gain a loyal fan base. I’m excited to test and tinker more with this pioneering new product this winter and use it on a gear-heavy fatpacking trip in CO. Stay tuned for more feedback. The 20L Airlok Drybag airlok_dual_chilli-2_1200_841auto Small children, medium sized dogs, large rocks. If I ever need a weatherproof stuff sack with robust carrying capacity and easy loading options, then this is the bag I’m rolling with on my bars! This voluminous dry bag easily swallowed up my MSR tent, winter sleeping bag, bivy, inflatable pad and spare clothes in one bite. It matched and mounted up perfectly to the Kanga Harness and Roo Accessory Pouch. You can also affix it directly to your bars via the integrated strap system on the bag. While the carrying capacity is great, it was a bit too much for me to carry up front, but that is just my preference. However there was a crossover highlight for this product: Waterproof and extremely durable, the Airlok Stuff Sack earned a very splashy spot on my raft this summer, carrying items that I often need to access quickly. To be sure, this is a solid sack ready for all kinds of adventures. The Roo Pouch roogrey_black_1000I’ve never been much of an accessory pouch guy, but if it is your thing, then this weather proof envelope that integrates seamlessly with the Kanga Harness is a classy way to go. Keep your cash, cards and important paperwork in the Roo Pouch and you’ll stay more organized.kanga_roo_detail1_1200_1200_803auto The Tapered Airlock 13L Drybag airlokxtrataper_flo_1000Sometimes a company produces an item who’s secondary functions trump the product’s primary, intended use. Such is the case with the item I affectionately call the ‘yellow bag.’ Yes, the Tapered Airlock 13L Drybag fits like a glove in Alpkit’s Koala Seat Pack, turning the bombproof seat bag into a piece of gear fit for nuclear Armageddon. But it’s the application of the yellow bag on its own, as a super-ultralight saddle pack that has lit me up all summer!
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Fast and Light- 13L Tapered Airlok, aka The Yellow Bag, can be combined with Alpkit’s Koala Seat Pack or used solo as a an ultralight saddle bag.
Sometimes you just need an extra layer, hat and gloves and some yummy late day snacks to get you through a longer day ride. When you want to leave the backpack behind, chow down major miles and carry enough to make it safely and comfortably back to the trailhead, employing the Airlok is a terrific call. Alpkit cautions that the ultralight drybag will eventually wear through if used solely as a seat pack. However, after a summer of hard use: repeatedly mounting these sacks under our saddles, running them in Salsa Everything Cages on our front forks, lining the Koala Seat Pack on some bigger trips and yes, also using them on the raft, I have yet to encounter concerns with the yellow bag’s durability. Incredibly affordable and an instant favorite, the 13 liter Tapered Airlok Drybag is a fantastic complement to the Koala Seat Bag and a unique solution for those looking to run an extra small, ultralight seat bag. The Hunka Bivvy hunka_main_leg_240_240autoIf forced to pick my favorite item in testing this season, I’d choose the Hunka Bivvy. I’ve been in an abusive relationship with bivvy bags for over two decades; riding out storms, shivering at altitude and being generally miserable in these clamy, sweat tubes who all promised to hold me close all night. I’ve used everything from the Bibler Tripod to the SOL Emergency Escape so I cautiously agreed to try the Hunka out in the field. I have been very impressed with the results. Rico, Breck, Boulder, St. George, Moab, Jackson and Yellowstone; the Hunka has consistently kept me warm and dry while working and recreating in some of the most spectacular locations and gnarliest conditions in the American West. Guiding multiple days in the rain on the Colorado Trail, adventuring in the rugged alpine environs of the Tetons, racing remote wilderness singletrack outside of Bryce and Zion, running from storms in Summit county, waking to a layer of frost on the Continental Divide – overtime I expected the Hunka to disappoint me because of the wretched conditions I was routinely placing myself in. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised time and again with this bivvy bag’s function. The Hunka’s outer membrane is very effective at moving moisture outside and away from your sleeping bag. In wet, humid and dank conditions, even the best bivvys struggle to keep users dry or they do so at the expense of personal comfort. Ever been in a bivvy that feels like a terrarium? I have and it’s no fun for you or your down bag. I appreciate how well the Hunka breathes. No zipper gives the bag a bare bones feel and it takes a little bit of practice to efficiently get settled into the bivvy each night. But once your in there, you’re good to go! Additionally, the pack-ability and light weight of this bag allows you to bring it in your pack for emergencies and use it as your primary bivvy sack in camp. For over three months, I’ve deployed the Hunka on the open ground, under a single person, solo tarp and in concert with a ultralight tarptent. On chilly alpine ledges, in open fields of wet sage, on the banks of wild rivers and in the depths of remote desert canyons, I’ve become smitten with the Hunka’s consistent performance. It’s become my true love in all conditions and I think you’ll crush on it too. IMG_8742  

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the review Michael. Do you know if Alpkit is distributed in the US or can you only get their products through the UK? Thanks.

  2. Loving your comments about our gear especially the Hunka. The Kanga was originality designed for cold weather racing where a sleeping bag could be carried “lofted” so that max warmth could be achieved as quickly as possible, that dictated a height that could accommodate high volume low weight, but it also works on small frame 29ers where the front wheel starts to get quite close to even a medium size bag.

    No reason why we can’t make shorter Kanga, we could call it the Kando.

    Cheers

    Nick from Alpkit

    • Marcel Besemer

      Nick, I love the Hunka bivy bag. Great performance! The only thing is the stuff bag, which imo is better placed on top so the bag stuffs easier while pushing the air out instead of trapping the air to the bottom. As the bag can get wet or damp on the outside, it should have a waterproof stuff bag instead of a mesh liner one.

  3. hey, i can’t see if you can put your sleeping pad inside the bivy or if that leaves no space on the inside ?

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