Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Brompton Accessories #19 : Brompton C Bag For Touring? Yeah!

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BROMPTON ACCESSORIES #19 : Brompton C Bag For Touring? Yeah!
When I told friends that I went cycle touring overseas using just a Brompton C Bag, many looked at me is disbelieve.....
"Sure you did it with a C Bag?"
"It's just for a couple of days touring, izzit?"
"You don't change that often do you..... (hinting that I could be exuding some wonderful aroma)"
No, it wasn't all these. I went for cycling tours in South Thailand and South Korea that lasted more than two weeks. This was with daily or alternate days of washing of clothes.
Looking back from my experiences, I believe that it is possible to do long sustainable tours (even for more than two weeks) with just the C Bag!
Let's see how it is done.



Firstly, let's look at the luggage items:
Front row L-R: 2 nos. foldable hangers, 2 cameras (I blog and have a camera failed me before, so one is spare), foreign currency, passport (mini first aid kit below), small note book, pen. air ticket/itinerary.
2nd Row L-R: 3 nos. cycling jerseys,  Two t-shirts, 5 underwear, two socks, micro-fibre towel (20"x10" in green pouch), Brompton C Bag rain cover.
3rd Row L-R: 3 nos. cycling shorts, two nos. thin sleeping boxer shorts, 1 no. thin pagoda sleeping T-shirt, sarong, 12 packets 3-in-1 instant coffee, rain-coat.
(about the coffee: I am fussy as this helps me in my morning duties at the start of the day even before we set off. Also often those found in Thailand are just too sweet.... fussy old me 😆)
4th Row L-R:  polystyrene tube for packing bike, spare Dimpa bag, documents (hotel booking, itinerary, etc.), medication pouch, wet wipes, large double compartment black bag for toiletries, chargers, travel adaptor, etc.
5th Row L_R: folded Brompton P6R, Brompton C Bag, Impra Boards (for packing bike).


That's quite a lot of stuff, the secret is to roll all the clothing items and secure them with rubber bands as compactly as possible. I did over-pack and for my upcoming North Thailand tour, will cut down on some of the clothing items. I also did away with the sarong (for emergency sleeping in temples/schools, in case can't get hotels/motels) and used a more compact silk sleeping bag (the black folded item at bottom left); and included a Garmin GPS.

Many have the impression that the Brompton T Bag can hold more than the C Bag. For me I think the reverse is true. Let's have a look a the C Bag and see the edge it has over the T Bag.
Firstly, up front as part of the folding cover is a zip-able compartment pocket. Don't discount this large pocket too early, it can hold quite a fair bit of items as it can stretch a bit by bulging outwards. During the tour of South Korea, amongst other things I managed to put in twenty sachets of those 3-in-1 coffee. I also usually put quick-to-access items there, i.e. travel tickets, etc.
Compared to this, the T Bag has four netted pouches which can't hold as much or as securely.


Another not to be discounted area - the two zip-able pockets at the rear. These are really huge pockets and can hold much items. Just bear in mind that they are deep pockets, so pack by the rule "first-out, last-in". Also they are zipped for holding securely, with the zips reaching almost half-way down the depth on one-side.
In comparison, the T Bag has only one of these deep pockets, the one on the left is replaced by a open-type pocket to hold a water bottle.


The other thing I like about the C Bag is that the internal compartment is separated into three sections - a wider front section, a zip-able small mid-section (good for holding document) and a smaller rear section. These sections are useful in sorting out and arranging one's luggage neatly (we will come to that later).
Note: documents that go into the zipped section should be put into a plastic folder before inserting into the zipped section before filling up other sections of the bag. Putting them in later will be difficult as the bulginess from items in the rear and front section sort of obstruct easy insertion.

Okay, let's see how these fit into this "small" bag!
The rear section is narrower and I used it to hold smaller items like undies, a spare Dimpa, spare socks and the spare camera. As can be seen the front section is being filled up. The trick is to packed in layers. Pack it the "first out, last in" style.
Tip: sometimes one may not get to do washing everyday, so how to identify used clothing? Simple, just pack them folded inside out.


Another layer of clothes fills up the front and then the big "toiletries and charger" bag goes in. Similarly at the rear sections, the polystyrene tubes used for packing the bike in the Dimpa (stored in a plastic bag) being a bit bulky is stored above the rest of the items.


A peep into the large front cover pocket - packets of instant coffee can be seen together with "immediate for use" documents.


Into the rear pockets goes items that would be "urgently" required. In one pockets were the yellow C Bag cover, personal rain coat, the mini first-aid kit, phone waterproof plastic case, etc.


Similarly, the other pockets contained other "urgent items like the power bank, GPS unit, wet-wipes, neck scarves, etc. Just a quick unzipping and these items comes out handy. Inside too is a fold-able back-pack (easily accessible should one need another bag, i.e. perhaps fruits shopping while riding).


That small pocket at the side comes in handy too - for a small notebook, pen and perhaps sunglasses too.


Here's a comparison of a fully packed C Bag next to a bully packed T Bag. Both can contain as much, but with the C Bag multiple sections, packing can be done in a more organised way.
For me, the T Bag is just a big sack, throw everything in and dig them out later "sigh". The T Bag may look like it can hold more, but packing can only be done up to a certain height, i.e. up to the top handle of the bag. Anything higher than that will obstruct the bike's handle from turning!


The Saddle Pouch (the one that comes with purchase of the Brompton Cover) can be used to complement storage. Above are items I put into the bag during my overnight travel- seen from top row, left to right are:
1. Water bottle, 2. Mini bottle of sunblock lotion, 3. Combination cable strap lock, 4. Quick dry cap,
5. Balaclava mask, 6. Gloves, 7. Set of longer blue tire levers, 8. Daiso multi spanner tool, 9. Sunglasses,
9. Multi Hex-key/screwdriver tool,
10. Brooks #13 spanner (to open the Titanium clamp to get to the spare tube stored in the bike's main horizontal post),

11. #14/#15 spanner, & 12. Zip-lock plastic back to keep phone when it rains.
(I have since minimized the tools, using a single multi box spanner that can be bought from Daiso, or use the Brompton Tool Kit that can be inserted into the main horizontal tube of the bike.


Above photo shows the contents fitted into the Saddle Pouch. It's a tight fit, but a few items like the shades, gloves, cap, Balaclava, will be taken out when cycling.

Notice that the water bottle slots into a UPVC pipe so that it can slide in and out easily even when the pouch is full (... see blog on Modifying The Saddle Pouch).


The Balaclava mask can be used to wrap round the stored items to act as a temporary cover so that things won't spill out while transporting the Brompton, like in a train or bus. Remember to push the mask sides as far in as possible so that it act as a tight cover.


I frequently pack my Brompton in a Ikea Dimpa bag using Impra Boards for protection (.... see packing the Brompton for Air Trravel blog) and bring the bag & boards along as I cycle. So these are strapped onto the front of the C Bag before clicking it into place onto the Brompton bag front carrier block.


Doing it this way sort of block the easy opening of the C Bag's front, and that is why I store "urgent" items into the two rear pockets. The photo above shows that these pockets can be reached without fully dismounting from the bike!

Alternatively, the Dimpa bag  and Impra Boards could be strapped to the rear rack with bungee cords. Doing it this way, ensure that the boards a suitably located further behind to prevent heal strike.

Yup..... all of THESE can be packed into the C Bag....

C! Neat, yes?

Okay.... 
LET'S GO TOURING!!
YEAH!!!


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Brompton Accessories #12 :
Titanium Hinge Clamps
An efficient and beautiful looking clamp.











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