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  1. Having had success with the Houffa Pod stem pack (link opens a new tab), I decided to investigate whether the design could be incorporated into other products. I also wanted to consider getting rid of the need for a zip.


    A zip can be the weakest link for products whether it is used for packs or clothing. A prime example of this, for me, was breaking the zip on a rather expensive (well known brand) of shell jacket after only owning it for a couple of months. I was gutted but, thankfully, I was able to stitch in a new zip – not everyone has the ability to do that.

    Zips can also fail for a variety of reasons – overuse and, rather surprisingly, underuse. The teeth become detached when the slider can no longer give enough pressure to bring the zip teeth together. Add mud & dirt to the mix – well, we know the problem. There is also the restriction of access leading to strain being applied to the open end of the zip which will also cause the teeth to separate.

    And then there is....  Zips, pliers & brute force are not a good combination!

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    As an aside to this, I now cover the zips on my custom frame packs to protect them from dirt.


    So, back to the Houffa Pack design.

    My 1st thought was to see whether the style could be used successfully for a handlebar pack. There are so many manufacturers making these now – the choice for the customer is almost endless. I wanted something different while still incorporating as much recycled material as possible. I also wanted to assess whether the pack would be as waterproof as the stem pack version had proven to be.

    I modified the design slightly and, along with the Velcro closure, I added an elastic cord that stretched over the top & was secured over a button. It was a ‘belt & braces’ option for keeping the pack closed. I have since replaced the button with a mini Carabiner which is easier to attach to the elastic.

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    The packs were severely tested during a rather wet trip to Belgium for the anniversary of the Armistice. The contents remained dry and more importantly, our waterproof jackets were very quickly available.


    The handlebar pack measured 25cm wide. With a 23cm zip, it would only have opened to a maximum of 44cm round. The added side panels allowed me to open the pack to 60cm round. There was no fiddling with a zip pull and it was almost as simple as opening and closing a paper sack. 


    The elastic was also of use when I wanted to stash my half-shell jacket having got warm wearing it. It would also have worked if I had wanted to do the same with my waterproof jacket.

    I started to consider more options for the design.


    Saddle Pouch

    A single strap attaches the pack over the rails of the saddle & it doesn’t need to be fully removed from the bike to access the contents. It would probably work with a dropper post (but I don’t have one of those to test it with).

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    Front pouch for use with a handlebar roll bag

    A useful place for stashing items that need to be accessed quickly. It could also be removed from the roll & taken away from the bike, if required.



    I modified a version that could be used with an adjustable shoulder strap. I have had fun testing this option out as I can use it with just a small number of items and it expands to carry much more.

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