The WRT has moved. If you're looking for info, entries or anything else bikepacking related try Bear Bones Bikepacking, the Bear Bones blog or the Bear Bones forum - ta.

Yea, yea, yea, but what is it?

The WRT is a 3 day and perhaps more importantly 2 night ride through and around mid Wales. You'll be expected to be self sufficient, carrying everything you need and sleeping out in or under whatever you think best. It's not elitist, entry is open to anyone who wants to try it. All the money raised by the WRT goes to the Wales Air Ambulance charity ... an organisation I hope you'll never need.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Light, Cheap and Compact.

No, not really but 2 out of 3 isn't that bad. The good old, closed cell foam camping mat ... it's been around for a long time and kept thousands of people off cold floor's the world over. Let's be honest though, it's old hat. Modern technology brought us the self inflating mat so we had more squidge and you could fold it up so it was more compact. Then came the new breed of inflatables, supremely comfortable, easily packable and if you bought wisely, pretty light ... so what am I doing messing about with this thing for?

The most boring pic I've ever taken ... std £4.99 mat

Well, the foam mat does have some things going for it, even in today's blow up world. Firstly price, the mat above was the grand sum of £4.99. The second thing to consider is weight, this mat in it's full length guise weighs 180g. Lastly it's nearly impossible to damage, it won't puncture and it doesn't matter if it gets wet. The big drawback is how much space it takes up, however I'm wondering if this is a real issue when packing your bike ... After all, I have a dry bag harnessed to my bars, that bag is roughly the same shape as this mat once it's rolled up. If I roll the mat around the dry bag then it adds virtually nothing to my pack size.

When something costs less than a fiver you're more inclined to have a play about with it, which is exactly what Mr Stanley knife and me did. First job was to shorten it (it was bigger than me anyway) 30 seconds later and it was now a 3/4 length mat. Then we tapered the sides from about waist height down ... no point carrying stuff around I'm not going to be using.

Just a few minutes later

Whatever kind of mat I use, I always stuff a dry bag with clothes (or anything I can find) and use it as a pillow. This works great until the bag / pillow rolls away from me in the middle of the night ... I wake up, retrieve it and go back to sleep until the whole process starts again an hour later. The idea of an integral pillow seemed like a good one. I cut the top of the mat so I was left with 2 arrow shaped 'ears'. When the top of the mat is rolled over these ears line up with 2 holes. Push the 'ears' through the holes, stuff the tube with pillow material and there you go ... an inbuilt pillow which can't escape in the night.

Integral pillow ... just Stuff 'N' Go

With the addition of a few more holes (for added weight saving effect) we were finished. The mat now weighs 115g and fits quite snugly around my bar mounted dry bag. I know it's not going to be the most luxurious of mats but I think for shorter trips it'll be fine ... After all, what did we do when that's all we had?

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