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Review: Ben Rockett tests Wildcat Snow Leopard on Baffin Island in the Arctic Circle

In March 2014 Ben Rockett took a Wildcat Gear Snow Leopard frame bag on a 2-week expedition to become the first person ever to ride a bike across Canada’s Baffin Island.

Tucked up in the Arctic circle North of Canada, Baffin Island endures extremely low temperatures with an annual average of -10°C and winter temperatures of -30°C. Being equipped for such cold temperatures is essential for survival in those conditions.

Upon his triumphant return, we asked Ben to write about his experience with our bag in Arctic conditions.


For the expedition on Baffin Island I required a storage solution that would keep the weight stable and secure, and be easy to access whilst wearing cumbersome mittens and operating in sub-zero conditions. Despite most of my kit being stored in the barrel bags, lashed tightly to the front and rear bike racks, I needed to ensure certain items were easy to access at a moment’s notice, e.g. Windproof Jacket; Face Mask, Food, Thermos and the Map.

Ben's bike setup for the Arctic conditions (© Ben Rockett rockettrides.com)

Ben’s bike setup for the Arctic conditions (© Ben Rockett rockettrides.com)

The Wildcat frame bag made accessing such items incredibly simple! Tasks which may ordinarily seem minor become pretty demanding in the deep-freeze environment of winter on Baffin Island; so I was delighted that I never had to struggle with straps or difficult fastenings when I simply needed to get to my items and use them. One tug of the zip and I had access. Another tug and the contents were secured.

Some of the staggering scenery encountered on the way (© Ben Rockett rockettrides.com)

Some of the staggering scenery encountered on the way (© Ben Rockett rockettrides.com)

Even after repeated, unforgiving, mitten-grabbing tugs of the zips, the frame bag operated flawlessly. The zip ran smooth at all times, never snagging material or jamming: a problem that if it had happened, would have meant exposing my hands to the freezing conditions to pick it apart. The waterproof material of the bag and the zip’s design also ensured the contents of the frame bag remained dry and its tough construction meant rough treatment such as knocks from rocks, or heavy swinging boots, or even occasional brushes from tyre spikes were of no concern.

Fixing the bag to the bike was extremely simple and incredibly secure. The contents could not slop around inside as I navigated uneven terrain or fell off in deep snow. WildCat use multiple heavy-duty velcro fastenings which are adorned to each bespoke bag through the customised manufacture process. This ensures the straps do not interfere with cables or other mounts on the frame. Further, the strapping system uses double wraps; the inner of these protects the frame from any rub or wear.

Ben Rockett rides across Baffin Island (© Ben Rockett rockettrides.com)

Ben Rockett rides across Baffin Island (© Ben Rockett rockettrides.com)

An item of kit that can be relied upon, and the performance of which can be taken for granted, is effective kit. WildCat’s frame bag does its job and allows you to get on with the task of pedalling further or for longer. During my three and half weeks pedalling around Canada’s Baffin Island, whether on sea ice; glaciers that crept down the mountains; or the frozen lakes and rocky rivers, I barely gave thought to the frame bag. It did its job excellently, surviving the temperature, conditions, and rough treatment. When it comes to bikepacking, the WildCat Frame Bag successfully lets you get on with your ride.


Ben Rocket
http://www.rockettrides.com

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