Granite Gear Bags and Shelter
by Sev Pearman
As much as I love touring, it is a drag to discover that your socks, maps and Power Sauce bars have mixed into a soggy, wearable, high-carb navigation aid in your tank bag. The only thing more frustrating than misplaced or wet gear is waiting on your friends as they root around their bike, looking for their favorite gloves or sunglasses.
Enter Granite Gear. Granite Gear makes a variety of storage solutions for riders, hikers and campers. Based in Two Harbors, Minnesota, they have been quietly at work, designing real gear, that really works, for real people, since 1986. Each item is backed with a kick-a$$, no whining guarantee.
I like the Market Tote. These are hippie, re-usable shopping bags. They are sewn from a 70-denier polyester that is very durable. I have been unable to poke a hole, rip a seam or tear the fabric in either bag after a year of use. Each tote comes with its own internal stuff sack that doubles as a wallet for those times you are shopping without pants. Single guys: deploy these at the co-op and impress the free-range ladies.
Each Market Tote holds 30 liters and can carry 25 pounds. A feathery 3.7 ounces, they easily hide in your tankbag. I keep them in my saddlebags both for shopping duty and as saddlebag liners. The Tote isn’t advertised as waterproof but is certainly water-resistant. The Market Tote retails for $13.95.
I can also recommend Zippsacks. These are rectangular bags that stack. The Small (11x7x6” 7.5L) and Medium (13x8x7” 12L) are perfect for organizing crap in your tankbag and saddlebags. Also available in L (18L) and XL (25L) Each Zippsack has a full-length, double-pull zipper with a storm flap and has haul loops at each end. Assorted colors help obsessive-compulsive types organize their gear. I used two Zippsacks on our TAT-II ride (See MMM® #128) and was impressed. Priced from $13.95 to $18.95.
If true waterproofing is a concern, go with the DryBloc water bags. These are roll-closure bags sewn from a 70-denier polyurethane backed with a white, PVC-free, waterproof lining. The white lining makes it easier to find stuff. I like how the bags maintain their blocky shape, even when sealed. These pack easier and are lighter than cylindrical, PVC water bags. I now use an XXS DryBloc to protect my camping stogies. DryBloc bags come in six sizes (7L to 33L). Priced from $11.95 to $20.95
For the minimalist rider, check out the White Lightnin’ tarp. This micro-light portable shelter is perfect for those who don’t worry about predatory zombies. We tried the mid-size 10×10 shelter (also available in 8×10 and 10×12) that weighs in at 1-lb, 5-oz. The White Lightnin’ is half-blueberry, half-cloud. That’s blue and white for us reglar’ folks. The edges have a slight catenary cut that keeps the whole thing taut once pitched.
I love this baby. No poles needed. Face the white side to the north, loop one peak point over a handlebar, tie the other to a tree or picnic table, set the six stakes (not included) and you are done. Waterproof, of course. Stuffs into its own attached stuff sack. Packs to the size of a small sack of flour. I binned the supplied cordage, preferring parachute cord. I really wanted to field test this on our TAT adventure, but we moteled it on that trip. Too bad: it would have been just the thing to provide shade when Victor blew a tire in Furnace Flats. Bottom line? My trusty two-man Kelty hasn’t been on my bike since we received the White Lightnin’. The White Lightnin’ retails for $159.95.
Equal to the White Lightnin’ in simplicity and function is the Sunglass Case. These padded clamshell cases zip on three sides and have an internal clip. I first used them as described, safely securing my eyewear at every stop. Since I a) still have the same pair of shades from over a year ago and b) they remain nearly scratch-free, I am sold. After my seven-year old asked why I didn’t protect my phone with one, I smacked my head and coughed up $14.95. The Sunglass Case will accommodate smartphones and other electronic frippery.
Each Granite Gear item tested works, and works better than advertised. Items are durable. Each item tested has withstood use and abuse on rides, in the rain and has been pummeled in my tankbag and saddlebags. Granite Gear backs their products with a no-BS guarantee. If you aren’t satisfied, even after years of use, return it to Granite Gear, and they will repair or replace it.
Quality gear. Local company. Made for us. Iron guarantee. Friends, this is a no-brainer: Granite Gear accessories earn four out-of four cylinders.