Do-It-Yourself Bikepacking

Part of bikepacking’s attraction is its DIY ethos. This is not off-the-shelf REI type adventure! I’m working on stitching my own gear and taking some crazy ideas from the internet. Here are some of the resources getting me there:


Porcelain Rocket is a custom bikepacking gear company run out of a basement on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Scott Felter is making bikepacking gear in fresh, goofy colors and taking it to cargo extremes. This video shows step-by-step how to measure the inner dimensions of your bike frame. You can also see a great photoset of Scott making a framebag in his workshop, here.

Sewing Advice

After yelling at my sewing machine for hours, I discovered user error and impatience were the root of my problems. If you’re jamming or breaking needles, I recommend the following debug steps:

  1. Check that the machine is threaded properly. Even if it’s initially threaded corrected, sometimes the thread can jump out of the thread guides mid-stitch.
  2. Check that your sewing machine is well-oiled and lint free, especially in the bobbin area.
  3. Check the thread tension on scrap material first. For adjusting tension, check out this Threads Magazine article. Ray Jardine also has a page of DIY outdoor gear sewing advice.
  4. The ladies at Stonemountain and Daughters suggested that I use a Microtex sewing needle, which is made specifically for sewing synthetic and coated materials like Cordura. Switching to a larger size needle to accommodate the large diameter polyester thread and thick Cordura material completely solved my needle breakage problems!

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