by Chris Kostman
Tea everywhere, including from a “boat-in” tea shop along Dal Lake in Srinagar, Kashmir.
Test-riding a cycle rickshaw in New Delhi, India
Chris Kostman, ultra-endurance cyclist and AdventureCORPS founder, is a self described musette fan. Kostman has been a hero of mine ever since I read his 1993 Bicycle Guide article, Mountain Bikes: Who Needs Them?, which argued that (w/technique and technical skill) one could ride a road bike off road.
Kostman in 1993
Several months ago, Kostman wrote me suggesting that Archival Clothing offer a musette in a size that would accommodate a 14″ mac laptop. He uses his own simple cotton Kucharik musettes to carry his laptop and sundry items. Although I couldn’t provide Chris with an archival musette that met his size specifications, I persuaded him to purchase one of our flap musettes for his trip to India and Kashmir
Several weeks later, Chris published the following field test report on his blog, XO-1.org:
“I’m m an absolute bag nut and very picky when it comes to the bags I purchase and utilize – for any purpose. For 95% of my bag needs, I rely on the built-to-last, American-made offerings from Red Oxx in Billings, MT. I literally have ten or more of them in use on a regular basis. When I head off on a roadtrip, or to produce an event, it’s a veritable rolling Red Oxx commercial! There’s more on my Red Oxx bags here on the Community Page on the AdventureCORPS site.
A recent two-week trip through India and Kashmir was “bagged” perfectly with three bags from Red Oxx: the Air Boss to hold all my clothes in a space-efficient, and wrinkle-free, manner; the Mini-Ruck as my airplane carry-on with camera gear, gifts, reading material, food, and more; and a Safari Beanos 5.5 as the “bottomless pit” duffle to hold sleeping bags, ground pads, hydration packs for hiking, extra shoes, and other bulky items not needed on a daily basis by our group of three.
I knew all my real packing, hauling, and storage needs would be handled well by my trip of Red Oxx bags, but I also wanted something something small and inconspicuous as my daily-use bag, especially for my large-size digital camera with extra lens, my Moleskine notebook, and the misc. items I’d want to carry every day such as hand sanitizer, energy bars, business cards, and a bottle of water.
Hopefully all of you know that musette bags began their legendary history in the military, then became de rigeur food-and-drink-hand-off bags in the professional cycling world.
I have used an ultra simple cotton musette by Kucharik for over a decade as a protective sleeve for my Mac laptops. When running to the PO, bank, tea shop, and the like I use the same Kucharik musette to carry small items. When I expect to have to carry a bunch of items on my bike – such as when stopping at my mailbox at the end of a long ride – I will carry the folded up musette in my jersey pocket to put to good use when needed. That particular musette has seen a zillion miles and a quadrillion uses, so I knew something along those lines, except more sturdily made and without any logos, would be perfect for my India and Kashmir trip.
Enter the recently released musette bag from Archival Clothing, a blog business I’ve been following lately. I ordered one just before winging it to a time zone exactly 12.5 hours later than my own. What a wise purchase that proved to be!
I used the Archival Clothing musette bag every day, taking it everywhere I went. It served many duties, including camera bag, shopping bag, and mainly just keeping everything I needed on a daily basis in a handy, low-key, easy-to-use design. The bag slowly changed color over time, taking on a more rugged, and lived-in patina. I don’t plan to clean it any time soon; it keeps getting better looking. No doubt it will last forever, too.
In a few of shots below, you can see everything which I stuffed in it one day during the only “shopping spree” of the trip. That was in Dharamsala (more specifically, MacLeod Ganj), home of the Dalai Lama and many Tibetan refugees. The latter have some neat things for sale, and my two travel friends kept handing me stuff to carry in my musette, as it operated like a black hole into which we dropped everything. To sum up, this is one fantastic bag and I’ll never travel without it. (I’ll put it to good use on my bicycle in the near future, no doubt, and will post a follow-up report about that application as well.)
Kostman along the Lidder River in Pahalgam, Kashmir
Above: You, too, can be blessed by, and photographed with, a spiritual guru for just a buck! (In MacLeod Ganj, India)
Supplemental reading. Mountain Bikes: Who Needs Them?