Thursday, 3 November 2011

Alpkit Gourdon rucksack

Gourdon 20 and 25. Both a bit battered and used
Realise that I have been keeping this one quiet for a while- no particular reason either, its kind of unique in the rucksack collection (!) that I have.
A few years ago I was bike commuting in London and had to get all my bits and bobs- which in those days included an ironed shirt- and once a week, a suit into work. All good except that when it rained, especially when it really rained, there appeared to be no way in which I could get stuff to work dry. Quite a big thing really when you're sitting around all day in a wet suit and drenched underwear. Not nice.

I tried the obvious- putting stuff in plastic bags etc. and it kind of worked ot a point, but I wanted a waterproof rucksack that I could just throw stuff in and take to work not worrying about whether the plastic bag was ripped/ not quite closed etc.
I looked around for a waterproof rucksack, remembering that Craghoppers had made one a couple of years before. The main issue with that one was the weight- well over a couple of kilograms if memory serves, and also, I've never seen it in the UK.

The best solution I could come across was an old drybag attached to a camelbak with gaffatape, which worked for a bit until the gaffa tape failed (obviously didn't use enough of it).

Surfing the web I came across the Alpkit Gourdon- a supposedly waterproof rucksack in a colour which meant that I might not get run over in London, for only £25. After selling kayak drybags for quite a bit more than than, and looking at the ortlieb range (which are fantastic, but again, involve somewhat more serious financial outlay) this seemed like a great thing, and if it didn't work, well, its only £22.50, and I'll have something else to moan about. Brilliant.

I ordered it and the rucksack arrived either the next day or the one after- massive credit to Alpkits efficient delivery processes. It probably came with a hand written note- but I can't remember now. I chose the Gourdon 25 in Orange. Its 25 litres, has a clear window in the back so you can see what you've packed without having to dig around in the bag, a fairly basic rucksac harness arrangement, and a small pocket down the back where you could put a camelbak if you so wished. It has a roll top closure system, a removable back pad, and, on this model, no external pockets. The Gourdon 20 DOES have a couple of external pockets and an elasticated compression/holding system on it, which is very useful, but doesn't have the clear window.

The Gourdon happily took a suit, shirt, shoes, underwear, lunch etc. and kept them all dry, even in the most vicious of downpours. It was comfortable on the bike and it did exactly what I wanted it to do.

I've used it in anger on the hill a fair few times, in the photo it very much matches my coat, but ignore the fashionista thoughts. I carried everything I needed for a day on the hill, the only stuff that got wet was the stuff I was wearing. As I wasn't travelling too fast with it, it was fine and stable. No issues with it as far as comfort or anything- though if I was carrying a heavier load, a better waist strap would be better.

defunct chest strap
A couple of issues with mine- I didn't like the way the chest strap was attached- it seemed a little flimsy, and I was constantly worried it was going to fall off/come off and it was almost a relief when it did- mainly because it meant I no longer have to worry about it falling off. (to be fair, I've just looked at Lynnes 20 and the chest strap on that is made of MUCH sturdier stuff than mine ever was, so I suspect that there have been changes- and if Alpkit have changed this then brilliant. If not, do what is now on my list of things to do and try to attach another chest strap.

non-defunct chest strap
Its a bit annoying that there are no external pockets for those little things that you want to be able to get to- and there is no internal pocket for things like house keys, so you need to balance them on top and hope they stay there, or dig around in a mass of stuff to find them. Apart from those minor details, the bag is brilliant. (you could always keep your keys in your pocket...)

I have tried running with the Gourdon but found that the 25 is a bit to "wallowy" for my tastes. If its not full of stuff, the stuff thats inside rattles around and drives you nuts, but when it is full, the action of running makes it bounce around a bit too much for comfort. If I'm running I have to go back to a running rucksack with waterproof pouches inside. (Its not too much of an issue now as I don't have to take a suit to work any more).
broken plastic bit- obviously snapped

non-broken plastic bit. it bends.
At one point I did overload the sack (in terms of volume) and I broke the plastic bit that runs across the top of the rucksack, which made me worry that I had broken the waterproofingness of it. Not a bit of it, its still bombproof. Used most recently for a weeks worth of commuting in London. Everything stayed dry. It was comfortable, but I still need to replace that damn chest strap.

For between £20- £25 for a bombproof waterproof rucskack, really, its a complete no-brainer. Buy one.

Alpkit Gourdon 20
Alpkit Gourdon 25
Alpkit Gourdon 30

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