The last thing I ever need is another project, but it's who I am, and I haven't changed yet. Little projects are my positive creative outlet and this is the story about one of those very personal projects. Looking at the final product now and the new connections I made because of it, I'm so glad that I did.
It began when I picked up a Sony RX100 V to carry around as a compact camera for street photography and started searching for something to keep it in. That's when I first got clued into the Team Dream x Yanco Customs Quick Draw Pouch. The short of it is that the TDBT x Yanco Quick Draw pouch is a very simple yet functional camera pouch made specifically for this camera. Plus it happens to be made by cyclists for cyclists, so that's a huge bonus. While researching the aforementioned article, I was perusing the Yanco Instagram feed and noticed that he made a lot more than just camera pouches. Most importantly I realized that Yanco Customs also did small consignments. It was a bit of a light bulb moment. There was this crazy idea I had been kind of tossing around in my head, but I didn't know who to call. Now I did.
But before I go forward, I should rewind the story a bit to give credit where credit is due. The inspiration for this project actually came from a conversation with, Ian Martin, VP of Research and Design at 7mesh. During an interview for my review of their 7mesh MK1 bibs, we were lost in a side conversation about GORETEX when Ian mentioned in passing that he had made a saddlebag for himself out of scrap material in their office. This stuck with me because I thought this was such a good idea. Partly because I kind of love GORETEX, and I because had some GORETEX that I was trying to figure out a plan for.
The particular GORETEX material I was looking to upcycle was from a beloved Burton AK snowboard suit. About 10 years ago I somehow managed to book off 5 weeks from work to embark on the snowboarding trip of a lifetime. At the time I packed up my Burton Malolo powder board and headed off for a trip through Whistler, Aspen, Banff, Kicking Horse, Revelstoke, Mt. Tremblant, and Mt. Baker. The outerwear I chose for that trip was the Burton AK 3L Hover jacket & pants along with the matching Burton AK Zoom camera pack. The whole kit was done in a "Psycho Stripe" pattern.
The Psycho Stripe pattern is really unique because it looks very different depending on how close you are to it. From a distance the material looks to be a monochromatic fade set in opposing panels. But at this distance you can't see that the Psycho Stripe is actually made up of a series of black and white lines that varying in line weight across their length. Unlike the consistent line weight of say a seersucker pattern. However, it is the varying and transitioning line weights on Burton's "Psycho Stripe" pattern which creates the fade and plays tricks on your eyes. Of all the AK gear I've had, this one was my favourite by far. Unfortunately the trip and a few following seasons took their toll, especially the bottom of the pants. But I loved them too much to let them go and so they sat in a box waiting for me to come up with a plan.
The interlude and history portion is over, now back to the Yanco connection. So a year ago Ian Martin had sparked the idea of a GORETEX saddle roll, and researching the Team Dream camera pouch connected me with Yanco Customs. But would he do it? Not to spoil it but obviously he did, or you wouldn't be reading this right now. I reached out to Yanco via Instagram and after a few messages back and forth, the project got a green light. The next day I laundered and broke the pants down into the largest panels possible while removing any damaged areas or unusable portions. A few days later I sent the package to Los Angeles along with my wish list. Yanco said he would take a look at the material once it arrived and let me know what he could do.
Technically need a license from W.L. Gore and Associates to manufacture anything with GORETEX. But since we were reusing material already on hand, that didn't matter. If only it were that easy though. Although the Burton AK pants were a made with 3 layer GORETEX, the particular outer fabric used in the original garment was relatively lightweight and pliable. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any particular specs that would indicate the fabric weight of the outer material. Since it was so pliable and would require a bit more rigidity in its new life, Yanco lined everything with rip stop nylon. I wasn't expecting that but was really happy to see the splash of colour inside. For a clean finish, all of the inside edges are neatly edged with black biased tape.
Another small detail that really made me happy was that Yanco salvaged the Burton AK zipper pulls off the pant pockets. He reused them on the camera pouch D ring and the phone case zipper. It's likely not something that anyone else would ever really notice, but the attention to detail means a lot to me.
In total, Yanco was able to upcycle the material into 3 new cycling accessories. There is a saddle roll, camera pouch, and a phone case. Here is a short description of each.
Quick Draw Camera Pouch
When Yanco began, he first put together the camera pouch. I loved the Team Dream one so much and if we were making going to be making a saddle roll, why not make a matching camera pouch? The quick draw camera pouch is a 1:1 match with the size and all the features of the Team Dream x Yanco version… save for the Burton AK zipper pull on the D ring. It is large enough to easily fit a Sony RX100V or a similar sized compact camera. Although the only other camera I've personally tried is the Ricoh GRII. To its advantage, the pliable GORETEX material helps keep the paired package quite compact and it easily folds up to slip into the back pocket of a jersey. The waterproof GORETEX membrane helps keep the camera protected from rain or sweat. I didn't say water proof!
Branding is discreet with a Team Dream chubby bobcat adorning the front of the top flap and a Yanco tag on the outside edge. Both are sewn securely into the seam. For what it's worth, the total weight of the final pouch is a measly 21 grams. To read more about the pouch and how functional it is, read my review of the Team Dream x Yanco Quick Draw version.
The second, but main piece in the collection, is the saddle roll. Because the saddle roll requires a much larger swath of material, Yanco had to sew together a few pieces to make it work. I think it gives the saddle roll a really cool panelled appearance which is reflective of how the original pants looked. The newly made saddle roll is small sized with enough space for me to comfortably carry a spare tube, levers, a CO2 can, and some patches. The design is a trifold with 3 pockets and folds up kind of like a burrito before fitting neatly under the saddle. If you're worried about it being too wide and hitting your thighs when pedalling, you can always mount it with the side facing into the saddle.
On the exterior there is an ample 1" sized piece of nylon webbing sewn to the saddle roll. This is what is used to affix the roll to your saddle rails. The length of the webbing is long enough that you can also pack a folded up jacket or vest in with the roll if you find yourself warming up too quickly. To help manage the extra webbing material, there is a small loop of nylon webbing on the line so you can keep everything nice and OCD. Personally I run the extra length of webbing back through the loop for extra tidyness.
Branding is simple with a Yanco & Tracko label sewn into the bias tape on the outer edge. More good news is that weight weenies will rejoice when they hear that the saddle roll only weighs only 61 grams.
There was still a small amount of usable material left so Yanco asked what else I usually carry on me while riding. I always carry a phone for emergencies so he used a few small pieces to put together a phone case. The phone case is big enough to fit an iPhone 7s and entry to the pouch is easily made through the water resistant YKK 5ON sized front zipper. It's a size 5 plastic coil type zipper with a laminated tape (sides) which help to prevent water from passing through. For headphone compatibility a small brass eyelet was added to the bottom corner. It comes at the cost of greater water resistance but I don't like riding in the rain so it's not a big deal for me. To aid in retrieving the phone case from jersey pockets, a small 1/2" tab of nylon webbing is placed at opposite ends of the zipper.
Branding is really minimal with a Yanco sewn in label on the top hem. The complete pouch tips the scales at just 33grams.
From beginning to end the whole process took about a month... if you take out the year of ideation. Communicating with Yanco was really easy and I couldn't be happier with the final product. He helped me take a crazy idea and make it a reality. For that I can't thank him enough. Not only is the new gear fully functional but it has a lot of personal meaning to me.