Chough Stuff, an Intro

Having been stopped along the trail by interested folk, and gently nagged about making them available, here is an introduction to the Puffin Burrow seatpack, and the Chough Stuff brand. Made in Cornwall and all that ;-)

At the Rough Stuff Fellowship Wayfarer Centenary gathering back in March 2019 I was using a saddlebag I’d made for myself based on ideas I’d had while out riding, and that appeared to be unique in what is a very crowded world of bicycle bag designs. A number of folk stopped me along the trail during that weekend to ask about it, and where they could get one; as such, given the level of interest, making the design available seemed like a good idea… It me took a while, what with being away much of last year, but thanks to the patience, and gentle nagging of those same folk, a few instances of the now much refined design escaped into the wild a few weeks ago under my new brand “Chough Stuff”.

Symbolic of Cornwall, the Chough has been closely associated with the Duchy for several hundred years, and appears on the Cornish coat of arms. As a member of the corvid family it’s both intelligent, and rugged; without making any particular claims, the name Chough Stuff seemed appropriate.

Stylised chough logo thanks to my brilliantly talented sister at Design Room Cornwall.

The bike bag market is a crowded one. It’s for that reason I have no plans to give up developer work, and no plans to make the same sort of bags as can be found elsewhere. I also don’t have a great desire to find myself in the position of having to relentlessly market product in order to keep sales going; the cycling world has enough of that sort of thing going on already. Rather I’m primarily interested in making a couple of designs that folk have asked for – the original saddlebag, now called The Puffin Burrow, and a refinement of the camera bag I mentioned in this article.

Puffin Burrow in the wild, parked against some neolithic granite monuments high on the moors of west Penwith. This is the 9-litre size; it seems spot on for shovelling a load of “day out” stuff into, such as a thick stack of sandwiches, flask of tea, rain gear, a warm layer, camera, plus all the other bits and bobs that it is generally a good idea to carry.

As for why the seatpack is called the Puffin Burrow… well, you could say there is a connection that puffins are also a bird that makes its home in parts of Cornwall, and given that they nest in burrows on the cliffs  it’s possible (although unlikely) that a particularly discerning pair might move in if you left your bike parked outside your tent at night (you’re more likely to collect a few spiders, or snails… maybe a hedgehog), the reality is that it is called that simply because I liked it, and it’s a bit of fun. The original was 7 litres in size but most people that have ordered have asked for the 9 litre size; it’s a good size for days out with flask, sandwiches, maybe a down pullover for stops, a rainjacket and a camera. Being roll entry it’s compressible/expandable to to suit the load being carried, and a couple of internal pockets help keep things organised. It’s also very light. It does however need a saddle with bag loops, but the upside is that it’s super stable once mounted without the need for a bag support.

I’ve been using prototypes for much of the last year while figuring out the refinements I wanted to make, and convincing myself that it was worth the effort to turn it into a commercial item. Here’s an early one on Gwennap Head.. plenty of choughs around up there these days, which is fantastic.

Bags have been going out the door at the rate of one or two a week, which suits me fine, and a turnaround of one to two weeks seems fine also for the good folk that have made the leap of faith and bought one. A mate in New Zealand has been using one of the prototype for 18 months or so now, so I have high hopes for the durability, and it was also partly his feedback that persuaded me it was worth making them available. There isn’t a website yet, just a holding page at choughstuff.com ; that will change in due course – I’m still thinking about the best approach. We live in a very fast world of “buy it now” and “same day delivery” that I have no desire to embrace; I find value in engaging one-to-one with the folk that want bags, it makes it more fun for me, which is important, and more satisfying for the right kind of buyer too. A chap currently waiting for a bag said to me, on receiving an update, “that’s awesome but don’t miss bike riding time!!“. I liked that!

The 9 litre size also works in combo with other bags for some ultralight overnighting.

It is early days so I’m still working through some supply chain dependencies, and settling on a ‘stable’ choice of colours but there’s also lots of experimentation to be done.  Typically, I’m also going through a busy period with dev work again now, but self-employment can be very up and down, and one very definite takeaway from the covid-flavoured events of this year is that it really doesn’t hurt to have a couple of different things bubbling away if possible. So far all sales have been through the instagram community and word of mouth which is just perfect. I keep my own instagram private as I have no interest in accumulating followers for the sake of it, but instead really appreciate a community of real people that I can enjoy engaging with. In recognition of reality however there is a new, public @choughstuffcc account which I’ll try and keep up to date too.

I’m super chuffed (“choughed”, ahem..) with the logo. I hope it’s around a long time. Feedback on the branding has been universally positive.

It seems inevitable that at some point the design of the Puffin Burrow in particular will be copied by a larger manufacturer; it appears to be the way of things in the market. The key I suppose will be to be such that people recognise it for what it is, and would prefer to have one with a Chough Stuff badge on instead :-)

At the moment the Puffin Burrow is £100 + post, and when folk want one they generally just get in touch. There’s an email address in the footer, or on the holding page, or just message me via instagram. I’ll update as and when.

4 thoughts on “Chough Stuff, an Intro

  • Beautiful bag and probably worth it for the logo alone. Well done for putting it into small scale production.

    I can see one of these hanging off the back of my mustard Cross Check so count me in for sure. I will send you an email shortly.

  • Hi
    I love the look and roll-top of your saddlebag and am thinking that it will be a great bag for the “roadish” bike I have just built up.
    Additionally, I am just wondering if the 9l version of the Puffin might fit in between my Nitto Noodle (44cm) “42cm at the ramps” bars? (You may know that Noodles have a 4deg flare, only.) Is there anywhee that dimensions are published, or can you supply some, please?

    Cheers, Steve

    • hey Steve, thanks for getting in touch! I haven’t had a chance to officially publish bag details yet, say on a website.. what with work and trying to keep up with the demand for bags! The 9l is 32cm wide and about 20cm, give or take a little bit depending on how much is stuffed in.

      With regard to handlebar use, I’m not sure how suitable it is for that as with the eyelets on top it’s really intended for saddles with bag loops, where the saddle will cover th holes and stop rain entering, much as with the traditional Carradice saddlebags.

      Hope that helps!
      cheers
      Mike

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