Items 16 to 20 of 110 total

mark jamie

Left: Mark roadside in the Wairarapa, heading out to White Rock on a multi-day off road mission. Early 90s.

Right: Mark in Lake Ferry. Mark and Jamie got a fisherman to ferry them over the mouth of Lake Ferry so they didn't have to ride right around. It was really soft sand but they found it was firm enough to pedal in the shallows.

Both photos: Jamie Nichol.

By Mark Watson.

Back in autumn 1992 I found myself in Wellington, just returned from cycle touring to Cape Reinga and back on a well loved Stumpjumper with second hand panniers. It had been a carefree five month journey with Hana Black. Between small town campgrounds and toastie pies for dinner we’d just stretch our dole to last the week. The biggest treat of the week would be a milkshake or a pot of tea in a cafe on a rainy May day. 

We explored New Zealand’s back roads, scouring small town op shops for the coolest shirts we could find and meeting salt-of-the-earth Kiwis. We posted climbing gear around too; picking our way up Wharepapa pockets and luxuriating in the lakeside isolation of Whanganui Bay where we had the crags to ourselves.    

A chance invitation that autumn set my life on a new track when some Wellington acquaintances invited me to come for ‘a ride’. A motley crew on an assortment of early mountain bikes, we pedalled up through Wellington’s ‘burbs and into the gorsey fire roads of Wrights Hill, down into the Karori Reservoir, up Hawkins Hill and down the blazing fast ridge to Red Rocks. It was my first ever mountain bike ride and a revelation, despite a high speed crash that left me tangled in my bike frame. Wellington was suddenly about much more to me than Baring Head, Head Like a Hole and tripping in the Botanic Gardens.    

By the time I started cutting fabric and sewing packs at the Cactus HQ in Lambton Quay’s Hamilton Chambers that winter, Gwilym’s charisma and optimistic energy had drawn supporters. It was Cactus against the New Zealand giants of Macpac and Fairydown. There were little, if any, imported packs in the market back then. 

It was place of creative energy, ideas and fabrication and in an anarchistic, free form kind of way Cactus’ product line evolved, the first Vacuole (a cheeky copy of a UK product) led the way, then a rope bag. Rob Gray championed the postie bag project and Mark Schafer’s clever mind contributed innovations, while Darryl Best’s quirky linework set the branding tone.  

At the same time the cult of early 1990s Wellington mountain biking began to sweep the Cactus crew. Climbing was shelved and in every spare moment we rode our bikes in Wellington’s hills, breaking rims, bones and losing skin like molting lizards. The learning curve was brutal and the Kennett Brothers first edition of Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides was the Bible. Although I'm not sure how the rides were classics because hardly anyone had done most of them back then. 

For some of us at Cactus, combining the mountain bike with our roots in the self reliance and exploration of tramping and climbing seemed like the ultimate sport. Custom panniers followed, including Mark Schafer’s avant-garde Rackless Panniers (the Cactus Racktus – a lightweight front pannier system that worked on a suspension fork) of which only a few pairs were ever made.

It wasn’t until after a game changing ‘bikepacking’ blitzkrieg of top-of-the-south roads and trails with Jonty Richie, Simon Kennett and Tim Galloway that I decided to drop the panniers completely and take to more technical trails for multi-day tours. I made a reinforced canvas/cordura dry bag to mount on the top of my rack and carried everything else in the first version of the Zero daypack.  

A couple of very memorable South Island single track trips followed, in the lightest of style. With the reliable late December weather of Marlborough we carried the barest of essentials, eschewing tents, proper sleeping bags and stoves and surviving on bananas, pies, Mother Earth cakes and mussels picked from the shore. Jamie Nichol was probably lucky to survive; having carried one such batch of mussels through the heat of a summer day on his sweaty back, eating them for lunch somewhere on the Nydia Walkway.  


The term ‘bikepacking’ hadn’t been coined back then and there was no industry behind the notion of lightweight overnight bike travel. We called it lightweight touring, but we weren’t doing anything new; we were just joining legion others in the world who’ve also discovered the pleasure, simplicity and freedom of journeying by bicycle. 

Mark Watson worked for Cactus 1992–2015 in various capacities including bench worker, sewing machinist, custom design and latterly graphic design. He's currently riding his mountain bike the length of the Americas: Read his blog here.

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

Zac aboard SA Agulhas II moored next to Gough Island

Zac aboard SA Agulhas II, moored next to Gough Island.


Zac Milner, from Kaitiaki o Ngahere, an ecological restoration and biosecurity company, recently travelled to Gough Island in the South Atlantic Ocean to help with the management of the invasive pest plant Sagina procumbens – a small herbaceous ground-cover plant that has the potential to smother large areas of ground and out-compete the native vegetation.

Zac was training the field team in weed control methodology, assessing the feasibility of eradication, and making recommendations for future mangement.

While in the field, Zac used Cactus Outdoor gear, and was kind enough to send us this report when he returned home to Nelson.


Working for an ecological restoration company means that I spend a lot of my time in the bush around Nelson. Members of our company also have occasional expeditions to islands around the world. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to spend some time on Gough Island.


Being a Subantarctic island, the weather on Gough is fierce. New Zealand is known for having changeable weather but I learnt a new notion of that word while on Gough. Working in such challenging conditions required the best gear that was on offer.


I chose to use Cactus gear because it came recommended from my colleagues, and has a reputation as being no-fuss, high-performance, hard-wearing equipment – that it is made in New Zealand was a bonus!


On the island the ground was boggy with thick and consistently wet vegetation. Although there is a meteorological base on the island, the weather was unpredictable. Any jaunt away from the base required all-weather gear. I found the Mountain Jacket with the simple Cactus fleece underneath was versatile enough to withstand whatever came my way, without restricting my movement. Gaiters are essential for this environment and the Instigaiters met the challenge without a hitch.


After this expedition, I am confident in recommending Cactus gear to anyone who is after practical equipment that is built to last.



Gough IslandGough Island


Travel to Gough Island was aboard a South African Antarctic Research Vessel, SA Agulhas IITravel to Gough Island was aboard a South African Antarctic Research Vessel, SA Agulhas II.

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

Deane's Nort Review

3/10/17 4:05 PM

Deane Parker


I recently got a new backpack, the Cactus Henry. It's an awesome pack; suitable for long and short trips. I chose it due to the secure harness. I initially passed up the Nort as it looked too small for long backcountry day trips, plus it doesn't come with a chest harness. On further investigation, it turns out the Nort is chest strap compatible, with the additional sternum strap


That was enough to turn me on. I ordered the Nort. It is a classic shape—skinny and spine hugging, ideal to protect the vitals from a huck to flat somersault (well, not for this puppy).


Once I installed the sternum strap the security was almost as good as the Henry's. The shoulder straps are comfortable but not over padded, and they feature a cool li'l exit for a hydration hose and a couple of loops on the straps to snug the hose away.


It's safe to say that even on a short two-hour ride I carry a lot of gear (see pic). The Nort swallowed it all and still had room for two ham sandwiches, several snack bars and a zombie apocalypse kit (maybe). It has three zippered compartments. The main one is roomy, and there's a small internal fleece-lined pocket and a medium-sized external pocket. Finally, the interior is lined with high-vis nylon to make it easier to find stuff.


Deane's Nort


The Nort is a heavy duty, lightweight backpack suitable for short to long day trips. Just like all Cactus packs, it's made to wear in not out.


Tip: get the sternum strap. 


Below I have listed the tools, spares and clothing I take on pretty much every ride. Some would say a balaclava, satellite tracker and emergency bivy bag is OTT for a two-hour ride, but you know what? Crashes happen, and I'd feel stink if I couldn't keep someone, or myself, as comfortable as possible after a big stack and/or direct emergency assistance accurately to our position. So if you're riding with me, relax, I got your back.


- Rain jacket/shell
- Polypro balaclava
- Emergency bivvy bag
- Spot satellite tracker
- Sunscreen/lip balm/chamois cream(butt butter)
- Pump w duct tape wrapped around it
- Spare tube (2 on longer rides) w duct tape
- Tools/spare kit in Cactus tool bag. Bike specific multi tool w chain breaker, leatherman multitool w pliers, 3 tire levers, replaceable derailleur hanger, set brake pads, SPD cleat, 3 quick links, 2 chain pins, heavy duty needle and dental floss, tubeless valve, selection of tube patches and tire boot, selection of zip ties.

–Deane Parker.

Comments | Posted By Kester Brown

Being a Cactus customer, you're most lkely to be wearing your Down Jacket further than the local cafe and it hasn't remained in pristine condition. The Cactus Down Jacket is an investment which should last you for years and years so to keep it in tip-top condition you will probably need to wash your jacket once a winter. 


Cleaning the jacket with a special Down Cleaner will gently remove the dirt, oils and residue, and will rejuvenate the light & airy properties of the feathers, giving you a warmer, puffier down jacket - like when it was new.


Prior to washing, apply cleaner directly to heavily soiled areas. Close all zippers.

HAND WASH DIRECTIONS: Fill sink or tub with just enough warm water to submerge item; add ReviveX® Down Cleaner. Compress item to remove air and place in water. Rinse item repeatedly until water runs clear (at least 3 times). Gently compress or roll item (do not wring) to expel water. Place item in washing machine for 2 spin cycles to remove excess water before drying.


REGULAR MACHINE WASH: Add 5 capfuls of Down Cleaner to washine machine. Wash with cold or warm water on gentle cycle. Do not add fabric softner. 




OPTIONAL: Before drying outdoor gear, apply ReviveX® Durable Waterproofing to the outer shell fabric. Apply liberally to shoulders, cuffs and zipper areas.


DRY: Dry garment by itself in a large dryer (it needs room to tumble freely) add some tennis balls or dryer balls to help break up the down clumps. 


Comments | Posted By Cactus Outdoor


If you've had your Mountain Jacket for decades (or even one heavy use season), it might be looking like it's in need of some TLC. To make sure your Mountain Jacket, Lifties or other waterproof/breathable product lasts, stays being waterproof/breathable and continues to perform at it's best, give it a wash every now and then. Dirt, smoke, body oils and other residues can clog waterproof breathable pores and inhibit breathability.

Also, our Mountain Jackets and Lifties are treated with DWR (Durable Water Repellent) to aid in waterproofing. A build-up of residue on the fabric surface will prevent this coating from performing causing the garment to “wet-out.” Removing those residues by washing improves the garment’s performance.

We wouldn't recommend using any old washing powder/soaps as they can leave residue, preventing the DWR from working or clog the breathable pores. We sell a product called ReviveX Pro-Cleaner which is awesome. 





• Close all tabs, velcro and zippers. We recommend washing items separately.

• Apply cleaner directly to embedded stains. Gently scrub with a bristle brush. Repeat as needed.

• Select delicate/gentle cycle, warm water and load size (most likely low since technical garments are typically washed individually).

• Add 3 capfuls ReviveX Pro Cleaner to wash.

• Run wash cycle and rinse twice.

• Dry as per the manufacturer’s recommendation.



Before drying, you can apply ReviveX DWR Spray help restore the DWR, although many times it is simply not necessary. Sometimes, all the garment really needs is a good cleaning with a clean-rinsing detergent. Once you have rinsed those residues clean, you can usually place the garment in the dryer and the heat will help re-activate the DWR coating. 

Comments | Posted By Cactus Outdoor

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