Cycling tours are for many outdoor sportsmen the epitome of freedom, nature and relaxed adventure. But the associations can also be much more negative: boring, cumbersome, slow and not really in nature.
Both points of view are not necessarily wrong. After all, it is a matter of choice and personal preference. If you want to enjoy total freedom, cycling tourism is certainly not the right thing for you. Instead, the new bikepacking trend is likely to hit the bull's eye.
Because bikepacking is not just a new fancy name for cycling, but it is actually a whole new way of exploring nature by bike. At OutDoor by ISPO from the 30th of June to the 3rd of July, the Bike Trend will have its own Focus Area with the Bikepacking Zone in Hall C5 and will show what is behind the new movement and what the equipment has to offer.
ISPO.com introduces the increasingly popular trend sport, gives tips for equipment and recommends adventures for the summer.
In short: bikepacking is the ultralight version of cycling tours. Instead of the classic "6-pocket variant" with two saddlebags, two front wheel pockets, luggage on the handlebars and luggage carrier, the bike packer takes as little as possible with him (more on this later) to ensure maximum off-road mobility.
This principle leads directly to the next difference. While bicycle tours take place mainly on asphalted roads or forest paths, bike packers also move on single trails and thus expand their personal adventure playground enormously. The new lightness of being has another advantage, because if you carry less weight around with you, you will not only be more agile in the terrain, but also faster on the road.
Fast on the asphalt, flexible in the choice of destination and route and accordingly without luxury items on the bike. Less is more: a bivouac equipment, some change of clothes and some tools for the bike should suffice. These components also result in the clearest difference to cycling in the duration of the trips.
Bikepacking is ideal for micro adventures. An overnight stay or a weekend in nature with a maximum of freedom are the paradise disciplines for bikepacking. If you don't have any great demands in terms of luxury, you can of course travel much longer.
- Bike: The new type of gravel bikes is best suited for bikepacking. On the one hand they still roll well on asphalt due to their not quite so wide off-road tires, but on the other hand they also provide good comfort in off-road conditions due to their geometry. In addition, gravel bikes are equipped with many mounting options directly on the frame. In principle, however, mountain bikes, racing bikes, cyclocrossers or even fat bikes are also suitable for bikepacking, but in some areas you will have to make concessions.
- Bags: In principle, there are three places on the bike where bags can be optimally attached for bikepacking: one under the saddle, one on the top tube of the frame and the third on the handlebar. Usable bags are of course available from the big manufacturers like Ortlieb, Apidura or Vaude, if you like it a bit more exotic, you can also buy bags from the Italians of Miss Grape or Gramm from Berlin.
- Equipment: Depending on how minimalistic the adventure is to be, the packing list can vary, therefore here are really only the essentials: bivouac equipment, GPS navigation or maps, tools and repair kit, spare hose, multitool, first aid kit, toilet equipment, changing clothes, rain gear, food, light, cash, mobile phone, power bench.
Especially at the beginning, long-distance hiking trails are a good way to get a feel for bikepacking. Above all the navigation should be on lock before you say goodbye to the wilderness like extreme sportsman Anton Krupicka. In principle, however, the following always applies: you make your own adventure, go out and drive off!
An example of a two-day introductory tour would be from Tegernsee via Spitzingsee to Schliersee. The daily stages are not too long, the terrain is varied and ranges from asphalt to forest tracks and trails. In an emergency, civilization is always quite close and the paths are always well signposted.
For those bikers who have long since completed the introductory phase and who want bikepacking to be more than just a micro-adventure, ISPO.com has some of the most beautiful races in the world.
But please don't forget: bikepacking races are not about prize money or trophies. Everyone drives at their own pace, the individual adventure is in the foreground. Self support is more important than arriving fast, abbreviations are against the code of honor. Fun always comes before ambition.
- Bikepacking Trans Germany: From Basel to Cape Arkona, 652 km through Germany. 20,000 vertical meters above asphalt, dirt roads, roots and sand. No entry fee, no prize money. Unlimited number of participants.
- Torino-Nice Rally: Slightly more than 700 km from Turin to Nice over old military roads and alpine passes. The program includes the Colle delle Finestre, the Colle dell'Agnello and the Strada dell'Assietta.
- Three Peaks Bike Race: What sounds quite feasible at first turns out to be a real beast. From Vienna to Barcelona, about 2000 kilometers through Europe. The route has to be chosen by yourself, only the three summits have to be completed. In 2019 the Stilfser Joch, the Colle delle Finestre and the Ordina-Arcalis in Andorra had to be crossed.
- Kiwi Brevet: If you like it a bit more exotic and don't have a problem with the travel strains before the bike strains, you can register for the Kiwi Brevet on New Zealand's South Island. The race takes place every two years and leads over a 1111 kilometer long loop over 20,180 meters in altitude through the breathtaking nature of the island.
- Silk Road Mountain Race: Somewhat better to reach, but definitely no less exhausting is this race. 1700 kilometers and about 26,000 meters of altitude difference through the secluded wilderness of Kyrgyzstan. Along the old Silk Road from Bishkek to Tscholponata at Lake Yssykköl. One of the many highlights is certainly the Tong Pass at over 4000 meters.