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Loaded with lightweight luggage for new adventures

The industry is developing its own trends: Bike packing is attracting young fans

Bike packing is becoming increasingly important in the outdoor market and promises to be more than “just” new hardware. It’s a young trendy topic with inspiring lightweight products. The next generation of bike packs and their manufacturers can be explored at the OutDoor show, Lake Constance from 17 to 20 June 2018.


In the beginning came the gravel bike: casual bikes capable of doing so much more away from the tarmacked surfaces than a road bike and yet not as heavy as a mountain bike – specifically built for longer trips and clearly designed for speed. However, owners did not want “disfigure” their cool bike by adding luggage racks for panniers. And the spacious rucksack was neither practical nor hip. Consequently, equipment was fastened at various point on the bike in small bags. On the forks, to the handlebars, inside the frame triangle, on the top tube, under the saddle and on the seat post. Everything had its place and looked rather daring. A new outdoor trend soon followed – bike packing.


“There is definitely a scent of adventure connected with the topic,” says Peter Wöstmann, PR Manager at Ortlieb, explaining the new packing technology for cycles. “Bike packing has its origins in the North American market, but the European markets, above all Germany, are extremely buoyant, too. There’s a bit of the back to basics in it, cutting down to just a few activities such as cycling, eating and sleeping, which is also attracting many people in this fast-moving world. Gernot Moser, Sales Manager for Bike Sports at Vaude, agrees with him: “A cycle fitted with bike packing gear is predestined for adventure.”


Bike packing fits in with that authentic outdoor ideal that has made the industry so successful. Outdoor is different to everyday life: fundamental, minimalist, slowed down and stress-free. It makes no difference whether you plan to travel far or are off on a microadventure close to home. “The bandwidth in bike packing is extremely great,” says Peter Wöstmann. “There are tours aimed at covering great distances in the shortest possible time with a minimum of luggage, maximum sporting performance and little sleep. And there are bike packers who find a few kilometres are enough to turn their backs on civilization and then enjoy a camp fire, a cold beer and perhaps a great place to view the sunset.”


Gernot Moser points out a further aspect: “While classic cycle tourists are also driven by a thirst for adventure, panniers on bikes still tend to be viewed as uncool. Bike packing is bringing a new target group into cycle tourism.” And what’s more, unlike classic MTB Alpine crossing tours, it doesn’t depend on the region and is not restricted to the mountains. It’s a trend that will also allow retailers to score across the board.


With the new bags, bike packing may be a typical outdoor hardware trend, but apparel firms are also benefiting from the development. Dominique Roshardt, Product Manager with the manufacturer Löffler, points out three aspects that the bike packers should consider in relation to clothing: minimalism, multifunctionality and easy care. Hence there are close connections here with the lightweight criterion. Without this property, it would be impossible to manage with these adaptable small bags and therefore be necessary to resort to panniers or a rucksack. The lightweight trend can be fully exploited with functional apparel, because bike clothing is not usually subject to any great stress. At OutDoor, Löffler will be presenting its Pocket, an extremely small, absolutely waterproof bike jacket with hood that can be stowed away in a hip pocket – for bike packers.


Lightweight is also a key factor in equipment. Tonny Madsen, part of the Terra Nova sales team, points out the new generation of superlight tents. “The Solar Ultra is the lightest two-person tent and so small that in fits into our Laser Velo saddlebag – together with a lightweight sleeping bag and suitable mat.” In England, too, bike packing is experiencing a boom. “Our production can’t keep up,” explains Madsen. This is also due to the fact that some of the leading sleeping bag producers were slow to spot the trend, because it does not have to mean alpine terrain.

Bike packing has added a new dimension to the topic of cycle tourism at OutDoor as well, and the show impressively underlines the fact that Friedrichshafen is the place for new trends in the outdoor business.

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