Ultralight Pedestrian

Human powered minimalistic approach to life, love and the outdoors by foot, bike and paddle

These are strange times; we are living through with the Covid-19 pandemic. With travel restricted even to our local countries here in Scandinavia. I have spent most of my outdoor time bikepacking my local area around the island of Zealand here in Denmark. This has led me on many roads and trails I have not experienced before even though I felt I had a fairly in-depth knowledge of many of the areas. I can therefore conclude that even a well-known area can be viewed from new angles, by sometimes riding the trail in reverse.

Some of these small adventures involved Troll Hunting in Copenhagen greater area for the Forgotten Giants. There are now eight not six to be found. Other times I have ridden the Ice Age Trail which is a new trail going through the old Ice Age countryside of western Zealand. It passes the site where the word famous Bronze Age Sun Wagon was found. The trail is mostly small asphalt or gravel roads so take your bike not your boots.

Mill River Valley and loaded bike

Coming to the end of 2020 I noticed that the Bikepacking.com site announced a community event they called Goodnight 2020 where the idea was to do a local overnighter to say goodbye to an otherwise crappy 2020. I was game, and set to planning an overnighter even though the weather here in Denmark was mostly grey, windy and wet at the time. I quickly settled on doing a shortened circumnavigation of The Ise Fjord. In the middle of the Fjord lies the Island of Orø. The locals call it the Pearl of Ise Fjord. I decided to overnight on the island, which is served by two small local ferries. A cable ferry on the east end and a small ferry on the southern end crossing the Fjord to the town of Holbæk. Both are cheap and do not require bookings.

Route can be seen and downloaded here https://www.komoot.com/tour/296870524

Setting out from my local town of Hillerød on Tuesday morning in the still dark during the Christmas vacation. I rode familiar trails south towards The Mill River valley. Here I turned westwards and followed it till its origin in Bure Lake. From here small forest roads and a bumpy riding trail took me further west. I crossed the train line going to Frederiksund and the bridge across the mouth of the Roskilde Fjord. On the other side I crossed the narrow peninsula to the east coast of the Ise Fjord. Here I turned south riding the rolling hills. The weather was misty, grey and wet so there was no view out over the fjord. On the way I passed the very ugly but impressive looking Kyndbyværk. It was once a major power plant, but in modern times its function is not unlike a heartstarter designed to regulate and kickstart the power net in the event of a major power failure on Zealand.

Bure Lake the origin of the Mill River

I continue to ride the coast south coming to Hammer Bakke where the cable ferry quickly takes me across to the Island of Orø. Here I have a quick chat with two guys with heavy backpacks. They are also on an overnighter and can’t understand how I can carry all my needed gear on my bike without panniers or a backpack. I good naturedly call them ‘Noobs’ and we part with a wave. They are crossing to Hammer Bakke and I am turning north in search of the coast trail along the east coast of Orø. The map shows me a shelter site on the northern coast, which I want to check out as a possible overnight location as I have not been at it before. The trail is very wet and muddy where it lies close to the water, so I have to get off and push the bike even with 57 mm wide MTB tyres on it.

The campsite is empty and has a good view of the Fjord now that the weather has cleared a little. I continue past it as there is still daylight and I want to check out another possible camp spot on the other side of the island. I also want to go into the small local town Bybjerg to get some late lunch and stock up on water. There is a fierce southern wind blowing so I look forward to riding north the next day.

Going south on farm trails

I ride around the island ending in town at the local Pizza place doing take away. I consume a falafel sandwich as a late lunch and hit the local CoOp for some evening snacks and a local beer. I weigh the pro and cons in bringing a sack of firewood with me, but eventually decide against it. Taking to the bike I ride out of town towards the camp site I passed earlier. Here I hunker down inside my Vesper sleeping quilt that I am testing for Outsite.org. Review will follow once I have had several more time and nights with it.

I am up early and packing my gear. I want to catch a ferry across the fjord before it gets light. I ride the dark roads to the southern point and the small ferry taking me across to Holbæk in 25 minutes. Here I get two cheese rolls and a coffee at the local Circle K. The attendant smiles and winks at my bike outfit. She apparently has no fashion sense for bikepacking in the wet, muddy and cold.

Wet, muddy and grey on day 2 going north

The coast trail takes me west before turning north and following the west coast of the Ise Fjord up towards another small ferry at Rørvig. Along the way I pass the two dams that were built to create more farm land. The riding is again a mixture of small roads and forest trails. I even get out on the sandy beach where I have to push the bike. In Kongsøre Forest I pass the campsite and very nice picnic/beach areas at Sandskredet. Back in the summer I came the other way and stopped here for lunch. Today it is too cold and I continue on.

Looking out over the Fjord from one of the dams

Going through the Ulkerup Forest I come across a gathering of small hooded stone statues. Not knowing at the time what was going on. I did some research before this write up. Apparently, the statues represent the souls of the old Ulkerup farmers and it is said they still whisper in the twilight and visit their old living places. They actually were a bit spooky and reminded me more of a group of Illusionist Gnomes from the time when I played Dungeons & Dragons.

Spooky Dungeons & Dragons Gnomes

Passing through Nykøbing town and getting a sandwich and onwards to the small coast town of Rørvig from where the ferry would take me across the mouth of The Ise Fjord. Hitting the coast trail I spotted the ferry arriving so I sped on and made it with two minutes to go before departure. You can buy a ticket onboard.

The wind had turned to the south east so arriving in Hundested I quickly weighed the pros and cons, and deciding to take the train the rest of the way back to Hillerød from where I started the day before. I having ridden and crossed through this part of the route on many rides before. The train was warm and I managed to eat a roll and upload a couple of pictures to my Instagram profile @bikepackingdenmark thereby completing my #goodnightcampout2020

Thanks for reading and #goodnight2020campout

So I had my eye on the extended weekend coming up here at the end of May for a Bikepacking ride into the vast forests of southern Sweden. With the national Covid-19 restrictions in place, I changed my plans and went for a more local ride here in Denmark instead. Which was not a bad trade off, as there are many beautiful places in Denmark. One is the Island Sea peppered with large and small islands. I managed to do seven of them in four days.

Bike on the first bridge of a series of bridges and ferry rides

I packed up the bike and set out by train to the town of Middelfart on the island of Fyn. The planned ride called for four days through southern Jutland and island hopping in the archipelago before heading back home on Sunday. The route was made on the website Komoot.com and can be seen here. https://www.komoot.com/tour/186094779

Snapshot of the route , details and download on the above link

Thursday was a religious holiday here in Denmark and with the Covid-19 restrictions, the train was not crowded at all. I jumped off the train, had a quick coffee and cheese roll at the local café and took off along the coast for the bridge over the Lillebelt sound to Jutland. Crossing the bridge in sunshine was a great experience. I turned west following the coastline of the fjord as best possible along gravel and asphalt roads in the direction of the city Kolding. Being a holiday most of the city was closed and I went through it and kept following the route hugging the coast.

It was a warm day, so I quickly took of the leg warmers and jacket riding in shorts and top only. The kilometers went by and I arrived in Haderslev where I had a ‘Shooting Star’ at a café in the town square. A shooting star is the name of dish consisting of a slice of bread with different types of fish and prawns on it. To wash it down I enjoyed a small IPA beer from the local brewery.

Fields of gold and overlooking the Little Belt sound while riding south slong the coastline of Jutland

Replenished I took to the bike and again went south towards the city of Aabenraa. Here the plan called for a diversion to the west towards the Army Road. It is so called because it lies on the watershed of Jutland and was used to move armies quickly. A more apt name would be the oxen road, as it was probably used to move more goods and oxen to market than armies. My plan was to follow it all the way towards the border to Germany with a detour to the old World War Two internment camp at Frøslev.

Day one of my ride ended at a small shelter next to small woods on the gravel road in a glorious sunny evening. Unfortunately, the shelter faced the woods and not the sunset.

Sun setting on the small shelter I was in on the Ancient Road

The next morning I was away about eight in the morning and continued south. I had two stale rolls with cheese for breakfast at the CoOp in the town of Kliplev. Continuing on, I soon came to the internment camp, but having been here before several times, I only stopped for a toilet break washing my head and hands. With the border to Germany being closed there was little activity in the town of Padborg and I was soon following the Gendarmes trail eastwards along the border. The trail is so called from the old police unit that patrolled the border and coastline. This was my second time here, as I had already hiked it on foot back in 2014. You can read the blog post about that here, if you read Danish. https://ultralightpedestrian.com/2014/07/29/gendarmstien/

You are not allowed to ride a bike on the trail everywhere, so going east I had to detour in several places and skipping the Broagerland part all together. There was a strong wind coming from the southeast and rainclouds could be seen on the horizon so I knew it was only a matter of time before I had to fish out my rain jacket. I made it all the way to the town of Sønderborg before rain hit.

Just before Sønderborg you come to a famous battleground from the 1864 war between Denmark and Prussia. Here at the Dybbøl killing fields thousands of Danish soldiers died when the empire building dreams of Denmark were crushed by a combined Austrian and Prussian war effort. The war cost Denmark about 40% of our land mass and population leaving Denmark as a small spectator in the European political landscape for many years to come.

Heading on I stopped for a sandwich and a soda in Sønderborg. I also donned my rain gear as it was beginning to rain on and off. The rain would continue for the rest of the day and night. After the sandwich, I headed north toward the little ferry crossing the narrow sound between Jutland and the island of Als. After the defeat at Dybbøl in 1864, the surviving main units of the Danish Army had retreated to Als. Failed peace talks in June 1864 lead to the Prussians crossing the sound in small boats completely surprising the Danish forces on Als leading to very heavy casualties and a to a hasty evacuation of the remaining forces by ships. The evacuation was protected by some of the most modern armored ships of the historic period including the Ironclad Rolf Krake. 

The Ironclad Rolf Krake firing at Prussian positions during the 1864 war

At the renewed peace talks the defeat was obvious to everyone and Denmark had to surrender a large portion of land including the rich provinces of Schleswig and Holstein, which to this day remain a part of Germany. Southern Jutland was reunited with Denmark following Germanys defeat in the First World War and the democratic reunification voting of the area after the war.

The small ferry sails every half hour, so I was quickly over on Als riding the rolling hills on small bitumen roads towards the second largest town on Als Nordborg. The castle here dates back to circa 1150. Today Nordborg is only known due to the global company Danfoss , who has their main office there and they also run a science fun park known as Danfoss Universe. Passing through I continued on to the east coast and down towards the town Fynshav form where there are ferry crossings to Faaborg on the island Fyn and to Søby on the island of Ærø. The latter was my destination for today. The ride down the east coast was in some of the nicest coastal forest I have experienced in Denmark, and I think I have been in many places in Denmark. So if you ever find yourself on Als, then go to Nørreskoven on the northeastern side of the island. You will not be disappointed. You also pass the very cool looking Taksensand lighthouse.

Hitting Fynshav in heavy rain and with an hour and a half to pass before the ferry docked. I went looking for something sweet to eat and found a grocery store selling rum balls. I ate one and brought the rest with me for enjoyment later in camp. Back in Fynshav I boarded the ferry for the hour long run to Søby arriving around 7 pm in the still heavy rain. Just outside the small town, I knew there was a six man sized shelter figuring that even if someone was there, there would be room for me. At the shelter a man and a woman greeted med with ‘no, the shelter was theirs for the night and there was certainly no room for me’. The rain was pouring down at the time, I might add. So much for Danish hospitality. I rode back to town and found a nicely mowed lawn to put up my tarp for the night. Munching on my two leftover Rumballs and sleeping soundly with the rain pattering on the tarp for most of the night.

The next morning the rain had stopped and I packed up quickly. I went down to the baker shop, I had spotted the evening before and bought two freshly baked rolls, and as a service they buttered them and put cheese on. Søby in on the western side of Ærø, which is a rather long Island covering the south entrance to the Little Belt Sound I had crossed in the beginning. After eating one roll, I rode out of town and along the south coast. The island is very picturesque and the roads were narrow and winding. Most of the time I had a very nice view over the sea. Midmorning I came to the town of Marstal on the east coast. I had quick stop at the harbor enjoying the sailors’ memorial there. I continued on towards Ærøskøbing the next town. There is a very nice gravel trail the last 10k into town.

From here I caught the ferry to Svendborg on the island of Fyn. From Svendborg I crossed the bridge to the island of Tåsinge. Here I rode out to Valdemars Castle https://valdemarsslot.dk/. A little further on in a small clearing in the woods, I visited the small stone memorial honoring the death place of the sad lovers Sixten Sparre and Elvira Madigan. The story goes that he, a married Swedish lieutenant in the Dragoons and nobleman fell madly in love with the much younger Danish circus line dancer Elvira Madigan. Big scandal and when they were discovered and had no money left. He shot her and committed suicide at the site in the woods. They are both buried at a cemetery nearby.

The wind was in my face crossing the next small island of Siø connected by two bridges to Tåsinge and my goal for the day. The long island aptly called Langeland, which literally means long island in Danish. I turned north and went on riding the small roads finally arriving at the small northern town Lohals. I spent the night in a small shelter out near the coast in a wooded area. At the area was two friends that normally lived on either end of Denmark but had met here for two days of camaraderie and simple living. Very cool guys and interesting conversation around the fire in the evening.

Sunday morning I was away early. It was my last day. I crossed the Island to the east coast and headed back south on winding roads and a fierce headwind. It had again rained during the night, so the roads were wet and mostly gravel. I had one last ferry ride to take to the Island of Lolland from the Sunday sleepy town of Spodsbjerg halfway down Langeland.

The ferry took about 45 minutes and I now had the wind at my back and almost flew in to my end of the road town of Nakskov, where I jumped on the train towards home. A four day ride of about 465 kilometers through some of the most beautiful island and coastal areas of Denmark. I highly recommend it.

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Introduction

I have enjoyed biking almost all my life. I have done road biking when I was younger and a lot of mountain biking and Adventure racing through my thirties. In recent years (I am in my late forties now) I began bikepacking as a way of combining my joy of biking and my joy of going far and camping with minimal gear in beautiful places. For me, bikepacking is human powered transport on a bike for at least one overnighter, where you carry all your needed gear in specially made bags strapped to the frame and other various parts of your bike, making it possible for you to maintain good weight distribution on the bike, thereby not limiting your capability to go off road too much. The ability to do this makes it possible to go places on your bike, where you would normally have to hike instead. For me that is a win win situation. In the following, I aim to share some advice and small things I have learned about bikepacking over the last few years.

The Bike and packs

I will recommend bringing a bike suitable for your purpose and the challenge you are planning. Any old bike can probably do a lot, but if you are aiming to go on an extended tour in off road conditions, make sure the bike is up for it and newly serviced, so it can hold up to a beating. If not, you will be cursing somewhere with a broken chain, gear, brake or worse frame. Bring a bike you can rely on, that is build for what you are aiming to do. Invest in some decent tyres for it, a good saddle and make sure that the drive chain and brakes are working properly. The bike I use is a Ghost Endless Road Rage designed for bike touring.

Even with all that you will need to bring some form of maintenance tools and repair kit. I usually bring the following in a tool roll in my frame bag.

  • The tool roll is a nice way to have all your tools in one place. It has compartments and you can roll up a wrench or pump in it as well.
  • Multi tool from Lezyne
  • Lightweight pump, easy to use and good quality
  • A small wrench, can also double as a small hammer
  • Two spare tubes or tubeless repair kit with plugs/fluid and valve tool.
  • Gorilla og gaffa tape
  • A few cable ties
  • A rag to wipe oil and grime off
  • A utility knife
  • Spare links for the chain
  • Oil for the chain, important to keep you going in a smooth fashion

The bags that make up the packing part of bikepacking is also important. If you google bikepacking bags you will find a lot of large and small suppliers. It is up to you which you want to support and what your specific needs are. Generally you will need the following bags depending on the amount of gear and the length of your ride.

Cockpit

Handlebar bags

I use two bags on the rider side, one with kitchen gear and one with camera gear, in the front I have a handlebar front loader carrying a rolled up drybag with all my sleeping gear in it. Strapped on top of that a box shaped bag with rain jacket, gloves, sunglasses, reading glasses, maps, Kindle, first aid kit and other small assorted gear I might need during the day.

Top tube bags

I use a larger pack on the front end of the top tube with phone, wallet, headtorch and so on and a smaller bag between my legs that is my snack pack filled with Sneakers.

Framebag

I use a large framebag inside the frame, where I carry heavier items like tools, repair kit, food, water, batteries, powerbanks and so on. To the tube underneath the framebag, I can strap a sitpad and my tent pole, if I have the tent with me. I also have a cage; I can mount to the underside of the tube if I need a place to carry more water.

Seat bag

On the back of the seat is a large bag where I usually have all my extra clothes, toiletries and tarp. Get a quality one that don’t swing too much when riding.

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Fork bags

I prefer riding without a backpack, so if I need more food, supplies or the tent, I have two Gorilla cages with drybags that I can mount on the forks. Here I can place food, water, tent, clothes or other needed gear, especially for winter rides.

Backpack

I prefer not riding with a backpack, but if I need it, I have an old version of the Six Moons Design Flight, that is build with a vest harness, so not to interfere too much when biking.

Fanny pack or bum bag

The hip pack has become extremely popular among mountain bikers which makes sense because you usually need a small place to pack keys, snacks and so on. I might bring one on extended rides, but usually I don’t bother with it.

The bags I use are from Oveja Negra (Black Sheep), DOM and Blackburn, but you can find many that are are very good quality all over the world.

Packing your bike

You should know that there are as many ways to pack and organize your bike, as there are people riding them. My way might not be your way it will very much depend on personal preference. Here are a few tips anyway.

When it rains (and it will), you will be happy to have your rain kit within reach and not at the bottom of your front drybag with your sleeping bag.

Train yourself in making camp quickly and putting up your shelter in wind and rain. You don’t want to be standing in a storm and be putting your shelter up for the first time.

I try to make my packing and therefore also unpacking into a system where I think on how and when I will need to use that item. For example, most of my kitchen gear is packed together, so is electronics, clothes, sleeping gear and so on.

If you are going to need your first aid kit, you will most likely be in a hurry, so keep it somewhere easily accessible.

Keep water and heavy gear as close to the frame as possible, to maintain good balance while riding, especially if doing bumpy or difficult trails.

The lighter the bike, the greater the ride

Pack ultralight or at least somewhat light. Only bring the essential stuff and always go for lightweight purpose-built gear whenever possible. The clothes and gear you bring will be dependent on the climate and season. Summer will see you bring minimal clothing, minimal sleep gear and perhaps only a light tent or tarp. In wintertime you will have to beef up your gear accordingly for wet and cold days.

Bikepacking is not a contest in fashion (well maybe for some), so don’t be afraid to wear the same clothes for days at a time. Maintaining hygiene is off course important for your general wellbeing, but with that said I usually wear the same clothes for 3-7 days at a time. If I get to smelly or dirty, I will do a primitive wash and dry them on my body. For that same reason I prefer using merino wool as base layers. It just keeps fresh and comfortable for much longer than synthetics.

But clothing is not the only place you can save some grams on your bikepacking ride. Here is a small list of other places to save weight on gear.

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Kitchen

Most food I cook (and cooking is a big word here), I only need boiling water for. I therefor usually carry only a very minimal setup of a 750 ml Ti Pot, a Soto Windmaster gas stove and 100 grams gas cannister placed inside the pot. In summertime I can be spotted using a very simple meth stove from Trail Designs instead that packs into the pot as well. I will also bring a lightweight spoon and the customary bikepacking mug strapped to the bike.

Sleeping Gear

I rarely skimp on sleeping gear. You will need a good night’s sleep to be able to go far the next day. I therefore recommend a good quality down sleeping bag or quilt designed to keep you warm for the environment, you are going to use it in. I own three bags one for summer, one for winter and one in-between. You could use the in-between bag and the summer bag together thereby making a winterbag. Brands I use and recommend are Montbell, As Tucas and Cumulus. Coupled with the bag you will also need a good sleeping mattress to insulate you from the ground. This is just as important as a good sleeping bag. I will also bring an inflatable pillow to make sure I get a good nights sleep.

Shelter

Some people like to camp at already established camp sites with wooden shelters or Lean-Tos. I will do it but I actually prefer to set my own camp. I usually bring at least a tarp as it is light and quick to pitch. The one I have is from Hyperlite Mountain Gear and is made of Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF) a very light and strong material. For bug infested areas or seasons (or if bikepacking with my son) I own a two person DCF Ultamid tent, which is still light and small enough to pack on the bike if needed.

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Supplies

The less food and water you bring the more weight you save… but that will not get you very far on your bike. Energy in the form of food and hydration in the form of water is crucial for any success on a bike. However, carry too much and you will suffer the weight and the space on your bike. I will plan for morning and dinner meals like freeze-dried food for dinner and muesli for mornings. To supplement that I bring a top tube bag full of snacks like Sneakers and granola bars. For lunch I find a place along the way or live of the snacks. I usually plan to resupply along the way if possible, if not I bring more initial food.

Never ride without water and every time you pass a water source drink your bottle empty and refill it, that way you will stay hydrated on your ride. I usually bring a Befree or Sawyer water filter just in case I cant find a clean source.

Electronics

Bikepacking is for some a way of escaping the world and getting back to nature and basics without electronics. Not so for me. Oh, I do enjoy getting back to nature, but I will happily bring some electronics with me to assist me and make the ride more enjoyable.

Mobile phone is essential, you might cycle through remote terrain and will possibly need to make an emergency call. Keep in mind that in some areas there are no reception on a mobile phone, in that case I would spring a satellite phone or SPOT device. A mobile phone is also great for checkin in with the family, getting on social media or taking pictures. I can also use if for navigation but more on that later.

Camera equipment is something I like bringing. I like taking pictures and shooting video, so I will bring a GoPro, a lightweight tripod and a compact camera (I have recently upgraded to the Canon G5X Mark II). I know, I am a hypocrite for saying bring lightweight stuff and then I tow all this camera gear, but it is part of my enjoyment when hiking or riding a bike, so that’s that.

I will usually bring a 10.000 mAh power bank from Anker, which provide me with enough power to keep my gear charged for 3-5 days depending on use. If I need more, I will bring two Anker power banks. It also has a small built in light which is surprisingly useful at times. It has two USB ports, so I can recharge two items at once.

Besides a front and back light for the bike. I bring a rechargeable headtorch for those dark situations where you are riding through a wood at night, trying to make camp in the dark or looking for your shoes to go outside to take a p*** during the night (yes, I am old enough to need that at least once during the night).

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Helmet, first aid kit and rain clothes

It doesn’t matter if you are going fast or slow, on road or on rocky trails, when you are on a bike you are exposed and a tumble can be dangerous or even deadly if you land on your head. A helmet will can potentially save your life, so wear one.

A first aid kit is just as essential as a helmet. There are many lightweight readymade variations to be bought and most of them will do simply fine depending on your level of knowledge. Bottom line is don’t bring more than you know how to use. If you have zero idea about first aid. I would recommend taking a basic course in first aid. You should know more than, how to phone for the emergency services, as it might help you or some other person in an emergency.

Rain clothes is needed in my area of the world which is Scandinavia. Depending on the weather forecast and the length of the ride I might not bring rain pants, but I will bring a rain jacket unless it is the height of summer. My choice of jacket is The Omm Aether Smock with the super breathable Event fabric. It is made for ultrarunning in the fells of Wales, so it is also a perfect construction for riding bikes in pouring rain while still keeping you warm and somewhat dry and comfortable. The pants I use are from Montane and they are a snug fit and able to be closed at the ankles. On my hands and feet, I will use waterproof gloves and shoe covers from a Danish brand called GribGrab. Besides keeping me from getting wet, rain clothes will also shield me from a cold wind during winter rides.

Worn clothes

  • Short or longsleeved quality merino shirt (might even bring woolen sleeves with the short shirt)
  • Inner bib shorts with chamois from Patagonia
  • Shorts og long pants from Norrøna in their flex material (For winter I will use a thick pair of tights with a windproof front).
  • Merino socks (Waterproof socks if lots of rain is expected)
  • Thin soft-shell jacket from Outdoor Research with a hood, that will block all but the fiercest wind.
  • Bandanna from Buff
  • Gloves from GribGrab (finger or long depending on season)
  • Overshoes from GribGrab (depending on season and weather)
  • Northwave Spider Plus shoes with cleats

Extra clothes

  • Long sleeved merino shirt (in winter a thicker one)
  • Merino boxers
  • Merino long johns (In winter a pair of warmer synthetics)
  • Puffy warm jacket in either down or synthetics depending on season and climate
  • Thicker sleeping socks
  • Warm woolen Beanie
  • Merino liner gloves
  • Plastic bags to use over warm socks in wet shoes
  • Rain clothes

Navigation

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When you are planning a bike ride for a prolonged period, you will need to navigate at one point either using electronics or compass/paper maps. I will highly recommend that you are proficient in using both. Depending on where I am going, I usually always bring a paper map and a compass for back up. The navigation while riding is typically done from a GPS device such as a Garmin mounted on my handlebar. You can also use your phone running a map application like Komoot or Viewranger. There are lots of good options for you to choose from. The drawback of using an electronic device like a GPS or phone is that you loose the big picture of where you are going, so therefore I like to bring a larger paper map as well. If I were ride in places where a potential failure of my electronics could be deadly, I would for sure bring a paper map in a waterproof cover.

Have fun

This is probably the most important advice I can give. There will be times during the day where your backside hurts and you feel tired, then all you need is to take a break somewhere and make a coffee. Bikepacking allows you to be close to nature, enjoying the now and in sync with yourself. Always remember that even a bad day on the bike is better than a good day at the office.

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Selfie med cykel ved Farumsø

Verden er vendt op og ned af en virus kaldet Corona eller Covid-19. Det betyder at vi skal stå sammen ved at stå fra hinanden i en tid. Det udelukker jo ikke solo eventyr i ens umiddelbare nabolag. Jeg havde derfor planlagt en mindre udflugt på en overnatning med cyklen. Turen gik fra min bopæl i Hillerød sydpå ned til Mosede Fort, henover den nedlagte Flyvestation i Værløse og flere af de glemte kæmper. Derfra vestpå til Hedeland og skibakken der, som jeg aldrig havde været på. Derefter gik turen nordøst på mod Furesø og en overnatning i Frederiksdal ved søen, hvor jeg ankom i mørke efter en fantastisk tur gennem skovene i aftenmørket. Om morgenen cyklede jeg tilbage mod Hillerød. Begge dage bød på dejlig solskin fra skyfri himmel, hvilket også betød en kold nordenvind og frostnætter.

Undervejs på turen lavede jeg følgende video:

Til de udstyrsinteresserede

Cykel er en Ghost Endless Road Rage og Bikepacking taskerne er fra Oveja Negra

Højlandet

’Jeg har mødt mange forskellige mennesker på mine mange ture, jeg har endda også mødt mig selv’.

Ovenstående citat er lettere omskrevet og til dels lånt af andre, men betydningen er min egen, og det rammesætter meget godt, når jeg påstår at soloture er en måde til at lære meget om en selv.

’Du finder kun hjem, hvis du først farer vild’, synger Magtens Korridorer på en af deres sange. Det synes jeg er et meget sandt udtryk for den rejse, der ligger i at drage ud solo i ukendt terræn til fods eller på cykel og omfavne det ukendte. Det er på en side utroligt fornyende og berusende at vågne alene i naturen, og på den samme tid kan det været utroligt ensomt og skræmmende.

Når du er solo afsted er der ikke nogen, der bestemmer over dig, udover dig selv. Du er den ultimative herre i eget hus. Den følelse skal man gøre sig klar til, for det kan være meget mærkeligt pludseligt ikke at have nogen at dele oplevelser med, nogen du kan spørge om råd eller sparre med, over så banale ting som finde vej, spise mad eller tale om den smukke solnedgang. Når du er alene, så sætter du tempoet, du laver dine egne planer og bestemmer din egen tidsplan.

Når du er afsted solo, så finder du ud af, at du er meget mere åben mod andre mennesker. Du indleder samtaler med andre, som du måske ikke ville have gjort, hvis du var en del af en større gruppe. I en gruppe ville du have tendens til at følge med strømmen. Misforstå mig ikke gruppevandring kan være sjovt og udviklende, men det er også forudsigelig. Hvad gruppen gør, gør du også. Gruppens succes er din succes.

Soloistens virkelighed er meget anderledes. Du er selv den vitale brik for at opleve succes, glæde og ultimativ overlevelse. Det giver en solo ture en unik dimension, som ikke bare kan ignoreres. En soloist er nødt til at vokse og udvikle sig i takt med opgaven. På nogen måder er det netop de lidt skræmmende aspekter ved det at være alene, der er med til at gøre solo ture næsten berusende efter lidt tid.

telt

Når du er solo afsted, skal du være din egen sikkerhed. Det gør noget spændende ved dine sanser og instinkter. De går i slags ’hyper mode’, hvor du vil opleve, at din evne til at opfatte små nuancer stiger. Du bliver langt mere indsigtsfuld i dine omgivelser.  Du tager mere ind, du føler stærkere, du oplever mere, og endeligt tager du måske flere minder med hjem.

Mennesker er sociale væsner, vi er flokdyr. Vi kan ikke overleve, uden vi føler en sammenhæng med andre mennesker. Jeg synes, dog nogle gange kan vores søgen efter nogen at være sammen overskygge fordelene ved også at kunne være alene. For mig er der stor forskel på at være alene og føle sig alene. Tager du på en solo tur, så vil der være tidspunkter, hvor du savner selskab og nogen at dele det med. Det savn alene er en værdifuld oplevelse, for det vil hjælpe dig med at genkende og sætte større pris på de mennesker, der er i dit liv. Den refleksion hjælper dig med at leve i nuet og styrker dig mentalt til at klare dig selv, også i andre aspekter af livet.

Når jeg er på soloture, så kører mine tanker ofte omkring fortid, nutid og fremtid. Det hjælper mig med at give slip på fortidens irritationer og ærgrelser. Jeg bekymrer mig også mindre om fremtiden.  Kort sagt så fokuserer jeg mere på nuet, og nyder de små og store ting, jeg ligger mærke til i mine omgivelser på en stærkere måde.

I den forhøjede opmærksomhed på omgivelserne opdager jeg næsten en helt ny verden, og lidt spirituel forherliget opdager jeg dermed også mig selv i den. Jeg er ofte styrket, når jeg kommer hjem fra at være faret vild, og undervejs på turen har jeg mødt mig selv igen, og ofte fundet enten nye sider af mig selv, eller osse har jeg forstærket sider af mig selv i nye sammenhænge. Du skulle tage og prøve det, det er stærkt vanedannende, at møde sig selv.

 

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Bambooskin worn as outer layer on a warm April day

I was contacted last year by a relatively new Swedish company called RevolutionRace. Their motto is awesome fit, great quality and unmatched value. From what I gather from their website, they concentrate on apparel that offer customers hardwearing clothes at affordable prices in a broad range of colors and with lots of zippers and pockets. Not usually my thing, but they were looking to get some of their clothes reviewed by European and Nordic bloggers. We agreed, that I would look over their products and if I found anything of interest in a lightweight category. We could work a deal, where they supplied the item for free, and I would give my honest review and opinion of it from my perspective. I stumbled on their Bambooskin thermal underwear, which at 450 grams for a set seemed reasonably lightweight. My idea was intially to compare it to a set of Aclima Merino Lightwool that I already own and have used for years as thermal underwear. RevolutionRace agreed to my suggestion and this review article is me fulfilling my part of the agreement. All though I was given the Bambooskin free of charge, my review is my own subjective opinion of the set.

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In the chilly mornings I would wear  the leggings under shorts

The facts.

RevolutionRace describes the Bambooskin as a durable year-round set of underwear in a super comfortable bamboo / spandex blend. They proclaim that Bamboo is naturally odorless as well as airy and light. It is comfortable against the body, thanks to 7% spandex in the fabric which gives an elastic underwear with body-hugging fit, that is very important for moisture transport.

They say the set weighs in at 450 grams for a size medium (mine weighs 488 grams for a large). The material is stated as 93% bamboo viscose (see below under innovations) and 7% spandex (synthetic fiber). They recommend it as a thermal set for year-round use in most activities and that the fit is athletic and the sizing normal.

They also state on the website taht the two piece set has the following properties

° Half zip

° Thumb holes in the end of sleeves

° Extra-long sleeves

° Stretch for an athletic fit

° Bamboo lets your skin breathe

° Antibacterial

° Easy to pack, does not wrinkle easily

° Works excellent as pajamas during cold nights in tents

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Weighing in at 488 grams for a large set

Time in use

I have had the set since spring 2018 and have used it on a hike circumnavigating the Island of Bornholm in April. It also came with me for a Packrafting trip in Sweden in August and a November Bikepacking tour in Denmark. I would estimate that I have worn and used the set for a total of 12 days in temperatures from warm April/August days to cold April evenings and wet and clammy November days ranging from hiking, paddling and biking.

Innovations

Bamboo is a natural fiber that is then crushed in to bamboo pulp, and then chemically converted into a compound that can be spun into cellulose fibers that can be used to manufacture bamboo clothing, which in some areas of the world (mainly USA) is also called Rayon. This causes some ethical considerations like occupational hazards with the chemical being used for the process, also leading to some false advertising claims that the fibers are from a pulp of cellulose and chemically derived and therefore not really bamboo anymore, which further leads to the anti-bacterial and odorless claims, as some studies have shown that the fibers no longer retain the qualities of the original bamboo.

There are however many other good benefits of using bamboo instead of wood for instance. It can grow under harsh weather conditions and it grows fast and require very little water when compared to trees. Bamboo crops also require less pesticide and fertilizers and is biodegradable. We like that!

Bamboo or Rayon clothing is therefore an alternative to plastic, which in many ways are more renewable and can be replenished faster than other synthetic or natural fibers.

Many apparel companies have delved into the bamboo category, but it would be a lie to proclaim it as having replaced cotton or polyesters in the consumers eyes. Why that is I cannot say, but perhaps part of that is customers habits and smart marketing.

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Perfect for sitting outside in the April evening setting sun

Quality

The quality of the Bambooskin is good. There seems to be no loose threads and the sowing is also of good quality. The front zipper does the job without getting unduly snagged. I am 187 cm and 86 kg and a size large fit me snugly. All though I have noticed that the set will start to sag after a couple of days use on the trail. After a wash it snaps back to being tighter again. So, for extended use you might want to go a size down if possible. The set comes in a wide set of colors ranging from eyesore to cool looking. In all the quality is very good for the price.

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Used for sleeping on cold nights, notice that the set has begun to sag a little after extended use

Conclusion

Hmmm, this is a bit of a tough one. Originally, I meant to compare the Bambooskin to my Merino Lightwool set from Aclima, and in that regard the Bambooskin fails on all comparing parameters except that it is softer and cheaper. The Lightwool set weigh less for at 380 grams. It is considerably more insulating and warmer even when wet with moisture. The Bambooskin actually feels heavier when wet, all though in all fairness it does seem to dry quicker than the merino wool.

It is also my considered opinion that the merino wool fit is better after prolonged use and that the merino wicks better when doing a strenuous activity like biking. I also noticed that the Bambooskin was not as odorless as proclaimed, but that could be just me, as you tend not to smell yourself after some time.

In conclusion and from my perspective then I would always chose Merino wool over bamboo as thermal underwear for my kind of outdoor activities.

Is this a fair comparison? Maybe not, as the Bambooskin does not proclaim to be better than my Merino wool set, that is just something I referenced it too. So, if I go back and only review the Bambooskin by the parameters set by RevolutionRace, which is that it is a hardwearing thermal underwear for year round use, that retains heat and lets your body breathe under strenuous activities, then yes it does do that to some degree, and even at a very competitive price when compared to other thermal sets. All though I would state that I would never bring it for extended expedition use in winter conditions, as it is simply just not warm enough for that.

So in that view, then yes, I think that the Bambooskin will do the job and fit the requirements for many outdoor people that are in the market for and looking to buy a competetively priced and a good thermal underwear set for most activities.

Where can you buy it:

RevolutionRace is becoming a rather well known brand here in Denmark, and you can look at their other offerings and buy the Bambooskin at their website.

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In the Glen Nevis on the TGOC in Scotland

Background

Ever since I got interested in lightweight and ultralight hiking the name Andrew Skurka has been one of the most respected long-distance hiking professionals in the world. His adventures and exploits are well documented by himself and others on blogs and in books. So, when he announced he was putting his name on a pack from a little-known company called Sierra Designs. I will admit to being very skeptical in the beginning, suspecting the usual ‘I’ll say anything for an endorsement fee’ type of gear, allthough from what I thought, I knew of him, it did seem a bit out of character for him to do something like that if it wasn’t the real deal. Chance would make it so, I was in the USA when the pack was released for sale. I had done my dues and researched it as much as possible and I was intrigued enough to pick one up, while I was there and bring it back home with me to try out.

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In the Pyrenees circumnavigating Andorra

Time and use

I bought the pack at full price for my own money in the fall of 2016. I have been using it for backcountry skiing in Norway and on hikes in Denmark, Sweden, the Pyrenees and on the TGOC in Scotland in all season conditions. In total it has probably seen around 50-60 days of use, so I feel confident in giving this long-term review of the pack. The review is my own subjective opinion of the pack and it’s use for hiking and backcountry skiing. The data is supplied by the manufacturer Sierra Designs.

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Backcountry skiing in Norway with snow shovel on the side

Bottom line

This pack has many very positive things going for it in my view and only few minor gripes (see list at the bottom). When I bought it, I had hoped to have a lightweight flexible pack capable of handling most of my hiking trips year-round. Every pack has always been some sort of a compromise, but The Flex Capacitor is truly innovative, as it comes very close to balancing light weight with durability and capacity in a pack that carries weight comfortably on your back. This is an outstanding pack for the price, and when they fix my list of small gripes, I will for sure rebuy it for a nearly perfect pack for me.

Where to buy in Europe

The price in Europe is 192 Euro at Backpackinglight.se, which I think is a very competetive price for a fully featured and awesome pack like this.

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The Flex Capacitor a great pack!

The Facts

The Sierra Designs Flex Capacitor is an internally framed lightweight backpack that is expandable from 40 liters to 60 liters using a unique system of straps to adjust the circumference of the pack. I am 187 cm tall and weigh 85 kilos. My original version of the large size fits me perfectly. I say the original version, because I have seen a newer model called medium/large and it seemed to look a little shorter ( a couple of centimeters) in the back length.

The pack features a top lid, with a zipper opening the three sides for easy access to the main compartment. The zipper has a rain guard flap. The top lid has a small pocket that expands downward into the packs main compartment. On both sides are two mesh pockets capable of holding a one liter Nalgene bottle. There is a shoulder strap pocket with stretch mesh capable of holding a 0.75 liter ‘cycle’ type of bottle. The hip belt has two good sized pockets. The front has two loops for ice axe or hiking poles. The inside has a removable hydration pouch but no hole for the hose anywhere.

The pack is made of 100 Denier nylon reinforced with Dyneema (not Dyneema Composite Fabric/Cuben). On the bottom is 420 D nylon. The mesh pockets on the side is robust and stretchy.

The internal frame is a removable Y-Flex DAC aluminum stay. It slots into the hip belt at the bottom holding both in place and help with weight transfer to the belt. There is a rigid type of foam in the hip belt pads, the lumbar pad and further up the back at the shoulder pads and shoulder straps. The pack comes with load lifter straps, waist belt straps and adjustable sternum strap.

The main innovation in the pack is the compression strap system allowing you to expand the pack from 40 to 60 liters. When compressed the pack is quite narrow and is suitable for 3-7 days hikes with light gear. If you need to carry more gear for a winter hike, or just need more volume, you release the straps on the front, and the pack expands to 60 liters. Instead of expanding vertically the pack expands outwards keeping the center of gravity low without compromising the stability of the pack on your back. When everything is properly adjusted the Flex Capacitor carries weight remarkably well.

With the hydration pouch removed and in an original size large my version weighs just under 1150 grams, which is considered light but not LIGHT. You can remove the stay and belt to further bring the weight down, but then I would say that there are better suited packs on the market for that purpose.

Pack Features (from Sierra Designs website)

·        Expandable 40-60L volume (volume varies between sizes)

·        Ultralight weight design

·        2 torso sizes (non-adjustable)

·        4 hip belt sizes

·        U-shaped top access zipper

·        Zippered stash pocket on lid

·        Removable reservoir sleeve

·        Shoulder strap water bottle pocket

·        Stretch mesh side water bottle pockets

·        Two hip belt pockets

·        Compression straps

·        Ice axe/trekking pole loop

Suspension Key Features

·        Lightweight “Y-FLEX” suspension

·        EVA foam hip belt and shoulder straps

·        Raised lumbar and scapula pads (EVA foam)

·        Load lifter straps

·        Hip belt stabilizer straps

·        Adjustable hip belt

Materials

·        Body Fabric: 100D Nylon-Poly Ripstop

·        Secondary Fabric: 420D Nylon Oxford

·        Stay Material: DAC Pressfit Aluminum

·        Number of Stays: 1 “Y-FLEX” stay

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Drying shirt on the outside

My opinion

Likes

One of the best and most innovative packs I have used in recent years.

Good size range as the 40 liters will see me make a seven day lightweight hike in summer conditions, and the 60 liters is perfect for a prolonged 7+ day hike with or without resupply or a winter expedition.

Control of load and carrying system is very good and comfortable even when expanded and full.

The pads on the back makes it ride a little away from the back making it breathable and possible to get a little air on a sweaty back.

Easy to use and comfortable hip belt with usable large pockets.

The flexibility of the pack makes it able to replace other packs in my inventory saving me space and money.

It is a good-looking pack with the grey and red color system.

Easy access to main compartment.

Bottle pockets is stretchy and very usable up to 1-liter bottles.

In the beginning I missed an outside stretchy stuff pocket, but with more and more use, I have begun to use the top lid pocket, the hip belt pockets and the side pockets instead. For drying gear like towel, socks and shirt on the outside I just use the compression straps now.

Minor gripes 

A little on the heavy side (1150 grams) compared to other lightweight packs, this is offset by the usability of the pack, but still…

Stiff backside and the lumbar pad takes some getting used to.

Top lid pocket is on the small side to be really usable and it expands downward. Make it wide all the way out to the edge of the lid and expand upwards, so you can use it to stuff your windjacket and other assorted things into. The zip opening is similar to the packs main opening, sometimes making you grab the wrong zipper, it is a minor complaint and could be solved by using a different color zipper string.

The rain guard and cover to the zipper system can get tangled and snag in the zipper, which is super annoying. Maybe a rainproof zipper og a roll top closure instead (which would mean no lid pocket)?

Where is the whistle on the sternum strap, come on, I thought that was standard by now?