Built to Last: Markus Stitz’ Saddle Pack

Part of the ‘Built to Last’ series, in which we take a look at the stories behind long-serving Apidura Packs. Here, we profile Markus Stitz’ Saddle Pack, which has accompanied him on many trailblazing rides around the Scottish Highlands, and one epic round-the-world adventure.

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Every Scratch Tells a Story

Every time we go out on our bikes, we’re creating experiences and making memories. Every scratch to a Pack provides traces of another story earned, and we cherish these scuffs as a homage to all of the experiences we’ve had on two wheels.

At Apidura, we pride ourselves in making products that are built to last. Not just because of the benefits that high quality, long-lasting gear offers, but because it means we can be sure both Pack and rider have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, and gain as many scratches as possible together.

Here, we revisit Markus Stitz’ trusty Backcountry Saddle Pack, as it finds new adventures even after thousands of kilometres over the last 7 years.

I got this Pack in December 2014. I wanted to ride from Scotland back to my home in Germany for Christmas, and it was the perfect companion.

After that, it accompanied me on a ride around the world, when I was the first person circumnavigate the world on a singlespeed bike between September 2015 and August 2016. It’s also done a couple of trips to South America, on part of the Carretera Austral in 2018 and then around the Tierra del Fuego in 2019.

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Over years of usage my Pack had not only facilitated many journeys to broaden my own horizon, and therefore become one of the objects I most value. It also had much more life in it. It wasn’t destined to be just another object in a museum.

I had initially retired the Pack, but when I was commissioned for developing cycling itineraries and producing a new film in the Cateran Ecomuseum, the first ‘thing’ I thought about was my Pack.

The Cateran Ecomuseum isn’t a museum with walls and objects, it’s open to everyone at any time. Led by the community, it empowers local people to take an active role in preserving the objects, sites and cultural practices they value.

Over years of usage my Pack had not only facilitated many journeys to broaden my own horizon, and therefore become one of the objects I most value. It also had much more life in it. It wasn’t destined to be just another object in a museum.

The name of the film was no coincidence. ‘Built to Last’ popped into my head immediately. My bike choice reflected this too. For two years I had ridden on a 1970s Claud Butler, single speed with 28mm tires.

Walter from Velow Bikeworks, a small local bike shop located right at my office at Tribe in Portobello, gave it to me. He gives bikes a new life and since the first ride I have fallen in love with the simplicity. I was also intrigued if a bike from that time, long before the first mountain bike was invented and older than me, was capable of riding some of the gnarly off-road stuff that formed part of the routes. It was.

Both the Pack and the bike are reliable. They’ve never let me down. I am not overcautious with my equipment, but I treat things well. I like the simplicity of a single speed bike because the maintenance needed is minimal.

The same can be said of the saddle Pack. A good rub with some soap from time to time helps to get rid of some stains. The stains that remained had a story to tell. All of the buckles on the bag are still working fine. The only wear and tear occurred on the bottom where the bag sits on the seatpost, but the very small hole was easily fixed with an Apidura repair patch.

For the film I met Bob, who is the creator of the Cateran Trail, Neil, who runs Alyth Cycles and loves his 80s fixed gear bike, and Jane, a friend of mine who works as a willow weaver. Jane is one of the few people with the skills to build a coracle – an ancient boat. She is a keen bikepacker too.

But while treating objects like a bike and pack well will preserve them and prevent them from going to landfill too soon, the museum’s main focus is to preserve the most precious ‘thing’ of all – our natural environment. Our earth was built to last, but the way we treat nature doesn’t often reflect that. I could use my own words, but Jane’s words from the film are so powerful, that I would like to use them instead:

‘I think it starts with the connection to the landscape. Because if you have a means or a vehicle that enables you to connect to the landscape, then you can develop that relationship and that’s a relationship you start to honour and to cherish. And if you do that you’ll then be more mindful of your impact upon that relationship and on the partner within that relationship in terms of the wild spaces and the not wild spaces around you.

‘And then you go and become a very small thing in a big story, which is the historical and geographical story of the landscape. But you realise that you have the power to have an impact on that story. So by choosing active travel options you can change the course of that history to a better history in the future.’

The Built to Last and easy to repair nature of our packs is embodied in our Revive Program, where repaired, refurbished and sample packs can be purchased.

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