Putting The Bounce In Bikepacking With The Backcountry Saddle Pack
The Backcountry Series is designed to meet the needs of mountain bikers tackling extreme terrain. As more riders take their full suspension bikes further into the backcountry, they need to fit larger loads into the limited space available. When Apidura ambassador Jenny Tough came to us with a plan to ride the Caucasus Mountains on a full-suspension mountain bike, we knew this was the perfect opportunity to grow the Backcountry Series for even more adventurous rides.
Featuring some of the highest summits in Europe, crossing the Caucasus Mountains by bike is no easy feat. While Jenny is no stranger to adventure and remote landscapes, having run across a mountain range on every continent and competed in bikepacking races across the world, taking a full suspension mountain bike bikepacking was a totally new experience. Rough terrain, harsh conditions and limited resupply opportunities would mean needing to fit a lot of supplies on a bike with limited clearance and space around suspension components. Apidura’s largest Backcountry Saddle Pack for mountain bikes when Jenny was planning her trip was 6L, so she came to us with a request – a larger saddle pack that works with dropper posts and supports more remote adventures on technical terrain.
Even large full suspension mountain bikes with dropper posts can have extremely limited clearance between the saddle and rear tyre at full compression, so designing a large saddle pack with a large capacity, low impact on handling and the ability to fit in an extremely limited space was the challenge we set ourselves.
Drawing on the experiences we gained designing the dropper-post compatible Backcountry Saddle Packs and working on a mix of sizes and styles of mountain bikes, we began developing a larger Backcountry Saddle Pack. By starting with a handmade prototype in our Innovation Lab, we were able to dial in on a design that was both balanced and stable while accommodating significantly more capacity.
Tweaks to the design of the existing Backcountry Saddle Packs include a second strap with a soft spacer to add grip to slender dropper post stanchions. The pack is shaped to be as slim as possible below the saddle, reducing the chance of tire contact under full compression, while expanding into ‘open’ space to provide the extra storage required. It’s a difficult shape to design to work well, but the result is a secure and stable pack that provides the best possible balance between capacity and clearance.
By the time Jenny set off from Tblisi in June, she had a fully functional 10L prototype pack ready to put through its paces – and it’s clear she pushed the pack to its limits: “It had been really stormy for days, so there was snow on top of snow and then it started raining. I was climbing a section that suddenly got really, really steep and slippery. It got too steep to push so I had to hike a bike.”
“This was my first time bikepacking on a full suspension and it was so cool that I was able to use my rear suspension. The route I did was pretty gnarly and to be able to use the rear bounce was a real bonus.”
Our global community of riders, like Jenny, are crucial for our product development cycle. Both bringing us ideas for new packs to suit new adventures and styles of riding or testing our product team’s latest creations in extreme conditions. The superhuman feats our community undertake push us to challenge our ideas and shape and transform how we view our sport.
This is central to our design philosophy of creating products to meet unmet needs, rather than developing products for the sake of it. Our precision-crafted approach means that when Jenny came to us, we knew we could produce a functional pack that met her needs and be confident it would withstand the demands of the trail, even with the extra size and weight.
Full suspension bikepacking still isn’t common, but as more people take on extreme adventures off the beaten track, or adopt more comfortable bikes to make challenges more comfortable, we’re keen to make sure they can carry everything they need for a real adventure.