Shoulder Season Bikepacking in Europe

Spring and autumn should not be ignored for cycle travel. There’s a real joy and satisfaction that you can find with “out-of-season” travel that you’ll never get if you think of summer as your only option for cycling and adventure. However, the moods of the weather and route choice need thought, so I compiled a few ideas and tips to maximize the enjoyment of shoulder season cycle travel. I’m Andy Cox, creator of the European Divide Trail bikepacking route, and I’ve been bikepacking mostly around Europe for the last five years. Before I started out on this Grand Adventure I’d done quite a few shorter trips around the UK and into Europe, but I was always focused on the summer as my main travel season. While I don’t often travel…

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Building Your Backcountry Kitchen, Part 1: Storing, Stashing & Stocking

Even if you’re content to subsist primarily on reconstituted meals in the backcountry, there’s always room for improvement (it’s amazing what a dash of soy sauce or a dollop of peanut butter can do, for example). If you genuinely enjoy the challenge of creating healthy, delicious fare while out in the back of beyond, having a well-stocked portable kitchen will serve you well. The following are tips on storing, stashing, and stocking your backcountry kitchen. I’m not going to address cookware here, as what you carry depends upon the type of trip, destination, and your personal preference/weight-bearing capabilities. (See Part 3: Cookware and Stove Pairings.) One of the main considerations is keeping your kitchen kit lightweight and compact. If you’re going to be on the river or in a clime…

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MSR Backcountry Café: French Press Coffee

A French press can produce rich, strong coffee that will supercharge your day in the backcountry.  Collapsible presses, available as accessories for our Windburner® and Reactor® stoves, allow you to use your cooking pot for a brewing vessel, saving weight and space in your pack. Best of all, French press coffee is simple and delicious: get the grind and water temperature correct and you’re likely to have a great cup (or three). The Coffee You’ll need about one ounce of coffee per finished cup. It should be coarse-ground and stored in an air-tight container. With French press coffee, an even grind is important—use a burr grinder rather than the blade type. Tip: Normal drip coffee will work if you can’t find the proper grind; MSR presses are designed to work…

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Exploring the Wilderness Areas of Scotland

When considering the wild areas of the UK, my mind quickly pans straight to Scotland which houses some of the remotest places in the country, vast planes of uninhabited wilderness and towering mountains. Each region of Scotland has its own unique feel, from the valleys of Glencoe and the planes of Glen Shiel to the wild sandstone landscapes of Torridon. Traveling through these areas gives a sense of a very different Scotland depending on the area that you are in. This summer, I decided to head out for a week to get a couple of routes ticked off and to spend some time in the outdoors, a welcome break from the 9-5 office job. The plan was to visit some old favourites and a couple of new spots along the…

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