Start Small, But Live Large.

by Beth Donovan

And how to Briefly Disappear from Reality.

Kitsbow Ambassador Kurt Stafki often day dreams about bikepacking; his head overflowing with thoughts of disappearing via bike. 

For many of us, life has a way of scuttling a hoped-for trip. But in 2016, Kurt discovered Swift Campout and decided to go bike-camping every year. Here we highlight his latest trip.

The Swift Campout is designed to provide accountability and inspiration. And that's exactly what it did for Kurt!

How did you hear about Swift Campout?

Instagram. It was 2016 and I just purchased a handlebar bag at my local bike shop from a cool "new" company — new to me, at least. I started following them online and was immediately inspired by their posts about urban escape by bike. I've been enamored ever since.

What's your most memorable Swift Campout experience?

Back in 2016, we had a group of 40ish folks commit to a solstice overnighter. Most of us were strangers when we met up on that Saturday morning. The overnighter had all the classic bikepacking experiences: extreme heat, seeking shelter in a brewery from a severe storm, pizza, poison ivy, beach swimming, and a tent with a disco ball. I'm still good friends with a few of the folks I met on that trip.

What are your recommendations for people interested in bikepacking/camping?

Start small. It's easy to envision riding the Tour Divide route or a week in the backcountry. Easy to envision, but not to actually complete. Begin with an overnighter. Research gear. Pick a spot that requires no more than 30-50 miles of riding each way. Select a route that has a bar/restaurant on the way so you won't need to cook dinner at camp. Ride with a couple close friends. Have an open mind. Expect things to go wrong. Laugh about it later.

What drives you to seek adventure by way of bike?

Simplicity, independence, freedom. While I enjoy the luxuries of car camping, there is a time and place for "get yourself in, get yourself out" adventures. Carrying my own gear forces me to pack only the essentials. Riding in areas without bike shops, reliable cell service, and dynamic conditions forces me to prepare for anything. Traveling by bike forces me to experience the sights, sounds, smells, and elements of every trail and road--things that I can't experience in the confines of a car. No matter how tiring a self-supported bikepacking trip can be, I always return home recharged and ready to daydream about my next adventure.