The convergence of the cycling and outdoor industries

By Jeffrey Stern

It’s been coming for a long time. Actually, it’s been happening for a long time, the industry is just finally taking notice and giving it the attention it deserves. Found on the seldom used, often abandoned trails and backcountry roads littered across the globe, where more and more hearts seem to be drifting towards — it’s the convergence of two unique, but similar passions.

Imagine wilderness overnight adventures off remote logging roads in the Pacific Northwest to multi-day epics like the nearly week long Cohutta Cat trip cutting across the state of Georgia, all aboard a bicycle. Be it a fat bike, traditional mountain bike, gravel bike or beefy tire off-road more traditional biking touring setup. It really doesn’t matter. They all help you disconnect and when lying under the stars after each day’s ride, define the one true thing we all want to have in our precious free time. Fun.

Look no further than this year’s Outdoor Retailer in Salt Lake City as a sign of the upward trend of combining these two pursuits. Albeit an odd final show in Utah’s capital with a few bigger brands like Patagonia pulling out, the biking buzz was surprisingly alive. From fat bikes geared toward hunters looking to get more remote in their big game pursuit to bike bag manufacturing companies like Ortlieb displaying new bikepacking bags on gravel grinders, bikes were an evident theme around the showroom floor.

Earlier this month, we even spotted some cool new gear on display for the bikepacking crowd at Interbike. It’s more than evident that both sides are taking notice.

By opening up their marketing minds, outdoor companies like Sierra Designs are realizing there’s an untapped market that can use their sleeping bags and tents. The shift in event expo displays to include bikes in order to appeal to this new customer was evident and real.

And it all makes sense because the natural synergy between both cycling and outdoor activities is the essence of the relationship. A relationship built on experiencing the world, being out in the wild. It’s oftentimes the same person that falls in love with the fresh pine scent smells of an early morning ride through the forest that enjoys waking up with a cold nose and fresh dew collecting on their tent poles after an evening spent in the woods. Logically, the market opens up to wider audience and taking advantage of the mixing of these categories creates an opportunity for many manufacturers on boths sides to consider new partnerships, products and ideas to feed a market that’s been underserved for years.

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Since bikepacking requires a smattering of gear from the essentials like kitchen/food, sleeping and shelter to the bike necessities for fixing probable issues miles away from help, bags, packs, odds and ends the sheer number of outdoor and cycling companies that can have a piece of the proverbial (and growing) pie is extensive.

For this fledgling convergence of two industries many of us already adore so much, how can we possibly make our adventures even more enjoyable than a set of affordable and durable set of panniers? Let’s try adding in some timely brewery and beer tasting stops on our next multi-day and the let the good times roll on. Afterall, there aren’t many limitations to the fun we can have on our bikes no matter what gear we may be using.

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