Red Bull X-Alps

Vol Biv – the gear and skills required

In our final look at vol biv, we asked athletes to give tips on Gear and Skills. This is what they wrote back:


© zooom / Kelvin Trautman

Don’t go with new gear. “Vol biv isn’t the time to experiment with flashy equipment,” says Che Golus. 

Going light is key, adds Nick Neynens. “Take as little as possible. The paraglider itself is enough to keep you alive and anything else is a luxury. Personally I like to concentrate on flying and travelling fast and light rather than creature comforts.”

Check out how Dave Turner saves weight by using his paraglider wing as a tent by clicking here

BUT, carrying extra weight adds comfort — and can avoid misery. “I always bring a tent,” says Krischa Berlinger, who made an incredible 1,400km vol biv across Central Asia. “You'll be in miserable weather. Not having a tent, you'll be miserable.”

Food is possibly the most important thing that leads to success – make sure you’ve got enough,” says explorer adventurer Gavin McClurg. “Dave Turner brought a fishing pole on the Alaska Traverse, and grilling up those trout when we were stuck for eight days in bad weather was like having dinner with God.”

Test your gear before you head out. “You need to practice packing what you can and can’t take before you head out,” says McClurg. “For example, typically you need to remove the padding from your harness to make room for the extra camping gear and this is going to really change how your harness feels in flight.

Suddenly you will be flying with an added 20kg or more of weight – this is a LOT to compensate for on launching and landing and will radically affect how your wing behaves in flight.”

Bring a good repair kit. Line repair set,super glue, climbing tape, needle and thread. You'll need it!” says Berlinger.  

You need to work on your flying, says Neynens. “Be comfortable with all kinds of flying situations, such as tricky take offs, windy landings, and turbulence.” Want some detail on that? Head over Nick’s blog where he writes in more details about essential vol biv skills such as ground-handling, navigation, turbulence, landings and weather. 

Avoid top landing, unless you really know what you’re doing. Landing up high so you can launch without the hiking part makes a vol biv more aesthetic, says McClurg, but also a lot more risky. “For people heading off on their first vol biv adventure I recommend only top landing if it’s a skill you have totally nailed. It’s much safer to land in the valley.”

Don’t forget the hiking part: arriving at your launch site with enough energy left in the tank to fly is vital. “You need to be able to hike efficiently,” says Golus. Adds Benoit Outters, who’s vol biv’d across New Zealand. “Everything depends on the terrain but for me it is important to be in shape to be safe.” 

Stay strong: “If you have a line from A to B and you really want to fly it, there will be a way, even if everything you know tells you, you won't make it,” adds Berlinger. 

Have a sense of humour – it's a punishing pursuit at times, hang in there and get used to adapting the plan,” warns Neynens.  

The most important advice of all? Says Outters: “Have a good trip!”