Red Bull X-Alps

Vol Biv Tips from the pros

Thinking of heading out on a vol biv trip? These tips on planning and route selection from Red Bull X-Alps athletes will help you on your way.


© zooom / Sebastian Marko
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To read why you should go on a vol biv adventure, read the first part of the story here

Do your research: study the area you plan to fly in, look at different route options, study the local weather and get as much local knowledge as possible,” says Che Golus. “Know your route,” says Krischa Berlinger who’s made a 1,400km vol biv through Central Asia.“Where is landing a problem? Where can you soar out of the valley breeze? [Are there] potentially dangerous local weather phenomena? Try to never run out of options and suck out all the information you can get of other people and the internet.” 

Have a plan, but be flexible so you can adapt it and change to suit conditions whether on the ground, in the air or in your mind. “Knowing that the plan is almost certainly not going to work at all, is why bivvy flying is so exciting!” says Gavin McClurg. 

Just start it. The hardest part of any adventure is taking that first step. “After that, it becomes easier,” says Benoit Outters, who’s made a return vol biv across New Zealand’s South Island. 

Pick a place that suits your skill level,” advises McClurg. “The Alps are a perfect place to go on your first vol-biv adventure. You don’t have to carry food as there are cafes and shops everywhere, you are close to roads and can escape everywhere, water is abundant and your cell phone works!” The Himalayas are also great, he says. “You can take off with little more than an extra pair of underwear as there are villages everywhere.”

“The best places for vol biv have lots of grassy slope landings and places you can camp the night, as well as steep mountains where you can hide away from the wind,” says Nick Neynens. 

Don’t be too ambitious, says Nelson de Freyman who’s made a 2,400km vol biv across the Rockies. “It was too long and too tiring,” he now says with hindsight. “It’s cool if you can plan something short.”

Go with a friend. “Having a friend with you to be there in the ups and downs is the best thing ever,” says Berlinger. 

Make a list. “I keep it on my desk and revisit it often,” says McClurg. “All the little things really count – are the seams on your tent sealed? Do you have a proper first aid kit? Can you repair your wing if you snap a line or tear the fabric?”

Check back next week for Part 3, in which we deal with gear choices and skill work.