David Björkén


Finally, some warm weather! After a grim and cold spring, and still quite a lot of snow in the forest, the warmth has finally come to the Arctic Lapland and soon time to get out on some bikepacking adventures!
This week I tried out some new bikepacking equipment, including new bags, new gravel tires, and an awesome little down sleeping bag from Pajak! Let’s take a look at the bags!

The BMC with its new bags

American brands Revelate Designs and Rogue Panda!

This summer, I will use bags from Alaskan company Revelate Designs and the Flagstaff/Arizona based company Rogue Panda – two companies with a lot of know-how of bikepacking. Rogue Panda describes themself as a company that “makes products that work so well that you hardly notice they’re there.”
Revelate Designs was founded in 2001 out of experiences from a two-month mountain bike tour in the Indian Himalayas.

Saddlebag – Revelate Designs Terapin 14 L

The saddlebag is a Revelate Designs Terapin with a capacity of 14L. It’s very sturdy and with excellent stability. I don’t even think of it when I ride the bike!
I pack my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, a down jacket, rain trousers, and a shell jacket in the saddlebag.

Handlebar bag – Revelate Designs Pronghorn 11 L

The handlebar bag is a Revelate Designs Pronghorn, a lightweight system with a bag made from Dyneema Composite Fabric (DCF). I pack clothes, the kitchen, primus gas, and some small things in the handlebar bag. DCF (former known as cuben fiber) is very lightweight and sturdy.

Frame Bag – Rogue Panda Rolltop

The frame bag is a custom made frame bag made by Rogue Panda in Flagstaff, Arizona. It has a rolltop closure and is very well made. A rolltop design is more water- and failproof than a zipper, but not as easy to use as a zipper. I pack tools, food, water, the tent pole, and some other stuff in it.

The Rogue Panda rolltop frame bag

Top tube bag – Revelate Designs Gas Tank

And on top, I have a small Revelate Designs Gas Tank for my small Sony RX100 MkVII camera, some Snickers, or what you want to grab during a ride.

If you’re interested in how to pack light for bike packing, don’t miss to read this article!

This is not the alps, but it’s not completely flat either and, in combination with the stunning surrounding, these climbs is awsome!

The Dundret Hill Climb – a category 2 climb, is probably the toughest paved climb in Sweden. The Galtispuoda climb is not far behind, and with a 9% average gradient, it’s even a bit steeper.

With a Gravel- or Mountainbike, you can find real gems such as the long Ritsem Climb, that takes you over the tree line with gorgeous mountain views over mountain Áhkká. The Road between Ritsem and Sitasjaure is a pure mountain gravel heaven!

The extremely steep “Mortirolo of Jokkmokk”, the Ruotevare climb with sections around 18-20% is a real challenge! Can you make it with your gravel bike?

Murjek Climb

  • Road type Paved Road
  • Category 4
  • Length 2.68 km
  • Average grade 5%
  • Steepest grade 9-10%
  • Height difference 147 m
  • Bike Road/Gravel/CX/MTB

The Murjek Climb is a quite short paved climb that starts down at the Lule River. The slope is quite even, and the tarmac is rather good. On your right side, the Lule River valley opens up more and more as you climb.

Seitevare Climb

  • Road type Paved Road
  • Category 3
  • Length 4.43 km
  • Average grade 4%
  • Steepest grade 12%
  • Height difference 160 m
  • Bike MTB/Gravel/CX/Road

The Seitevare Climb is part of the Sarek Scenery Route and consists of the first paved part to the Seitevare Hydropower plant. It has an average gradient of about 4%, but the last ramp up on the dam reaches around 12%. When you reach the highest point, you will have great views of mountains in the Sarek National Park.

Seitevare Climb – part of the Sarek Scenery Route

Ruotevare Climb “The Mortirolo of Jåhkåmåhkke”

  • Road type Gravel road
  • Category 3
  • Length 2.96 km
  • Average grade 6%
  • Steepest grade 18-20%
  • Height difference 191 m
  • Bike MTB/Gravel/CX

As the “Mortirolo of Jokkmokk”, this gravel road reaches gradients of around 18-20% and is a real challenge. You will undoubtedly need your lowest gear! The climb starts just as you turn right on the road up to Ruotevare and begin modestly. After 1.5 kilometers, the hell starts, and the road ramps up to double-digit gradients. It’s possible to turn right close to the top on the Passo Ruovddevárre Route.

Ruotevare Climb – The Mortirolo of Jåhkåmåhkke! Expect a suffer feast!

Nietsavare Gravel Climb

  • Road type Gravel Road
  • Category 3
  • Length 4,65 km
  • Average grade 4%
  • Steepest grade 11%
  • Height difference 199 m
  • Bike MTB/Gravel/CX

The Messaure Hydro Powerplant is one of the largest in Sweden. On the east side, the gravel climb begins. The first part has the steepest sections before it begins to flatten out. In the first section of the climb, there is also a cold source with fresh water on the right side where you can fill your bottles. This is also the entrance to what we call the Gravel Heaven, an immense area south of Muddus/Muttos national park with almost endless gravel roads, marvelous taiga forests, and the beautiful Råne River.

Jarre Gravel Climb

  • Road type Gravel Road
  • Category 3
  • Length 5,39 km
  • Average grade 4%
  • Steepest grade 10%
  • Height difference 217 m
  • Bike MTB/Gravel/CX

The Jarre Gravel Climb is a 5.39 kilometer long gravel climb on the western slope of the mountain Jarre in the Pärlälven fjällurskogs naturreservat/Pärlälven mountain forest nature reserve. The road is closed for public car traffic. The surroundings are gorgeous with the large lake Karats behind you. It’s also quite easy to hike up on the mountain Jarre from which you will have great views over mountains in the Laponia World Heritage.

The Jarre Gravel Climb goes through the wonderful mountain forest of Pärlälven Mountain Forest Nature Reserve.
Experience the midnight sun from mountain Jarre

Ritsem Climb

  • Road type Paved/Gravel Road
  • Category 3
  • Length 7,39 km
  • Average grade 3%
  • Steepest grade 12%
  • Height difference 257 m
  • Bike Gravel/CX/MTB

The Ritsem climb is a rather long climb that starts in the small mountain village Ritsem. The first about 2 kilometers is a paved road. The road is closed for public car traffic, and there is a road boom you have to pass. The road is open for cyclists. Don’t forget to look back during the climb as you will have a marvelous view over the 2015 meter high mountain Áhkká. The first part is the steepest with gradients that reach up to 12% before it flattens out.

When you climb from Ritsem, you will have company of Áhkká, “the old mother”
The Road between Ritsem and Sitasjaure – Arctic Bike Life at its best, expect snow even in July


  • Road type Paved Road
  • Category 3
  • Length 3,46
  • Average grade 9%
  • Steepest grade 15-16%
  • Height difference 320 m
  • Bike Road/Gravel/CX/MTB

Galtispuoda/Gáldesbuovdda is a mountain/ski resort and nature reserve outside the city of Arjeplog. The climb is not as long as the Dundret Hill Climb, but it’s steeper with an average gradient of 9% with ramps up to 16%. It’s hard and a great challenge, but at the top, you get a reward in the form of a fantastic view of snow-capped mountains and the large lake system of lake Hornavan.

The Galtispuoda Climb – one of the toughest in the region, as well as in Sweden!
A 15% steep ramp at the Galtispuoda Climb. Lake Hornavan in the distance.

Dundret Hill Climb

  • Road type Paved Road
  • Category 2
  • Length 5,31 km
  • Average grade 7%
  • Steepest grade 15%
  • Height difference 375 m
  • Bike Road/Gravel/CX/MTB

The Dundret Hill Climb is one of the toughest paved climbs in Sweden, probably the toughest. It will take you up on the mountain Dundret nearby the town Gällivare. It has an average grade of around 7%, with some very steep sections. The Dundret Hill climb is also an annual hill climb competition. 

At the top with the chair lift in the background
The last section of the Dundret Hill Climb

The Essence of Adventure Bike Riding, is not so much about the physical exercise, as it is a journey into the unknown. It’s the desire to explore, that is the driving force, an exploration of new environments, unknown roads, and tracks. An exploration that will also change your own mindset.

I grew up in a small town some 100 kilometers south of the arctic circle, in Swedish Lapland. During the summer-time and autumn, our family spent a lot of time exploring the endless small roads that cross through the vast forests in search of beautiful places, rivers to fish in, or to find the best spots for picking berries.

When we found a great location, we camped for a night or two. Fished for grayling and trout, and picked berries, such as lingonberries, blueberries, and the delicious cloudberries. Sometimes we even found brambles, probably the most exclusive of the berries that we can find here.

As a child, it was a wonderful time. Nature was a playground, but also something educative that taught me a lot about plants, wildlife, and outdoor skills. But there was something deeper that was going on inside me. My child experiences came to create deep respect inside me and have shaped my personality in a very tangible way.

You never know what’s behind the corner

I think about that sometimes when I’m out biking. I believe these experiences were those that made me start biking once. When I bought my first mountain bike in 1992, the exploration of single tracks and hidden dirt roads was an essential driving force for my rides. I used to bring a backpack with a camera, coffee, and sandwiches and get out for hours in the saddle. The physical exercise was just a bi-product of the exploration.

A lot has happened since then, but the appetite to explore our great nature is higher than ever, and nowadays, my vehicle of choice is most often the gravel bike.

Every ride is somehow also an inner journey. The nature around me affects my thoughts and creates calmness, but my senses also become more sensitive. You never know what is hiding behind the next turn, what nature can reveal to you. It’s the same feeling that I learn to love when I was a child and the sense that you every time you get out will experience and learn something new, something that will affect you in some way.

The midnight sun never sets. The Polar Day is more than a month long

Simple things become important. To ride along an endless gravel road and then find a gorgeous spot to camp at a beautiful river. To take a break at a beautiful spot and watch the midnight sun almost touch the horizon. To see the spectacular snow-capped mountains of Sarek National Park in the distance.

A long day in the saddle also means that you have to push yourself. You have to think about what you eat and when you eat, to drink enough. Some moments you will feel strong, but when the elements of nature are against you, it will be tough. And in our arctic environment, you are more exposed than when biking in a more urban area. But this is also why arctic bike riding so strongly connects to the lust of exploration.

This is why we are happier to talk about adventure riding as a concept. It’s more than physical exercise, more than just a recreational ride. If it’s too prepared, you lose the most important part of the experience, namely the exploration.

With, we want to tell our own stories, stories that are created with this philosophy as the fundament. The lust for exploration in one of the world’s most exciting environments.

This is a true gem, that KICKS!

There are many scenic roads in our neighborhood, many of them are unpaved roads, but there are a few paved gems also. The road to Kvikkjokk begins at road E45 a few kilometers north of Jokkmokk. From the crossroad, it’s about 110 kilometers to the small mountain village Kvikkjokk. Although the whole length of the road is stunning, the last 45 km from the small village of Tjåmotis is spectacular!

Watch David and Piera bike from Tjåmotis to Kvikkjokk!

The Village of Kvikkjokk

Kvikkjokk, or Huhttán, which is the lule-sámi name, is an old mountain village, that once was bigger than Jokkmokk. The area was before the 15th-century inhabitant by sámi population but during the 15th-century silver was found in the mountain Silbbatjåhkkå (which means silver mountain) and a settlement was established at the outlet of river Gamájåhkå, that became the village Kvikkjokk.
The father of modern taxonomy, Carl Linnaeus (Carl von Linné), visited Kvikkjokk during his 1732 Expedition to Lapland. Linnaeus described around 100 previously unidentified plants, which became the basis of his book Flora Lapponica.

Wonderful views between Årrenjarkka and Kvikkjokk

At around 1760, a small chapel was built, and during the late 18th-century and 19th-century, a new era was established when settlers moved here to live on hunting, fishing, and some farming.
During the 20th-century, Kvikkjokk became an important hub for tourism. The Kings Trail passes the village and the Swedish Tourist Association has a mountain station here. The Padjelanta Hiking Trail also starts (or ends) in Kvikkjokk.

Piera, A few kilometers outside Kvikkjokk

The village is on the border of the UNESCO Laponia world heritage, a world heritage that is based both on cultural values and nature values. The Laponia area it’s the largest area in the world, with an ancestral way of life based on the seasonal movement of livestock. It’s also an area with high nature values. The nearby Sarek National Park is part of the Laponia area and is the most high-alpine region in Sweden with a lot of peaks over 1900 meters, and six peaks over 2000 meters.

The Road

The most scenic part of the road starts in the small village of Tjåmotis, about 45 kilometers east of Kvikkjokk. Up to this village the road is quite wide, but after Tjåmotis it becomes quite narrow. The traffic intensity is however, very low, especially at off-season. The tarmac is overall good.

Part 1 Tjåmotis – Årrenjarkka 25 km

The first part between Tjåmotis and Årrenjarrka is roughly 25 kilometers. After Tjåmotis the road goes up and down, and the mountains come closer. After the small mountain Tjärggo you come to the tiny village of Njavve. During summer-time, there is a rapid close to the village, and it’s very beautiful. From Njavve the road follows the waterline of lake Sakkat. At Årrenjarkka/Oarrenjárgga, there is the Årrenjarkka Mountain Lodge, a great place to stay in the area. The restaurant is very good, and it’s a great place for different kinds of adventures such as hiking, biking, or fishing. There is also a small shop at the Mountain Lodge.

Part 2 Årrenjarkka – Kvikkjokk 20 km

After Årrenjarkka there is a 2.8 km climb, with an average grade of 3%, with about 7% in some sections. From the highest point, it’s downhill to lake Sakkat. Down at the lake, the road is squeezed between the lake and the mountain for a few kilometers.
The last five kilometers until Kvikkjokk is rather hilly and curvy. The hills are small, but some are steep, with gradients up to around 11%.
From Tjåmotis to Årrenjarkka you climb about 410 meters in total.
Nowadays, there is no store in Kvikkjokk, but when the Mountain Station is open, there is a restaurant and a small shop where you can buy some basic food.

Conclusion – A true gem!

The road between Tjåmotis and Kvikkjokk is a true gem and one of our favorite paved roads in our neighborhood. The traffic intensity is very low, the tarmac good, and the views are breathtaking.

Between Årrenjarkka and Kvikkjokk along the lake Sakkat

As an avid hiker and outdoor man, I think there are many similarities between hiking and bike-packing, but also some differences.

When you hike for a long time, you don’t want to bring too heavy equipment, but when you hike, you strain your joints, but the pack volume is not extremely important. For bike-packing, however, the pack volume gets more important because saddle bags, frame bags, and bar bags are all quite small in volume. The weight is still important, but you have to consider volume too.

Three for Three

In the hiking world, many refer “three for three” to the weight for the three heaviest things you carry; the backpack, the tent and the sleeping bag, and that they together should not weight more than three kilograms.

That’s a good start for bike-packing as well, but as you don’t use a big backpack, and as the volume is more important than when hiking, it’s more important to look at the tent and the sleeping bag.

SMD Lunar Solo on a Fatbike adventure

Hyperlite Mountain Gear Ultamid 2


During bike-packing in summertime, you don’t need a heavy and bulky tent made for winter expeditions.

Rather you want something that is not bulky, something that does not fill up your valuable space. Nowadays, there are a lot of lightweight tents on the market such as the Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo or the extremely light and expensive tents from Hyperlite Mountain Gear, made in Dyneema Composite fabric (former Cuben fiber).

These tents weigh significantly below one kilogram and do not take a lot of volume in your packing. Some of them come with a bug net, and that is mandatory in our region. There could be quite a lot of mosquitos

Sleeping Bag

If you plan to visit us during June and July, you manage with a sleeping bag with a comfort temperature around 0-5°C. Most nights will be warmer but have in mind that we are an arctic destination north of the arctic circle, so the temperature could drop, especially at the beginning of June or late July, and especially if you are closer to the mountain region. The altitude is also important because the temperature drops around 0.9°C every 100 meters of altitude.

In August, especially late, it could even snow in the mountain areas. And the same for May; depending on altitude and how close you are to the mountains, these months could be quite chilly and offer some snow.
I use myself a Marmot Hydrogen sleeping bag with a comfort temperature of -1°C, but early and late, I’ve had to use a down jacket the coldest nights.

As pack volume and reasonable warmth are important, I would recommend a good down sleeping bag with a high fill power. There are a lot of good alternatives from manufacturers such as Marmot, Western Mountaineering and Feathered Friends, Sea to Summit, Pajak, Cumulus, to name a few. Unfortunately, light and warm down sleeping bags are expensive, but you can use a quality sleeping bag for many years if you take good care of it.

Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo in the UNESCO World Heritage Laponia. It’s beginning of June and still chilly.

Sleeping Mat

I would certainly choose an inflatable sleeping mat, and I have also used an Exped Synmat the last couple of years, but there are many alternatives. They are quite light and have a small packing volume compared to a traditional sleeping mat. The sleeping comfort is also a lot better than with a conventional sleeping mat. The downside is that you can get a puncture, so bring some stuff so you can fix a puncture.


As we saw, it could be chilly even during the summer, so after a long day in the saddle, it could be great to put on a warm jacket. As with sleeping bags, the lightest and warmest are down jackets, and the lightest weighs under 200 grams and packs extremely small.

Besides a warm jacket, you also want a hat and gloves to put on chilly nights and maybe long underwear in merino wool and warm socks.

I would also recommend bringing some light rain clothes.

Mont Bell Plasma 1000 Extremely light weight

A light jacket or smock could also shield you from cold wind if riding on a chilly day. Rain overshoes, or even insulated neoprene overshoes, are also something I recommend to bring, as well as bike gloves. A pair of “Mechanic gloves” are actually great, and they are also cheap to buy.

Food and stove

If you intend to bring a stove, I would recommend going for a small top-mounted gas stove such as an MSR Pocket Rocket, Soto Amicus, Primus, or something like that. I have used a Primus Micron Ti with an MSR Titan kettle for many years. Perfect for boiling water, but nothing for serious cooking.

In all cities in our region, there are groceries and petrol stations, and they are almost always open during Sundays too, so you don’t have to bring more food than enough. The water quality is overall excellent, especially in streams in more remote areas. Boil if you feel uncertain and avoid it if it smells strange. Most people you meet do not mind you fill up your bottles, either if asking politely

1. Bring a paper map

GPS is a good thing for sure but bring a paper map also. This is a remote area, and there is very little traffic on some of the routes. It’s not hard to navigate, but if the GPS runs out of battery, it’s always good to have a paper backup!

2. Don’t forget a spare tube, pump and some tools

If you get a flat tire, you have to be fully self-supported.

3. You don’t need to bring all water. Most water is safe!

Most waters from streams are safe to drink. Be careful with water from small stagnant water reservoirs. There are a lot of mires and morasses in the area. Water from streams passes through such areas could be brown colored. If it smells weird, don’t drink, and if you want to be sure, boil it. But we’re lucky to have great water quality, so the risk it’s dangerous is minimal.

4. Bring a rain jacket and gloves

The weather could change rapidly, and even during summer, the temperature could drop below 10°C during the daytime. On longer routes, bring gloves with long fingers and a rainjacket.

5. Bring mosquito repellent!

The Mosquitos could be annoying. Not so much when you’re on the bike as when you take a break. Bring a mosquito repellent! This is always mandatory if you go on an overnight bikepacking tour!

6. The mobile phone coverage could be bad in some areas

Meaning that you can not be sure to upload images to Instagram, or even call in some remote areas. It’s always most safe to ride with a pal, and if you want to add extra security, bring some satellite device such as a Garmin inreach.

7. First aid kit

If you do an OTB and scratching your knees, you will maybe need some band-aid. The health care is overwhelmingly good, but as this is remote, it could take some time to get back to the health center in Jokkmokk.

8. Don’t forget to bring some energy

You can’t stop and buy something along most of the routes, so bring bars, fruits, or what you want to eat along the route.

9. Don’t forget sun protection

From June to July, the Sun never sets, and in the same way, it can be quite cold during the day, it could also be hot with temperatures around 25° to 30°C. When you’re out on a long ride, it’s easy to burn the skin without protection.

10. Eat after your ride

Jokkmokk is famous for the local traditional food culture. After a long and hard ride, it’s great to sit down and enjoy great food and a local brew!

11. Don’t forget the camera

When you ride, you will undoubtedly encounter reindeer, but there is a big chance to see moose also. Besides animals, the views are often breathtaking.

1. Adjust the tire pressure!

Adjust the tire pressure depending on the snow. With a fatbike, you can ride with a low pressure resulting in lower ground pressure and better traction. It depends, however, on the snow condition. If it’s fresh snow and loose, then ride with low pressure. If it’s hard-packed, you can ride with a higher pressure.

2. Use flat pedals!

There are very few really warm boots with cleats that are suitable for use when the temperature drops below -20° or even -30°C. Snow packing underside your sole is also a risk that makes it difficult to get back into your pedals. With flat pedals, you can choose whatever boots you want. Ski touring boots are actually great because they are made for this environment, and they have quite rigid soles.

Traffic Jam Arctic Bike Life style

3. Ride smooth

If it’s slippery and soft, stay in your seat and try to ride smooth. If you stand up, you will probably spin and lose traction.

4. Eat and drink

You will need a lot of energy, but ordinary bottles will freeze fast and become ice clamps. A thermos with some hot drink will stay liquid for many hours. Even an insulated bottle works for some hours. Our favorite is a hot broth made from reindeer!
Bars and gels will freeze, so keep them inside your jacket unless you have steel teeth.

5. Don’t wear too many clothes

Even in quite cold temperatures, you will not need a lot of clothes. When you bike, you will quickly be warm. If you get too warm and sweaty, it could be dangerous because when you stop, you will start to freeze fast. “It’s a deadly sin to sweat when it’s cold” is something that recruits at the arctic ranger units learn the first day of their duty

6. Never, Never use cotton underclothing

When you get sweaty, the cotton will cool you down. Instead, use merino wool underclothing or synthetic underclothing. It’s not a problem to wear cycling bibs and then merino wool underwear over them.

7. Bring extra warm clothes

As we saw, we should not wear too many clothes when we bike, but when we stop we have to put on some warm clothes. Bring a down jacket, extra warm gloves, a warm hat and maybe warm cover trousers. Warm shorts (synthetic or down) could be great to keep your thighs and but warm without being too warm.

A headlight is mandatory during the Arctic Night

8. Heated insoles could be great (for a ride up to a couple of hours..)

Today there are many models of heated insoles, and when it’s nasty cold they could be great, especially for shorter bike rides up to a couple of hours. For longer tours, there is a problem with how to charge them, however.

9. It’s not necessary to use studded tires, but they are great on icy roads..

Studded tires are great on icy roads, but they do not help much in the snow. You will get better traction with a deep tire pattern.

10. If you get too cold, get off your bike and take a short run

Sometimes it gets too cold. When the temperatures drop below -30°C it could be hard to keep your feet, hands, thigh, and but warm. If you run around a few minutes, it will help your body to get warmer and circulate the blood into all parts.

11. Bring a headlight and keep the battery warm

From December to January, the Sun never rises over the horizon. It’s the time of the Arctic Night. Because of the white snow filled landscape, it will never get pitch black, however, but you certainly want a headlight. To prevent the battery from running low in the cold temperature, choose a model with a battery that you can keep under your clothes to keep it warm.


LENGTH: 188 km

PAVED: 20 km





SEASON: May to October

SUPPORT: Jokkmokk

The Jåhkåmåhkke Gravel Challenge combine parts of following routes:






Prepare for a long day on the bike, but start early and end in Jokkmokk with a local brew and large amount of food. It’s also a great bikepacking route to split in 2-3 stages. There are plenty of fabulous camping sites along the route.


LENGTH: 58 km

PAVED: 41 km

BIKE: MTB (CX/Gravel possible)




SEASON: May to October

SUPPORT: Jokkmokk

This route goes more on paved roads than unpaved. It’s also used as a connection route that makes it possible to connect the Báktevárre Route with the Giro di Sierre Route.