Hiking + backpacking = fastpacking

Doug Williams
 

First of all, fastpacking is not for everyone. It is the latest challenge for those who hike and backpack, marked tracks, as a hobby.

It is for those of those in the field who wish to push their limits and challenge themselves to see what level their stamina and fitness is at. It’s a form of speed hiking, carrying only the minimum amount of gear.

 

 

This practice is commonplace in some countries and it can be highly competitive when a huge event comes up.  It puts a lot of strain on your body as you are moving fast to cover as much ground as you can.  You need to be in good health and have high fitness level to do this. You’re pretty much just running with a pack.

Equipment

If you want to try this, the first thing to do is to get a very light backpack: You don’t need to carry more than 25 pounds on you and ten pounds is about optimum.

 

 

In your pack, you should put lightweight clothing, such as socks and a change of underwear. If using long underwear, select a kind that will double as sun protection and keep you warm.  Try those lightweight track pants that unzip into shorts. Rain gear needs to be light and basic. Pack poly gloves and poly-wool socks.

 

 

As for shoes, look at trail running shoes. Plan ahead, as your feet may get wet. A water barrier liner may come in use in your shoes for keeping your feet drier.

 

 

Remember you are fastpacking, so a tent and sleeping bag are out, pack a tarp or a tarp tent.  If you are lucky there will be a hut somewhere on the trail you can use.  If you must have a sleeping bag, go for one that is light and rated for warmer temperatures and make sure it rolls up tight, usually the more you spend the lighter and better your gear.

Food

You will need food, so calculate how many meals you will need; it all depends on how long the run is. For two days, you will need two breakfasts, dinners, and some energy snacks.

Only bring things that don’t need to be cooked. Gel-bars, jerky, power bars and other light weight high energy food are good for this kind of sport.

Bring only about one gallon of water and think about water purification tablets to cut down on how much you will need to carry.

Essentials

Things you must carry on you are a first aid kit, pocket knife, watch or compass, lighter, sunscreen, headlamp, bug spray, biodegradable toilet paper, duct tape and rope. A whistle and mirror for emergencies and extra batteries are also essential.

 

 

This is not an activity you can just decide and wander away and do. Like any extreme sport, it takes careful planning and preparation. Due to the lack of gear, it can be a risky sport if you get into trouble. Travel on well-marked tracks that are regularly used by hikers, make sure someone knows where you are going, when you are coming back and what you are actually doing.

 

 

Start first by experimenting with fastpacking on tracks you know well. Once your experience and confidence increases, go onto more challenging and longer tracks. Make sure as you speed up and down these tracks you are aware of the slower, more sedate hikers and try not to bowl any of them over.

Have fun and listen to your body: if you need a break, take it.

 

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