The Journey: Summer 19

How to: Go fastpacking

Fastpacking? This has become one of the latest crazes in the mountains. A multi-day or done-in-a-day route that lets you cover ground quickly, see more and test your endurance.

Fastpacking has become one of the outdoor industry’s buzzwords over the last couple of years, with manufacturers designing gear specifically for moving quickly in the mountains. For fastpackers, this means going as lightweight as possible, only taking the bare essentials.

Jenny Tough (real name) is one of the greatest proponents of fastpacking. The Montane-sponsored athlete is just over halfway through an epic challenge to run across a mountain range on every continent. We asked her, what exactly is fastpacking? “Fastpacking, endurance running, runventuring, runtouring… The sport is so new and fledgling that we can’t even agree on what to call it yet. Basically, fastpacking is where ultrarunning meets trekking – covering long distances, at a running pace, with a backpack full of kit to stay out overnight, or a few nights.

“I can’t remember ever being introduced to fastpacking, but at some point in my journey to plan a world-first expedition to run across the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan I must have discovered the eight or nine other people online who were also running in this fashion.

“To say we were on the fringes of the running community back then would be an understatement, and that was the most exciting part.”

Travel light

Whether you’re moving for a few days or looking for a ‘done-in-a-day’ trip, going minimal on gear is key.

“Packing for a fastpacking expedition is all about weight. The lighter you can go, the further you can go. It’s time to get ruthless. My simple principle is that everything in my pack should fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • Something I can eat
  • Something that can keep me alive
  • A camera

Jenny’s multi-day fastpacking kit list

Jenny says: “Fastpacking is all about finding the balance between efficiency and utility.  It’s important to ensure your kit remains lightweight without compromising safety, but remember too that a modicum of comfort – used sparingly and strategically – will help you perform.”

  • Waterproof sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat
  • Down jacket
  • Rain jacket
  • Merino wool base layers
  • Down booties (trust me, they are essential!)
  • Spare socks + underwear
  • Tuque + gloves
  • Trekking pants (for cold mornings)
  • Mini stove + food
  • Water system
  • Navigation system
  • Headtorch
  • Trekking poles
  • Sunscreen, bio soap, toothbrush/paste, etc.
  • First aid kit
  • Camera
  • Wearing: technical tee, shorts or tights, trucker hat, trail shoes
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