What Is Fastpacking: An Introduction To The Backpacking-Trail Running Hybrid
Update: October 4, 2021
Table of Contents
What is fastpacking?
I'm pretty sure that you have heard this term already. And even if you haven't yet, it is not too late to get into it.
Essentially, fastpacking is the marriage between ultralight backpacking and trail running. If you like doing these endeavors, then I highly recommend that you try fastpacking! Here, you will need to be constantly moving; you have to jog or run throughout the trip. And if your destination has certain ascents, you need to hike them, too.
Most of the time, fastpacking covers moderate to extensive distances. But for starters, a short route should be enough. This sport will require you to bring only the essentials of your trip. The lighter you are, the easier it is for you to trudge and traverse different terrains. Of course, that also lets you explore the deepest sections of your route. And compared to trail running, fastpacking lets you stay in the wild longer!
What Is Fastpacking?
Essentially, fastpacking requires you to blur the lines between backpacking and trail running. It is an excellent alternative to exploring different hiking spots and trail routes. You can do so by carrying light loads on your back while jogging through the wilderness.
The most significant upside of fastpacking can explore more areas in a shorter amount of time than when trail running or backpacking. Since you have the essential gear with you, you would be able to rest, sleep, and run anytime you want. In fact, you can repeat this process as many times as you want. Of course, doing so would push you to your limits, but that's the essence of fastpacking. It is about surpassing your physical and mental limits.
Many individuals who have been fastpacking already would agree that the adventure is truly liberating and immersive. It is a one-of-a-kind experience that they couldn't get from other outdoor activities.
How To Prepare For Fastpacking?
Train your body - As mentioned earlier, fastpacking is all about pushing yourself physically. That means training your muscles and endurance levels. Start slowly at first, and gradually increase your speed until you reach your desired level. Remember, no pain, no gain. So don't overdo it. Instead, focus on building up your stamina slowly. The best way to do this is by doing trail runs and hikes regularly. As much as possible, you should increase the frequency of your runs and hikes gradually. You should also train at the same elevation as your desired destination. In this way, your body will get used to the trip.
One step at a time - There's no need for you to rush things. When training for fastpacking, it is important that you begin on the smallest local routes. It doesn't even matter if they are easy circuits. As long as you can complete them, that would give you a sense of accomplishment. Once you finish one route, you can start tackling larger and more difficult trails. While doing so, make sure that you are wearing the same backpack that you are planning to use on the big day. If you think that you are ready for fastpacking, you can look for out-and-back trails near your area. After that, you are free to explore new terrains within or outside your locality.
Train with someone who is into fastpacking - If you are new to fastpacking, the challenges that you have to face will be tumultuous. Hence, it is always ideal that you can train with someone who has done it a couple of times. Experienced trainers can give you golden and never-shared tips that can help you complete the trip. You can also bring them on your move. Having a friend definitely elevates your first fastpacking experience. And the more you are on the trail, the safer things become.
Prepare mentally – Before embarking on any journey, make sure that you're ready psychologically. Don't let fear hold you back. Be confident and positive. Your mindset matters just as much as how well you train your body.
Get used to the idea – Once you've decided to take part in fastpacking, prepare yourself emotionally. Make sure that you know what you're getting into before starting off.
Have a realistic pace - It's not a good idea to overdo things. You should never push yourself into danger. If you think you can't move faster than you have desired, you are free to slow down. Just remember that there's always another way around.
Get familiarized with the terrain – Being prepared doesn't mean having everything under control. There may come the point where you need to improvise. Therefore, it pays to learn the basics of the area. Know its topography, weather patterns, wildlife, etc.
Learn basic survival skills – While fastpacking isn't exactly camping, you still need to keep yourself safe. This includes knowing how to build fires, use tools, and stay hydrated. These are important life lessons that will help you survive even if something goes wrong.
Learn to navigate – Navigating is crucial for anyone who wants to travel alone. Knowing which direction to go and how far away certain landmarks are will allow you to avoid dangerous situations.
What To Bring In Fastpacking?
Fastpacking is a fascinating adventure because it is simple and in-depth at the same time. The trip will not require you to bring a lot of things. You simply need to stash all the essentials, but without compromising your convenience and safety.
There's still a need for proper planning to sort out the things you need for this pursuit. The right gear can help you achieve your specific goals; they can also let you acclimatize to your environment.
If you want to narrow down your fastpacking checklist, you can refer to the following guidelines:
Weight - You should always mind the weight of your backpack when it comes to any outdoor application. This particular factor is dependent on other external influences, such as the season, weather, and even your preferences. For fastpacking, the most "ultralight" is a 12-liter pack with a base weight of around ten pounds or smaller. If you go this route, you will be sacrificing much of your comfort in exchange for unhindered mobility. On the flip side, individuals who want to have a comfortable sleep or mealtime should bring a 30-liter backpack with a base weight of at least 20 pounds.
Backpack - Your backpack is an essential gear. Perhaps, it is the most important amenity that you should secure in your fastpacking trip. There are different types of packs, and each of them may offer you a varying degree of comfort and versatility. Some backpacks tend to get bouncy when they are full; such a tendency can be troublesome since it brings more strain to your shoulders. Other fast packers opt for backpacks designed for running. Some even opt for hydration vests and day packs! Of course, your needs are different from other people. Hence, you should try the myriads of options out there. You should prioritize comfort, support, and mobility in your selection.
Clothing - You need to dress for the occasion. That's a golden rule that you should follow whenever you are heading into the wilderness. There are various factors that can affect your outdoor clothing, such as the weather. In the aspect of fastpacking, you should consider clothes that are designed for running. They should be able to wick off sweat and moisture quickly. You should also bring a packet and lightweight jacket with you if it rains. Bringing an extra pair of shorts, socks, and a shirt is recommended, too. If the weather is cold, then you should bring a packable insulated jacket.
Shoes - Your footwear is another crucial element that you must take care of before embarking on your journey. It is advisable to choose shoes that are suitable for hiking. These include trail runners, cross-trainers, and sneakers. However, you should make sure that these shoes fit well within your feet. Also, ensure that they do not cause blisters. A good pair of boots would serve you better than anything else.
Food - Food is one of the basic necessities that every traveler requires. When it comes to fastpacking, food plays a vital role. You should plan ahead by bringing enough supplies for yourself and your companions. Remember that you cannot rely solely on what you find along the way. Therefore, you should carry some emergency rations just in case something goes wrong.
Water -Water is yet another necessity that you should never forget. The best option here is to use water purification tablets. Such products usually come in packets and bottles. You should only drink from clean sources like streams and lakes. Otherwise, you might end up getting sick.
First Aid Kit -First aid kits are very useful tools that you should keep handy during your adventure. They contain items that could help you treat minor injuries and illnesses.
Shelter - Shelter is another critical factor that you should always bear in mind. This includes tents, tarps, hammocks, bivy sacks, etc. Make sure that you have all the necessary equipment so that you will be comfortable at night.