Fastpacking: Packing Lighter, Moving Faster – Desolation WildernessJuly 6th, 2013 By Adam Broderick
Want to see more wilderness in the same amount of time? Try lightening your load. The more experience under your belt, the more comfortable you become in the backcountry. The more comfortable you are, the less luxuries you require, thus enabling you to carry less weight and, in turn, cover more distance in less time. They call it “fastpacking”, and it offers grand reward for those willing to push a little harder.
Backpacking fast is really all it is. Carry a smaller backpack (30-40 liters), wear more agile boots or trail running shoes (or even fastpacking shoes as of Spring 2014!) and cruise at a quicker pace. I prefer to run most flat sections and quickly hike the ups and downs. Remember, this is my personal opinion. I tend to get bored just ‘walking’ and find myself wanting more, so sometimes I throw in an aerobic workout. I probably move faster than most other ‘fastpackers’, but I’m usually solo (and a trail runner on the side).
People knock the idea, convinced I don’t soak up as much natural beauty along the way because I’m moving too fast. I disagree. I take in more scenery, and I choose which scenes to stop and enjoy and which to enjoy on-the-move. Not everyone would find this sufficient, but hey, I cover more than twice as much ground by ‘fastpacking’, and occasionally this can be very beneficial. This past weekend, for example, I had one day off of work and wanted to make the most of it. My backpack weighed 18 miles when I started, including 60 ounces of water and dog food. I covered 23 miles in 23 hours, including time spent sleeping, eating, swimming, enjoying afternoon coffee, and really not having a care in the world besides wondering how long it would take to hitchhike home in time for work on Monday. When I pack light I can do more in one day than most backpackers can in two, and being more agile and light on my feet I have access to things most people wouldn’t otherwise find. Like a waterfall on the far side of Lake ______ that requires a curious, wandering eye and a 40-minute boulder scramble to access. When was the last time you made coffee from a waterfall?
Here’s what I packed for this trip. 18-lbs included dog food and two liters of water.
This was an overnight run in mid-summer at 8,500 feet. High of 80, low of 50. The colder (and wetter) it gets, the heavier your bag gets.
Backpacker’s Pantry Fettucini Alfredo w/Chicken
Marmot Helium 15 Degree Sleeping Bag – Regular
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