Fastpacking: For Runners Without Limits

Are you a trail runner who hates to be constrained by time or distance on your adventures? Or are you a hiker who wishes you could cover the trail even faster? If you answered "yes," then fastpacking might be for you.

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I’m one of those people who struggles to do anything slow. As an adult, I revel in the fact that I can run from one end of my house to the other without someone yelling “no running in the house, young lady!” at me. I understand and appreciate the societal norms that insist we walk throughout our day to day activities like a normal, civilized adults. But I won’t deny that it is incredibly difficult for me to resist busting out into a full sprint down a long, empty aisle at the grocery store.

And my desire to let my legs carry me from point A to point B as fast as they possibly can is exactly why fastpacking is a sport that appeals to me.

In case you haven’t heard of it yet, fastpacking is a sport that combines the speed of running with the multi-day capabilities of backpacking. Instead of carrying simply a bottle of water and maybe a few hundred calories in the form of a gel or bar, fastpackers carry enough water, gear, and food for an extended stay in the elements. But instead of the heavier loads of gear carried by traditional backpackers, the goal of fastpacking is to keep everything as light as possible.

“Why would anyone want to carry that much stuff while running?” you may be thinking. Well, the sport of fastpacking allows you to cover greater distances than a day of traditional hiking without the time constraints of traditional running (like trying to get back to your car before sundown). It basically opens up a world of possibilities for trail runners, allowing them, in theory, to set up camp wherever their feet decide to stop running for the day. A trail run can now last days, which allows runners to cover longer distances at their own pace.

Alternatively, it opens up a world of possibilities for hikers who have a hard time slowing down, with legs that just want to go fast.

And with constant advances in outdoor gear technology, it is becoming easier for fastpackers to pack as light as possible. Of course, even the lightest gear that money can buy can still become heavy if you pack too much of it. Therefore the equipment that experienced fastpackers carry is often a fine-tuned selection through personal trial and error. You need to ensure that you have the appropriate gear for the elements and scenarios you may find yourself running through while still keeping your pack light enough to comfortably run with.

Is fastpacking for you? That depends! Do you wish hiking were a little bit faster? Do you wish your trail runs didn’t have to end? Are you looking for a new adventure? Then yes, fast packing might be for you! To get started, check out this very in-depth guide to fastpacking. 

Keep in mind that all of the usual trail safety and trail etiquette rules apply…and often become imperative as you venture deeper into the backcountry. Start with shorter distances or less remote adventures to test out your gear and fastpacking abilities.

Then go and explore, and don’t let time or distance limit your adventures!