One Fastpacker’s Journey Into the Sport of the Gentle and Fast – Gossamer Gear

By: Jeff Garmire

Quick and light-weight—two phrases contributing to 1 one other on the paths—are on the coronary heart of fastpacking. There is no such thing as a set weight, distance, or velocity to be a fastpacker, solely touring sooner and lighter. The brand new moniker sits proper on the core of ultralight backpacking, focusing extra on the beliefs and values of the participant than a real measurable metric. 

It could be simpler to elucidate what fastpacking is by diving extra into what it isn’t and the way I discovered this new exploration fashion. Fastpacking definitely isn’t how I grew up backpacking. I had by no means even heard the time period till I used to be 20 years outdated on my first thru-hike. In 2011, I used to be on the market backpacking the one method I knew how—with a 55-pound absolutely loaded exterior body pack. A Nalgene bottle dangled off the again, and my tent, sleeping bag, and pad have been strapped to the underside. Seeing different hikers cross me as I struggled up the hills supplied a complete new perspective on what I really wanted to be carrying on the path. 

My Introduction to Fastpacking

As I used to be climbing San Jacinto in 2011 with a fellow thru-hiker named Brian, I accepted that there was a greater method to do that thru-hiking factor. However, I continued carrying my fears, and it could take one other 400 miles and my exterior body pack breaking earlier than I’d relinquish ten kilos of spare clothes. 

At Kennedy Meadows, I had a damaged pack, no cash for a brand new one, and an over 35-pound base weight. The opposite hikers instantly shook down my gear till it was within the low twenties. Then, along with Lil Buddha who would go on to mentor and lead me into fastpacking, I sewed up an outdated tattered pack from the hiker field. Even with the poor suspension and undependable hipbelt, I might now sustain with anybody on the path. Lighter does equal sooner.

By shedding weight, I used to be robotically shifting sooner. Subsequent, I moved to Denver and found learn how to tailor my gear to the journey and turn out to be an actual fastpacker. 

Why Fastpack?

Fastpacking isn’t a few sub-five-pound base weight however, slightly, discovering the right quantity of meals, water, and equipment to hold on any given journey. It doesn’t must be about working each flat or downhill. It’s about shifting probably the most effectively over the terrain. 

Fastpackers nonetheless swim in lakes, cease earlier than dusk, and even sometimes cook dinner on the path. As a result of they’re fastpacking, there’s extra time to get pleasure from probably the most iconic spots and journey farther into the wilderness. It provides extra flexibility and extra effectivity. And that extra time can be utilized nonetheless you need. 

In 2015, I climbed all of the 14ers in Colorado and easily turned a fastpacker out of necessity. I had a daypack with sufficient straps on the aspect to carry a tent and a sleeping bag, but it was sufficiently small that I couldn’t overpack. Many of the peak bagging excursions have been one to 2 nights lengthy, and I didn’t want a lot. I carried precisely the clothes that the climate dictated and simply sufficient meals to get me by. The load financial savings got here from planning and experimenting. 

How Fastpacking Started

The origins of fastpacking might be traced again to the ultralight motion within the Nineteen Nineties. Ray Jardine got here out with gear that was a lot lighter than something obtainable at retailers. This paved the way in which for quickest identified instances (FKTs) and going farther sooner. A complete backpacking gear checklist was now mild sufficient to run with it. 

Folks like Buzz Burrell and Peter Bakwin created their very own techniques of carrying water bottles on the entrance of their packs for a extra balanced weight distribution. Working packs integrated the concepts, and shortly, lengthy days and weekend journeys within the mountains may very well be 50 miles as an alternative of ten. Naturally, if the burden was lighter, folks would transfer sooner. 

So, what’s fastpacking? It’s taking the standard backpacking fashion, reducing down the burden to probably the most environment friendly and comfy degree, and experiencing the consequences of elevated velocity, stamina, and suppleness. 

Fastpacking Is a Mindset

The enterprise into the fastpacking and FKT world modified my whole mindset on backpacking. Even for a brief in a single day, I might take 10 to 12 kilos of drugs or meals and nonetheless throw in digicam provides or a second dinner. Fastpacking is a method, not essentially an outlined velocity. It’s discovering the right system to get probably the most out of your journey and see as a lot as doable together with your valuable hours on path. 

Everybody would say that FKTs are the center of fastpacking, however even whereas setting the document on the Lengthy Path, I ran little or no. In actual fact, there is just one occasion the place I keep in mind even trotting for a complete mile. Working merely wasn’t one of the simplest ways to maneuver by the rugged terrain. However I used to be nonetheless fastpacking—shifting as mild and effectively by the terrain that was in entrance of me. 

Fastpacking is a method worthy of exploring for each hiker, backpacker, thru-hiker, and runner. Whether or not you wish to go farther, sooner, or journey extra comfortably, the fastpacking mindset applies. 

Jeff “Legend” Garmire has accomplished the Calendar 12 months Triple Crown and Nice Western Loop, completed the Nolans 14 in 59 hours, climbed all of the Colorado 14ers, and broke the Arizona Path self-supported FKT, Pinhoti Path self-supported FKT, Lengthy Path unsupported FKT, John Muir Path document, and Colorado Path unsupported FKT, amongst others. Study extra about his adventures at:


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