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10 Tips for Fast Packing

Updated: Apr 18, 2020

Age 22, I inadvertently fell in love with fastpacking. Of course I didn’t know it was called fastpacking. With limited gear and insufficient food, my pack was light and I travelled fast.

Age 30 I inadvertently fell out of love with fastpacking. Why? Because I made mistakes, in particular, I wasn’t honest with myself. For by 30 I had more gear, better gear, but it wasn’t light weight gear. The truth is I was no longer a fast packer, I had become a slow plodder with the biggest pack on the trail, for I believed more gear as in more thermals, a warmer sleeping bag and better rain gear, would provide me with a safer experience. It did, at least in respect of hypothermia. But with that weight I struggled. Come day 3, I put my neck out whilst stuffing my sleeping bag into its stuff sack. For the last 2 days of that 5 day hike, I couldn’t turn my head. Yes, it hurt.

I’m pleased to share by age 37 I’d learned the error of my ways. I finally understood the need to go through my proposed pack with a fine toothcomb. Now I’m a confirmed fast packer and have a wardrobe full of lightweight gear designed to help me achieve my goals.

I hope by sharing these tips, you won’t suffer as I did.

1. Be honest about your fitness level. The fitter you are, the less you will suffer. Even the steepest and longest climbs can be fun when you’re fit.

2. Be honest about your experience levels and the terrain you can handle. It helps to practice beforehand, so build yourself up by doing half day and then day hikes, even weekend hikes, on terrain that’s as similar as possible to your intended hike. It won’t just help build your cardiovascular fitness, it’ll also help develop your legs, especially your quads, your bottom and everything else. It’ll also get you used to pack carrying.

3. Be honest with yourself and accept that every gram you carry counts. So weigh everything you take, even your emergency whistle. Definitely weigh all your electrics including leads and charges. Do you really need it all? What impact would it have if you left some of it behind?

4. Be honest with how much weight you can carry and for how far you can carry that weight each day. This will impact how long you can stay out on the trail, as it’ll impact how much food and fuel you can carry.