August 21, 2023

Fastpacking: what it means, why you should do it, and how you can fastpack to connect with nature

Fastpacking: what it means, why you should do it, and how you can fastpack to connect with nature

Immersive outdoor adventure

Wish you had the time to adventure deeper into wildness? Craving more immersive outdoor experiences? Want to feel closer to nature when you get outside?


Fastpacking may be perfect for you.

 

Fastpacking can seem daunting at first. When you read about it, terms like 'ultralight' and 'ultra-running' paint a seemingly ultra-intense picture. But don’t sweat! Fastpacking experiences range from pursuing crazy fastest known times (FKTs) to slower journeys aimed primarily at connecting with nature.

 

Why not just hike or bike?

Fastpacking offers a unique blend of fast and light. It gets you deeper into nature than hiking, and opens up wilder terrain than biking. And it involves less distracting kit than either. Fastpacking is a great way for us modern humans to find a deeper connection with, and more meaningful experiences in, nature.


Fastpacking also brings you deeper into your human nature. It balances the yin of wild immersion with the yang of natural movement that pushes your natural potential. This balance brings harmony between you and the natural world. Good fastpacking means moving well, understanding the terrain and embracing the conditions. No two adventures are the same, and the yin and yang are both important to make the most of your adventure.

This balance is also fantastic for your physical, mental and spiritual health. If simply looking at green spaces can change your brain waves, lower your heart rate, reduce your stress and improve your sleep, imagine running and hiking for multiple days through greenery. Fastpacking benefits everything from your blood pressure to your stress levels, immune system, mood and anxiety – not to mention your foot and ankle strength, cardio and muscular endurance.

Sold. How do I get started?

Fastpacking can be for everybody, but does involve a few moving parts. Here are some tips for getting started – focused mostly on maximising your nature connection (something often left out of the conversation).

1 - Understand your kit options

Sleeping

  • Tarp, bivy or lightweight tent (depending on your weight, comfort and cost preferences)
  • Sleeping bag (or sleeping bag liner, if warm enough)
  • Sleeping mat

 

Clothing

From your socks to your hat, lightweight and breathable is best for fastpacking.

  • Fast, light trail footwear (see below)
  • Running socks (some find that ‘toe socks’ offer maximum comfort and freedom of movement)
  • Underwear
  • Running shirt and shorts (quick-drying, non-chafing is important; Houdini make our favourites)
  • Camp trousers
  • Camp shirt or t-shirt
  • Base layers (something sweat-wicking, like merino wool)
  • Waterproof jacket (breathable is particularly important here, when running)
  • Puffy jacket
  • Running hat (to protect from sun and rain)
  • Sunglasses

 

Nutrition

  • Trail meals (ideally dehydrated and rich in fats, for a good weight-to-calorie ratio; we like Firepot and Patagonia Provisions)
  • Snacks (natural energy gels, dates and dried fruits, natural energy bars, and nuts are good)
  • Tea, coffee, or even an adaptogenic mushroom blend (optional)
  • Water bottle or bladder
  • Water filter
  • Gas, stove and lighter (if you want to cook food or boil water; many prefer not to, to save weight)
  • Bowl, mug and spork

Navigation

  • Smart phone (complete with your route-planning app of choice; we like Komoot)
  • GPS watch (optional, but super helpful for navigation and tracking health metrics)
  • Charge bank
  • Satellite communicator, like an inReach or SPOT (optional, but potentially life-saving in the event of an emergency out of signal range)
  • Paper map (you never know when technology will fail)

Safety

  • First aid kit
  • Whistle
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray

 

Misc

  • Head torch
  • Backpack (ideally something lightweight and designed for trail running, with waist and chest straps)
  • Trekking poles (optional, but good for reducing impact on your knees and hips) 
  • Essential toiletries

2 - Find the perfect footwear

The perfect fastpacking footwear is robust and light. It encourages healthy movement and a deeper nature connection. It provides everything you need, but nothing more. Sounds pretty barefoot to us!

  • The Magna Lite WR is a fast, lightweight hiking boot with exceptional natural movement. It has a thermal insole for temperature control, a thin Soft Ground sole for sensitivity and grip in variable, slippy terrain, and an all-weather, water-resistant upper for year-round fastpacking – all made with recycled, animal-free materials.
  • Fastpacking in warm climates? The Magna Lite SG is a similarly fast, lightweight hiking boot enjoying all the same features minus the all-weather, water-resistant upper.
  • Want to move even faster and lighter? The Primus Trail range blends minimalist sneaker mobility with thin, tough, all-terrain soles. The result is unparalleled trail movement. Choose from knit, all-weather, Firm Ground, and Soft Ground models to match your objectives.
  1. Magna Lite WR SG Womens
    Magna Lite WR SG Womens
    $161.00 $230.00
    44203_From Block Cached....
  2. Magna Lite WR SG Mens
    Magna Lite WR SG Mens
    $161.00 $230.00
    44140_From Block Cached....
  3. Primus Trail Knit FG Mens
    Primus Trail Knit FG Mens
    $175.00
    38584_From Block Cached....

3 - Eat well

Especially on a multi-day trip, food and water will likely be the heaviest part of your kit. Here are some tips for minimising weight while still refuelling well.

  • Bring more food than you think you’ll need. The last thing you want is to run out, and extra can be helpful in the event of an emergency or change of plan.
  • Focus on calorie-dense foods, to limit weight. In terms of macronutrients, fat provides nine calories per gram, whereas proteins and carbohydrates provide around four. So fats – things like nuts, seeds and cheese – are your fastpacking friends. A blend is important, though. Many fastpackers seek around 50% of their calories from fats, 30% from carbs and 20% from protein. Given your body will be working hard fastpacking, you can be more relaxed about eating more fats and carbs than usual. You’ll be immediately putting them to good use!
  • Dehydrated meals are weight-saving and easy to prepare, if you can stomach either the cost of store-bought packs or the time-consuming process of making your own (this generally requires a dehydrator). 
  • Ziploc bags are great for organising your meals and eradicating unnecessary, bulky packaging.
  • Pack your snacks in an accessible location, like a hip pocket.
  • Always identify any possible food stops en route, which can either help reduce weight or supplement your meals with fresh food.
  • Electrolyte mixes offer a fantastic, tasty way to stay hydrated.

4 - Learn to move naturally

Fastpacking isn’t normal hiking. Wild, varied terrain requires strong feet and ankles, agility, balance, and functional full-body mobility. To feel safe, nature-connected, and mindful on the trail, master the fundamentals of healthy natural movement – exactly what VivoHealth’s Barefoot Fundamentals course is for.

5 - Train for trails 

It’s hard to connect with nature when you’re panting or injured. General running fitness helps, but trail-specific fitness is better. In VivoHealth’s Discover Trail Running course, trail-running and fastpacking extraordinaire Jenny Tough teaches you everything you need to know, from running technique to training principles and building a personalised programme. 

6 - Embrace the planning

Good fastpacking means knowing your environment. You should know your route well and record it on your phone and/or GPS watch. You should also understand the terrain, weather forecast, exit points, and water sources. The way we see it, this is just another way to connect with nature. And you’re in safe feet: Discover Trail Running also teaches you to plan for both trail runs and longer fastpacks.

7 - Fastpack your front garden

Alright, not literally. But when you feel ready for your first fastpacking adventure, start with a low-stakes objective to test your kit, refine your system and identify any issues. Fastpacking your local patch is a fun, quirky way to discover something new – and can always swing by your friend’s place for a cup of tea!

Loading...