JENNY TOUGH FASTPACKING: THE BASICS
Jenny Tough touches on the fundamentals of fastpacking, forming the basis of kit selection and expedition ethos.
Fastpacking, endurance running, runventuring, runtouring… The sport is so new and fledging that we can’t even agree on what to call it yet. Basically, fastpacking is where ultra running meets trekking – covering long distances, at a running pace, with a backpack full of kit to stay out overnight (or a few nights).
I can’t remember ever being introduced to fastpacking, but at some point in my journey to plan a world-first expedition to run across the Tien Shan mountains of Kyrgyzstan I must have discovered the eight or nine other people online who were also running in this fashion. To say we were on the fringes of the running community back then (and incredibly unpopular in the hillwalking community) would be an understatement, and that was the most exciting part.
My first ‘training run’ in the Scottish Highlands was a total failure – I packed a 36L backpack with everything I needed to last a weekend in the Highlands in April, but coming in at 14kg, I simply couldn’t hold a running pace. The extra weight loaded my legs and in less than 10km I found myself leaning heavily on my trekking poles and gasping for air. My legs and feet were sore for more than a week. Back to the drawing board…
Packing for a fastpacking expedition is all about weight. The lighter you can go, the further you can go. It’s time to get ruthless. My simple principle is that everything in my pack should fall into at least one of the following categories:
1) something I can eat,
2) something that can keep me alive,
3) a camera.
Because my particular favourite terrain is the mountains, the second category tends to become quite important and relatively bulky, so I’m usually carting a 25-30L backpack. In different environments, you can definitely go much lighter.