scenery from some fastpacking and running adventures

Fastpacking in Bearitory

Sometimes you might want to go on a backpacking trip but at a faster pace while staying light and nimble. This is what fastpacking is for me.

I love to run and hike in the mountains all across the state of Colorado. One week I may head into the wilderness with a 65 liter pack, comfortable sleeping bag, air mattress and lots of food for a few nights and the next week I may bring the bare minimum for a single night and moving fast.

“I am always eating!” a 5 minute break after a successful search and rescue mission to refuel

Being search and rescue, even my lightest pack is usually heavier than most as I tend to be overprepared. I like knowing I can take things with me that won’t waste my already limited space. Having the smaller BearVault BV425-Sprint is perfect because in areas where canisters are required, it is still small enough to fit inside my pack with all my other gear and hold all the food I need for a night or two.

I also keep the BV425 in my car if I’m in bear country and will be out on an adventure all day or camping in my car. It’s nice peace of mind that the sweet smells of sugary snacks and a tasty sandwich will be kept inside the vault and not making my car smell like a challenging vending machine to animals.

I usually carry gels, gummies, bars, hydration and a sandwich or two on my fastpacking adventures. It’s not the most glamorous of food choices (I dream of carrying a charcuterie board in my bag one day) but it’s light, I can pack a ton in the vault or my bag, and meet my caloric needs.

BV425-Sprint in the wild
BV425 in the wild.

If you’re thinking about trying fast packing – go for it! You don’t need any specialized equipment and can make most of your existing gear work. Over time you will probably find you want certain things that differ from your backpacking gear but maybe you won’t. Don’t think that you need to run the whole time!!!

That one took me a frustrating minute to figure out. Plenty of people mix in hiking with running and some people even just hike at a faster pace than they would while backpacking. Here in Colorado we have lots of steep mountains that are great for hiking up and then adding in some speed and turnover on the downhills – fastpacking is what you want to make of it.

Fastpacking gear is versatile. Other than the added helmet and sleeping bag removed, this is the same gear I use while fastpacking

My personal gear consists of more trail running oriented equipment. A large capacity pack designed for fastpacking. It fits like a running vest, sits higher on my back, has no real structure and hugs my body tight for minimum bounce. I wear the same trail running shoes that I run short or long distances and even hike in. With me are always the 10 essentials, a super lightweight sleeping bag and a tarp will for sleeping, some lightweight and breathable layers for rain and cold (plan to get sweaty when fast packing), and nutrition and hydration. 

Remember that your nutrition requirements will be different when fastpacking as you are usually burning more calories and usually require more hydration. Also eating and drinking while running can take some real trial and error to figure out what works for you and keeps your stomach happy.

Running the 4 Pass Loop. While we ran it in a day it, this is my same setup minus the sleeping bag in my pack that I would use for an overnight

Hopefully this inspires some of you to get out there and try fastpacking. And if anyone brings along a charcuterie in their BV while running, I want to see those photos!

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