The 5 Pieces of Gear to Bring on a Fastpacking Trip

Many of us are searching for an adventure on our own two feet. Maybe it’s a race, maybe it isn’t. In the end what we want is exploration, challenge and a good time. Here’s where fastpacking comes in. The “Highest Hundred” project’s Justin Simoni calls fastpacking “the space between ultra running and backpacking.” A strong resolve and endurance are requisite but how about gear; what’s the right mix for being prepared, safe and happy without being so burdened that you lose speed and fun? Today’s blog post author–UD ambassador Jen Segger–has been planning and executing fastpacking trips for years. Here are five items, in Jen’s words, that will help you get started on multi-day fastpacking trips.

1. Pack Choice
“I’ve been using the Ultimate Direction FastPack 35 for 3 years now and it gets me through a 3 day trip with comfort. Sometimes I will opt for my FastPack 45 when more space is needed. I always recommend a 2 bottle system (or even just 1 pending your location and water access) instead of a bladder as filling in streams is much easier. One bottle can be purifying while the other is for drinking. The pockets on UD Fastpacks holds bottles perfectly. I love the large mesh external pockets for carrying all the essentials that you need quick access to (jacket, food, map, In-Reach, hat etc.).”

Tony Krupicka wears the UD Fastpack

Photo: Fred Marmsater

2. Sleeping Bag & Thermapad
“Look for a lightweight, warm and yet compressible sleeping bag. Don’t go so lightweight that you will freeze at night. Remember that your body has been working hard all day so you will sleep colder and will still be burning calories. My current thermapad is the Exped Downmat HL Winter which we used to cross Baffin Island two years ago during a winter expedition. For a sleeping bag I use a -7 C degree bag because I sleep ‘cold.'”

Jen Segger Fastpacking

3. Bivy & Tarp
“After using an alpine bivy that was good for all elements, I wanted to find a lighter weight option that wouldn’t take up as much space in my bag. I was very excited when Ultimate Direction came out with the new FK Bivy. It’s super lightweight, taking up virtually no pack space. I also appreciate the fact that the fabric will not sit right on your head. The quick set up bubble is perfect for good sleep. Pair this with the FK Tarp for a super quick and easy set up in bad weather. And get this, you can use your trekking poles (I use the Black Diamond Z) to stand it up.”

Fred Marmsater UD Fastpack

Photo: Fred Marmsater

4. Cooking & Food Prep
“The only way to go (in my opinion) is a JetBoil for heating water. The JetBoil makes the most sense with the boil time being anywhere from 2-3 minutes. Carrying only 1 canister of fuel and using the JetBoil as the pot is perfect. You can even use the Jetboil as a coffee press (most come with this attachment). For food, my main meals are eaten right out of dehydrated bags and I carry a small mug that can be used for drinking or eating. A “spork” is all you need to complete your fastpack kitchen. I’ve recently spent time looking to see what new food products are out on the market that are healthy and NOT full of crap. Here are two brands that you might want to look at: Good Too-Go and Nomad Nutrition. Both are tasty and you will feel good about what you are consuming.”

Jen Segger UD Fastpacking

5. Lighting
I don’t mess around with lighting on any adventure. In fact, I consider it to be one of the essential items for success and safety so whatever you do, DO NOT skimp of having a reliable light. If you run a disposable battery unit, of course be sure to bring extra batteries. I’m in love with Lupine Lights; I’ve come to rely on their incredible 1200+ lumen output for fast movement on the trails during the night. I use the Piko set-up and love it (it’s lightweight and waterproof and pumps out huge light.) I always carry 2 batteries with me on any outing.”

Jen Segger UD Fastpacking

UD Athletes Establishing New FKTs

As FKTs gain more and more recognition in the sport of trail/mountain/ultra running, bigger, tougher, and faster routes are being established. The sky is the limit for the FKTs we have witnessed recently. The UD Team is proud to have some athletes that are creating and completing incredible routes.

Scott Jurek

Scott stands within view of Mt. Katahdin, the last climb of the Appalachian Trail.

Scott stands within view of Mt. Katahdin, the last climb of the Appalachian Trail.

Scott completed his “masterpiece,” a nearly 2,200 mile quest on the Appalachian trail, spanning from Georgia to Maine in 46 days, eight hours and eight minutes on Sunday, July 12, surpassing the previous record by just over 3 hours. Check out Scott’s Signature Series of UD products, complete with our best-selling Ultra Vest.

Justin Simoni

Justin Simoni lets out a victory cry after conquering all of Colorado's 14ers on the Tour 14er. He is pictured wearing the Fastpack 30.

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Triple Trek pt2

10 o’clock at night, standing alone on the bank of the Colorado River in full flood stage.  Can I swim across?  Theoretically, yes.  Emotionally, no.  I conducted an inventory of my emotional reserves and made a rational decision:  I’m not going.  I measured, and my cajones weren’t big enough.

Span Bot

This trip I had brought a Space Blanket, so wrapped myself up in that and slept soundly, while learning that sleeping in a Space Blanket keeps you both remarkably warm and remarkably wet, becoming quickly soaked in your own perspiration.

Next morning I hiked upstream to allow for the fast current, eased myself into the brown water, and swam across with no incident, and without regretting the previous nights decision.  I busted butt up Red Lake Canyon (what lake?), across the various fins and valleys the Needles are renowned for, including the infamous Elephant Hill jeep road, reaching Squaw Flat Campground by mid-morning where I had a friend waiting for me with food supplies for the rest of the route.

Except instead of my friend, there was a note pinned to the campground sign which read: “You didn’t show up so I left.  Hope everything is OK.”

No food and 45 more miles to go wasn’t that OK. Kaput again. Busted.  Without further ado I put out my thumb and began the long hitchhike back to my car, pleased that I had extended the route, but also noticing that by failing at Spanish Bottom last year I got a direct boat ride back to the start, while failing at Squaw Flat meant it would take hours to hitch all the way around.  My second ride was pretty good though, peaceful because there was no radio in the car.  I asked why, and he explained he stole the car two days ago and had already sold the radio.


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The Royal Arch Loop – Grand Canyon

It’s 5am on April 17, when a Ford F250 pulls into the dark parking lot. Peter Bakwin and I say hello to Elaine, who fills us in on local lore while driving an hour and half out to Pasture Wash, where we are dropped off by an abandoned cabin. We shoulder our packs and navigate straight west across the flat and featureless plateau until the abrupt vertical cliffs. Vertical indeed – it’s 6,000 feet down to the Colorado River – it’s not called the Grand Canyon for nothing. We’re looking for a very interesting way down thru the Toroweap sandstone, called the Point Huitzil route, a hidden route that we turned up while researching on the Internet. This connects with the Royal Arch Loop, way out on the west end of the Park, which I’ve been wanting to do for decades. Then we’re going to walk the Tonto Rim back to Hermits Rest. Total distance: about 70 miles. 2.5 days. We just have to make it the next few hundred meters.

“We have an unknown distance yet to run, an unknown river to explore. What falls there are, we know not; what rocks beset the channel, we know not; what walls ride over the river, we know not. Ah, well! We may conjecture many things.”

– John Wesley Powell, 1869


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