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Fastpacking: The Minimalist’s Response to Glamping

It’s Not Glamping
Running shoes, instead of hiking boots; one sleeping bag to be shared among the group; energy bars in place of hobo packs and more substantial camping food.

These are the concessions made by fans of the newest camping fad. Fastpacking is the minimalist’s response to last year’s glamping trend. Standard camping gear is traded in for the bare minimum in gear, so fastpackers can travel the trail as quickly as possible.

Pack Light
In a story about three fastpackers in Juneau, Alaska, The Bellingham Herald, a local newspaper in Washington, revealed a typical packing list.

Their packs contained only the essentials: When combined they held a single tent, a handful of Gu packets, electrolight tablets, ice axes, a length of cord, light climbing gear, one sleeping bag, running shoes and a few clothes.

With backpacks lighter than a businesswoman’s purse, it is not surprising that this trio was able to travel quickly. Rather than hiking, fastpackers essentially are trail running. These Alaskan hikers started jogging through the Juneau Icefield on a Saturday evening, reached the fifth Mendenhall Tower by Sunday morning, climbed to the summit by the afternoon, and, by midday Monday, had run back to the parking lot.

Discipline and Endurance
Hiking and camping are both normally touted as fun and relaxing activities; a person of any skill level can enjoy the outdoor fun. Fastpacking is different.

While none of the hikers in Juneau had fastpacked before, they were each in exceptional shape and were experienced in outdoor activities in the area. One was a marathon runner, another was a skilled climber and the third regularly hiked and skied the area.

Fastpacking requires the hiker to subsist on little sleep and little food. Like those men, you must be in shape and have the discipline to endure a few days without the small creature comforts—like hot food or a sleeping pad—of typical camping.

Survival of the Fittest
Because a fastpacker does not pack extra food or a change of clothes, it is necessary to be back at your car within the time period for which you pack. If a fastpacker decided to slow the pace to a basic hike, he risks being in the woods without enough food or water.

Therefore, it is not simply suggested that you have experience, discipline and endurance. If you are not in shape for a fastpacking trip, it can become a survival situation.

However, if you are up for a fastpacking trip, the fad lets hikers see more in a shorter period of time. A trail that could take a workweek can be finished in a long weekend. And that’s the beauty of fastpacking: You can enjoy more of the outdoors, more often.