My Backpacking and Running Hobbies Get Married…

My big lug backpack Springer.  Often this got filled with tons of gear weighing up at 45 pounds.

My big lug backpack Springer. Often this got filled with tons of gear weighing up at 45 pounds.

A long time ago, in the mid nineties I had a grand idea to loose weight and get in shape by mountain biking.  I was extremely out of shape and overweight, leading me to spending more time flying over my handle bars than riding.  After several flight lessons, I sold the bike and invested in good quality backpacking gear.

I found I was not fast and often eight to nine miles of hiking took a solid morning to night effort followed by sheer exhaustion.   Often my pack topped out in the fifty pound range. For years I continued to plod forward trying to get better at backpacking, often enjoying a day of trudging through the woods for extended periods of time.  Eventually I moved to New Mexico and later found myself married.  I had pretty much left hiking and backpacking behind as life moved on and my waist increased and activity level decreased.

Two years ago I set out to change my health with the couch to 5k running program and quickly expanded the focus to completing a series of triathlons.  Little did I know when I started that this would change my life and redefine who I am and how I look at life.  So far, 2014 has been a great year for me and my goals.  I am running, biking and swimming with confidence and increasingly pushing my limits often.  While I am tortoise slow I know that I can push myself for long hours of activity and achieve great feats of endurance (for me at least).  Currently I am up to five hours of running to complete twenty miles.  One difficulty I have found in training is how to continue to push the long run mileage.

My new pack "Hawk", a small 22 liter daypack that I plan to use for multi night trail runs.

My new pack “Hawk”, a small 22 liter daypack that I plan to use for multi day/night trail runs.  This was one of the few daypacks that I found that did not have extra stuff pockets for pens and such and had more of a rucksack design.

As I was researching training strategies for going longer and further I came across an article on fastpacking.  Fastpacking is basically a marriage of trail running and backpacking with high daily mileage at its focus.  Basically, fastpacking was trail running with as light of a pack as possible for as many miles possible with at least one or more overnight stays.  The base goal was to run or speed hike multiple days, putting in higher mileage by spreading it out.  I immediately knew I had to try fastpacking… it was a merger of my new found love for trail running and my old love for backpacking.  Fastpacking could also give me a huge mileage boost and push my running limits even further.

Before I could undertake trying out fastpacking I had to figure out my gear.  Obviously I  knew I had to get a smaller and lighter pack and I had to eliminate unnecessary gear.  I found myself obsessed with everything super ultra light weight backpacking, backpacking with a base weight (shelter, sleeping and pack) under five pounds.  Most of the gear suggested was expensive so I dug to find cheaper alternatives.  I stripped all unnecessary items and eliminated any extra comforts.  In the end I had a base weight under three pounds.

My big items with ounces and pounds figured.  I did not take a tarp as there are shelters I could stay at on the Appalachian trail.  Otherwise I would have taken a seven ounce poncho/tarp.

My big items with ounces and pounds figured. I did not take a tarp as there are shelters I could stay at on the Appalachian trail. Otherwise I would have taken a seven ounce poncho/tarp.

Next I analyzed food by their weight, calories, carbohydrates and proteins.  I discerned what foods had the necessary nutrition for pound of weight and took those foods.  Most sites suggested a pound and half of food a day, but I knew I would need a bit more and in the end I ended up with just under three pounds of food for two days.

Total weights by pounds/ounces.

Total weights by pounds/ounces.

I knew gear wise I had made smart choices and with a pack weighing less than ten to fifteen pounds for two to four days I could get by with everything I had.  I had no luxury items in the pack and everything was useful in at least two ways.  The next big challenge involved planning my first trip and figuring out how many miles were truly possible.  I also had numerous pieces of untested gear and I was uncertain how this would all work.  Did I make smart decisions?  How far and fast cold I go?  These questions will be answered in the next post.

Til next time.

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6 comments

  1. […] my goal of completing multiple days of high mileage running/hiking and the gear I chose to carry (read here).  While I figured out the gear I decided I would do my running and hiking on the Appalachian […]

  2. Nice. Have you ever gone to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness? That’s my favorite place to pack it in!

    1. Is that in Minn? Thank you Sandra, maybe I need to try Canoeing next!

      1. Totally worth it. Use Sawbill Outfitters west of Tofte. Tell Bill Hansen that I sent you. 😉

  3. If I ever make way back up there I sure will. Looks like for the next year and some I am stuck in GA and parts of FLA.

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