Blog post by Sophie Nicholson

Fastpacking Gear Guide: 13 Ultralight Backpacking Essentials

If you want to go further, faster, higher and deeper into the wilderness you need to leave the huge packs behind, carry only the essentials and make sure that your kit is lightweight, technical and ultra-packable. This becomes even more of a priority in mid-to-late summer when afternoon thunderstorms and shorter days can catch you by surprise.

Here is a picture of the gear we used on a recent 4 day ‘fastpacking’ (mountain running/backpacking) trip in the Beaufortain region of the French Alps.

Key items described below:

1. UltraAspire Titan 2.0 Pack

A lightweight, large capacity pack designed for multi-day and ultra running adventures.

Excellent adjustable race vest-style fit and clever features such as trekking pole attachments, separate hydration sleeve, whistle, large front pockets for water bottles and nutrition etc. Weighs

2. La Sportiva Akasha Trail Shoes

Comfortable, high volume shoe ideal for longer days where protection and cushioning are key.

6mm drop, less rigid than other La Sportiva mountain running shoes.

3. Patagonia Houdini Jacket

Weather resistant, incredibly lightweight trail running shell.

Packs into its own pocket and weighs just 93g.

4. Salomon S-Lab Exo Skort

Lightweight trail-specific running skort with supportive inner shorts designed for postural control.

If you’re a skort sceptic, give this one a try – we’re definitely converts!

5. Arc’teryx Visor

Essential for summer – keeps the sun and sweat out of your eyes.

6. Helinox Passport Trekking Poles

Ultra lightweight, compact poles imperative for steep and technical Alpine terrain.

328g per pair.

7. Suunto Ambit 3 Vertical Watch

Multisport GPS watch with heart rate monitor and trail running specific setting.

Plan your route, track elevation gain, and share your stats with other adventure nuts.

8. SPOT Gen3 GPS Device

Pocket sized personal locator beacon for when you have no mobile phone reception – a regular occurrence in the mountains!

Tell family/friends that you’re ok or send the emergency services your GPS location with one push of a button.

9. Haglofs Dry Bags

Used to carry change of clothes, waterproofs, first aid kit, survival blanket, headtorch, sleeping bag liner, hat, gloves, nutrition, toiletries, ear plugs, phone, wallet etc

10. Salomon Soft Flasks

x2 500ml compressible, space-saving water bottles.

Easy to store on front of pack so you can monitor fluid consumption.

11. Buff

Excellent for wiping sweat out of your eyes, using as mini-towel or extra sun protection for neck/shoulders

12. Kindle

Moving fast means you get to the refuge way before anyone else so you’ll need to keep yourself entertained…

13. Tennis Ball

For working out knots and massaging sore muscles after another tough day on the trail

Other items – The North Face Summit Series warm lightweight synthetic jacket, Thyo socks, Cebe sunglasses, Maloja running top, and Nike running leggings for hut wear and/or emergency protection.


If you’re keen to try fastpacking for the first time or are looking for inspiration for your next backpacking adventure, get in touch and we’ll get you moving!