Fastpacking is catching on. The freedom of traveling long distances with minimal pack weight over multiple days has influenced everything from ultrarunning and alpine ascents to long distance backpacking. With technological advances in ultralight gear, like the new Six Moon Designs Flight pack series, fastpackers can increasingly hit the trails with more comfort, and can focus on making miles with ease and without compromising safety.
The term Fastpacking was first used by Jim Knight in his 1988 100 mile, 38 hour traverse of the Wind River Range. Knight reported in an UltraRunning Magazine article, “We were wilderness running. Power hiking. Kind of backpacking, but much faster. More fluid. Neat. Almost surgical. Get in. Get out. I call it fastpacking.”
A cross between backpacking and mountain running, fastpacking has increasingly been featured in the media in the form of speed records, and three distinct styles have emerged: supported, self-supported, and unsupported.
We caught up with Brandon “B-Rad” Flanagan for Six Moon Design’s inaugural 10 Questions post. Brandon has been using the Flight 30 on his adventures around Central Oregon, and it sounds like he just might take it with him on the CDT next year.
1) How did you get started backpacking?
I was lucky to grow up in Central Oregon with miles of forest out my back door. I'd load up the old external frame pack, strap on the cotton sleeping bag and grub down on a few cans of chili. Those were the days.
2) What is your favorite piece of gear?
I love my Black diamond trekking poles. Not only do they keep me from falling on my face but they are great for poking hiking partners, Drawing in the dirt and clearing spider webs from the trail.
You have completed your ultralight set-up, now it’s time to hit the trail, but unless you have had your sights set on a particular long distance trail, where to go?
West Highland Way - 96 Miles, Scotland, UK
As the first officially designated long distance trail in Scotland, the West Highland Way was completed in 1980, but was a known travel route long before as the path follows many ancient roads through lowland moors, dense woodland and rolling hills into the high mountainous regions of the Scottish Highlands.
Four years ago the trail was recognized as part of the International Appalachian Trail (IAT). Geological evidence supports the existence of the supercontinent Pangaea, which until 100,000 million years ago connected the Appalachian mountain range in the U.S. to Western Europe and North Africa. The drifting of the continents separated the range, and today are united by efforts of the IAT.
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