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Backpacking Fast and Light: Moving Efficiently in the Mountains

Posted by Kristin Arnold & Jason Denley on November 8, 2018

Fast and light. It's a trendy movement in the outdoor industry. Sometimes in the mountains speed is safety, but most of the time reducing the weight in our packs and being better physically prepared can make outdoor adventures more enjoyable, save us from unnecessary aches and pains and allow us to cover more terrain.

Here are a few ways that everyone can “lighten up,” pack more efficiently and lower the impact on their body.

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- Be Fit: Nothing will help you to move faster in the mountains more than being in good physical shape. If there is a big objective or goal you are trying to accomplish, be diligent about your training. There are reputable companies like Uphill Athlete that can design specific training programs. Cross-training is a good way to vary your workout routine.

- Move Consistently and Take Efficient Breaks: Find an “all day pace” and stay with that for 1-1.5 hours then take a 5-10 minute break. Rinse and repeat. Keeping your body moving will help you function more efficiently and keep things rolling. Make sure to eat and drink at every break even if you are not hungry or thirsty. This will keep you hydrated and fueled.

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- Choose the Appropriate Pack for Your Adventure: Try to pick a pack that is comfortable, has just enough room for the essentials, and nothing more. This will encourage you to keep your weight down. Our favorite day packs are the Deuter Speed Lite 24 SL and Speed Lite 26

- Think Like a Minimalist: Bring only the layers, equipment and nutrition you need for the trip. If you find yourself bringing a piece of gear that you consistently do not use, get rid of it! Our exception to this is a medical kit, headlamp and multi-tool.

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- Pack Efficient Nutrition: Figure out what nutrition your body needs to run effectively for long periods of time. Try calorie rich foods like nuts, nut butters and energy bars. They pack a punch and provide a lot of energy in small portions.

It takes trial and error to perfect these techniques, but continue to work towards gaining greater efficiency in the mountains every time you get out. When you can pack for an overnight trip in a 35 liter bag, be comfortable and not overly exposed, you are on your way to moving like a pro!

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