anatomy of a fastpack

Discussion in 'Backpacking' started by mtwarden, Aug 19, 2018.

  1. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I don't think there is any formal definition of a fastpack, but for my use it's a trip that is done in less time than "normal". Usually I'm contemplating a fastpack due to time constraints- I want to go somewhere and I just don't have enough time. Enter the fastpack- it's more miles/day (and generally faster miles).

    I've gone across the Bob Marshall (all the way across) several times participating in the Bob Marshall Open and worked as a Wilderness Ranger (several decades ago), but have not been to the Chinese Wall, have been close, have seen it, but not up close. There were a couple of years my route in the Open was close, but to shave time, I went around one way or another.

    Next weekend (God willing!) I'm hoping to end the Chinese Wall drought :) I'm going with a couple of buddies who also haven't been to the Wall either.

    First we poured over our Bob Maps, several ways to approach it- all long. We prefer to do loops, but there wasn't a loop that wasn't approaching 75+ miles. Well if we stuck to trails anyways. We came up with a route (lollipop loop) that would follow trails along the base of the Wall, but we would then go off trail, make a big climb and get on top of the Wall.

    After more pouring over maps, we determined that it would be best to use the trail at the base first, the other option was to make the climb earlier and then drop down to the trail. There are no reliable water sources on top of the Wall, plenty along the trail. Our thinking is go light on the water on day 1 until we need to climb, water up what were empty containers, make the climb and then camp. The next morning we'll traverse the Wall in the coolest part of the day.

    Rough outline of our route, just under 30 miles/day. Fitness level is definitely going to play a role in deciding what is realistic and what is just fantasy. We routinely train together and have traversed the Bob together, so we have a very good idea what's doable, what's not.

    [​IMG]

    If you haven't used Caltopo- try it. You can play around with the layers to give you a great sense of what to expect, including satellite imagery, past fires, shade sloping and a whole lot more. The price is right too- it's free.

    Obviously there is an advantage in going light when bigger miles are the goal. The overall goal is to go light as possible without sacrificing safety. This is big time grizzly country, so bear spray isn't optional. It's also probably the remotest country in the lower 48, so satellite communication is a very (very) good idea. We'll have an InReach device with us.

    We'll have both paper maps/compass and gps to navigate.

    Weather is unpredictable here, so rain gear, regardless of forecasts, is a given. Temperatures are also highly variable, not unusual to see temps near 80 during the day and freezing at night, so clothing/shelter/sleep choices are crucial. The idea is to cut it close, but not too close :4:

    While you can't rely on any forecast, you can get a much better idea by using the National Weather Service zone forecasts vs your local stations- I'll usually pick a couple that are nearby where our route takes us. In addition, in the West there are numerous Snotel sites- remote weather stations scattered across the west. I'll pick a couple of these sites which show almost real time temperature, snow depth, etc. You can go back as well (years) and get a good idea what you might expect.

    This is an example of a zone forecast, Mount Lockhart (6400'), that's relatively close to where our route is:

    https://forecast.weather.gov/MapClick.php?lon=-112.8350830078125&lat=47.82864286059433#.W3oX9xZMHYV

    When attempting almost any route I will try and find out if there is any additional information via the web of other folks who have done it. You can often learn some really valuable beta from reading these reports- water sources that aren't on a map, tricky navigation, hazards, short cuts, etc.

    I haven't found much in the way on reports as far as our off trail section goes, but still looking.

    I'm going through gear right now and have some choices I need to make. Anyways, seems like the devil is always in the details :)
     
  2. GoKartz

    GoKartz Sharpaholic

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    I look forward to following you along on this. 30 mile days are outside my wheelhouse - even 25 mile days in low country would probably be beyond me right now! Do you know what type of weight you're looking at? What pack are you planning on using? I notice a lot of people for fastbacks seem to go the ultralight route and opt for frameless packs - in particular I'm thinking of the Ultimate Direction Fastback.

    Anyways, have fun! Be safe on the Wall!
     
  3. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    hoping somewhere in the 10-12 lb range all in (including food/water), the weight is going to go up for the climb as I'll be adding 2 liters (4.4 lbs) of water that I won't be carrying up to that point (just a 20 oz bottle)

    yup- the pack is a UD Fastpack 30, they've since changed them to either 25 or 35 liters, but the same basic design- frameless, vest style harness (carries very nicely and if the weight is low enough you can run w/ it), good organization on the vest portion, roll top, pretty light- a little under 20 oz
     
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  4. petey091

    petey091 Scout

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    I got to see part of the Chinese Wall from a distant this July. We hiked in to the North Fork of the Sun River and packrafted out. I would love to see it up close.
     
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  5. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    North Fork of the Sun is gorgeous- we hiked up it a long stretch this May on the Open
     
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  6. Sargent

    Sargent Bushwhacker Vendor

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    @mtwarden love what you do. This is the kind of stuff I dream about and do on a way smaller scale. Learned a lot from you.
     
  7. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    thanks for the kind words Brian; maybe we can put together a trip in the future :)
     
  8. Vilke

    Vilke Guide

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    Looking forward to hearing more. I’m too old to even think about trying 30 miles a day but wish you the best.
     
  9. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker Supporter

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    Inspirational stuff. Keeping a quick pace like that must be at least 10 hours of moving a day.... maybe one day I will have the cardio for that, WOW!
     
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  10. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    @mtwarden your my official outdoor backpacking hero :) i as well have learned a ton from you and can only hope one day i could do even some of the stuff you get to do on a fairly regular basis, truly inspiring and at least always me to live vicariously through you! besides in my dreams.... which what you do is the stuff my dreams are made up of now a days.... when i was younger it was flying acrobat airplanes or fighter jets now it's back to my original love of the outdoors :)

    the other thing i need to over come is convincing my wife to let me do these trips which she's already told she'd let me go if i go with someone or in a group just not alone... she wants someone with me in case something happens..... which i can respect
     
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  11. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub

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    Following with interest. Gear dump before you start out?
     
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  12. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    thanks gents!

    yup- long days are the key to getting miles, to a much lesser degree- speed; you can only go so fast with a pack on- you’ll quickly find out that if you go too fast, then you can’t get the time in needed, simply burn out

    yup definitely a gear dump/list before I go :)
     
  13. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker Supporter

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    I can definitely get started early. I just need more stamina and reliance on lighter weight gear to sustain myself for days like that.

    The last time I remember days of that length were 12 hours days at Philmont Scout Ranch...... with 50 pounds on my back! :eek:

    As tough as that was, I miss that type of pain at the end of the day. :)
     
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  14. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I’m having a little debate with myself :4:

    I’ve locked in my shelter- MLD sil Grace tarp (17 ounces w/guys/stakes/short carbon rear pole) with a MLD lightweight (cuben bottom) 5 oz.

    The struggle is with my sleep system, will use a TR Neoair Xlite short (7.5 oz) and my pack below that at the foot end. The quilt/bag is my quandary. I would love to use my 48 degree (MLD Spirit) Apex quilt as it weighs a mere 12 oz. Temps at 6400’ (Mt Lockhart linked above) are calling for low 40’s- we’ll be about 1000’ above that.

    The bivy definitely helps, and I have a 2 oz bivy/liner that would help as well.

    Would definitely bring my Apex hooded pullover as an insulating layer which would help too.

    My safer options are my 30 degree Apex quilt or 30 degree down bag- both in the 22-23 oz range. Probably the nod going to the down as it packs smaller.

    What I need is a 40 degree quilt! :4:
     
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  15. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    i've been saying the same thing! i've been debating over the 40 or 50 degree.... synthetic or down....

    i'd go EE reg/wide since i'm a side sleeper .....
    a 40deg synthetic is 18.75oz. a 50 deg is 12.4oz
    a 40deg 850 fill down is 14.75oz. a 50 deg is 11.6oz
     
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  16. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I should probably sell the 50 as we really don’t have much 50 degree overnight stuff even in the summer

    40 I could stretch to 30 relatively harmlessly if need be :) 50 much tougher
     
  17. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    very true

    my nights very depending on the season and type of year we are having.......
    winters can be below zero to 20's
    falls can be 30-50's
    summers can be 50-70's
    springs can be 30-40's

    oh and springs, falls and late winters can be 20-60's easily with late summer getting into the 50's.... we are all over the dang place!!
     
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  18. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    almost talked myself back in to the 48 degree quilt, but a check of Mt Lockhart showed a temp of 28 degrees this morning, so will stick with the down bag

    we’re going to camp at the trailhead Friday night so we can get an early start in the morning

    going to get everything packed tonight and will snap a couple of pics and post up a gear list
     
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  19. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    got my food squared away- one breakfast, one supper, two lunches, and lots of snacks for on the trail
    snacks are Mojo bars and various fig bars- 1800 calories (900/day)
    supper is a packitgourmet meal w/ a few extra olive oil packets- 750 calories
    lunches are butthole sandwiches (bagel, peanut butter, bacon, honey)- 1000 calories (500/day)
    w/ Snickers bars- 500 calories (250/day)
    breakfast is granola w/ whole milk (300 calories), Erin's breakfast cookie (300) and Via mocha mixed w/ Via coffee (150)- 750 calories
    so roughly 4800 calories split between two days

    weight is 30 oz for food

    [​IMG]
     
  20. ra2bach

    ra2bach Bushmaster

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    haha, I have 20* and 30* down quilts, a 40* Apex that weighs the same as my 30* down, and a 50* Primaloft Gold quilt that weighs in at 10oz. you can never have too many quilts... :4:
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
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  21. riverrunner

    riverrunner Scout

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    Sounds like an awesome robost trip... following along!
     
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  22. vdeal

    vdeal Scout

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    If you look back through Ryan Jordan's blog (Backpacking Light guy) he did a group trek like you're talking about with a portion along the top of the Wall. Might get some info there.
     
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  23. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    nice :) I'm pretty sure by next year I will be adding one :4:

    thanks, I'll look into that!
     
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  24. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    Alright here's a shot of my gear before packed- everything laying on my FF UL Kestrel bag (30 degrees); at the bottom Xlite pad-short; next to it my shelter MLD Grace tarp (rear pole shown, front is a trekking pole); above my 1 oz pillow w/ polycro ground cloth; food bag w/ bear hang inside; cook set- 700 ti pot/lid, giga stove, fuel, plastic cup (bottom of a vitamin container), spoon; trekking poles to the side- BD carbon z-poles; above the poles rain jacket (rain mitts inside); EE Apex hooded vest; 2 liter Platy bottle; rest of my clothing windshirt, windpants, beanie, fleece mitts, spare socks (for sleeping); bear spray, inReach, toiletries in a pouch, essentials in a cuben dry sack (fire kit, first aid, repair kit, headlamp, tp) and the pack at the top- UD Fastpack 30 liter

    [​IMG]

    loaded- the big stretch pocket w/ rain gear and windpants, one side stretch pocket w/ windshirt and bear spray, the other cook kit

    [​IMG]

    front of the pack- 20 oz bottle on upper right, larger zipped pocket upper left- inReach, paper map/compass, iphone, stretch pocket lower left- snacks, lower right zipped pocket- sunscreen, anti-chafe, lip balm, electrolytes

    [​IMG]

    all in w/ food and water (20 oz bottle + ~ 1 liter in the Platy)

    [​IMG]
     
  25. GoKartz

    GoKartz Sharpaholic

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    Can’t wait to see how your trip goes! I’m sure you’ve already started but good luck, be safe, and have fun!
     
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  26. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    thanks; nope- have to work today, will leave after work, camp at the trailhead this evening and take off early tomorrow morning :)
     
  27. ra2bach

    ra2bach Bushmaster

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    the Primaloft Gold quilt that I have is a prototype made Bill Townsend for Ultralight/Speed hikers --https://thisgearsforyou.com/

    It's super light and super compact and really innovative - he uses uninsulated "wings" to increase the width without increasing weight to block drafts while laying on a mat. he rates it at 45* on the ground but I use it in a hammock so I call it a 50* quilt there.

    Anyway, he's got small kids and moved recently, and of course, he's got a day job so he's not making any more till he gets his feet under him so you can't buy one but I'd be happy to send mine to you to try out to see if it would work for this trip, just PM me an address and I'll get it out ASAP...

    EDIT: oh crap, somehow I missed that you were leaving this weekend. :25:

    if it makes you feel any better I'd still recommend the 30* down quilt even if you already had the Primaloft quilt in hand. mountain weather can ruin your day...

    the offer still stands, by the way. send me an address and I'll send it to you for T&E. good luck/stay safe...
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
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  28. vdeal

    vdeal Scout

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    @mtwarden

    Here's the link to Ryan Jordan's trip. I think this is bigger than what you're doing but they do hit the Chinese Wall - with Boy Scouts to boot. Should find some info there. Just keep clicking through the posts. Day 6 is where the Wall stuff starts.
     
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  29. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    @ra2bach thanks for the offer, like the idea of the additional “wings”- drafts blow (literally :4:) not much of a weight penalty

    our “warm” season is over, so it’ll be 8-9 months before I could start thinking about a warm weather quilt :)

    @vdeal thanks I’ll peruse that today!
     
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  30. WhisperInThePine

    WhisperInThePine Wubba lubba dub dub

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    My compliments on that food. I'm preparing for an overnighter this weekend as I scout an area for deer season. Pairing down food weight is still something I'm struggling with.
     
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  31. GoKartz

    GoKartz Sharpaholic

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    When you be back?!
     
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  32. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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  33. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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  34. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    I've had the UD 30 for about three years and with numerous overnighters. Solid pack all around; I've seen the ULA one but no experience with it at all. I did own a ULA ohm and that was a very (very) good pack- no doubt there fastpack is too :)
     
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  35. M.Hatfield

    M.Hatfield Midnight Joker Supporter

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    Saw a group of fastpackers heading into the backcountry yesterday. They were near Slough Creek in Lamar Valley and it was easy to tell after watching this thread and your TR. :)
     
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  36. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    ^ you better be going fast in the Lamar- lots of apex predators there :4:
     
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  37. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    here's the gear list from my fastpack in the Bob

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  38. mtwarden

    mtwarden roaming the Big Sky Supporter

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    it was actually heavier than that as I threw in my mid-layer fleece (Patagonia thermal weight hoody 8.5 oz) Saturday morning due to mid 20's temps and also a 1 liter Platy full as I was unsure on water sources- 2.2 lbs

    so closer 15 lbs total pack weight

    I also took a gamble and didn't pack my lightweight bivy as the weather forecast looked dry (it actually drizzled on us almost all Saturday night)- in hindsight, that was foolish. If it would have been breezy, I could have easily gotten my bag wet. With a tarp, a lightweight bivy should always be thrown in.
     
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  39. GoKartz

    GoKartz Sharpaholic

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    Thanks for taking the time to do that! I’ll be studying this later so I can steal all your tricks and become a super awesome fast packer too!
     
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