Fastpacking Gear Discussion

On this page


The type of shelter you need for multi-day backcountry trips has a lot to do with where you’ll be traveling. Our trips are located in Northern California during the summer, where weather is generally mild. For many of our trips, we are able to bring simple mesh tent bug shelters. For trips where rain is possible we have ultra light two person free standing tents. We aim for our shelters to weigh less than 16 ounces per person.

Sleeping Bags and Pad

Much like your shelter, the choice of what type of sleeping bag and pad to pack has a lot to do with the expected weather and climate where you are traveling. There are many ultra light sleeping options that can allow you to comfortably snooze in temperatures as low as 35 degrees F, which is more than sufficient for our trips. We shoot for our sleep system to weigh in right around 24oz per person (approx. 12-16oz for the sleeping bag and 8-12oz for the pad).


Some people think that fastpacking must be about deprivation, only eating granola bars and olive oil, moving as fast as you can. This could not be further from the truth. Fastpacking can be what you want it to be. And if you are like us and enjoy eating quality meals out on the trail, then a cook system is a must. We use some of the lightest weight canister stoves available, along with titanium pots. For our weekend trips we are able to keep our entire cooking systems to about 10oz per person (stove, fuel, pot, spoon, and mug or bowl). We DO cook meals from scratch, rather than throwing boiling water into a bag.


A fastpack is categorically different from a backpacking pack, and it’s not all about weight. What we look for in a good fastpack is one which allows for minimal bounce while jogging while loaded. This can be a hard feat to accomplish, but newer designs have come a long way. We also look for packs with ample storage and pocketing in the front of the pack so that you can access food, water, maps, and accessories without having to stop and take off your pack. Finally, our fastpacks are lower volume than even many of the smaller ultralight backpacks. We look for packs between 25 and 35 liters weighing between 16-24oz.


Light weight trekking poles are a highly suggested piece of gear for all guests who come on our trips. They help a great deal to distribute the work load on climbs, and to give added balance and reduced impact on steep technical descents. There are a number of options for carbon trekking poles in both fixed length and adjustable styles. The fixed length poles are lighter, less liable to break, and often all you need, but many people do opt for adjustable poles as well. Poles should weight between 8-10oz per pair.


Bringing the right clothing system for your fastpacking trip is where you will likely be able to make the most difference in your pack’s weight and your comfort living in the outdoor environment. Much like your shelter and sleeping bag, the clothes you choose to bring have a lot to do with expected weather conditions. The Northern Californian summer allows us to pare down our clothing kit and cut significant weight. With clothes for a fastpacking mission, less is often more. We don’t bring a lot of “extras.” One pair of shorts and one shirt. Yes, you might smell bad by the final day, but so will everyone else. We bring one wind/water resistant layer, one warmer mid layer on top, and one on bottom. One hat or buff, and TWO pairs of socks (socks are often the most important piece of clothing you’ll bring).

If we expect rain, we will adjust our kit to make sure we are prepared for this possibility. The goal is to bring exactly the right clothes to be comfortable living outside for days at a time, and nothing extra.


Maybe the biggest key to successfully prepping for your fastpacking trip is to cut out the extraneous items. We DO bring a first aid kit, but these will be carried by the guides! They will also have a couple lengths of thin cord to use for bear hangs for the group. A small headlamp is a must. A smart phone kept in airplane mode works well for mapping, navigation, and taking pictures. A bit of sun screen and anti chafe will help, but not the whole tub.

What’s included on our guided fastpacking trips?

Signing up for a trip with Wilderness Fastpacking means you can rest easy. We provide appropriate shelters, sleeping bags, pads, and cookware for all our guests. We also have fastpacks and poles available to rent. During the lead up to our guided trips we provide our guests with a detailed list of what to pack and what NOT to pack.