Packing It In

Hi all, I’m looking for some reader input here. I’m serious about trying out the fast packing/really long unsupported run thing, but as I stated earlier, I know next to nothing about this realm and don’t really know anyone who has. (It seems to be a much more common practice out West.) I’m clueless on both practice and the gear. In time I’ll read up on practice and will learn much on the trail itself (through both successes and failures), so right now I’m focusing on learning the gear.

The first piece of kit I’d like to pick up is a back… it seems like a great place to start. I’d also like to test my pack out before I take it on some 100 mile backwoods adventure! There are a ton of fastpacking and ultralight packs out there but most appear to bulky (generic fast packing ones) or to stripped down (ultralight) to be useful for running. Therefore, unless I learn something much different in my research, I’m going to start with gear designed specifically for runners, adventure racers, and mountain bikers. It appears that Nathan makes two suitable non-winter packs, the HPL #759 (the Thatcher pack) and the HPL #063 (the Horton pack). Anyone ever use these or know of anyone who has? I’d love an input you or they have. Anyone have any experience/recommendations regarding both runnable packs suitable for either overnight (lots of gear but no sleeping bag) or longer (with bag/shelter/etc.) outings?

There are 7 comments

  1. Sparkles

    Bryon,Not so sure about recent developments, but I think you're on the right track looking for a pack designed for (quick) movement. I tried to do some quick multi-day trail run/hikes a few years back, but I tried to use my climbing pack and it was pretty bouncy. That said, I think it'll be tough to find something that will carry much weight and not bounce a bit. It will be very key to keep weight to a bare minimum. With that in mind, assuming you're talking about trails in the East (which tend to have lotsa shelters) I'd eschew a tent. At most, you need a very light tarp. Less than a pound. And if you're only going out for a couple of days, don't even bother with the tarp if the weather looks good. Don't cook. It sucks not to, but you can save a ton of weight. Iodine tabs, no filter. You can get a sleeping bag that weighs a pound, provided you only go when it's fairly warm. Don't bring a jacket; wear the sleeping bag in the evenings. You need very little clothing if you're only going for a couple days; just get stinky.If you really focus on carrying as little as possible, your backpack matters less and less. Either one of those Nathan packs looks great; the larger one is probably the better bet.

  2. jeffrey wilbur

    Bryon – For what its worth heres my 2cents. My background is in backpacking/mountaineering while now ultras keep those endorphin craving brain cells occupied. While going as light as possible is the goal – a certain amount of weight needs to be carried and the biggest difference between the packs you mention and some of the better backpacking ones lies in their weight distribution. Not having run in the Nathans Im only going from looks and store try ons – but most of the dedicated running packs put a larger part of the load onto the shoulders – feels good at first but by the end of a long day (depending on weight) it can inhibit breathing, impinge on blood flow to arms/hands etc. Wider straps help – but if you put most of the weight onto the hips (like a backpack) you can almost alleviate this. My preference would be to find the size pack you think you need and shop from there – for me Gregory makes some of the best packs and are highly adaptable for running. I have used one at Hardrock for the past few yrs (no crew, no pacer so I carry more than normaly do) Look at something like their anti-grav series Reactor. The only thing they dont have is a bladder – but I find filling bladders while on the trail a pain so I use bottles anyway. Also, the narrower profile seems to help with the weight distribution for running – I wear mine so that the shoulder straps are mainly for balance, while the hips are carrying the weight.Something you might want to play with, test out before launching into your adventure -Good Luck, Jeff Wilbur

  3. Anonymous

    Hey Trailgoat,This is Aaron Sorensen for BPL.Let me see. I first started running distance about 7 years ago but only in the past 3 years have really taken it to the limits.I also started Adventure Racing about 6 years ago and completed Primal Quest in Moab last year, (the hard race ever put on in the U.S.).I started off doing 50K's then eventually got most of my training runs over 25 miles and started going 50+ from there.It easy once your body gets used to it and you don't push your self so hard that your body gets injured.This year I went for the JMT Unsupported record, (and without resupply, but not knowing enough about what my feet need for such a rocky trial end my attempt at mile 120, but was only 2 hours behind the record pace even with my feet killing me over the past day and a half. I also started the hike with my pack weighing less than 16 pounds.I know I can do the trail in under 5 days but Mike, (who started the same time I did smashed the record and it is now at 4 days 5 hours and 25 minutes.We, Mike and I, just got through hiking the TRT and will both go for the U/Suppoted & w/out resupply record next year. This time I will go first, because I know he can wipe me out if I tried to keep up with him.I may try for the record in the same fashion Twittmyer did, (w/out sleeping) to try to get the record under 50 hours and give Mike a run for his money. My best advise for you is to not buy everything at once.You need to learn how to go with out more than going with the lightest out there.I sometimes say, all you need is food water and just enough loft to keep you warm. Everything else is just extra weight.All multi-day hikes are is a multiple long day hike with sleeping gear added. try to make that piece only two items to add to what you need, an 1/8" ground cloth and a lite synthetic bag. Make your bag just warm enough to keep you down to the minimum temp you may encounter with all of your cloths on.Do not buy extra sleeping cloths.Hey,Send me another BLP Msg with your email and even PH# if you want to talk about this in more detail.Aaron

  4. Trail Goat

    Andy, thanks for the info and thanks for stopping by. Please let me know if there's anything else you'd find helpful whether it be related to what I've already posted or something else entirely.

  5. Chris

    I'd call the famous Dr. David Horton at Liberty U. While he did all of his long distance races with support, he probably knows a ton about the subject. He holds the record for fastest time on the AT as well as the Pacific Crest Trail, and the 3rd fastest across the US. He is one of the nicest and friendliest ultra runners around.

  6. Trail Goat

    Chris,Great minds think alike. While I haven't called Dr. Horton, I have emailed him with some questions regarding packs and some info about what sorts of adventures I'd like to do. He gave some good answers and offered to give me advice regarding any multiday trail runs I'd like to attempt. He's definitely friendly and without a doubt an exceptionally knowledgeable ultrarunner. Horton is a class act … and a character. (Not to take anything away from Horton's accomplishments, but I'm pretty sure his AT record has been broken.)

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