Speed Hiking for Beginners Explained

Are you planning to go speed hiking?

Hiking is not only about relishing the magnificent scenery as well as the pleasure of being out in the wild, and it is similarly about the practicalities.

And as soon as it comes to practicalities, being capable of hiking with the right tools, gear, and plan is the most noteworthy.

What are speed hiking and fastpacking?

Do you know what it means to Fastpacking?

Well, it’s a portmanteau of fast & backpacking.

Fastpacking is a mixture of ultralight backpacking and trail running.

It involves covering a notable distance with a backpack, which needs physical and mental strength.

Specified, well-traveled long-distance routes are used with minimal additional food & clothing. If you get stuck in the bush for an extended period, you can quickly become vulnerable to dangers.

Speed hiking is often called a type of hiking done at a quicker pace than a walk yet slower than a run.

Speed Hiking can often be mistaken for Fastpacking.

The major difference between speed hiking and fastpacking is that Fastpacking normally involves overnight travel with a backpack (but as light as possible), traveling the paths at speed similar to fastpacking that speed hike.

Speed hikers appreciate the challenge of traveling long distances in a short period; the action is more about the goal than the trip.

Why rush through nature?

Now the question is, why speed hiking and not normal hiking?

The warm sunlight, the feel of the breeze, and the feel of the track under your boots.

These are pleasant to have, but they are good for your physical and mental health.

Hiking is demonstrated to have several health benefits, starting from the physical exercise to mental or emotional relief that comes from just being in nature.

So, what’s the harm in enjoying all these good things at a slow pace?

The answer to this is that sometimes you don’t have days or weeks to spare on a hike.

You might only have a day or two.

In such cases, you need to cover more ground to experience as much as possible within the time that you have.

This is where speed hiking comes in.

Here are the reasons to rush through nature.

Physical exercise

Hiking is among the most useful ways to do exercise.

It does not matter what kind of route you find for yourself. Speed hiking is a fantastic whole-body workout.

You can improve your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your muscles, and tone your legs simultaneously.

If you are looking to lose weight, then speed hiking can help you achieve this.

Mental health benefits

It is becoming increasingly difficult to disconnect from technology and find some peace in today’s world.

Speed hiking can help you clear your mind and find some time to relax.

When you are hiking, you are forced to focus on the present moment and forget about your troubles back at home.

This can help to reduce stress levels and improve your mental wellbeing.

Improve your cardio wellness

The goal of speed hiking is to drive yourself to the limitation in distinct parts of your trip.

Thus, you experience the best cardio ever.

As you keep pushing yourself, you will see that your body slowly starts adapting to this new level of exertion.

You will find that your overall cardiovascular fitness has improved significantly in due time.

See a lot of things in a less time

It is a chance to enhance your health and relish stunning sights and a well-deserved holiday.

By hiking speedily, you can discover more in less time.

This is an excellent way to make the most of your time off work.

You can go on longer and more difficult hikes as you develop your skills and fitness levels.

Practical reasons

There are also practical reasons for wanting to hike at a faster pace.

Suppose you are training for a long-distance event such as a marathon or an ultra-marathon. In that case, speed hiking can help you build up your endurance levels.

It can also be useful if you are trying to hike the entire trail length in a limited period.

This might be necessary if you are on a tight schedule or weather conditions are not favorable.

What’s the best food for speed hiking?

The best food to take speed hiking is those that deliver ample energy and make you feel full but do not make you feel heavy.

Rather than sugary or fatty foods that can make you feel lethargic or crash, pick foods with proteins and complex carbohydrates for max energy that will last all day long.

If you start your day with a protein-packed and healthy meal, you can surely power through a day hike by relishing small nutritious snacks every few hours.

Here are some considerations for preparing food for speed hiking:

  • Carry something fresh: It is light on your stomach and provides you with essential nutrients. Fruits like watermelons or grapes are an excellent choice since they are easy to eat on the go and also deliver a good amount of water.
  • Focus on long-lasting energy: Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit are an ideal option for a quick energy boost that will last for hours.
  • Stay hydrated: While water is the best choice, you can also opt for sports drinks or juices. It is essential to carry enough fluids since you will be sweating a lot.
  • Keep it light: Avoid carrying heavy or bulky foods since they will only tire you out more.
  • Bring a little extra (Not too much): You might not feel like eating when you are hiking, but it is essential to keep your energy levels up. So, always carry more food than you think you will need.
  • Avoid processed snacks: Processed snacks are high in sugar and calories and can make you feel sluggish. Instead, opt for healthier alternatives like fruits or nuts.

Where do I start?

Speed hiking isn’t just a type of exercise — it is a method to understand yourself and uncover nature in its true form.

Speed hiking is normally available to various physical capabilities, which makes hiking a fantastic outdoor sport for all.

If you are new to speed hiking, starting may feel a little bit intimidating. Thus, we have made this guide to ensure your beginning hiking is super safe and enjoyable.

  • Plan ahead.
  • Check the weather Before starting.
  • Stay ready by bringing the necessities.
  • Ensure you have the right amount of food & water.
  • Pick the right boot/sock combination.
  • Pack your cell phone, and ensure it is charged.
  • Always bring a torch.
  • Bring a first-aid kit.
  • Bring a friend/s along.
  • Remember to pace yourself because it is speed hiking.

Tip: If you are still looking for the right shoes for speed hiking, I recommend trail runners. In my other article, I compare trail runners with normal hiking shoes.

What kit do I need to speed hike?

SPeed hiking kit can differ from track to track– you might not require ice pickaxes for hiking the Dingle Way. However, you might need it for hiking a route in the Alps.

The main essential speed hiking gear stays the same for several hiking trails.

It is significant to pack the following items for your safety on the track.

The following ten essentials are the most basic hiking tools that everybody should pack while going on a speed hike.

They’re suggested by numerous hiking as well as scouting organizations.

  1. Compass: In case you get lost, a compass will assist you in finding your way.
  2. Sunglasses and sunscreen: Ensure to pack sunglasses to safeguard your eyes from the sun and sunscreen to protect your skin.
  3. Map: A map will assist you in getting an overview of the area and help you plan your hike.
  4. Knife: You might need a knife for various purposes like preparing food.
  5. Handheld torch and headlamp: A torch will come in handy if you’re hiking in the dark or case of an emergency.
  6. Spare warm clothes: It is essential to pack extra clothes if the weather changes or you get wet.
  7. First-aid kit: A first-aid kit will assist you in case of any minor injuries.
  8. Matches: Pack matches in a waterproof container to light a fire in an emergency.
  9. Firestarter: A fire starter will assist you in starting a fire quickly.
  10. Food: More food & water than you may need

The mentioned hiking gears are the complete basics that you must always have with you.

Having these with you while hiking, you will be assured to hike safely.

It may not be conceivable to bring all of those essentials mentioned above on speed hiking, so pick the most suitable ones for your kind of hike.

Tip: In my other blog post, I go into more details about the hiking equipment. Be sure to read that article as well.

Where should you speed hike?

Since you are carrying many backup or safety supplies, such as extra layers or food, it’s advisable to adhere mostly to identified trails.

Any local park could be ideal for a speed hiking expedition.

You can search for your local trails to start your journey.

Being a beginner, it is advised not to take the risk of hiking an unknown trail.

It is also better to go with an experienced hiker who knows the trails.

But how to choose the perfect location for your next speed hike?

Here are some tips that will assist you in choosing the best speed hiking trail:

  1. Pick a short & sweet route for your speed hike.
  2. Make sure you have the energy to finish the whole journey.
  3. Check if the trail is too difficult or risky for you.
  4. Be cautious of the weather.
  5. Choose a trail with interesting scenery.
  6. Make sure you have enough time to complete the journey.

Now that you know what speed hiking is and some safety concerns to keep in mind, it’s time to start planning your next hike!

What are the safety concerns with speed hiking?

The main safety concern with speed hiking is that you might become overexerted and dehydrated more easily than hiking at a slower pace.

It is important to be well-prepared before embarking on a speed hike.

Make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, and take breaks often to rest and refuel.

It is also a good idea to hike with a friend or group if one person needs to stop or turn back.

I remember the first time I went speed hiking.

I was with friends, and we were all new to the sport.

We had no idea what we were doing, and we underrated the importance of being prepared.

We packed some snacks and drinks, but that was it.

We didn’t pack any extra clothes or first-aid kit, nor did we have a plan.

Fortunately, nothing bad happened to us, but it could have ended very differently.

Don’t underestimate this sport. It might look easy, but it can quickly turn into a dangerous situation if you are not well prepared.

Speed hiking is a great way to get some exercise and explore the outdoors.

However, as with any activity, there are certain safety concerns that you should be aware of before embarking on a speed hike.

By following the tips above, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Tip: If your steps are unsteady while hiking, it is best to use hiking poles to stabilize your gait.

Happy speed hiking!

Photo of author
Hi, I'm Dave. I'm an avid outdoors and sports enthusiast who loves to share my passion with others. I publish the experiences I've gained over the years on Outdoormeta to give beginners helpful tips and bring people closer to the outdoors.

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