Fastpacking Tips with Jenny Tough
Written By: Jenny Tough
There’s no better time to start dreaming big and planning your next adventure. Next up in our series of #NoFunStandingStill AT HOME sessions, mountain runner and adventurer Jenny Tough gives us the low down on her latest epic challenge and her best advice for planning your own fastpacking expedition.
Originally hailing from the Canadian Rockies and now living in Scotland, a passion for the mountains and adventure runs through Montane athlete Jenny’s blood. Having completed a solo and completely unsupported run across the brutal Tien Shan of Kyrgyzstan in 2016, an experience which she describes as “by far the best thing I’ve ever done in my life” Jenny has undertaken a world first global challenge to run solo and unsupported across a mountain range in every continent. Having so far successfully completed further runs across the Atlas Mountains, the Bolivian Andes and New Zealand’s Southern Alps, Jenny shares her experiences and hard-earned tips and advice for fastpackers and adventure runners.
Jenny’s Top Tips for Planning Fastpacking Mountain Adventures
On Getting Started
Start small, making the most of what is available to you close by, for example taking your kit on a weekend away or an overnight trip. Jenny recommends using this as a learning experience to make a list of the things you need or that you don’t have, whether that’s equipment or skills and deal with whatever is holding you back.
On Building Confidence
“The more I do, the more I believe I can achieve.” By getting out there and gradually building on that experience, the more faith and confidence you will have in your own ability.
On Planning a Trip
Decide what you want to see and achieve and fill in the gaps. Consider how it will work, what you are capable of and how much time you have.
On Running Light
Take only one of each item (except socks – you’ll always need a second pair) and only what you need. Ultra-running teaches us what we can live with and what we can live without.
Plan but Prepare for Things Not to Go to Plan
Set targets and know how many miles you need to complete within a given period. But within that, Jenny also bears in mind what may go wrong, and also the potential for opportunities that may come up on route. Always have a plan B.
On Choosing Your Route – It’s Your Adventure
For Jenny, this is the most exciting part of planning. Jenny advises thinking about what you like to do, whether that’s ridge running or taking on summits and making the route work for you. Effective navigating is a key essential skill for mountain and ultra-runners.
On Minimising Safety Risks
- Be responsible
- Don’t be a burden on mountain rescue and other services
- Don’t take risks and try to operate from within your comfort zone in your daily activities
- A SPOT tracker and insurance a must
- Ask yourself “what would you do” challenging yourself to think about contingencies in any given scenario
What’s in Jenny’s Kitbag?
- Montane Trailblazer 30 litre backpack (you may find you can reduce capacity for shorter trips)
- Trekking poles for support – a heavy backpack puts strain on the body and can throw you off balance.
- Lots of outside pockets – when you’re fastpacking you’re moving and need to be easily able to access items without stopping and faffing.
- Jenny stores camping equipment inside the pack and everything else outside so it’s easily accessible, eg. snacks, sunglasses, safety pouch, SPOT tracker, compass, water carrier, filter, gloves, head torch.
- Inside Lid – First Aid kit
Main Compartment - Waterproof on top, warm hat, waterproof sleeping bag, sleeping layers, sleeping mat, 1 man tarp, stove (for warm drinks to stay warm and for clean water if filter breaks) camera and batteries.