Sunday, December 10, 2023

Best of 2023 Fastpacking and Ultralight Backpacking Gear

Article by Markus Zinkl

I did 1600 km of fast packing this year with the majority in the Austrian Alps to arrive at my Best of 2023 Fastpacking, testing a multitude of products on the trails. The highlight trek was, of course, this past summer’s 390 km Via Alpina across Switzerland. Please read on for my top picks.

Best Full Shelter

Durston Gear X-Mid Pro (RTR Review).  At only 479 grams, one of the lightest shelters out there. The very easy setup and great weather protection make it the best full-fledged shelter of 2023 for me.

Best Minimal Shelter

Zpacks Hexamid Tarp (RTR Review) with doors. This is basically a tent without the bug net and floor. Very minimalistic, incredible light (166 grams) and, for a tarp, a very easy setup with only one trekking pole. It packs down to the size of two softballs. This makes it very easy to bring with, even in the most minimalistic setup.

Best Sleeping Pad

The new Therm-A-Rest Neoair X-Lite NXT (RTR Review) takes it for me this year. While it is not the most comfortable pad out there, it is easily the best all around pad. The weight to warmth ratio is unmatched, so it is a great choice if you are searching one pad doing it all.

Best Fastpack

This category goes to Dandee Packs - The Standard (RTR Review). If I were to design the perfect pack for me, this pack would come very close to it. It carries incredibly well, has a no fuss approach and can fit everything you could ever need, while not compromise on carrying comfort.

Best Midlayer

The Farpointe OG Alpha Cruiser (RTR Review) uses 60gsm Polartec Alpha and has a very minimalistic design. At only 3.9oz/112g (Size M) there is no real discussion anymore to pack or not to pack it. Compared to a normal fleece midlayer it is not only lighter but amazingly breathable, making it a perfect active layer.

Best Fastpacking Shoes

Saucony Xodus Ultra 2 (RTR Review). It was close between the Xodus and Hoka Mafate Speed 4, but the Xodus with a bit wider forefoot took it with a bit more comfort for long days on trail. Overall it is a great shoe with plenty of cushion, a very comfortable upper and a great ride. Only the outsole could still see some improvement in terms of durability and grip.

Markus from Germany is mainly a recreational runner, currently running about 5 times per week. He runs about 50:50  on trails and roads. He is also an avid hiker with a focus on ultralight and fast. This is where his geek for gear and shoes comes to light. He loves the mountains and tries to spend as much free time there as possible.

Samples were provided at no charge for review purposes. RoadTrail Run has affiliate partnerships and may earn commission on products purchased via shopping links in this article. These partnerships do not influence our editorial content. The opinions herein are entirely the authors'.

Please check out our 2023 Holiday Gift Guides for Runners 60 Great Gift Ideas 

Comments and Questions Welcome Below!Please let us know mileage, paces, race distances, and current preferred shoes

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