Fast Hiking (or Speed Hiking) differs from classic hiking in that the walking pace is faster and sometimes alternates with running. It is practised on marked or unmarked footpaths using the same equipment as classic hiking, with a light backpack for half a day or a full day, and usually with the help of walking sticks. Fast Hiking is between hiking and trail.
This activity requires endurance to eat up the miles and includes a dimension of speed and timing. The aim of fast hiking is to constantly optimise physical ability and travel time. Find out more about the new Rando Challenge® Performance, developed by the FFRandonnée Sud Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Committee. This new format of the Rando Challenge®, which can be done alone or in teams of 2 to 4 people, is sportier and aimed at young people, as it requires the use of a GPS and/or a smartphone to help participants. For more information on this new activity, click on the following link or watch the promotional video below:
Since 2021, the FFRandonnée has received a delegation from the French government to organise Fast Hiking.
1st National Fast Hiking Open
The first edition of this competition, organised jointly by the Federation and the Sud Provence - Côte d'Azur and Bouches-du-Rhône Committees, took place in the village of Roquevaire in the Garlaban massif (Bouches-du-Rhône).
A total of 105 participants set off in the cold sunshine to conquer the Garlaban, on an unmarked 14-kilometre course to be run at a free pace in total autonomy. Curious hikers, regulars, trail runners and aqua-walkers were all tempted to take part in this new sporting challenge and test their endurance on a course that alternated between steep climbs and long, rocky descents... A total of 1,050 metres of cumulative elevation gain.
At the end of the event, all participants expressed their satisfaction with the organisation and unanimously promised to meet again next time!
Watch the full report on the 1st National Fast Hiking Open!
The key is to find a route that includes elevation gain. Mountainous terrain remains the ideal playground, but fast walking can also be practised on hilly terrain or even in urban areas where there are steps. With practice, you can choose longer, more technical routes. It's safer and more challenging to do this in a group.
Fast hiking shoes: choose flexible, lightweight, sturdy shoes designed specifically for fast hiking or trail running.
The lightweight backpack: backpacks with a volume of 15 to 20 litres can carry everything you need for several hours.
Walking poles: telescopic models in carbon or aluminium are preferable for lightness and can be folded up and stored in your backpack on descents.
3 layers: the 3-layer system is even more important for fast hiking. A technical t-shirt as the 1st layer for the ascents, a light fleece as the 2nd layer for the descents and a windbreaker as a back-up layer for bad weather.
Essential supplies to take with you
Fast hiking, like trail running, consumes a lot of energy because it is very demanding on the body. That's why good hydration and light but frequent meals are essential. Water pouches that slip into your backpack are very practical, as well as trail vests or running belts with space for water bottles or flasks. As for food, energy bars are a good option for short rides. For longer trips, there are several freeze-dried meals that allow you to pack a real lunch without adding too much weight to your backpack.
Walking poles are recommended for ascents. They allow the weight of the hiker and backpack to be distributed over four supports, forcing the body to straighten up, which relieves the spine and opens the chest, allowing you to breathe more freely, reducing fatigue and ensuring a more relaxed arrival at your destination. For descents, you can either fold them if they are foldable, or simply use them to balance yourself if the slope is uneven.