Unsupported Kungsleden: Monster Pack Man Covers 500km in a New Style

kungsleden unsupported
At Hemavan, the southern terminus of the Kungsleden. Photo: Loncke

Many thru-hike the Kungsleden, Swedish Lapland’s 500km “King’s Trail.” But Louis-Philippe Loncke did it unsupported — and on short rations.

Unsupported long-distance hiker Louis-Philippe Loncke is no stranger to carrying very, very heavy packs. He carried a 48kg pack on an 800km traverse of the Pyrenees last year, and once humped a spine-crumpling 62kg across Tasmania.

But for his recent project in Swedish Lapland, Loncke decided to do something new: cut weight. It’s very rare to complete the 500km Kungsleden (“King’s Trail”) without support, but Loncke did it with just a 31kg backpack. To turn the trick, he would have to cut down on his food reserves severely. And if he were going to do that, he’d have to lose weight for the trip.

Check and check: Loncke brought 12.5kg of food for the entire 19-day trip. By the end, he weighed 75kg, down from his usual 82kg.

Unsupported Kungsleden selfie

Unsupported on the Kungsleden. Photo: Louis-Philippe Loncke

The Unsupported Kungsleden trek: plenty of time

It was quite a lot of weight to cut for a thru-hiker, whose calorie demands are generally massive. During the trip, Loncke routinely cranked out 30km days. But Monster Pack Man’s food store looked like it came straight out of the back of the dorm room cabinet: meals in pouches, bars, nuts, and powders had to suffice.

Unsupported Kungsleden food

Louis-Philippe Loncke’s unsupported Kungsleden food packout. Photo: Loncke

And in the end, they did. Starting on August 25, Loncke walked and paddled the route without much of a hitch. He brought a packraft to float a total of 18.2km of the trip, completing the required lake crossings.

kungsleden unsupported packraft

At a Kungsleden lake crossing. Photo: Loncke

Comparatively unencumbered, he hiked the rest. And despite a muscle tweak in the middle of the trip that forced a rest day, he even found time for “side trips”. The 34km in detours included a summit of Kebnekaise, Sweden’s tallest peak at just under 2,100m.

Monster Pack Man selfie

At the Kebnekaise north summit (2,096m). Photo: Loncke

The Belgian news outlet RTL has aired a feature (in French) with Loncke on the trip.

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About the Author

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson takes any writing assignments he can talk his way into while intermittently traveling the American West and Mexico in search of margaritas — er, adventure. He parlayed a decade of roving trade work into a life of fair-weather rock climbing and truck dwelling before (to his parents' evident relief) finding a way to put his BA in English to use. Sam loves animals, sleeping outdoors, campfire refreshments and a good story.

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