I thought to finish off my recent spate of posts on Mountain marathons I’d talk about what sort of outdoor gear is best. Most competitions provide a required gear list from which teams must carry everything. I’ve tried to briefly cover everything commonly found on these lists but they do vary.
A good quality top, with either long or short sleeves is all that is needed. Make sure that the top is made of a high quality material with good wicking properties. If you’re running hard you’re not likely to be cold, but will get sweaty.
Many people prefer to run in shorts rather than trousers but the things to look for are the same in both, they should be ultralight and dry quickly, otherwise just choose what you feel comfortable in.
When choosing a sleeping bag for a mountain marathon there are 2 main considerations weight and size. For this a good quality down sleeping bag is probably the best option. I’d recommend the Criterion Quantum 200 Sleeping Bag weighing in at 495g and packing down to a tiny 11 x 11 x 25 cm.
This is something that while not required I strongly advise bringing, the amount of difference a carry mat can make to getting a great nights sleep is unbelievable. Go for the cheapest and lightest you can find, the problem here will likely be bulk and not weight.
The size of the rucksack you need really depends on how much ultralight gear you have, the more bulky gear you have the bigger a bag you need. If you’ve got a compact tent and sleeping bag 25L should be roomy, if on the other hand your using less specialised gear you’ll need something closer to 30L.
When looking for a lightweight jacket for a endurance running I’m not too concerned about fancy features, all I want is something light that will keep the rain out and be easy to run in.
Many events require you to carry a pair of waterproof trousers in your kit. although I’m not sure how many people actually use them. I’d recommend going for a cheap light pair that are comfortable to run in.
Most of the time you won’t need to do any night navigation so all you want is a nice lightweight torch for getting around camp and cooking. I’d recommend the Petzl Tikka Plus or the Petzl Zipka Head Torch. However you might want to consider carrying one more powerful torch in your team in case you need to do some night navigation.
A good pair of lightweight running shoes is vital to help protect your feet and ankles as well as giving good grip. There are plenty of good shoes to go for and a lot of it comes down to personal preference but I like Inov8 Mudclaw “O” 330 Fell Running Shoes. The other important thing to consider is a good pair of socks, ideally you want a thin and light pair which keep you warm.
Drinking plenty of liquids is always important especially during an endurance race but water is heavy so consider all your options carefully. Some people like to use a hydration system, and while these allow constant access to your water they can be slow to fill as well as leading you to carrying more water than you need. remember 1 litre of water weighs 1kg. The other option is to go with a smaller bottle and either run holding it or stash it away somewhere that you can have quick access to it.
Again being lightweight is the key and tents are one place a team can save a lot of weight. I personally feel that it’s worth the small bit of extra weight to get a tent with 2 layers as there is nothing worse than having to compete the next day after a bad nights sleep. One of the best lightweight tents is the Terra Nova Laser Competition a single hoop design with a weight of 0.94 kg.
Going with a cheap light gas stove is probably the best bet here the MSR Pocket Rocket Stove is great value for money and incredibly lightweight. When it comes to pans I tend not bother with a “proper” pan and just use a tinfoil Chinese takeaway container folded up as its only for one night and only going to be used to boil water.
What else can I say, worth carrying in case you get into trouble.
Pencil and Paper
Just bring a small cut down pencil along with a sheet of paper folded up, this can be useful if the electronic markers fail and you need to record the numbers for waypoints manually, a few competitions require you to bring one.
This again comes down to personal preference but something small and lightweight like the Field 7 (Silva) is ideal.
A cheap light bivvy bag is all you really need here.
First Aid Kit
Most competitions will stipulate what you need to have in your kit so I just bring what’s required all sealed inside a plastic bag, you may however want to add some blister plasters to the kit if you’re worried about your feet.
The main thing to remember is to keep things lightweight. Don’t be afraid to modify gear either. For example with a carry mat cut off any excess and bring only what you need.
We are still offering 10% off you’re next purchase if you send in a review of an item of gear we stock so why not tell us how you’ve got on with gear in marathons in the past and you can save some money off your next bit of ultralight gear.