Have you ever stood on the start line of an ultra and looked around at the various packs people are carrying and wondered what they have in theirs? Have this ever caused you to worry you are carrying too much or too little? Have you ever looked at the elite runners and wonder how they even meet the minimum kit requirements, with a pack the size of a 750ml bottle of water?
Well wonder no longer, as the following article may have the answers.
A few weeks ago I was approached by Mighty Goods to answer some questions about what I carry in my pack, my favourite bits of kit and any other top tips I may wish to share. They took my answers, along with those provided by thirteen other experienced ultra runners and have compiled a pretty informative article.
And what a line up they have? Putting aside my own contribution, you have answers from ultra running legends such as Niki Spinks, Rob Krar and Karl Meltzer to name but three. I must say, I feel really honoured to see my thoughts on the same page as theirs and the article really does make for some insightful reading.
Below is an extract from my answers, to give you a flavour. If you want to read the full article, head over the Mighty Goods website and read 14 Ultrarunners Share How They Pack Their Running Bags.
How do you pack your gear for races? What kind of bag? brand/model?
I have a bit of a fetish when it comes to packs and have tried them all over the years, including many from Salomon, Camelbak, Inov-8 and Ultimate Direction.
My favourites by far though are the current iteration of the Ultimate Direction packs, with my personal favourites the PB Adventure Vest 3 and AK Vest 3. They may not be as stretchy as the Salomon ones but the pocket configurations really work for me and allow me to get easy access to all the kit I require without having to remove the vest. These are due to be replaced with newer versions in the coming weeks and I can’t wait to see how they have improved.
I typically have my nutrition up front on the harness. I don’t tend to carry loads of food, other than a few Nakd bars, and generally rely on the refreshments available at the checkpoints. Top tip is to carry a zip lock bag with you and carry your choices from the checkpoint. Far better to be eating and walking, than standing in the checkpoint eating. Forward momentum is always key.
I prefer soft flasks to harder bottles or water bladders, as it allows me to monitor what I drink. The wide necked Hydrapak flasks are by far the best. They bombproof and really easy to fill, at checkpoints or from streams.
Other items I like to have easily hand are my iPhone, for photos and also my personal pack, which has essential or emergency items. Any other kit requirements, such as spare clothes, get bagged into a waterproof bag and placed in the back of the pack.
In terms of how much I carry. I probably carry more than I should but no way near as much as others. I have refined my kit list over the years and always start with the mandatory kit required by the race directors and then just add in any extras that I feel I need to have, based upon expected weather conditions and past experience.