So you are knee deep in training, you have found the right teammate and you’ve signed up for a mountain marathon. Now you’ll need to think about a kit list. One of the most important parts of taking part in a fast-moving or multi-day adventure event, such as the LAMM or the OMM, is the weight of all your equipment on your back.
The first questions is: What sort of weight should my rucksack be? A top-notch elite competitor will start day one with a rucksack weighing less than 4kg (without water)!. That sounds pretty impossible but these competitors will take nothing in the way of luxuries, just the bare essentials to keep them warm overnight. You will also find that elite competitors have paid out for a few top-end lightweight items, such as a super lightweight sleeping bag and tent.
Realistically, you rucksack should weigh up to 7kg. First timers might have heavier rucksacks but the more you have to carry the harder the event will be.
But what about the weather?
In the UK it’s pretty difficult to gain an accurate weather forecast so it is important to err on the side of caution. You could face rain, wind and even snow (if you’re marathon takes place in the mountains). It’s vital that you stay warm overnight when temperatures tend to plummet, and warm and dry while you run like a maddie across the hills. Most event kit lists will demand waterproofs, both jacket and trousers, a tent or bivvy bag, sleeping bag, head torch, survival bag or space blanket and a first aid kit. Added to this you’ll need enough food and clothing to last the entire event.
Essential clothing kit list
Leggings or shorts (or both); baselayer top (or two), a warmer later (a light weight fleece is good for summer events or a down jacket for winter events); waterproof trousers and jacket; hat, gloves and socks. If you have the space and the weight add in dry socks, footwear. Obviously, you’ll be wearing some of the clothing kit list but you will still need room in your rucksack to fit most of this in.
Essential equipment list
Food for the entire race (check out freeze dried products or take food such as couscous or pasta that is light to carry and only needs water to cook); stove for cooking and a pot; compass; survival bag or space blanket; sleeping bag; water; basic ablution kit, such as a toothbrush and toothpaste!
The lightweight tent
Of all the essential items, it’s worth spending money on a lightweight tent. This part of your kit list will take up the most space in your rucksack and will be the heaviest. You will often find that you have to pay more for less when it comes to a lightweight tent. That is, the lighter the fabric, the better the technology and so the pricier the tent will be. But you still don’t have to break the bank if you choose wisely.
Check out the two-man Coleman Backpacking Novae X2 Tent here, weighing in at just 1.9kg for £159. You could spread the weight of the tent across two people’s rucksacks.
For £20 more and weighing just 1.75 kg is the Vango Apex 200 Tent – 2012 – see here
Pay less than £100 and add a few grams to 2.1kg for the Vango Banshee 200 Tent – see here
Investing in a good tent will save you the most weight possible in one purchase, especially if you’re racing as part of a team.
One of the criticisms of an extremely lightweight tent is that the fabrics are so light that they can tear easily – and it seems that this is the compromise that you may need to make for very, very lightweight but for only a few grams more you can find modern tents tat are light on grams and fairly robust. The way to minimise wear and tear on your racing tent is to use it only for races! The other alternative is to buy a tent that is a little more robust, and a little heavier, knowing that it will last much longer.
All packed in a racing rucksack
There are a wide range of lightweight rucksacks that are suitable for mountain marathons. Choose a bag that fits all your kit but is also very comfortable to wear. And make sure you try it out during training sessions. Check out the full collection of rucksacks here