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planetFear - Articles - The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist

Article by planetFear
Wednesday 4th July 2012
 

This, the latest Mountain Marathon Kitlist from planetFear, is a comprehensive collection of the latest equipment and clothing available on the market. Everything listed is suitable for the beginner to experienced MM racer. As well as listing everything that you'll need, along with comments about every piece of kit, we have attempted to provide some basic information on the do's and don'ts of Mountain Marathon racing. New to this year's kitlist  are the videos with highly experienced adventure athlete Bruce Duncan. Bruce has raced all over the world in remote places such as Patagonia and has clocked up a number of first place finishes, in the video shorts he will share some of the basics of Mountain Marathons.

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

What sort of weight should your bag be then? An experienced Elite competitor will probably be starting day 1 with a bag (excluding water) that weighs less than 4kg! However, that's only possible because they are prepared to suffer no luxuries, probably be a little cold overnight and spend their money on the best kit. A typical pack probably weighs closer to 6 or 7kg and many first timers will have much, much heavier packs.

If you are unsure of what to take, it's best to err on the side of caution. Snow, torrential rain, high winds and freezing temperatures have all been seen at the UK events and sometimes on the same day! As a more experienced competitor you'll have the knowledge and experience to make informed decisions on what to take and it's more likely you'll be willing to invest in some top quality kit. If you are prepared to pay a little extra for the luxury of saving weight, then there are some great products out there.

For almost all the clothing featured in this article there are men's and women's styles available. Please just click the links. All prices are quoted as RRP's, most items, where in stock, are available in the pF shop at considerably less than the RRP.

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

Although this article is focussed on mountain marathon equipment for races on foot (LAMMRabHighlanderSaunders and OMM etc), most of the equipment and clothing would be equally at home at bike orientated events such as the Polaris and in most cases shorter events such as the Open 5 Series and Tri Adventure events.

Important Note about this article
Weights are given for as many items in the kitlist as is possible, there may be a few items that don't have a weight but we will fill in the gaps as they become available

1. Trousers / Tights / Shorts
2. Base Layer Top
3. Underwear

4. Fleece / Warm Top
5. Waterproof Trousers
6. Waterproof Jacket
7. Windproof Clothing

8. Hat, Gloves and Socks
9. Head Torch

10. Food For 36 Hours
11. Compass
12. Survival Bag/Space Blanket
13. Sleeping Bag
14. Rucksack
15. Tent
16. Cooking Stove and Pan
17. Footwear
18. Hydration
19. Misc Essentials

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 


1. Trouser / Tights / Shorts

Trouser / Tights
Almost every competitor at a mountain marathon will be wearing tights of some description, they are extremely lightweight, dry very quickly and keep off a good amount of the foul weather that you're more than likely to encounter. Rarely will competitors be seen wearing trousers, they can be cumbersome, don't allow as much freedom of movement and can cause chaffing, which is why they are not included in the MM kitlist. If you know that your race is going to be taking place in October then chances are you might want a tight that's a slightly heavier, warmer weight. Summer events will allow a lightweight option to be worn, or even a knee tight or short. The choice is a personal one and will depend on how warm you can keep yourself by moving fast and the conditions on the day.

 

 

Many competitors prefer to run in a pair of shorts, as long as you keep working hard you should be warm enough even in fairly unpleasant weather. A pair like the Salomon Exo Motion short give a 'tight' style layer next to the skin with a short over the top, a good option for some extra support and warmth where you need it.

 

  • Craft Active Run Short / Wmn's / £19.99 / ?g / Men's and women's fit respectively, provide an inner brief with these very lightweight running shorts
  • Salomon Exo Motion Short / £69.99 / 170g / For those who crave the benefits of a ‘Lycra' type base layer but maybe can't quite bring themselves to ‘go the distance' these provide an Exo Sensifit (Lycra type) inner short with a very lightweight over short, no extra sock needed
  • Haglofs Intense Q Shorts / £39.99 / 110g / Women's fit short with lightweight material but a slightly harder wearing fabric on the backside
  • Arc'teryx Incendo Short / £49.99 / 120g / Lightweight, quick drying short that come with an integrated brief
  • Haglofs Intense Short Tight / £50.00 / 135g / These aren't a ‘short' they're a thigh length tight, designed to be worn as an outer garment

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

Also worth considering is a pair of windproof trousers. Although not required in the rules, if the weather really is terrible it's a lot more comfortable to run in these than waterproof trousers. Additionally, some events only specify "Pertex trousers" (Pertex is a windproof fabric) in the rules rather than waterproof trousers. See section below on windproof clothing.

 

Included below are a men's and women's option of a next to skin bike short with integrated chamois for comfort on the bike. These aren't designed for a running event, but if you're doing something like the Polaris Mountain Bike Marathon they're a perfect choice.

For more cycle orientated shorts see the link >>> http://www.planetfear.com/browse/Shorts_1686_0_16.html

 

 


2. Base Layer Top

Walking round in the hills can make you sweaty enough but running for hours is definitely going to make you "glow". Investing in a technical, high wicking base layer will make a huge difference to your comfort and warmth. Depending on the weather you may wish to opt for either a t-shirt or long sleeve top. Personally I prefer something with a zip on the chest to help ventilation.

Manufacturers have gone a long way to saturate the market with hundreds of base layers, sometimes the massive number of choices out there can be daunting, we've brought together the best of what we feel are available. planetFear deal with most of the top brands in the outdoors market, we get free choice to stock what we feel is the best of the best, so you can be sure that what we've got on offer here is the cream of the crop and includes some market leading concept items too.

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 



 

T-shirts

 

Long Sleeved T shirts   

 

 

 

 

  • 3. Underwear

Although not specifically mentioned in the rules, I'm assuming that most competitors will be wearing some underwear! It's worth considering that many competitors, indeed active outdoors people, spend loads of money on technical, wicking clothing but neglect to purchase any wicking underwear. The result being the most unpleasant sensation of cotton underwear sticking to your groin and making your undercarriage sweaty and uncomfortable. Worth thinking about is windproof underwear for the boys; a cold wind has a certain shrinking effect and can become quite unpleasant after a few hours. We stock the Odlo Cubic Boxers, comfortable next to the skin and lightweight, we also have the equivalent for women in a similar short option by Odlo, if the men's and women's cubic short is going to be a bit warm we also have the Odlo Evolution light boxers. Additionally worth a look are the two offerings by Craft the Cool Boxer with Mesh, for Men and Women, both are a boxer style short and will perform perfectly.

Bras - by Heather Clark
For most female competitors, a good bra is essential. Your saggy old cotton favourite is probably not up to the job and, once you've worn a proper sports bra, there is no going back. A good bra for running must be well-fitting, supportive, comfortable and preferably wicking too. I recently acquired a wicking sports bra and the comfort is amazing. There are several styles available from reputable outdoor brands. We recommend a high impact bra for the mountain marathons and any other running. Check out the range of Sports Bras by SportJock in the planetFear store here>>>

 

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 


4. Fleece Top / Warm Layer

Some competitors take just a long sleeve t-shirt as their ‘warm top' and may end up shivering their way through the night. Remember that you've got to be fighting fit in the morning so a decent warm top can make a big difference to your comfort. The following selection of lightweight fleece and Power Stretch tops will do the job, we've included garments here that may not be perfectly suited to Mountain Marathons in that they're maybe slightly heavier and bulkier than might be necessary, but we also understand that people live in the real world and often want multi-purpose use out of their kit, if an item noted seems a bit heavier than expected chances are we've included it with a wider use in mind.

 

 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

 

 

If you really feel the cold or the weather forecast is particularly cruel then it may be worth carrying some warmer clothing. Go for a down insulated top if you are confident of keeping it dry and warmth/weight ratio is your primary concern. Alternatively go for a synthetic insulated top if conditions are likely to be wet due to synthetic fibre's ability to stay warm when wet, unlike down feathers which clump will together.

  • OMM Finch Vest / £149.99 / 200g / OMM's down filled vest provides warmth for the core body but packs to a minimal size and weight, top quality down fill and Pertex Quantum help keep everything minimal
  • OMM Rotor Smock / £125.00 / 280g / An incredibly versatile and lightweight synthetic fill, over-the-head insulating piece, the rotor smock has MM's perfectly in mind
  • Marmot Venus Women's Vest / £119.99 / 266g / A vest will take up less room in your pack but still keep your core temperature up, plus it looks great with a hoody down the pub
  • Marmot Ama Dablam Women's Jacket / £179.99 / ?g/ Providing warmth for a wide range of activities you'll use the Ama Dablam long after your races have finished
  • Haglofs Bivvy Down Jacket / £179.99 / 380g / A minimalist approach to insulation, this jacket is designed as your extra lightweight layer
  • Rab Infinity Jacket / Wmn's / £209.99 / 460g / 410g /  Pertex Quantum GL 10D sounds like a mouthful but it basically means perhaps THE lightest windproof material on the market, team this with 850+ fill power down and the outcome is one the lightest down jackets available for its warmth to weight
  • Haglofs Barrier II Q Wmn's Vest / £79.99 / 200g / A synthetic fill women's vest that will keep the core body warm

 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

 


5. Waterproof Trousers

Some events insist on waterproof trousers, others allow you to take Pertex trousers. In the past I've always recommended that people just take Pertex trousers unless the rules insist on waterproof trousers. However, that advice is far from clear cut now with the development of extremely lightweight waterproof trousers.

OMM's Kamleika range have now become as synonymous with Mountain Marathons as a rainy, wet overnight camp The waterproof softshell design means they're as comfortable as any shell garment is going to get whilst doing the job it's designed for. The Endo series from Haglofs is also regarded as serious race wear, the decision will come down to features and personal choice .

  • Haglofs Endo Q Pants / £179.99 / 215g / Women's fit of the Endo pant below
  • Haglofs Endo Pants / £179.99 / 240g / Gore Tex Active Shell provides all the weather protection you're likely to need, with features such as articulated knees for comfort while running and a zip fly for comfort while you're not, hopefully
  • OMM Kamleika Race Pant / £104.99 / 190g / OMM's waterproof softshell pant, made from the same race-proven materials as the Kamleika jackets

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 


6. Waterproof Jacket

A waterproof jacket is an absolute must, not only for a Mountain Marathon but almost every day out on the hill in the UK, there are few of us who will venture for a long day in the mountains without one. Below we have listed a selection of shell layers that are designed for high aerobic activity. You will sweat when out in the mountains and these outer layers use the best in breathable materials that are available. Every MM has full body cover as mandatory equipment, most competitors will interpret this is a full waterproof set, however combinations such as windproof and waterproof can be accepted, it's worth checking the rules of the particular race you've entered.

 

  • Marmot Crystalline Wmn's Jacket / £119.99 / 176g / An incredibly lightweight shell jacket for women
  • Haglofs Endo Jacket / £229.99 / 320g / Gore-Tex Active Shell gives a hugely breathable jacket that packs down incredibly well, articulated sleeves with thumb loops give a very comfortable fit
  • Haglofs Endo Q Wmn's Jacket / £229.99 / 275g / Women's fit of the Endo with the same fantastic features
  • OMM Cypher Jacket / £199.99 / 280g / A lightweight full zip jacket, categorised as a shell jacket, it'll keep out the worst that the days and nights can throw your way
  • OMM Kamleika Race Jacket / £149.99 / 300g / OMM's Kamleika series are widely noted as THE Mountain Marathon race garments of choice, described as 'waterproof shoftshell', they'll keep out the elements and pack away tidily when it gets out nice - which doesn't happen of course. Jacket is the full zip option...
  • OMM Kamleika Race Smock / £124.99 / 260g / ... with the smock you get the slightly lighter alternative that incorporates a half length zip ...
  • OMM Kamleika Wmn's Race Jacket / £149.99 / 260g / ... and the wmn's is, you guessed it, a women's fit

 

 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 

 


7. Windproof Clothing

Although a windproof top is rarely specified in the kit list, it's probably the one ‘extra' item that is most likely to be taken and makes a huge difference to your warmth on windy days, we have a comprehensive number of windproof garments at planetFear, the number we have not only reflects the variety of what's on the market, but also the versatility and popularity of windproof layers. Many of them will keep a good deal of the weather off you for a good period of time thanks to water shedding fabrics and Durable Water Repellent (DWR) coatings on fabrics, however they are not waterproof. Most wind layers although they might have a membrane of sorts,  will not have the full specification of a waterproof such as taped seams and zip storm flaps etc.

 

 

 


Windproof Tops / Softshell

 

Windproof Pants

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane




8. Hats, Gloves and Socks

Your hat is likely to have one of two tasks; keeping you warm or keeping the sun off. Either way something light and simple will be in order. Warm hats are only likely to be worn at the overnight camp unless the weather is appalling. Some competitors like waterproof hats but I'd consider that an overkill, seeing as your waterproof jacket - according to the rules of most MM's - must have a hood. It may be worth considering a windproof hat though. For something warm I'd go for a powerstretch or similar beanie as the fabric will perform better than wool or acrylic.

Headwear

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

 

 

Gloves

Gloves can be crucial. If the weather is sufficiently cold, wet and/or windy your hands can quickly become numb and useless; eating and navigating immediately becomes tougher as does concentrating. Even a lightweight pair of base layer gloves will make a difference. It is possible to go for some fully waterproof gloves but you'll pay the weight penalty. Experienced adventure athlete Paul Vousden talks about the benefit of staying warm and of techniques to help this when Racing in Winter in his article on planetFear here.

 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

Socks

Socks are very much a personal choice but stay away from thick socks, which will just get heavy when wet. Super thin lightweight socks are the best option to use in combination with your fell running shoes. Worth considering is a spare pair of silk socks. Don't forget two plastic bags to put over your nice dry socks though so that you can still walk round at overnight camp!

   
  • Inov8 Debrisoc 38 / £14.99 / 44g / A sock that incorporates a lightweight gaiter for keeping the crud out of your shoes.
  • Inov8 Debrigaiter 32 / £14.99 / 64g . A stand-alone gaiter to be worn over regular socks that will keep the stones and dirt out.

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane


9. Head Torch

The Petzl E+LITE is the lightest headtorch on the market at 28g, with the Silva Siju at 35g following closely behind. The E+LITE and Siju have lots of smart functions but don't offer any ability to navigate at night bar the slowest of walks over rough ground.

The next option might be the Petzl Tikkina 2 headtorch, however with only two LED's although lightweight, it won't help you get much further than making a meal at overnight camp. The next most popular option which delivers the ability for proper use over rough terrain at night is the Petzl Tikka 2 XP, one high output LED will provide as much power as you're likely to need. Traditionally known for their expertise in navigational products, Silva have stepped on to the headtorch market over the last few years bringing in some convincing alternatives to the previously totally dominant Petzl range of torches. Silva now provide a number of definite alternatives to the Petzl range in the Trail Runner Plus at 70g and the X-Trail Head Torch at 80g which is powerful enough for a mass of outdoors activities.

Don't forget that using lithium batteries instead of the ones normally supplied really will add to the burn time you will have from your torch, they weigh less and they aren't affected by cold! It's not a gimic, lithium batteries are much better, so get some!

For our full range of headtorches click on the link to go the shop page.

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 


10. Food for 36 Hours

In my opinion, getting your nutrition and hydration right is the most important single factor that determines how well you do and how much you enjoy a Mountain Marathon. I've suffered from not enough food, I've carried way too much food and I've pissed bloody treacle through dehydration - all of which detract from your enjoyment and performance.

Below we've listed some of the more scientific options available for keeping yourself fed and watered, but remember your local supermarket has a surprising selection of dehydrated meals (rice, pasta, and noodles) which often taste better than the specialist meals. Look carefully at the calorific content of the meals though. In fact it's quite good fun shopping for the food with the most calories in it!

Treats like jelly babies, flapjacks and fruit' n' nut are popular and a welcome break from energy gels and bars. You probably know what you like and I suggest you bring it along. Here are some of my supermarket favourites:

  • Egg Noodles rehydrated with soup
  • Roasted Broad Beans or Chickpeas
  • Thorntons Mazipan Bars
  • Nutrigrain Bars
  • Cannocks Carmel Wafer Bars

Carbohydrate Powder
Many competitors swear by energy powders that can be mixed in with your water. We stock Science in Sport (SIS) and believe it's one of the best, we also think that supplementing your water with energy powder helps but it is important to experiment before the event as it is easy to upset your stomach if you get the concentration wrong. The concentration of the powder is a very personal thing and I've found that halving the recommended dose is a good starting point. . More>>>

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 

Energy Gels
Energy gels can be total lifesavers. Just as your legs turn to molten lead, down a gel and within 5-10 minutes you'll feel the difference. We are stocking SiS and Mule gels and the decision is between the variety of sorts that SiS produce or the organic and 'Fairtrade' option from Mule. More>>>

Energy Bars
Mule and SIS also make energy bars which are a great way to take onboard more complex carbohydrates whilst racing. Each manufacturer will argue the relative merits of their product but I'd go for whichever one you feel tastes best! Bear in mind that if it's cold these bars get extremely hard and can be nearly impossible to chew. More >>>

Dehydrated Meals
Finally, if you are really looking to compete with a lightweight sack you are going to have to face up to a dehydrated meal at the overnight camp. I've tried a few different types and we're currently stocking the Trek'n'Eat brand. I take two of these for a main meal on the Saturday night and a third one for breakfast on the Sunday morning. More>>>

Nutrition Article. There is an excellent summary of a research paper about the 'Nutrition Strategies of Mountain Marathon Competitors.' Here>>>

And for information on recovery from an endurance event such as a Mountain Marathon, this article gives a lot of helpful info on post-sport recovery. Here>>>

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 


11. Compass

I used to prefer something simple and light (Silver Field 7) but was converted to the more orienteering focused compass', which are very stable and have a very fast needle.

What I particularly like about the thumb compass is that it usually has a rotating bezel that means that you can take a bearing off the map as you would with a traditional compass. The biggest benefit of a thumb compass is that you always have your compass at hand and checking you are going in the correct direction becomes as natural as it is instant, furthermore thumbing your location on the map is automatic.

All the compasses featured here have very fast, stable needles designed for faster navigation.

  • Silva 6 NOR Spectra Compass / £34.99 / ?g / A quick moving, wide needle ensures quick and accurate bearings when on the move fast, thumb compass' provide the ultimate in speedy navigation
  • Silva Ranger Compass / £22.99 / 33g / This is one of the most popular compass' as its mid length base plate strikes a balance between being easy in the hand and suited to every day nav
  • Silva Expedition 4 / £24.99 / 36g / A full length base plate means longer map bearings are possible and it will be suited to more challenging navigation in all conditions
  • Silva Field Compass / £17.99 / 28g / A short, compact base plate makes this a very popular compass for many activities
  • Silva Expedition 54 Compass / £69.99 / 39g / Fully featured precision sighting compass, probably more features than you'll use but extremely accurate bearings are possible with this

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane




12. Survival Bag/Space Blanket

Some competitors see this rule as unnecessary given that you are carrying a tent and sleeping bag. However, a survival bag really could save you or your partner's life if something relatively mundane happened (imagine sitting still with a badly sprained ankle in a Scottish storm?). Read the rules carefully and check whether you need to carry a survival bag or blanket. Definitely avoid carrying heavy duty plastic survival bags which just aren't required.

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

Once at the overnight camp, use one of your space blankets spread out over the floor of the tent. This will make a real difference to your overnight comfort. Don't be afraid to use your second space blanket (one for each team member) as an extra blanket should the temperature drop.

 

 

 


13. Sleeping Bag

A small revolution has occurred with lightweight sleeping bags in the past few years with many competitors upgrading their sleeping bags to new, lightweight and highly comparable down bags. Purchasing a top quality sleeping bag will save you more weight than any other personal item so it is worth investigating the option properly.

Sleeping bags filled with synthetic ‘man-made' fibres will be cheaper than down bags, but synthetic will also be heavier and bulkier for its warmth. When looking at down bags, lower fill powers mean you need more down for the same warmth as a higher fill power, which means a bit more weight.

The organisers of the OMM specify that everyone should carry a '3 season' bag for their event. Although this is a little vague the OMM Mummery 0.5 does qualify and at 460g is just about as light as you can get making it a superb choice.

One final thought; it may be worth opting for a sleeping bag with a Pertex Endurance shell. Pertex Endurance is highly water resistant and will help ensure that your down insulation stays dry and therefore you stay warm in a damp cramped tent.

 

  • Mountain Hardwear Lamina 35 Regular Sleeping Bag / £109.99 / 1.02kg / Synthetic fill and a comfort level of just above freezing this is a good option if you definitely want man-made fibre as your fill.
  • Mountain Hardwear Lamina 20 Regular Sleeping Bag / £119.99 / 1.4kg / A synthetic bag that goes down to around -5 degrees C, pretty warm for most MM's but if you're a cold sleeper or want a warm night then it might be an option
  • Haglofs Zensor Compact / £89.99 / 810g / Synthetic fill bag with a comfort limit of around 7 degrees above freezing
  • Western Mountaineering Ultralite Sleeping Bag / £360.00 / 512g / Comfort level comes in at just under freezing for this very lightweight down bag
  • Yeti Passion 1 Sleeping Bag / £299.99 / 265g / Super, super, lightweight means your MM had better be in warm summery conditions, comfort comes in at around 15 degrees C and if you're fully clothed with a hot water bottle maybe 8-9 degrees, but you need to make an informed choice as this is a very lightweight bag
  • Yeti VIB 250 Sleeping Bag / £249.99 / 630g / 250g of 800+ fill power keeps you warm to around 5 or 6 degrees above freezing
  • Rab Infinity 300 Sleeping Bag / £349.99 / 650g / 850 fill power means this lightweight bag uses the top end of down product and is good to just below freezing
  • Force Ten Catalyst 250 Sleeping Bag / £199.99 / 620g / High quality fill keeps these bags light for their warmth, 95/5 goose down mix and 700 fill power, the 250 is good to around freezing level
  • Force Ten Catalyst 400 Sleeping Bag / £249.99 / 820g /  A lightweight offering from Force Ten, perhaps slightly hot at around -5 degrees C

 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

 

How do you get all that kit into such a small bag? Well, here's a little tip: Carefully squash your down sleeping bag into a sealable freezer bag and seal it with some selotape. Now make a small hole through the selotape (this stops the freezer bag ripping) and into the freezer bag and squeeze out all the air slowly. With another strip of selotape seal the hole. You now have a vaccum packed sleeping bag in a waterproof bag. Using this method you can reduce a small down filled sleeping bag like the Yeti Passion 1 to fist sized dimensions. Or if re-usable is your main requirement, then Exped fold drybags are a means to which you can be confident that stuff in them will stay dry. I use them for all sorts of uses as the roll top closure allows the air to be pretty succesfully squeezed out, and they're light enough to warrant the bit extra bulk. I have managed after a lot of use to rip one, but then you probably aren't going to give them enough abuse over a race to do this. The link here>>> will take you to them and for a few quid these drybags will give you extra confidence that you'll be getting into a dry sleeping bag after a hard day. 

Before talking about sleeping mats it may be worth thinking about synthetic sleeping bags which have improved a lot in recent years in terms of warmth to weight ratio. The big benefit of opting for a synthetic sleeping bag is that it'll retain much of its thermal properties even when wet (down doesn't).

An item that might be considered as being a bit of a luxury is something to sleep on. However a night in a sleeping bag with nothing insulating you from the ground is a very uncomfortable one, i've tried it. You'd think that after a period of time the heat from your body will warm the ground underneath you, even if it's grassy and soft enough to lie on no matter how much you think you're going to warm that piece of earth it's not going to happen, so take something to sleep on.

Options range from the top end Therm-a-Rest Neo Air X-Lite and X-Therm, which are the most comfortable lightweight choice and you'll be able to use them for other camping trips of holidays, to the very lightweight Klymit air mattresses which have all the non-essential bits cut away to save weight and bulk, these will be suited more to your lightweight trips. You also have the famous Balloon Beds which are only available direct from the manufacturer, super lightweight and packable but the balloons are single use and you need some carefully considered maneuvering to use them without the balloons popping, additionally as you'll read below some competitors use bubble wrap to sleep on...

Another lightweight option is the OMM Duomat - these are designed to slide down the back of an OMM Classic Marathon (both the Classic Marathon's come supplied with them) pack to provide more comfort whilst on the move, you can then remove and sleep on them overnight. They obviously work in any other brand of pack not just OMM.

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 

  • Balloon Bed / £22.00 / 100g / Very light but you risk the balloons bursting so carry spares
  • Balloon Bed Mk II / £23.00 / 100g / Designed for 'larger users'
  • Thermarest NeoAir Xlite / £99.99 / Short 230g / Reg 350g / Updated Neo Air with streamlined shape (means they've cut the corners off)
  • Thermarest NeoAir Xtherm / £149.99 / 430g / If you're a cold sleeper the Xtherm will give you more warmth and comfort from ground cold whilst still being very light for a fully featured air mattress
  • Klymit Inertia X Lite Sleeping Mat / £74.99 / 173g / Short verision of the X-Frame, body mapping provides support where it's needed, cutting out weight and bulk where it's not
  • Klymit Inertia X Frame Sleeping Mat / £84.99 / 258g / An incredibly lightweight air mattress, the cut outs mean weight is low but isn't as comfortable as a Thermarest
  • OMM Duomat 45 / £17.49 / 135g / Folds flat which can provide extra comfort for your back once it's in your pack, comes already supplied with some OMM packs
  • Bubble wrap / free? / the weight of this depends entirely on two factors, whether you're mental enough to use it in the first place and how far you're prepared to stretch that lack of sanity, less sanity = less length, ¾ length bubble wrap is for winners and psychos, you can however stick it in the bin before the start of day two. NB - the jury is out on whether big bubbles are better than small...

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 


14. Rucksack

Deciding on which rucksack to use depends largely on what kind of equipment you are going to be carrying. For first timers I wouldn't recommend anything smaller than 30 litres so the OMM Classic Marathon 32L is a solid option. If you have invested in a lightweight tent and a modern, lightweight down sleeping bag you should be able to comfortably fit everything into a 25 litre rucksack, so here the choice is between OMM Classic Marathon 25L and a Haglofs Gram Comp 25L. For competitors taking the ‘zero luxuries' approach then the OMM Adventure Light 20 is worth serious consideration.

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist The North Face Enduro 13 Litre Pack

 

During last year's race season a planetFear Team member who was racing the Saunders MM, on seeing the pretty much guaranteed good weather forecast got all his kit in to a 13 litre Enduro Pack by TNF, pretty mad stuff but it shows what can be achieved.

 

 

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

By far the most popular sacks seen at any mountain marathon are the OMM 32 and 25L sacks. Whichever sack you go for I'd make your choice based on the compressed size of your sleeping bag and tent. It is worth remembering that if you go for a small sack you won't easily be able to share your load with your partner should one of you be struggling a little, two different size and weight packs can be a good option though to enable swapping between the pair when one partner tires and the other feels stronger. A final note on the OMM sacks; many of the features are now designed to be taken off should you want to lighten up your sack.

 

  • Haglofs Gram Comp 25 Rucksack / £89.99 / 550g / A lightweight race pack from Haglofs gives you all the features you need, 25 litres though, see below.
  • OMM Classic Marathon 25L / £60.00 / 670g / For experienced MM racers 25 litres is the norm, however you might need a few events under your belt before you can pull it off
  • OMM Classic Marathon 32L / £65.00 / 700g /A longer back length than the 25 litre version suited to taller users, warning - if you've got 32 litres of capacity you'll probably fill it - do you really need that extra fleece, really, do you?
  • OMM Adventure Light 20 Rucksack / £55.00 / 485g / Lightweight 20 litre pack, you'll need to be running fast and packing lean to get most of what you need in this, sits at the limit of sane MM pack sizes
  • Osprey Manta 25 Rucksack / £99.99 / 1.29kg / Great for other uses such as mountain biking and trail running, provides a secure load via the side compression straps, very comfortable, a pF favourite for cross use

 

   There is an article here on how to customise your running sack to save a few extra grams!

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

   


15. Tent

Investing in a good tent will save you the most weight possible in one purchase as a team. For any team wanting to minimise weight and buy the best race tent then the Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 is the record breaking offering that has swept up almost every award that the outdoors industry can throw at it. At a smidge over 500g this tent is incredible, technically it only sleeps one person, but this depends on the degree of friendship with your race partner.

The Terra Nova Laser Photons are fantastic options for lightweight and price considerations, the only problem with the Laser Photon is the length of it and if you are over 6ft tall then I'd consider the standard Laser, which is 10cm longer and still only 1.19kg (minimum weight). If you are looking for something with more versatility (i.e. you want to use it for hiking and back packing trips as well) then consider the Terra Nova Voyager or the fully geodesic Force Ten Vortex Lite.

One of the criticisms of the really lightweight tents is that the fabrics are so light that they can tear easily and this seems to be the compromise you have to make. Most competitors only use their lightweight tents for events (up to 5 per year) and don't expect the tents to last more than 3-5 years.

  • Force Ten Helium 200 / £250.00 / 1.3kg / A superlight single pole offering from Force Ten at a highly competitive price
  • Force Ten Nitro 200 / £329.99 / 1.8kg / This twin pole tunnel design gives more stability than the single pole designs for tougher conditions
  • Terra Nova Laser Ultra 1 / £650.00 / 581g / A Guinness World Record holder, no not for price, for its weight, at just over 500g complete weight, Terra Nova as usual have re-defined what ‘light weight' means, this truly is an amazing tent
  • Terra Nova Laser Photon 2 / £450.00 / 900g / The first in what is now a long heritage of lightweight tents, you'll see more of these at a MM than any other tent we reckon
  • Terra Nova Laser Competition 2 / £389.99 / 1.25kg / Gives the option of two doors and slightly more internal space in case you've fallen out with your race partner at the end of day one
  • Terra Nova Solar Photon 1 / £390.00 / 865g / One man tent or two if you're married, courting, really, really good mates, or desperate, self supporting means slightly stronger than single pole designs
  • Force Ten Helium Carbon 200 / £439.99 / 950g / Titanium pegs and carbon fibre poles bring this two man tent in at under a kilo
  • Force Ten Nitro Lite 200+ / £499.99 / 1.8kg / A tunnel tent design giving extra porch room, covered cooking space can be a real luxury but at the sacrifice of some additional weight
  • Force Ten Vortex Lite 200 / £649.99 / 2.49kg / Fully geodesic lightweight tent, if the conditions are set to get bad then a self standing tent could be the answer

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 


16. Cooking Stove and Pan

A lightweight gas stove is generally considered the best option and there are a number of really good products to choose from. The MSR Pocket Rocket is simple, light and great value, however its updated self comes in the form of the Micro Rocket which saves you another 11g. the Optimus Crux is a fantastic little stove at 93g, it weighs a little more than the Pocket Rocket, but the design is flawless, with its head folding flat for storage. There is even a light version available to shed those extra grams, coming in at 72g.The Crux Lite fits nicely inside the Optimus Terra Solo Cookset also - check out our review here. Don't forget some tin foil to use as a windbreak.

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 

We included the MSR Reactor system in the previous MM Kitlist and we really had to think twice about putting it in, however over the last few years the popularity of this and the JetBoil systems have taken hold so we've included the JetBoil here for it's popularity as a complete cooking system. At 425g they're not the lightweight option of choice but remember that this is the weight for stove and pan and they are incredibly efficient especially in bad weather. The 125g and 250g size gas canisters will fit inside and so will the stove unit.

We've also included one multi-fuel option in the form of the tried and tested MSR Whisperlite stove, yes it will be heavier than the super lightweight options, but if you're looking for a do-it-all stove for all your outdoors use then it's a good option and will run on anything, petrol, diesel and we've even had one going on Windolene, but that's not recommended, it will not run on meths.

 

  • MSR Pocket Rocket / £29.99 / 86g / The tried and tested MM classic, does exactly what it says
  • MSR Micro Rocket Stove / £39.99 / 75g / MSR's updated Pocket Rocket, separate piezo lighter included, this is MSR's lightest ever stove
  • Optimus Crux Lite Gas Stove / £40.00 / 72g / Lightweight version of the Crux, you lose the folding head but save 15g in the process
  • Optimus Crux Stove / £49.99 / 87g / Optimus stoves are proven in the harshest conditions, this tiny gem is no exception, comes with a head that folds flat
  • MSR Whisperlite Internationale / £89.99 / 460g / A classic multi-fuel stove that will get going in most weathers, can be used with smaller fuel bottles to decrease weight
  • Jetboil Flash Cooking System / £94.99 / 435g / Gives a few extra accessories than the classic that you probably won't use on an MM, but are useful when using at other times
  • Jetboil Classic Personal Cooking System / £69.99 / 425g / provides an efficient cooking system that maximises energy from the canister but is pretty heavy
  • MSR WindPro II Stove / £89.99 / 187g / Allows the maximum fuel to be taken from gas canister and functions well in cold conditions due to be able to invert the canister
  • Mini Trangia / £25.00 / 330g / Comes complete with pans and burner, complete lightweight cooking system
  • Trangia Triangle / £20.99 / 115g / Burner is sold separately but allows for a lightweight set up that packs up very small
  • Vango Ultralite Gas Stove / £22.99 / 73g / For Just over £20 this is a great little lightweight gas stove that won't break the bank

 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

 

In terms of saving weight on your cooking pot, look no further than the MSR Titan kettle. However, you'll need to leave the lid and handles at home and then the weight is reduced from 118g to 72g. If you are not prepared to spend nearly £50 on a kettle only to dismantle it then check out the Optimus Solo Set. The disadvantage of taking a kettle is that they are only any good for boiling water (hot drinks, dehydrated meals, pasta, noodles etc). If you are taking a meal that needs to go in a pan to be cooked then choose something larger like the Terra HE set that includes a larger pan. Don't forget some tin foil to use as a lid.

Aluminium Foil Pans are a brilliant option for anyone looking to save weight, but are very easy to damage. If you want to use anything like these then take two (packing them together) with your sleeping bag inside them, before packing carefully at the bottom of your bag...if you are very lucky they won't leak much! Personally, I think that the Aluminium Pans are ok for MTB events but not appropriate for foot mountain marathons, we even know someone who has used a coke can cut in half as a pan with a small solid fuel tablet as the heat source, however we brought their sanity in to question and concluded there was little.

 

  • Aluminium Foil Pan / £2.20 / 12g  / Very, very light but very easy to damage and difficult to pack
  • Optimus Terra Solo Cookset 0.6L / £19.99 / 200g / Lightweight and compact, small gas stoves will fit inside with ease
  • Optimus Terra HE Cookset / £57.99 / 720g / Pan set that could be split for other uses or trips
  • MSR Titan Kettle / £49.99 / 118g / Titanium means lightweight and super durable

 

 

The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane 

 


17. Footwear

For my first mountain marathon I didn't own any fell shoes and turned up with some old trainers that I wouldn't mind trashing... I quickly lost count of the number of times I fell over and learned that decent, studded fell running shoes are totally essential.

Inov8 quite literally turned the fell running shoe market on its head when their first shoe was launched in early 2000. Since then they have gone on to develop a stable of superb, innovative fell running shoes. If you want a pure race shoe then the Mudclaw 272 is hard to beat. Its sole unit is incredibly aggressive and ideally suited to wet, muddy and steep terrain, as well as contouring and descending.

The Roclite series have less aggressive sole units than the Mudclaws and a more traditional lacing system, which will probably be to more people's taste. The Roclite 295 and 319 are more suited to off road trail running and offer more comfort, cushioning and support than the Mudclaws. However, it still has a studded sole unit and would make a good choice for a mountain marathon on sun baked ground or someone less concerned with speed than comfort.

Inov8 once again managed to rock the mountain running world when it announced the arrival of its first ‘Barefoot Running' shoe last year. The principle seems simple, they say that the human foot is not designed to be so heavily cushioned and supported by shoes, therefore strip away everything that's not necessary and see what you're left with. True bare foot running is not that practical, so what you get is an incredibly aggressive but lightweight sole unit teamed with very, very lightweight uppers. The issues at present are that although the principle sounds like common sense, there is little to no long term scientific evidence or research in to the ‘benefits' or effects of the principle. The long standing argument has been that we ran around without a multitude of padding under our feet for thousands of years and it didn't do us any harm, cue here conversations of survival of the fittest etc etc etc. Additionally trying to adopt the bare foot principle is pretty hard work, as most of us are so used to shoes with large amounts of support and padding that we have to cautiously train our feet and legs to accept the method, it can be very hard to start with and we can be left wondering what are we doing.

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist Inov8 Baregrip 200 - Dave MacFarlane

 

Adventure athlete Nik Cook provided an in depth review and article of shoes with the Barefoot principle in mind and focussed specifically on Inov8's Baregrip 200, you can find the full article on planetFear here .

 

 

If you're concerned about how your feet are going to cope with the rigours of a mountain marathon or adventure race, then Anna McCormack's article, 'The Hardcore Approach to Foot Care' should scare and/or help you. 

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane



18. Hydration

Staying fully hydrated during an event is difficult and mountain marathon competitors face unique challenges (there is a comprehensive article here)

Your first choice is whether or not to carry water. The benefit of carrying water is that you 'should' stay hydrated at all times. However, there is the weight penalty of carrying water with you at all times. Additionally, it's worth remembering that if you use a bladder, you won't be able to see how much you are drinking as easily. Bear in mind that an elite competitor may have a starting sack weight of circa 4kg, if you were then to add 1 or 2 litres of water, that's 1 or 2 kg of additional weight! Some competitors run with just a small plastic mug that they can quickly use to drink from streams as they pass. From personal experience I prefer to carry a small 0.5L water bottle with a wide lid like the OMM Ultra Bottle. This allows me to fill and drink from quickly, but also mix in energy powders and carry for short periods if necessary.

If you are going to take a bladder, make sure it is one with a wide mouth...they are 1000 times faster to fill from a stream compared to the standard, cap closed bladder. However regular Playpus bladders are included here as so many people seem to use them, perhaps due to them being cheaper than others. Also, consider a pack that allows you to store the bladder on the outside as this will save a lot of time when refilling.

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

 

If you want to use a hydration system try wrapping a bungee cord or elastic band around the bladder. This will force the water out under pressure and it actually makes it easier to drink while on the move as less sucking is required.

Although most people will be happy to drink straight from the streams and rivers during an event you may feel it necessary to purify your water first. This is particularly important if you have just completed a course of antibiotics, which may mean your stomach isn't as robust as normal. Full details here>>>.


19. Misc Essentials

Rucksack liners 
If the weather is forecast to be really terrible then an additional rucksack liner will help keep everything dry. Worth adding to your Friday night bag just in case.More>>>

Stuff Sacks 
Can be useful for keeping all your kit organised and dry but don't over do it... I know one competitor who insists on putting every item of kit in a separate stuff sack, which costs time (try putting on your waterproof trousers) and adds weight (10 x 10g etc). More>>>

Insect repellent & Midge Net
This may sound like a real extravagance but at my first LAMM, competitors were outnumbered by midges by about a billion trillion to one and I wouldn't have exchanged my midge net for a kilo of gold! I always stick one in my Friday night bag so at the very least I can be comfortable the night before. More>>>

Ear Plugs
The overnight camp is going to be crowded and you'll be camped very close to your fellow competitors. If one of your neighbours likes to snore or shag (yes it has happened!) then your ear plugs will be very welcome. Oh and at the Scottish based MM's there's often bagpipes before dawn to rouse the competitors, tough luck if you've a late start, luckily we like bagpipes.More>>>

Freezer Bags/Carrier Bags

Sealable freezer bags are great for all sorts of things. I take three large ones with me. One for each foot (for keeping my feet dry at the overnight camp) and a third one to use as a water carrier, which saves me going back and forth to the water source.

First Aid Kit, Compeed & Pain killers
Most events insist on ‘bandage and wound dressing' as a minimum. I made a trip to my local Boots and bought the smallest bandage and smallest wound dressing in the shop. After an unpleasant experience with a blister (above) I supplemented this kit with some compeed second skin. All this is sealed in small freezer bag and weighs very little. More>>>

Tin Foil
This acts as a windbreak around your stove and pan lid. Only needs to be one layer thick and this improves cooking efficiency dramatically.

Emergency Rations
Let's face it you're not going to starve to death, should the worst happen. Therefore the emphasis is on taking as little as possible whilst still complying with the rules. I bought the smallest, lightest packet of powdered soup and the smallest, lightest bar of chocolate I could find. End results: some emergency rations that weighed in at 43g.

Whistle 
I don't think we need to get too technical here! It's worth noting that a lot of packs come with a whistle built into the buckle so no chance of losing or forgetting it, but they can bring varying results of success, some are useless, some not bad, it may be worth carrying a separate actual whistle. More>>>

 

 The planetFear 2012 Mountain Marathon Kitlist - Dave MacFarlane

 

Finally

We hope that you find this article informative and useful. Any suggestions on your weight saving ideas are welcome and any great ones will be add to this article. In the meantime the major UK mountain marathons are:

The Highlander - Hands On Events - April 

The Lowe Alpine Mountain Marathon - June

The Saunders Lake DIstrict Mountain Marathon - July 

The Rab Mountain Marathon - Dark and White Events - September/October 

The Original Mountain Marathon - October 

 

 

All Images and Videos - Dave MacFarlane 

 

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