Tuesday, 21st March 2023
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It's mandatory kit list season!

by editor
Monday 26th June 2017
Tags  Alpkit   |   Montane   |   Patagonia   |   Berghaus   |   inov-8
With lots of summer ultras coming up many of you will be looking at mandatory kit lists and wondering what to splash the cash on. Should you try to save weight or is that scrimping on protection? Is the most expensive option the best one? We asked some of our contributors who know a thing or two about kit for their top tips.
Our expert panel are: 
Robbie Britton, Team GB ultra runner, coach and mountain dweller. 
Rupert Bonington, fell runner, managing director of Mountain Fuel sports nutrition. 
Pip Haylett, UTMB finisher, Run247 contributor
Rob Neal, ultra runner, Run247 kit review geek
First up: THE JACKET

Berghaus Hyper jacket (left) and Alpkit Gravitas (right)

Robbie: Please bear in mind that the 10,000 HH rating is the minimum you should take on the hill and I will be packing the Berghaus Hyper Jacket is tiny and keeps you dry in a shower, but if there's going to be heavy rain, you're out for multiple nights and you are particularly susceptible to the cold then go for a heavier jacket, like something with a 2-3 layer Goretex Shell or equivalent. Nats' Norrona Waterproof is the top end of what you'd want for something like the TDG or a whole night in a storm, basically a jacket built for working in the Arctic Circle.
Rupert: Have a look at this Alpkit Gravitas jacket. Amazing value for a lightweight three layer waterproof jacket. Nicky Spinks wore this jacket for UTMB 2016 and it gave plenty of protection in the storms during the night.

Rob minimus
Rob puts his Minimus jacket through its paces

Rob: I have had my Montane Minimus Jacket for over 3 years now and it has stood up well to a lot of use and abuse so I would highly recommend it. It isn't the lightest jacket on the market but it is still very light and it has given me really good protection against many hours of heavy rain and snow. It also has a really well shaped hood and usefully sized well placed pockets which are two things I really value in a jacket.
Pip: When the forecast is bad, and I know I’m going to get wet, I have the Montane Surge jacket.  This is a new addition to my kit, having found one in a sale at a very good price.  I’ve tried this out in very very wet conditions, and can confirm it is 100% waterproof for 10+ hours. The fit is fantastic for me, with long arms and a good sitting body, I can move without any restriction even when it is very wet on the outside.  It’s a full Gore-tex jacket, with good size pockets, and an adjustable hood, but weighs only 370g.  I love this, and will take it everywhere from now on.
Robbie: Trying to save weight on a head torch is a real false economy, because you just lose confidence in the night and haemorrhage time by not being able to run comfortably, especially on anything technical or downhill. The Petzl Nao can be programmed especially for your needs, has over 500 lumens and reactive light for when you do't need full bore.
Pip: I quite like the Petzl Nao.  It works well for me, I love the reactive nature of it, and the adjustability.  However, I know it is very expensive, and other, cheaper head torches are available.   I think this is a good torch though, and it almost makes it through a long night on one charge. Almost.  A spare battery pack, or spare batteries are recommended for all-nighters.
Robbie: Like the jacket I keep these minimal unless I really intend to use them. I find cheap waterproof pants are still very good, but a little less breathable, but if I'm putting on the bottom half I'm probably less concerned about moving fast at this point and more interested in keeping warm and dry. If you're doing something where you're out for several days/nights in the mountain then again look at something of higher quality.
Rob: I used to carry some really cheap waterproof trousers which would pass kit check but would have been useless to run in. A couple of years ago I bought the inov-8 AT/C Ultrapant Waterproof Trousers which I would highly recommend. They are really lightweight and pack down very small which is great for something that spends most of its time at the bottom of my pack. On the few occasions that the weather has been bad enough that I've had to wear them they were surprisingly comfortable to run in and did the job in keeping the worst of the weather off my legs.

Pat Inov
Patagonia Houdini (left) and inov-8 AT/C Ultrapant Waterproof trousers (right)

Robbie: 180g Baselayer: you often see a heavier base layer mentioned in a kit list, but UTMB gives you the option of taking a lighter one and a windproof jacket and this is a great option, mainly for the versatility. It might get cold, but not cold enough for your waterproof so having something like the Patagonia Houdini, which I have used in all kinds of environment, including the Arctic Circle, to thrown on can be a big help. This is the piece of kit I use all year round in the mountains.
Pip: Such a difficult choice as many can be bulky or make your hands quite sweaty. The Montane Minimus mitts are a good option as they’re thin, breathable and light (44g), pack up really small, but will keep your hands warm and dry. 
A general point on shoes from Robbie: Not mentioned on a kit list, but such a difficult choice for everyone, myself included. I've trialled 10's of different shoes for mountain and ultra races and over the years I come to understand which one factor is most important. Comfort. 
If you're on your feet for hours, on rough terrain, then one thing that matters more than weight, grip, even aesthetics, is how comfortable your feet are, as when painful feet change your gait later in the race and you cannot run in a relaxed and confident manner, you'll just cause all kind of problems.

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