After a jam packed year of ultramarathons and testing out plenty of kit in the lead up to Marathon des Sables back in 2019 I’ve got a pretty good handle on my kit list now so thought with my races almost over for the year that I would pull together my go to kit list for the long miles ahead. From the outset I want to say that a few of the items have been gifted to me over the years but that does not affect my opinion of them at all, all of these items are on here on their own merit I am and never will be under any obligations to say nice things about products! If you have any questions or want to know more about any of the items on the list just drop me a comment or a DM on Instagram, I have also put links to all of the products in this post if you want to head over and buy any. Right here we go…
Ultimate Direction Fastpack 25: This was my pack for Marathon des Sables but I have used it hundreds of times since. It is my go to for races with a long kit list as it has a massive main compartment which can be reduced or expanded from around 20-30 litres thanks to the waterproof roll top closure. I also use it for long hikes as it is incredibly comfortable, has great front storage for large bottles and nutrition and crucially has the best pole attachment of any pack I’ve tested
inov-8 Race Ultra Pro 5: This is my sleeker, racier option when it comes to ultras and I’ve worn it for my first 100K and my recent race at UTMB. It is incredibly lightweight with a variety of rear pockets all of which my inflexible arms can reach into. The thing I love the most about it is the way it stores the water bottles. They can be placed in ‘hammocks’ in the front of the pack which means they can be easily taken out when you get to aid stations and you don’t have to spend hour trying to jiggle them in before you start running again.
Buffs, lots of them. I usually have two of them packed for a race. One goes around my wrist to mop up the sweat or dip in water to cool me down. The other is either on my head or in the pack keeping all my nutrition together. A few of my buffs over the years have also been sacrificed to the toilet gods along the trails which is why I also always have loo roll packed now too…
Petzl Iko Core: This lightweight headlamp is brilliant for two simple reasons; it is bright as car headlights and it stores its battery in the back of the headband. The first reason means you can run in the dark with confidence, although the battery life does suffer if you put it on full beam. The second reason means that you don’t suffer that annoying shake as you run along that I experience with every other headlamp I’ve used. I’ll be posting a full breakdown of this headtorch in my upcoming kit for night running so stay tuned for that
Injinji midweight mini-crew: Yes I wear those gross toe socks. I hated the look of them before I started using them but I fell in love as soon as I slipped them on. Since 2018 I have worn them for almost every race and have never experienced any major blister issues regardless of shoes or conditions I put my feet through.
Leki Micro Trail Pro: Using poles unquestionably helps when it comes to ‘bumpy’ or long ultras and I’ve been using these poles ever since my first ultra back in 2018. They are incredibly lightweight, foldable and come with an attachment system that makes using them even easier for any novice moving in to using poles. They have gloves with an attachment that the poles just click into meaning you have a better freedom of movement and more effective drive forward. Now these are not cheap lets not beat around the bush here but in total I have broken two poles and they have fixed both free of charge so they have proven their worth in that alone. I would really recommend poles to any trail runner or ultra runner coming into the sport.
Now this one is really subjective as a lot of people will use different things and I always encourage people to do a lot of trial and error (or trail and error…) to work out what works for them before raceday. The three things I always carry with me for ultramarathons are gels from Torq and Maurten (both their caffeine and regular options) and at least one Cliff Bar (alpine is my favourite). I have these packed and then graze on what races offer at their aid stations.
inov-8 Race Elite 3in1: Thanks to suffering from Raynaulds, a circulation issue that results in having bright white and incredibly painful fingers I always have gloves packed for an ultra regardless of the season. These gloves are perfect because they are two pairs of gloves bundled together, when worn together the insulation created means I never get a whisper of Raynaulds when wearing them. The glove and mitten are connected, with the mitten tucking into a small pocket on the glove when not in use in a brilliant and simple system.
OMM Rotor Smock: this is arguably the best ebay purchase I ever did as I snatched it for a bargin new for £60 instead of £160 but honestly it is worth the large price tag. It is puffer like jacket that is incredibly lightweight (230g) so much so you wouldn’t expect it to be that warming but it is kept the chill off during the chilly nights in the Sahara, hikes in the Swiss Alpss and freezing winter days in the UK when I was out doing Hurtwood 50K. It has a useful zippered kangaroo pocket at the front, lined with soft-touch fleece that I have used as a pillow when turned inside out on a few occasions.
inov-8 Stormshell Waterproof Jacket: Before inov8 sent over this jacket for me to test out I believed that waterproof jackets were basically like running wearing clingflim; sealing in all the sweat and all the juices. This jacket however is surprisingly breathable while still providing incredible protection from the elements and does not restrict movement.
The big one and arguably the most important bit of kit tied in first place with your choice of pack. I was going to put in two pairs of trail shoes but honestly I have only worn one pair of trail shoes for all my ultras this year and have loved every mile in them. The TRAILFLY ULTRA G 300 MAX from inov-8 wins the award for the world’s longest shoe name but also my favourite trail shoe of the year by miles (literally seeing as I’ve put about 700 miles through mine). They are inov-8’s max cushion shoe that pairs incredible grip and comfort underfoot with snappy energy return thanks to its Graphene enhanced foam. I’ve run a 50K PB in them, clocked up my first ever 100KM and climbed mountains in them. They wont get you a Parkrun PB but if you are looking for a shoe to munch up the miles and never quit, these shoes are for you.
Garmin Fenix 6S Solar: this was my new, and very expensive, purchase this year having used the Forerunner 935 for three years and while the smaller face took a bit of getting used to I love the design, features and crucially the battery life!
2XU: I’ve worn their lyca tops and shorts for many years to keep everything in place while I run and to offer that extra layer of warmth and support.
Anything: honestly with the 2XU top on I don’t really think too much about what I throw over it
Anything or inov-8 Race Elite 7”: Again with the 2XU shorts on I haven’t been too fussed about what shorts I wear but since August’s MCC race at UTMB I have been wearing inov-8’s two in one short with an inner lining that is the first I haven’t wanted to cut out as they usually just annoy me! They are comfortable and being a larger runner they don’t give me an even bigger muffin top than I already have!
These are bits that I chuck in my pack for most races and they are all pretty self explanatory!
- Latte Sachet: if I get desperate I will eat just the powder or mix it with cold water for a caffeine kick
- Loo Roll: to try and save me from losing more buffs
- Rennies: a stomach settler
- Battery pack: I have two from Pebble depending on the length of race
- Powerbeats Pro: my pick of headphones as they fit my weird ears and I don’t have to worry about them falling out.
- Safety Pins: in case one keeping my bib attached falls off but also for anything else that might come loose during the run.
- Salt tablets: for emergencies and for hot races