With around 6 weeks left for the North Face 100, many people will start to turn their attention to the gear they have to carry. It’s fair to say that for this event, there’s a lot of it, which is why it pays to make sensible choices about what you should or shouldn’t pick. Of course for some people, cost and price is a factor too, and we know that not everyone can afford the latest and greatest.
When I buy gear, my view is to buy quality and stuff that will last and I know I can use it again, which is foremost in my mind as I’ve complied this gear list. Of course, you will have differing opinions for sure, as we all have favourite brands that we like to use, but if you’re stuck for that final piece of gear, hopefully this little lot will help you to get what you need.
One thing we would say is that while the extensive gear requirements seem over the top, if it rains and its cold, you’ll be thanking your lucky stars that you had this gear. Every year we see people trying to get away with not carrying some of the gear – quite simply, it’s not worth it – just carry it. Everyone else is and in all reality at 84kms in as you’re just nearing the top of Kedumba, you won’t give two stuffs by then anyway.
So without further ado, here’s our gear essentials for this year’s race:
Running Pack: Salomon SLab 12 pack
With the amount of gear you have to take for the race, the pack is a big choice to make. No-one wants to be lugging around a massive 20 litre pack, but at the same time, you need to make sure you can fit everything in it. We appreciate that these are hard to come by right now, but if you have a choice, try to get your mits on one of these. Quite simply, they just work and the fit your body like a glove and the assortment of pockets are right where you need them to access all of your items while on the move.
Alternatively, because these are in such short demand, some of our own personal recommendations include the Salomon XT Wings 10+3, or the XA20 too. I know Darrel is a big fan of the latter and has about 20 million 0f these stashed in his garage, so if you’re struggling for finding them, make a trip up to the Central Coast
Long Sleeve Thermal Top and pants: Icebreaker Merino Wool long sleeve top and pants 200 weight top
There’s a variety of thermals you can buy on the market, from some basic items that hit around the $30 mark, right up to some top of the range snazzy silk numbers. I personally love merino, and when the winter comes along, it pretty much what I’ll wear whilst running as we wait for summer to arrive once again. There’s a couple of schools of thought where thermals are concerned. Sure you can go and buy some $30 cheapies from Paddy’s Market and let them sit in the cupboard for another year ahead of TNF 2013, of you can spend a bit of cash and wear it most of the year round. I sit in the latter category. I also love the fact that you can go online and see which sheep made your gear too.
Waterproof Jacket with hood: Montane Lite Speed H2O Jacket
As our leader of ultra-running, Kilian Jornet says, “I love the Montane”, and like him, I love the Montane too, and in particular this jacket. Number one, it’s light at only 180grams. Secondly, for that weight it has a hood, and thirdly, Montane is British. Job done.
Beanie/Balaclava/Buff: Merino wool jobby
See thermals above. I love merino and I will wear it wherever I can.
Full fingered lightweight gloves: Merino wool jobbies
See above. I know it might appear as though I have an obsession with Merino wool, but I do like quality gear that works, and merino does the job. I do not have a vested interest in keeping the sheep community in NZ in business by the way!
High Visibility Safety Vest: Pretend you’re a tradie for the day
No option here but to make out you work on a building site. If in doubt go and spend a day working with Ultra168′s Darrel Robins and he’ll give you one for free
Headlamp: Ayup Ultra-lite or Lenser H7
Have a butchers at our feature on the Lenser, this is a cracking halfway house of you don’t want to spend $@50 on a headlamp. However if you insist on blinding as many ultra runners as possible in one race, the Ayups are truly worth it and will make dark appear as day. Quality bit of kit.
Small backup Headlamp: LED Lenser P5R
OK, so you can go for a really lightweight torch here, like the elite or something, but me being me tends to go for something with a bit more grunt. In 2010, my headtorch failed on me as I was going through that crappy last section, so out came the e-lite. And my word was it useless. My point here is, get yourself something that’s going to at least give you the ability to see. It could make 30 mins difference on the last section if you need to use it. Of course, your decision as to whether you take the chance. For most people, you’ll be fine. For the odd one or two, it will screw up your race.
Mobile Phone: Whatever is in your pocket
I carry an iphone, I guess this makes me an iprick, but you can take lots of pretty pictures along the way and show all your mates on Facebook how great you are.
Compass: Silva or Suunto Ambit
Now we know not everyone has an Ambit, but if you want to fling $650 on as watch with one, this will save you around 30grs in your backpack
Whistle: Part of pack, of just go into any outdoor shop and bag yourself one
Unless you’re colour blind and can’t follow very bright pink tape then this should never be an issue either. However if you’re feeling like a bit of a dance in the bush and have some fluro gloves to hand, you could always make use of this and start a rave down on Kedumba Pass.
Emergency Space Blanket: Part of Salomon Slab 12l
Or you can grab one of these from a general outdoor shop.
All good chemists, but make sure its wide enough.
Supplied by the organisers as you never know when you might want to get that steak you’ve been saving in your backpack on the go for dinner
Lightweight Dry Sack: Sea to Summit
Pretty easy this one, just get one of these. They work and keep stuff dry.
2L water bladder: Hydrapak
The one in the Salomon backpack is only 1.5l. I use Hydrapaks, but again, much down to personal choice. Most generally do what they say they’re going to do, which is hold water and not leak.
Waterproof Map Case
Grab yourself a sanger bag and stuff all the directions in there. Once again, unless you’re from a land where keeping an eye out for obvious landmarks didn’t enter into the local schools, these should be stuffed at the bottom of your bag and act as a cushion for your bladder.
OPTIONAL GEAR (Likely that you’ll need to stash this at CP4 and use it later on)
Long Leg waterproof pants: Berghaus waterproof pants
Again, we all have favourite brands that we like, and I’m no different. I’ve owned my pair of Berghaus waterproof pants now for nearly 8 years and they’re still going strong. They rock.
100 weight Long Sleeve fleece top: Macpac
I have an Underarmour fleece that I’ve used in the past, but I know the MacPac ones are pretty good too and it seems as though they have a sale on right now too. Have a butchers that them.
If you have any advice on gear, it would be great to hear from you in the comments section so that we can add to the every-growing items of gear that people recommend.
(Feature image credit to Mark Watson)