The Essential North Face 100 Gear List

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:

The choice of champions

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

A good solid choice for a headlamp

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.

Expense compass or cool watch?

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.

Compression Bandage

All good chemists, but make sure its wide enough.

FireLighter block

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)

Like our articles? Take a second to support Ultra168 on Patreon from as little as $1 a month!
Dan on Twitter
I'm a mediocre runner who can bat above his average when I train hard. A man of extremes, I do enjoy everything life offers and consider it an absolute pleasure just to be able to put one foot in front of the other and let my mind wander somewhere different.

36 thoughts on “The Essential North Face 100 Gear List

  1. Hi Dan,
    Right on the money! The last couple of days I have been going through the list from organisers and alot of stuff to carry.Thanks for the list. I don’t think Footpoint have stock of the S LAB 12 yet?

  2. Hi Shane

    I spoke to the importer and it seems no deliveries of the S-lab 12 packs until June now. On that advice I’ve trashed the idea of the S lab 12 and purchased an XA20 pack (and saved about $100)

  3. And you might want to think about a pair of Hoka OneOne Stinson Evo or Bondi for your feet 🙂 Resupply landing from US next Wednesday after first batch just about sold out across most sizes in a month.
    Great choices Dan. Would also recommend a Fenix HP10 as a torch – powerful, reliable, waterproof, and available for less than $100. I’ve got no respect for Lensers after seeing a pacer’s brand new one fall to pieces when the battery compartment was opened during a race.
    And i can’t believe how insanely overpopulated the gear list is. Love the race but loathe the packing!!

    1. Where did they buy it? As I’ve mentioned in the Lenser review, there’s a bucketload of dodgy replicas on the market and if it was bought cheaply, then it was probably a fake.

      Also, Roger, happy to let your ‘promotion’ on Hokas through this time, but the comments section isn’t a place for pushing wares 🙂 Of course, if you have happy customers that are happy to recommend them, then we have no issues with that at all 🙂

      1. Zac, here’s the rationale. Yes the article promotes wares, but I have no affiliation or financial interest in any of the products mentioned above. I support them because I think they’re good. I have no issue with roger mentioning the Felix torch because that is a recommendation, I also have no issues with anyone not affiliated with hoka telling people on here how great they are too. What we don’t want is people promoting stuff because it’s what they do as part of their job and they have an interest. The same reason why Andrew won’t be doing salomon reviews for ultra168 now he is on the salomon team, because there is a vested interest. We keep it clean and we keep it simple so that people know where the boundaries are. If people want to advertise they can speak to us about it, but for us, it’s all about open and impartial recommendations. Now get back in your student box 🙂

      2. Thanks Dan, thanks Andrew and from way out of left field, thanks Zac : )

        To be fair Dan, it is an article on gear recommends, Ultra168 is a running news source, I work for Hoka but think and speak here as a runner, not a marketer, and you’re, thankfully, not Colin.

        But I get what you’re saying. andy Hewat has reviewed the Stinson Evo in the latest issue of He has no interest in Hoka, he’s the kind of credible reviewer you’re asking for, would you guys want to repost that review for readers to consider? It is something different that 168 hasn’t wtitten about at all yet.

      3. Cheers Roger I think we both see each others point so no worries. Play hard, and play fair 🙂

        As for the review, what we don’t do is republish other people’s material as given the number of people that read both Ultra168 and Trail Run Mag, it would be pointless sending the same message to people twice, which in my real day paying job of PR land, is something I never recommend to my clients, so I don’t do it here. We want to create original content.

        Don’t get me wrong I respect Andy greatly as one of the leading minds on ultra running in Australia, and people can read his review at Trail Run Mag, so thanks for posting the link.

        What we’ll do is get one of our editorial board members to do a thorough review of the Hokas. Typically, most shoe manufacturers send us a lot of details and specs, and in some cases brief us thoroughly when we do reviews, as we need the information and the understanding before we can put forward a proper review to make sure we include everything for a good old fashioned balanced review.

        I’ll contact you offline to get the information we need and also send a list of questions we’ll have about the shoe too as I have lots of things I’d like to know about the shoe given how left-field it is to most other shoes on the market. How does that sound?

  4. Awesome Info, thanks for that.. I am trying to attain all this gear now for my first TNF100, and also believe that it’s better to get things that will last for future events/training.. I was interested in the led lenser headtorch as I have a couple of led lenser torches which I love for running boot camp sessions.. but I just ordered a black diamond storm… I’ll test it out (maybe that can be my backup???) Also a quick question about the dry sack, what size would you recommend to fit all the mandatory gear in???
    Thanks again for all the great advice that you guys offer!!!! 🙂

    1. Hey Jamie, thanks for your kind words – have a read of teh review for the Lenser H7, and like I said, buy it from an authorised dealer if you go down that route. There’s a list of them on the LED website. If you buy from Ebay, and its coming from Asia, you can bet that it’s not quite what you think it is. LED have also got a warning on their website about this, so prolific is the issue.

      Also for the dry sack, I think a 5 litre one should do you fine… I think that’s what I have.

      1. Thanks for he reply Dan. Just another quick question about the Montane Lite Speed H2O Jacket, does I breath well? I read some reviews of last years model suggesting that I didn’t, has this been improved in this model???
        Thanks again 🙂

  5. I reckon I got the last 12 SLAB available from on-line at Castleberg Outdoors in the UK….great pack. I also bought some time ago this headlamp
    and thinking of buying this handheld lamp
    I wonder why I haven’t seen recommendations in buying the Spot 2 Emergency Beacon. I carry one when running alone (which is probably going to be the case at NF) it is small, light and has unreal tracking features.

    Hey Daniel..I’ to hear your thoughts about what I bought and intend to buy, Thanks for posting this list.

    1. Cheers Michael. I’ve never used a Fenix light so no in a position to comment about them, but I have heard good things about them, and Roger above gives them the thumbs up too. As regards a beacon, it’s an interesting topic to discuss, because as more and more people start doing what we do, there will inevitably be an increased chance of issues occurring out in the bush.

      I think when running alone, the idea of a spot is a sensible one for sure, particularly if you’re heading off into areas that you’re not that aware of. Even if you’re not, you never know when something might happen, like a snake bite for example. Good call.

    2. Aha you beat me to the Castleberg Outdoors packs – I placed an order there just before they set the out of stock message and missed out.

      Still waiting for my pack to arrive from Germany now (its been 3 weeks), I think its on a boat!

      I wonder how the Spot SOS function would work in AU – as the help center is in the USA I assume they would have some kind of relationship with law enforcement agencies around the world?

  6. Good review Dan, and I agree with a lot of your gear choices. I was lucky or unlucky depending on how you view it to use all of my mandatory gear I have collected for TNF100 over the last 5 years as a spectator at this years shortened Bogong to Hotham race. As I wrote in my report, the gear was required to keep me from suffering exposure and keeping me functioning to assist with the logistics of getting everyone off the mountain safely.

    As for some of personal choices, I love my North Face waterproof pants. Lightweight, 100% waterproof and easy to wear without restricting movement.

    I agree with the Sandwich bag approach. Watertight seal world every time if you leave them in your pack.

    AYUP for me all the way, night into day is ideal for that last 11km section over those never ending stairs.

    North Face thermal gloves, keep me warm even when they are soaking wet. I have had them for over 5 years and apart from a small hole in one of the pinkies, they are still going strong.

    Another backpack option and one I used for the first 3 years of TNF100 is the Ion20 by TNF, a little larger and ideal for those who want to carry a little more gear if you are going to be out there for a few more hours than the pros

    A bit like running into snakes, you end up using your mandatory gear when you least expect it.

  7. The website i looked at describes the jacket as “The Lite-Speed H2O is a very lightweight, simple, moderately waterproof and breathable jacket for active outdoor sports”… is “moderately waterproof” enough for TNF? I’m a TNF100 virgin and was under the impressing my existing water-resistant jacket wasn’t good enough to meet the mandatory gear list?

    1. Hey Sputnik, I think the only requirement is that it has to have a hood and be waterproof. I’ll check on the rules, but if so, I think the montane would be fine. If in doubt, drop the race director, Tom a line or one of his team and they would confirm it.

      1. My Litespeed passed inspection last year, tape-sealed seams and hood would be good to go. Always worth remembering that if you’re running, say 18 hours or more you will probably want to wear something more protective. A superlight jacket like this does the job if you’re maintaining core temp by running hard and don’t have to be in the cold or wet for too long. You’ve got checkpoints where you can change gear if you plan ahead.
        The ultralight jacket you carry for 55km or more might not be what you end up using. The best light shells that are use-worthy that I found after a bunch of research are the Rab Demand, which is an eVent pull-on that comes in around 270g and works brilliantly, and the Haglofs Ozo, which is a 180g Goretex pull-on. The Montane Minimus is also very light for what it does, weighing in around 212g and significantly more breathable than the Litespeed, but it also sizes quite large and falls down a bit as the temp gets closer to freezing.

  8. Hi guys,
    love the site and the advice threads.
    Great article as well.
    Does anybody have some advice on sizing for the Salomon SLAB 12?
    Has anyone trail tested both? XS/S and M/L
    I was just going to go for a M/L if I could source it, with me being a M/L in most other mens gear.


    1. Hey Fourts,

      Fingers crossed the sizing is consistent… I’ve ordered an M/L but those size specs can be confusing. Otherwise I may end up with an M/L and be looking for an XS/S swap 🙂

  9. My 2 Cents or 1.6c Aus – (FI in Soly packs and Shoes). All that gear is less than required for the Kepler, 1 less top and 1 less pair of pants. So will fit into a pack way smaller than the 12, certainly way less than the XA20.

    Jacket – Outdoor Research Helium @ 193gms is a fantastic option
    Thermals – I was shown a set of North Face ones, 1st thing from them that I’ve ever drooled over.
    Lights – Run faster :p I think it’s pretty much a given that the reviews are in and AYUPs/Lenser etc are the business. You pay for what you get. Get one of those and you can skimp on the backup.
    Beanie – Big convert to Buff which double nicely as a sweat band or just ties around the wrist if space is limited.

    Have fun, by the way, about 5-6 reasonbly solid Kiwi’s coming over for it. Should all be capable of top 20 and Vajin will be hunting for a podium/win

  10. Dan one item that’s not mentioned is trekking poles. Iv’e received feedback from runners who all have different opinions, Some say great idea, some say unnecessary,as there aren’t two many hills. I suppose it all depends on who you ask, how fit they are and for what race you intend to run. As this is my first TNF and to be honest, not great on hills,I wonder whether carrying poles is a waste of time and space or not. There are many staircases and hills like Nellies Glen for one, I feel that it would be a benefit to use poles to give you that extra support for tired legs. I use them for trekking and they are great, but may not be the case for running ultra’s. There are two poles I’m considering buying and they are the Fizan compact poles or the Black Diamond Ultra Distance Z Poles, supposedly very light weight poles…….wonder what your opinion is with regards to using poles at TNF…thanks mate

    1. Don’t over complicate it. It’s a simple sport. More time training will make you better off than hours researching which relaxing sticks are better. “Just Run” it’s that simple.

  11. Is montane really a British company? I spent the last 4 weeks in the UK and didn’t find a single outdoor store that stocked montane jackets. The only one I found was the wind breaker in running stores. I ended up ordering it online from the states. Incidentally I went for the minimus as I wanted something that was actually waterproof, many reviews of the H20 say it’s waterproofing isn’t all that good.

    1. Hi Adz, it sure is…… the H20 is right on the borderline for sure. If you’re planning on spending 18+hours out on the course at North Face and the weather looks hairy, I’d advise getting something a little more heavy-duty.

      The racing snakes around 12-14 hours should be good, but again, as always everything is personal preference and what you feel comfortable with. I train most weekends in the Blue Mountains and if i see that the weather is going to be heavy, I pack a more robust jacket, but usually go with a Montane featherlight that weighs in at 75g.

  12. Hey Everyone,
    I just ordered the Lab12 from REI through getpriceusa as the friendly lads at Footpoint weren’t 100% if they’d have stock before Wild Endurance, but hopefully for everyone they stock in before TNF and can shift a few.

    re Jackets – a good, *fairly* (300g) light, cheaper (find a sale) alternative, at least for the night section (and if the weather is looking grim), is the Macpac Traverse. It’s a no frills, but all requirements, eVent jacket that is highly breathable and built solid.

    re the Ambit – has anyone played with this enough to establish settings which will allow them to push 20hrs of battery life? While I’m aiming for a 16hr finish for TNF, i’m taking Wild Endurance pretty easy. I obviously want to use the GPS function, so reckon I could drop that down to less regular recording. However, I also use the HR function. I don’t need to record my HR, but i’d love to at least be able to display it… It’s an awesome watch and am still wrapping my head around how customisable it is.


  13. nice to see another Merino devotee….I ran TNF100 last year in my own Merino Brand…if interested in wearing an Australian owned merino product try (some stocks are a little low due to good sellthrough into north american market over the peak of their winter) I reccomend 2 layers of fine wool, 160 Grams per Square metre with a 220 or 260 gram/SQM for the “fleece” layer. Warning: once you go natural WOOL synthetics just wonnt be the same.

Leave a Reply