Fellrunning, as most of you know, is tough. You’re combining the sport of marathon running with the added terrain and challenge of the mountainous outdoors. As well as a great level of fitness, you need the right kit to keep you going and most importantly, safe. Every year, unprepared runners are turned back by lack of preparation when they’re training and competing. Here are a few of the must-have items for a budding trail runner.
Headtorch: Probably number one on the list, a head torch comes in handy both day and night for when conditions worsen. Losing your way on the hill can be deadly – so make sure you get one that has a decent lumen rating. Silva torches are a good low-cost option. If the battery life is suspect, pack a spare.
Clothing: Aside from a pair of shorts and a top – you’ll need a windproof and waterproof jacket to handle changeable British weather. Select a model with a high hydrostatic head so it can withstand a proper soaking and also keep on top of caring for it or you’ll wear it out.
Since you’ll be running in it, you’ll need one that has great breathability or you’ll end up caked in sweat and overheating. Something lightweight is also key, so choose a performance brand like Montane or Arc’teryx. You should also try to get a jacket that has high visibility in the dark – in case you end up lost on the hill and need rescued. Every little helps.
Your footwear will depend on preference. Some beginners wear normal trainers but fell shoes are superior as they are far more grippy on dangerous surfaces.
Backpack: A small backpack on a long run is essential. You can tuck your jacket away in the webbing or you can store a hydration pack in it to stay quenched on the go. Again, go for something small and light.
First aid kit: After reviewing life systems recently, I’d be remiss to not include a first aid kit. A small kit in your bag can be super useful – but again you’ll need to save weight so it can be worth discarding the larger kit and just packing a few plasters and a bandage kit in your backpack.
Map and compass: Can be replaced with a GPS if you have a small and dependable one, but a real map and compass and the ability to navigate with them is a practical necessity for runners.
Nutrition and hydration: At the very least, you’ll need a bottle of water with you. You can get a simple handle bottle for an easy-carry method. For longer runs, you’ll need more water so a hydration pack comes into its own.
As for food on the go, you need something that won’t upset your stomach or slow you down and can be enjoyed on the run. Making your own trail mix from nuts and dried fruit is a light and simple way to keep the carbohydrates flowing. If you want to take it up a notch, you can consume carbohydrate energy gels like MaxiNutrition Fuelmax.
Post-run, you need to consume the right mixture of proteins and good carbohydrates to help your body recover. Food such as chicken, steak, fish and pulses all have lots of protein in them. Whey protein shakes are not just for bodybuilders, and can be great for helping those aching legs get back into shape.
If I cut my knee open and It’s a freezing cold day I am well sorted. I got sent these two lovely items from the great people at Lifesystems. I needed a decent first aid kit and seeing as I spend a lot of my time outdoors in the UK sometimes in a kayak then a waterproof one would be ideal. This is the waterproof first aid kit. All the stuff inside is sealed in a resealable bag. The contents is adequate for say a hike or a quick 1 days paddle. I would take something more substantial on anything more than 1 or 2 days but the point of this sort of kit is it’s light and something you can just have in your pocket or in your day-sack.
The hand warmers are 2 packs of gel that are started by pressing a disk within the packs and give off a good 90 minutes of heat. The good thing about these are they can be reused. You simply boil them for 10 minutes until the liquid becomes opaque and you have a couple of hand warmers on your hands…………….so to speak.
Now days the choice of an outdoor jacket has become just as important as the boot. The price range of mens jackets for example can range from a few quid for a paclite jacket (that will make you sweat more than keep rain off) to in the thousands of pounds which are cut and designed to very high specifications usually for serious mountain climbers.
I own a few jackets for the outdoors but the truth is I have 2 that I use all year round and I have had these jackets for many years. Not so long ago your main jacket did everything. Kept you warm, dry and comfortable in all weathers. These jackets you now see less of because most people use the layering system.
I have what most normal would call a “bit of a problem” with my fetish sorry fascination and interest in Gore Tex. I think it comes from the times when I first had a Gore Tex jacket when I was in the Army and it actually kept me dry.
Before that we were issued with the cheapest and nastiest bits of kit imaginable. They literally spared every expense back in those days and I spent many a miserable night in the hills of the Brecon Beacons soaked wet through. So when we were issued with the new jackets I never looked back.
I now have a lightweight North Face waterproof jacket that has to be one of my favorite bits of kit. I have had this beauty for about 12 years now and it has never let me down and is still going strong to this very day. In fact it is packed away in my rucksack ready for a weekend in the hills.
I’m starting to get back into the ultra light weight mode of kit and as such I am now looking out for a new jacket. I might even try out a different material from Gore Tex…………………………………………….No I wont.
I was contacted and asked what do I always carry in my rucksack? What are my essentials?
It all depends on the environment, duration and weather but there are few things I do always take and these are mostly based around safety. So just for the purposes of this I have worked it out as a 2 day hike where there are plenty of trees in the midst of a typical autumn in the UK.
As you can see from the pictures I do use a lot of dry bags. They keep my stuff dry and it helps a lot with organizing my kit. The rucksack is an 80 liter Canyon from Mountain Warehouse which is more than enough for this of thing. I have a philosophy of not packing my gear to its maximum compression which is a common mistake.
The idea is to pack it as if I was outdoors which is different from doing it in a nice warm room out of the wind and rain. I still take the time to do it in a logical manner but I don’t take ages trying to make everything small. This helps tremendously when I am packing up and moving on when outdoors. Another common mistake is to try and fill the rucksack out. I always try to leave as much room as possible spare. You don’t need all that spare gear.
Essentials – These are always with me when I go to remote places.
First Aid Kit
Map and Compass
Waterproofs – Gortex jacket and trousers
Extras – While this stuff is not under essentials it doesn’t make them less important it’s just that this stuff changes a lot depending on what I am doing.
Warm/ Windproof Top
I agree you can’t have enough stoves.
I’ve added a few bits and pieces to this mug to make it into a truly lightweight cooking option. The advantage of titanium is that it’s light and fairly strong although it will bend quite easily if you put any weight on it.
If I’m walking over a 2 or 3 day period this is what I will take with me. I use an alcohol gel for the fuel and just a little splodge is more than enough to boil water. If I’m going lightweight I will use freeze-dried rations such as the ones you get from Mountain Warehouse.
In the process of adding a “Kit Section” to this blog I thought I would share this first part to what will be an on going feature of writing about kit. I have just come out of a 2 year kit monster binge. Even when I’m in the shop buying stuff I kind of know I don’t really need it. Well I’ve got an attic full of the stuff now. The kit I will write about is the stuff I always use on expeditions over the years and as such are useful and even essential. So I’ve broken it down into sections such as cooking,shelter, tools etc this first one is from the cooking outdoors section. It also has a video at the bottom of the page of me gobbing off about it.
You need something:
- easy to clean (you do a lot of this)
- small enough to fit in with the rest of your kit
- big enough to hold an adequate sized meal with lots of calories to keep you going outdoors
A cooking system needs all these attributes but above all it needs to be easy to use. You should be able to knock up a hot meal or a hot brew within minutes. When your cold and tired the last thing you want is to unpack a load of plastic Tupperware boxes that look great in the kitchen but are a total pain the arse outdoors. Bin your colorful Swedish made camp kits and get down to how to do it properly.
I was a bit peeved that Haile Gebrselassie got his free pair of Adidas boost before me. What has he ever done for running? :)
Anyway. So i have run about 26 miles (not in one go i might add) and i found the claim that they bounce back higher than other trainers hard to prove in normal everyday running but they are comfortable and they did not give any sore points which i usually get from new trainers especially on the left toe.
I personally don’t think they look great but that’s just an aesthetic thing and not so important on my list of priorities for a trainer. Ny daughter thinks they look “well cool” what do i know hey? One other small gripe is that i found the sizes to be wrong. When i opened the box it said they were size 11. When i tried them on i found they were quite snug. Now my feet haven’t swollen up and my other size 10 trainers fit perfectly fine unless i got a beta version of the trainers i can see that being a bit of a problem down the line so to speak.