A lot of people have strong opinions regarding what you should have and not have when it comes to equipment. Many people have their personal favorites and what works for one does not always work for another. After many years on the trail track I have gathered some experience and I know what works for me, but I really want to share my tips on what equipment is good to have and which mistakes you don’t have to do when it comes to your choice.
Shoes are incredible personal and it’s really hard to give any specific advice. To me my strike is most important and that is something that goes hand in hand or foot in foot with your shoes. To get the most natural strike as possible I often use shoes with thin and very flexible soles, and with little or no drop. But when it comes to run 120 km between Nikkaluokta and Abisko the conditions differ quite a bit from my regular training ground. Most part of the race is very hard and many miles you will run on hard rock. So for this race I think it’s important to choose a shoe with a little bit thicker sole but still with a low drop which suits me the best. You have probably tried some shoes over the years and know what your feet like but don’t forget that the ground will be hard.
To not have to worry about dust and gravel in my shoes I will use gaiters. Gaiters are light and you won’t have to worry about sore feet when it comes to chafing from small pebbles.
With a self sufficient race comes the question of how to carry the extra equipment, energy, water and other stuff you will need during your race. You have some really good lightweight backpacks and you have the race vest, which really takes comfortable to the next level. For me the choice will be a race vest because they really are made for running and made for carrying energy and water in the best possible way. A race vest has specific pockets for gels and for example salt pills so it’s really easy to pick up and eat while you’re running. When it comes to storing fluids you have the choice to either use a bladder or bottles, or maybe a combo. But you do have some disadvantage with using a bladder during a longer race when you have to refill and maybe mixing some energy drink. With a bladder you don’t see how much is left in it and when refilling you have to take it out of your race vest or backpack and then refill it. With a couple of water bottles which you could put in pockets on your chest it will be much easier refilling and mixing your energy. Another advantage is that you could have one bottle with some mixed energy solution and one with only water.
How much space do you need? Of course it depends on what you will take with you and the size of your extra garments. I choose a vest with a packing size of approximately 11 liters, more shouldn’t be needed.
Poles are allowed in Tierra Arctic Ultra and with poles come advantages and disadvantages, so the question is do you want to use poles?
Among the advantages you have relief of pressure from your legs, better balance, support when crossing rivers and some relief when running down. Among the disadvantages is that they could be a danger if you fall, you use more energy and you add more weight to your pack. In this race I think the disadvantages takes over the advantages but if you decide to use poles you must train with poles. Another important thing about poles is to use poles that is as lightweight as possible and takes a little space when you don’t use them.
A good watch with a built in GPS could really come in handy. You could download the route to your watch and if you take the wrong path the watch will warn you so you won’t get lost. It’s also possible to use the watch with reminders when you should refuel and fill up on energy so you won’t forget to eat when you start to get really tired. And of course you need a watch if you have put up a time plan.
A part of the mandatory equipment. On the seventh of August in the area around Kebnekaise the sun sets at 22.14 and rises again at 03.33, but it won’t get totally dark it’s more like dusk. Nevertheless a good head torch will come in handy to light your path during the hours of little light. I will bring a light head torch but with a really bright light. And don’t forget a spare battery.
Clothing for running is really a jungle but is probably something you know what to use but I’ll try to give some good advice. If we take a look at the list of mandatory equipment we will for example find a waterproof jacket and windproof pants, there is a lot to choose from and light is right. When we talk about waterproof garments, it’s worth to mention to bring waterproof gloves and a waterproof hat. During summertime in the Swedish mountains it could get cold and if it also rains you could get really cold. Another part of our body we want to keep warm is our feet and the easiest way to do so is to use socks made in merino wool. The merino wool keeps warming you even if its soaked, so try out a pair of running socks with much merino wool and bring a extra pair to the start line. Another garment worth mentioning is a buff, a really versatile garment.
I hope you have learned something from this article! I will be back with some more about clothing when Tierra releases their new exciting collection of running garments this spring. I will test some of it and give you a test report.
Any questions? You can find me on www.trailloparen.se