From head to toe, here is my ultra marathon kit list – a checklist for all the ultra marathon gear you’ll need for race day. You’ll most likely need a few other bits and pieces for training in the build up to a big race or in your drop bags during the race but this ultra marathon kit list covers everything you’ll need on the big day.
- Running hat or visor – a running cap is crucial for keeping the sun off your face, protecting your head from sunburn and great for soaking in water to keep yourself cool too.
- Sunglasses – because no one wants to squint for hours on end.
- Buff or neck gaiter – so many uses for this bit of kit, from keeping you that little bit warmer to wrapping around your wrist as a sweat rag.
- Beanie – no matter how hot the day time gets, if you’re running through the night it can get cold and after a day on the trails your head will thank you at 2am.
- Shorts – no need to explain this one hopefully 🙂
- T-shirt – unless you’re one of those mad individuals who runs topless.
- Base layer for warmth – similar to a hat, you’ll need something in addition to your t-shirt for winter races or races when you’ll go through the night. Almost always on the mandatory kit list for most ultra marathons too.
- Lightweight waterproof jacket – again this is usually mandatory ultra marathon kit and will save you getting wet and miserable.
- Gloves – only necessary for colder races or for those who suffer from poor circulation.
Rucksacks and bottles
- Running vest or backpack – you will need something to carry all this kit in. Find a vest or backpack that works for you.
- Water bottles or bladder – whether you’re a bottle, soft flask or bladder person don’t forget something to fill up with water. [Top Tip – give some spares to your crew, it can make the refill process at aid stations much easier and provide a backup should something break or puncture]
- Soft / collapsible cup – most races these days are going cupless. Take a collapsible cup and you’ll be able to enjoy a much needed cup of tea or coffee during the race. There isn’t one up on my site yet but recently I borrowed one from my crew on race day that was great – check out the Sea to Summit X mug.
- Energy gels or bars – like trainers, energy gels or bars are super personal. Test out what works for you in training and stick with it on race day. [Top Tip – research what the aid stations are likely to have and see if they work for you – it will cut down on the amount you need to carry]
- Salt tablets – on a hot day you’ll want to keep your salt levels and electrolytes in balance. There’s a whole lot of science to digest here but I have heard great things about Precision Hydration.
- Snacks – at some point in a race you’ll more than likely get sick of sweet, sugary gels. Find another easy to carry snack to break things up. [Top Tip – watermelon from aid stations on a hot day is simply amazing]
- GPS watch – if you’re anything like me you’re unlikely to forget this one, it’s probably on your wrist 24/7.
- Phone – in addition to taking photos, receiving morale boosting texts and calls, phones are almost always mandatory kit.
- Power bank – if you’re planning on being out for longer than 12hrs a power bank (and all associated charging cables) is a must.
- Head torch – because running in the dark sucks.
- Back-up head torch – see above!
- Headphones – strangely, whilst I love headphones for training I’ve recently opted to race without them so I can stay focused but I’m pretty sure that’s a minority opinion.
- Trail shoes – stick with whatever shoes work for you 🙂
- Running socks – find a good brand that doesn’t give you any blisters and pack a few spare pairs for a mid-race change too.
- Foot tape – you’ll typically want to tape your feet up before you set off but as a minimum you’ll want some tape on you to patch up blisters and hotspots [Top Tip – pre-cut them to size ahead of time]
- Talcum powder – if you’re planning on changing socks during the race talc is a great way of rejuvenating your feet.
- First aid kit – start with a travel first aid kit and then strip it back to the core essentials. Check out what’s mandatory too.
- Tissues – because, well you know why…..
- Anti chafing product – chafing probably won’t result in a DNF but it will sure make the race miserable. Lube up ahead of time and top up as you go along.
- Lip balm or vaseline – your lips will dry out during a long ultra and get pretty cracked. [Top Tip – for bonus points get one with sun cream in it.]
- Sun cream – it’s so easy to get burnt on race day when you’re mind is focused on 100 others things. Sun cream up before you leave but if it’s a long race or you sweat a lot you’ll want to top up as you go.
- Space blanket – super cheap, often mandatory and worth stowing away somewhere just in case.
- Medication – if you need any medication take it with you. [Top Tip – be sure to write it on your race bib too, there’s usually space for a comment about any medication you’re taking]
There’s a whole post to come on post-race recovery but below are the essentials.
- Flip flops – after hours in trail socks and running shoes your feet will want to breath. Stash some flip flops in your finish bag and slip them on as soon as you can.
- Clean, dry clothes – at the very least have a clean t-shirt you can throw on, your spectators and travel companions will thank you!
- A warm jacket – you’ll be amazed at how fast you cool down after a race, even on a hot day. Throw a jacket into your bag to prevent post race shivers.
- Recovery food – the sensible advice is a recovery shake and loads of healthy food. My personal advice would be “whatever you want and as much of it as you like”.
I hope you’ve found this list useful. What was missed? What would you add? Leave a notes in the comments section.
Coming soon will be guides covering what to include in a ultramarathon drop bag and what to include in your ultra marathon finish bag.
Thanks for reading!